For some reason the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra collection struck me as younger, but Omega put out a press release about the 15th anniversary this year of this watch. In 2002, the Aqua Terra was introduced as another sub collection of the Seamaster family. Although Omega has only a couple of watch families, like the Seamaster, Speedmaster, Constellation and De Ville, some of them have quite a few sub collections. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra is – what I always believed – their answer to watches like the Rolex Datejust and Explorer. Watches that are very versatile and can be worn under almost any condition.
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Through The Years
First introduced with the caliber 2500 movement, an ETA based caliber with a Co-Axial escapement, the Aqua Terra was an interesting proposition. There were also quartz versions available (for men and women) and in different sizes. A reliable good looking watch that would match any attire. In 2008, one year after the introduction of the in-house developed and manufactured Omega caliber 8500 movement, the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra was upgraded once more. Aesthetics remained the same, except for the dial. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra from now one had this teak pattern dial. This was also the moment I started to get interested in the Aqua Terra collection. As always (and perhaps a bit too often), Omega has a number of special and limited editions. One of these special editions is the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Golf (some times also referred to as PGA). This watch comes with a black dial and a green second hand and green minute track. At the time of my interest, I think it was actually 2015, there was a transition period where the Aqua Terra received another upgrade where you would see a new style of bracelet (with polished center links instead of an entirely satin finished bracelet) and a fancier looking date window. Small adjustments, but to be honest here it became difficult. I fancied the new dial, but the former (fully satin finished) bracelet. I never pulled the trigger on one of these Aqua Terra Gold editions but it is still high on my wish list as an ‘every day’ watch.
Below, an overview of the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra from 2002, 2008 and 2015 (Golf edition).
From Caliber 8500 to Master Chronometer
As said, since 2008 the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra was equipped with Omega’s in-house movement caliber 8500. In 2013 however, Omega made a revolutionary step by creating a watch, no better yet, a movement that was capable of resisting magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss. Non-sense according to some, but proven as a fact it is actually making sense. We are dealing with a lot of magnetic fields today, from security equipment at airports for example, but also closer to home.. never your watch on an iPad for example. Or close to a purse or bag with magnetic locks. All the electronics we use easily and you can exposure your watch to, add up to a few thousand gauss. Omega developed their caliber 8505 movement that was able to withstand 15,000 gauss. In 2013 they introduced it as the Aqua Terra with reference 220.127.116.11.01.002. The image might ring a bell, as it was quickly referred to as the ‘bumble bee’ due to the yellow and black second hand.
Annual Calendar and GMT
In the meanwhile, Omega also started to develop more Seamaster Aqua Terra models that featured more complications. Such as a GMT hand or an annual calendar. Early 2015 I reviewed an Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Annual Calendar reference 18.104.22.168.01.002 in 43mm. Despite the relatively large size for a dress watch, I found it difficult to give it back to Omega (we don’t get to keep our watches unfortunately). This watch, with caliber 8601 movement, was a pleasure to wear as an everyday watch for a while.
Omega didn’t stop their quest to fight magnetism, as they kept developing alloys to keep the watch safe from this. Only this year Omega announced that they are capable of developing a watch withstanding no less than 160,000 gauss. You can read it in this article. Again they used the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra as watch to demonstrate their announcement. This watch is not for sale though, but it does show what they are capable of. Other brands also fight magnetism, but mainly via the case of the watch creating a cage of faraday construction. However, competition from brands like IWC, Panerai, Rolex and Grand Seiko in this field is also not standing still. A visit to the Panerai manufacture in Neuchâtel learned us that they are also putting a lot of effort in fighting magnetism, more so than they advertise with (or none at all actually). Most famous other anti-magnetic watches are probably IWC’s discontinued Ingenieur and the Rolex Milgauss.
Isn’t 16 tesla a bit crazy? Perhaps and in any case if using an iPad as a carry-around tray for a watch is your only sin with mechanical watches. However, if you are a researcher for example and work with MRI equipment, 16 tesla isn’t over-done. For healthcare purposes, most MRI scanners operate between 1,5 and 3,0 Tesla. For research purposes though, much higher gauss values are used. One of the MRI scanners in the Maastricht University here in The Netherlands is at 9,4 tesla or 94,000 gauss. And that one is already there since 2013.
Even though the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra with caliber 8500 or the > 15,000 gauss version with caliber 8505 was already an interesting value proposition for someone who simply wants a top notch watch for everyday wear (including your game of golf), Omega decided to equip the latest range of Seamaster Aqua Terra watches with their Master Chronometer rated watches. The idea of Omega is to have almost all of their watches complying to the Master Chronometer standards (audited and certified by METAS). Where the Omega Globemaster (part of the Constellation family) was the first to have a Master Chronometer certification, now it is the turn for other collections as well, including the 2017 Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra collection. The men’s watches are now equipped with Omega’s caliber 8800, 8900 and 8901 movements, all Master Chronometer certified. The ladies watches have Master Chronometer calibers 8800 and 8801. For the smallest sizes, Omega uses a quartz caliber.
Not only the movement changed though, the exterior of the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra also received an update. Perhaps you could say the biggest or most notable upgrade since its introduction. Not only did the teak dial changed a bit (horizontal teak pattern instead of vertical), also the case design changed. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra now has a symmetrical case (compare the cases by looking at the side of the crown), a new (conical) crown and available on special rubber straps.
The stainless steel (and gold) bracelets also underwent an upgrade in terms of design and function. They now have a better integration with the watch case and Omega developed a new method for the screw and pin system. So besides a lot of aesthetic changes, Omega also pushed the technological boundaries a bit further.
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra WorldTimer
Omega isn’t exactly well-known for its complications, although they do have a central tourbillon show-off piece as well as several watches with moonphase complications. Omega’s brand & butter pieces are time-only, GMT and chronographs though. This year, Omega introduced us to the Seamaster Aqua Terra Worldtimer Master Chronometer. A limited edition of 87 pieces, that has – as the name implies – a worldtimer complication, capable of indicating 24 different timezones.
It is a first for Omega to develop and manufacture a worldtimer watch. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Timer Worldtimer is only available in platinum, and has a hand-crafted enamel map on the centre sapphire disc on the dial. This 43mm watch has been fitted with Omega’s caliber 8939 movement, which is of course also certified as Master Chronometer.
A Versatile Watch
Starting at €5.000 for the gents watch with Master Chronometer movement (and €27.200 for the full Sedna gold version), you buy a watch that can be the daily companion for the rest of your life if you want. It is a robust watch with a water resistance of 150 meters (so enough for recreational swimming) and a movement packed with the latest innovations in mechanical watchmaking. It comes with a 4-year warranty due to the in-house movement and will fit most of your wardrobe and activities. Is the the perfect ‘only one’ watch? That is up to you to decide, but specification-wise it can (easily) compete to other classics like the aforementioned Rolex Explorer or the more expensive Datejust for example.
This year Omega will also have a set of golf watches of the new Aqua Terra collection. One with green accents (‘Sergio Garcia’) and one with orange accents (‘Rory McIlroy’). Both watches come on matching NATO straps. These will be available in September and have a €5000 price tag as well. More to be expected soon.
Besides the Seamaster 300M, Planet Ocean, Seamaster 300, Ploprof, Bullhead and Railmaster (yes, officially part of the Seamaster family), the Aqua Terra takes an important position in the Seamaster collection. An easy-going and definitely all-rounder watch with all the latest technology inside. The new design features, Master Chronometer certified movement and option for a rubber bracelet made a good watch even better.
The gents collection is available in 41mm and 38mm. The ladies collection in 38mm and 34mm. The Worldtimer limited edition measures 43mm in diameter.
More information via Omega on-line.