Let’s face it; watch collectors are not the largest demographic out there. Yes, thankfully, there are plenty of you to keep the industry ticking and our webpage alive and well, but most men are confessed “monowatchmen”. By this, I mean that most men will probably own one good watch during their lifetime, perhaps two. If you are a monowatchman, you’ve come to the right place. Today we will be looking at a solid candidate for the one-watch-men of this world, a 3-hand and date watch that you can wear day in and day out. Let’s start our “Battle of Luxury Daily Beaters” with the Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m by Omega.
Omega’s Aqua Terra 150m is a perfect “all-rounder”, sporty without being a monolithic tool watch, rugged enough for a game of football – European, not American – smart enough to wear to the office and with an engine on board that surpasses most players in the field. The Seamaster Aqua Terra we have today is the 41mm steel version and belongs to the latest generation models that were refreshed in 2017 and upgraded with Master Chronometer calibre 8900 with its high level of magnetic resistance. You can read all about the design tweaks here.
Editor’s note: this review of the Omega Aqua Terra 150m is part of a series of three articles where we will compare two of the most desirable luxury daily beaters currently on the market. Two watches with the same concept, but two different flavours. The third article, which will be published after our two separate reviews, will put them side-by-side.
Land, Air and Sea
The Seamaster is the longest-running product line still produced by Omega and was launched in 1948 to celebrate the brand’s 100th anniversary. A civilian version of the popular wristwatches Omega had supplied to the British Air Force during the Second World War, (more than 26,000 water-resistant Omegas were dispatched to pilots and crews of the RAF), the Seamaster wasn’t positioned as a diver but as a resilient, water-resistant watch you could wear in any situation. Don’t miss our three exclusive videos on the genesis of this Omega icon Part 1, Part II and Part III.
Over the years, the Seamaster branched out into countless sub-families (including a brief romance with quartz) from solid gold dress watches to monolithic steel monsters for exploring the abyss. Perhaps the best-known members of the Seamaster family are its professional dive watches, like the Omega Seamaster 300, released along with the Speedmaster and Railmaster hit trio in 1957. The latest conquests of Omega’s professional dive watches include the record-breaking 10,928m dive of the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. And of course, there’s the never-ending fascination of the Seamaster Professional 300m as Bond’s watch since the release of Goldeneye in 1995.
surf and turf
Introduced as a new member of the Seamaster family in 2002, the overall design of the Seamaster Aqua Terra picked up on cues from the dressier vintage Seamaster models of the early 1950s and 1960s: in the case of the model we are reviewing here, you can clearly see the influence of a 1952 Seamaster Calendar with a date window at 6 o’clock and a 1960 Seamaster Automatic with horizontal striped lines across the dial. Although there have been some more “complicated” models in the Aqua Terra range, like this worldtimer, the best-sellers are the simpler 3-hand models.
The Aqua Terra has forged a niche in the Seamaster family as a handsome, all-terrain, resilient, everyday watch. Although it is not touted as a professional dive watch, the Aqua Terra offers the best of both worlds with its more than respectable 150m water-resistance (aqua), classic good looks and precision movement to take you from the office and beyond in style (terra). In fact, when Bond isn’t being a daredevil and wants to pop into the casino or dress up his look, he has been known to slip on an Aqua Terra for some scenes in Skyfall and Spectre.
A classic, unpretentious case
The current Seamaster Aqua Terra comes in two case sizes, 41mm and 38mm, marking a 0.5mm reduction on both case sizes over the pre-2017 Aqua Terra Co-Axial models without the Master Chronometer certification. The model we have here is the stainless steel version with a 41mm diameter and a case height of 13.6mm, although there are many versions on the webpage with steel, steel and Sedna gold, and solid gold cases.
The alternating polished and brushed finishes help distinguish the different levels and architecture of the case more clearly than if the surfaces were treated with one finish. You can see how the bezel, the exterior flanks of the lugs and the central links of the bracelet catch the light with their brightly polished finish. Although it doesn’t look like a hardcore sports watch, the screw-down crown ensures the 150m water-resistance of the case.
Another good design upgrade of the 2017 models is the way the bracelet is integrated into the case enhancing the aesthetics and the fit. Similar to the Oyster bracelet in style, Omega’s 3-link bracelet is well-crafted and, thanks to the mobile end links of the bracelet (those closest to the case) it really does sit snuggly on an average-sized wrist with no signs of overlap. The open gaps on the bracelet allow more air to circulate, a definite plus in hot weather. The caseback features an ornamental wave design and offers a good view of the automatic calibre 8900 powering this 3-hander and date.
distinctive Decking on the dial
The dial of the Aqua Terra is on the spartan side – a good thing for a watch that is designed to navigate different environments. The distinctive horizontal lines traversing the dial are meant to evoke the teak decking found on luxury sailboats playing on the “nautical/yachting” lineage of the Seamaster family. The black decking on the dial is not uniform and the fact that the “boards” are thicker and thinner at different intervals gives it a lot of depth and realism. The black dial also gives the watch a more elegant, classic and formal air than some of its more colourful counterparts.
The tip of the minute hand is Omega’s classic Broad Arrow style, similar to the hands featured on all three of the first Speedmaster, Railmasters and Seamasters of 1957. One thing I did notice though is that in conditions with a lot of ambient light, it can be hard to distinguish between the three hands.
The well-defined applied triangular indices are filled with Super-LumiNova for heightened visibility and the date window has been relocated from 3 to 6 o’clock, similar to the layout of the 1952 Seamaster Calendar watch mentioned above. Thankfully, the background of the facetted date window is the same colour as the dial blending in subtly with the overall colour scheme. If the presence of a date is always subject to debate, in the context of this daily beater, it does make sense.
The overall impression is one of sobriety, legibility and clean, sharp aesthetics – the kind of classic features you don’t grow tired of.
Master Chronometer Calibre 8900
Another rock-solid argument in favour of the Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m is the engine powering its functions below deck. Fitted with Omega’s latest generation automatic Calibre 8900 with Co-Axial escapement, the fully cased movement is certified by METAS as a Master Chronometer. This is a big deal in the world of chronometry certifications and surpasses COSC-chronometry certification with its insistence on anti-magnetism. Omega’s movement, with anti-magnetic silicon parts for the regulating organ, can handle magnetic fields of 15,000 gauss. If your interest is piqued, you can get all the details of the stringent testing in our video of Omega’s Master Chronometer facilities.
In addition to the stop-seconds function allowing you to set the time to the exact second, there is a nifty time-zone function that lets you set the hour hand independently while travelling across time zones. With twin mainspring barrels mounted in series, the watch provides a power reserve of 60 hours and stable distribution of torque. The machine-finished movement is adequately decorated with diamond-cut bevelled edges and an Arabesque Geneva wave decoration on the rotor and bridges that fans out gracefully from the centre.
The sky is the limit when it comes to bracelet and strap options for the Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m. This particular model, with steel case and black dial, can be ordered with a classic black leather strap, a more contemporary rubber strap or a steel bracelet. The rubber strap version features an additional bar between the lugs to create the sensation of a fully integrated bracelet. However, if you get tired of the standard straps, Omega has over 46 textile or leather NATO strap on its website, some of them decked out with the flag colours of different nations.
THE RIGHT PRICE
The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m steel-on-steel model – ref. 126.96.36.199.01.001 – retails for EUR 5,400, comes with a 5-year warranty and is widely available. Five grand is not peanuts, I know, but Omega is offering a lot of watch at what can be considered a fair, equitable price.
The Real Deal
The Seamaster Aqua Terra is a strong candidate for men who are considering investing in a one-and-only-one watch. An all-terrain, versatile, classic 3-hander, sporty yet stylish enough for the office, rugged and resistant to water and magnetism, equipped with one of the highest quality (externally certified) and most reliable movements on the market today, and with a price tag that is in tune with the performance and features. It’s harder and harder to find a “but”… But wait until tomorrow for our review of yet another very solid candidate in the contest for the best luxury daily beater.
More details at www.omegawatches.com.