A watch amateur meets the beautiful diver, aka the Aqua Terra
The Aqua Terra is a curious beauty. Its not a classic butch Diver, Omega of course has the Planet Ocean for that, and its not a dress watch, there is the De Ville for that, but its an endearing watch that has been around for a long time and continues to sell very well.
There are of course watches that grab us, we buy them, and then decide after a while they are just too heavy for long term enjoyment, or too large for comfort, or some glaring colour or feature we found cool when we bought it is now just annoying, or just have frustratingly low power reserves or many other reasons we might ditch a watch ...
So what is special about this one ?
One place we could start with is that far off dream of having a watch that you can actually swim with and even do mild diving with, that is only 41.5mm and can genuinely be at home at the dressiest of functions or with the dirtiest jeans.
Can we have real wrist presence that is not too big and easy to wear everyday ...... I have a small wrist but I can still dream :)
In reality, the first thing that struck me about my Aqua Terra was the stunning looks.
The other attraction is also visual - this watch is one of the few genuinely iconic watches around, in that you can see it from a distance and know immediately what it is.
The combination of the purposeful triangular pips, "teak" face design (representing deck planks apparently) and the size and shape of case make it quite distinctive.
My piece has a lovely clear white/silvery face with vertical "teaks". The triangular pips are white and encased in silver stainless steel, the hands standout as bordered in black. Interestingly the minute hand has royal blue inside and the hour hand has blue and white. The second hand is gold (I was told real !! but probably plated). This diverse colour scheme actually works well in practice, keeping everything very clear and distinct but oddly working together.
The face text is finished off with a striking red font for most of the wording, and deep blue for the rest, which adds to the visual appeal and distinctive nature of this particular design.
I also like the way the dial can shift colours depending on the light, between cream, white and silver
The winder is not oversized, but is still screw down and has the standard Omega logo on the end
The watch is designed to be anti-magnetic to 15,000 Gauss. A useful feature for those working in highly magnetic environments, e.g. amongst medical scanners, which can cause watches to go fast or slow or even stop but not that use to most of us. However this feature, together with the non-metal silicon spring and the water sealing gives me personally some comfort as to the robustness overall and certainly value for money :)
The movement is very interesting and another reason this watch is packed with value at a price point filled with many featureless watches from competing brands.
Omega call it the 8500, but in fact its the 3rd (or 4th - depending on what you read) significant revision of the 8500. The 8500 was Omega's first fully in-house movement based on the co-axial escarpment. If we call the first version the 8500 or 8500a, the next version, the 8500b added the silicon spring and this latest version (some say the 8508G, others the 8500g) has many component changes mostly to anti-magnetic parts. I read an interesting letter that someone has recently received from Omega after enquiring whether their 8500a could be upgraded to an 8500g, mainly the silicon spring. Omega replied that it couldn't but he shouldn't be worried as replacement parts for the 8500a would continue to be available. If nothing else this indicates that the changes have been significant enough to not allow upgrades.
All that aside, its a highly accurate Master Co-axial movement with a 60 hours reserve and a double barrel spring system.
As with all Omega movements, beautifully finished and decorated with fine Geneva stripes.
The case sides are quite thickly chamfered, alternatively shiny and matt, with a distinctive trough to the integrated bracelet
Lastly the metal bracelet is quite "dressy" with polished centre links. Unfortunately it doesn't have a micro-adjustment feature, but it does have half links to enable finer adjustment of the length.
A joy to wear everyday, light enough to wear all the time and tough enough to take anywhere.
I absolutely love this watch. There are many diving watches that can masquerade as dress watches, and many dress watches that can be dressed down, for example with a "Nato" strap, but this is the only watch I have ever had which is genuinely a real diving/wet wear watch and genuinely a dress watch at the same time. Apart from its iconic looks, complicated movement, anti-magnetic properties and other interesting technology, perhaps this is its greatest achievement and explains the longevity of the design, the true marriage between beauty and the diver ?