The latest Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra advertisement opens with a scene of a lone yacht chugging through the smooth Ibizan waters in fine weather. A freckled-face Eddie Redmayne, sporting a navy coastal jumper and cream chinos with windswept hair, leans at a sharp angle as the yacht dips in the foaming sea. Strapped to his wrist is the new Omega Aqua Terra 150M Co-Axial Master Chronometer 41mm that looks understated yet sleek — qualities that also define the charming Oscar winner, who is one of the most talented stars in the acting firmament. In this sailing expedition, silhouetted against the gleaming sun, Redmayne reveals just how at home he — as well as Omega’s latest collection — is on land and at sea.
The Aqua Terra line, first launched in 2002, may not be as popular as the refined Seamaster Diver 300M, which has an enduring connection to the world’s favourite secret agent, or the Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M that is synonymous with ocean exploration. However, it is finally getting the attention it deserves.
Omega has designed a brand new collection to coincide with the series’ 15th anniversary this year. The makeover is an Aqua Terra — which means “sea” and “land” in Latin — that is rugged enough to handle outdoor excursions, yet stylish enough to spark some watch envy among your friends at the yacht club.
Omega has affiliated itself with the nautical world so closely that it is difficult to imagine one without the other. It made perfect sense, then, for the brand to unveil the mechanism that powers the overhauled Aqua Terra at the opulent five-star luxury resort St Regis Langkawi, which overlooks the Andaman Sea. The launch revisited the maritime heritage of the Seamaster series, which has stood as a timeless classic since it was conceived in 1948, by introducing two refreshed Aqua Terra collections — Gents’ and Ladies’ — as well as the new Worldtimer.
While staying true to the classic Aqua Terra DNA, the fresh wave of models, either cased in stainless steel, 18-carat Sedna gold or a mixture of both, is a compilation of subtle but significant visual upgrades. Hardcore fans will immediately be able to point out that all the timepieces have been reshaped with a new symmetrical design to bring a sense of balance. For instance, the position of the date window has been moved from three to six o’clock — just like the first Omega watch with a date window, which was released in 1952.
The size of the case for the gents’ collection has been reduced ever so slightly from 41.5mm to 41mm (a few 38mm models are available too) while the vertical stripe design on the dial — displaying a teak pattern reminiscent of decks on luxury yachts — flows horizontally now.
One might recall the uncomfortable gaps between the metal bracelet and the case of certain Aqua Terra watches but this new collection has been fine-tuned to fit easily around wrists of different sizes. In both the male and female models, hardened links and a patented crew and pin system are properly integrated to the case (if they come in rubber straps, a metal link is used to connect them instead). Last but not least, the crown comes in a slightly conical shape, inspired by the wave-edge design found on the sapphire-crystal caseback where the “water-resistance” wording — previously located on the dial — is engraved.
Performance-wise, the collection for men is driven by the Master Chronometer Calibre 8900, 8901 or 8800 — all three movements have achieved the highest level of precision, performance and magnetic resistance approved by the Swiss Federal Institute for Metrology (Metas). Watch geeks will be happy to know that the movement inside the 8900 has two barrels for 60h of power reserve, is equipped with a silicon balance spring and can resist magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss. As the finishing touch, diamond-cut bevels are visible through the caseback, which displays a new wave profile.
If men are attracted to a watch’s mechanism, then women, who are swiftly developing an appreciation for intricate craftsmanship, are mostly enamoured by its beauty. And Omega does not disappoint — the ladies’ collection, modelled by Brazilian actress and Victoria’s Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio, comes in 38mm, 34mm or 28mm versions. The bracelet is seamlessly integrated to provide a better fit for wearers with slim wrists.
Aesthetically, Omega usually veers towards something more minimalist but the designers for the female collection obviously did not heed the memo — good news for those who want a little shimmer on their wrist. Thirty new models are bejewelled with mother-of-pearl dials, with diamond hour markers and 14 different colour variations. However, a better reason for buying the watches is their calibre — the 38mm and 34mm pieces are powered by Omega Master Calibres 8800 or 8801, and the 28mm, the quartz calibre 4061.
Since the 2017 Aqua Terra Collection is celebrating a significant milestone, it would not seem right for Omega to stop at just 60 models. As a celebratory gesture, the collection has debuted a highly luxurious piece with unprecedented complication — the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Worldtimer Master Chronometer, limited to just 87 pieces worldwide.
The phrase “beauty is skin deep” cannot be any truer for the Worldtimer, whose eye-catching dial consists of two levels. The exterior section is sand-blasted platinum-gold, ornamented with 18-carat yellow-gold indexes and hands that are coated in Super-LumiNova. A circle of global destinations printed in red (GMT, used only for London), black (for locations with daylight saving or summer time) and blue (places without daylight saving time) are also displayed within the watch. The interior level, however, turns out to be the most captivating feature — a central sapphire-crystal disk, with a handcrafted enamel world map as seen from the North Pole, is surrounded by a 24-hour indication.
It is not an exaggeration to call the Worldtimer — mounted on a brown leather strap with a platinum-gold fold-over clasp — an ingenious invention, especially its self-winding Calibre 8939, which is the latest in Omega’s growing portfolio of co-axial chronometer calibres. To complete this flashy time-teller, the 43mm symmetrical case showcases a wave-edge design and a unique limited-edition number on the reverse side.
To be fair, the changes to the Aqua Terra series have mainly been cosmetic, but the 2017 facelift has irrefutably made this long-time staple much more desirable. Watching the Omega Seamaster come this far is like observing a masterful seafarer in action — it is the skill of the hand on the helm that assures a prosperous voyage.