Watch In Focus – Omega Aqua Terra

Omega has always been a good brand. Excellent, in fact. Omega watches are quality items, packed with know-how and heritage, and they’ve worn a comfortable groove as the go-to alternative choice to Rolex. But that’s unfair, right? Omega’s heritage rivals Rolex’s easily, and the watches from the two manufacturers can go head-to-head all day every day. So why does Omega play second fiddle to the five-pointed crown? The management at Omega must have asked itself the same question, because the last few years have been the Biel factory’s most bountiful in recent times.

 
Omega Aqua Terra
Rewind ten years ago, and Omega was announcing a jewellery line and a GMT version of the Seamaster Professional. Yawn. At Baselworld 2014, there’s been a re-edition of the Seamaster 300, the Speedmaster Mark II (racing dial included) and this, the Aqua Terra Master Co-Axial. And that’s following a year of the likes of Bullheads and ceramic Speedmasters. These are watches to get properly excited by, demonstrations that the old dog can still turn out a trick or two. While Rolex is teasing people with the watches they want but will never be able to afford (I’m looking at you, Pepsi bezel), Omega is making the watches they’ll actually be buying.
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra
The stripes on the Aqua Terra’s dial are inspired by the teak decks of luxury yachts

The pick of the bunch this year is the Aqua Terra Master Co-Axial. The Speedmaster Mark II is tempting, you bet it is, and the Seamaster 300 didn’t make the choice any easier, but the Aqua Terra is more than just a watch: it’s a line in the sand, a battle cry across the no-mans land between the Omega factory and the Rolex factory that bellows, ‘We’re coming to take that crown!’

Disagree? Think the Aqua Terra Master Co-Axial is the least interesting of the bunch? Let’s explain. The new Aqua Terra has a few choice tweaks over the outgoing model that earn its right as champion: the name has changed slightly, which is reflected on the dial; the metal frame around the date window has gone; oh, and it gets the incredible anti-magnetic movement from the Aqua Terra >15,000 Gauss.

Omega Aqua Terra watches
The anti-magnetic movement from the Aqua Terra >15,000 Gauss features here, too
Let’s be honest: when we saw the concept >15,000 Gauss, we all thought it was a one-off marketing ploy to put the horse-shoe-shaped logo under our noses. But no, here it is, in a watch that costs less than Rolex’s Submariner and looks just as good (if not better). This prolific use of non-magnetic parts is probably the biggest leap in watchmaking tech since the co-axial escapement, and even more practical. And yet it comes without the sacrifice of quality. The teak-deck dial abounds with surprising details, the hands and markers are sculpted with multiple finishes, the updated calibre 8500 manages to look stunning despite the rotor weight taking up half the view.
The calibre 8500 now has its key moving parts made from non-magnetic materials

With Rolex RRPs wafting up on the economic thermals of the Far East, now is Omega’s best chance to seize the throne and fully regain the reputation it once had. With watches like the Aqua Terra Master Co-Axial on the front line, it could happen sooner than you think.

[Note: This is an updated post of a Guest Article published earlier on our website by Gary Robery from Watchfinder.co.uk]

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