Colour has become a key protagonist in the watch world these days. We’ve seen just about every colour under the sun splashed across dials, and many brands tout a simple change of dial colour as a novelty. Colour can be fun, but it can also get tiring. A vibrant purple dial might be tempting, but after a couple of years might start to look dated. After all, Pantone produces an official colour every year. This year the colour was Very Peri, a rather ugly shade of mauve that is described as a “symbol of the global zeitgeist of the moment and the transition we are going through”. A tall order for any colour, but it is an example of how colours are associated with periods of time. Like almost every watch brand, Omega has turned its hand to the paint box and relied on colourful dials to change the mood of its Seamaster Aqua Terra, including a mandatory and very handsome green model in 2020. Released earlier this year, the Aqua Terra turned up with nine different colour options for the dial and some design tweaks to make it slightly dressier. Today we’re going to look at the least colourful and possibly most overlooked member of the 34mm and 38mm Aqua Terras and decide whether the toned-down sandstone dial is the winning member of the lot.
What’s in a name?
The Aqua Terra – water and land, or surf and turf – 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) combined with classic good looks and a precision movement to take you from the office and beyond in style (terra). In fact, when Bond isn’t being a daredevil with a Seamaster 300 on his wrist and wants to pop into the casino or dress up his look, he has been known to slip on an Aqua Terra.
Background Aqua Terra
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.
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. Although there have been some more “complicated” models in the Aqua Terra range, like this world timer, the best-sellers are the simpler 3-hand models.
Earlier this year, Omega released a collection of 34mm and 38mm Aqua Terra with colourful dials with suggestive names like saffron, terracotta, lagoon green and shell pink. The only colour that appears on both sizes is the subtlest of the lot and is referred to as sandstone. Although we tend to assume that a 34mm case size is for women and a 38mm for men, this sandstone model works in both directions. Men with smaller wrists might prefer the 34mm, while women with larger wrists or with a preference for larger watches could opt for the 38mm.
Abandoning the signature teak pattern traversing the dial like decking on a yacht, the dials display a sleek sunray brushed design emanating from the centre of the dial. Another difference between the new Aqua Terra is the case’s polished surfaces; existing models play with brushed and polished surfaces. The brightly polished case highlights the hallmark twisted or lyre lugs as you can appreciate from the photographs. Another novelty of the 2022 editions is the redesigned bracelet with rounded links, enhanced flexibility, and a smoother and more integrated fit with the case. Displaying brushed finishings on the external links and a gleaming polished central link, the bracelet exudes quality and sits comfortably on the wrist.
The sandstone colour of the dial is obtained by applying lacquer to a brass plate and then brushing it with fine rays emanating from the centre. The sunray brushed finishing is responsible for the reflections and changes of colour that play with the ambient light. The beauty of this sandstone dial is its discreet colour which emits a much warmer glow than a grey or white dial. Changing from nude to sandy beige and silver in different lights, the satin sheen of the sandstone is sophisticated, goes with everything and is unlikely to tire the wearer.
Differences between the 38 and 34mm models include the shape of the applied indices. On the larger watch, the applied indices are triangular, like existing Aqua Terra models. The smaller model uses more stylised oval-shaped indices for a softer look. The date windows also vary from a rectangular (trapezoid) aperture on the 38mm with a white background to a round framed aperture on the 34mm, also with a white background. Both models stick to the hallmark broad arrow hands of the Aqua Terra with the arrow-tipped minute and seconds hands and the blunt-tipped hour hand. It’s worth pointing out that the hands and indices of the 38mm are rhodium-plated, while the hands, indices, date window and Omega logo of the 34mm are 18k white gold.
On the reverse side of both models are the signature wave-edged bezel and a window on the latest-generation automatic calibre 8800. With Co-Axial escapement for long-lasting precision and a silicon balance spring to counter magnetism, the 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 and delivers a decent 55-hour power reserve. 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 gracefully from the centre.
If you are looking for an all-round, everyday watch with one of the highest quality movements on the market and excellent value for money, the Aqua Terra is a winning candidate. Striking just the right note between sportiness and casual elegance, the Aqua Terra models with sandstone dials will look at ease in any situation. Warmer than silver or black, the sandstone model radiates a discreet silky sheen and, in our opinion, is the most refined and elegant dial in this line-up. As a neutral colour that goes with everything in your wardrobe, it is less likely to look passé when the next fashionable colour invades the watch scene.
The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 34 and 38mm form part of the Seamaster Aqua Terra family and do not replace the classic models with deck dials. Like all Seamaster Aqua Terra watches, these are covered with a 5-year international warranty. The retail price of either model is EUR 6,300 (incl. tax).
For more information, please visit Omegawatches.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.