Review: new Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra small seconds
The 2021 Omega Aqua Terra models continue to venture into bold new territory, with the introduction of a subdial at 6 o’clock. With classic and luxury models in both 38 mm and 41 mm, the Small Seconds editions represent an unusual configuration usually reserved for classic timepieces for use on a diver themed sports watch.
The Case and Dial
Shown here is the 41 mm model available in 18K Sedna™ gold. It features a polished-brushed case, central hour/minute hands in diamond-polished 18K Sedna™ gold and a small seconds recessed subdial and date window at 6.
The case is manufactured with alternating brushed and polished surfaces. The polished edges start as a bevelling of the case, continuing and twisting the lugs harmoniously. This is also known as the lyre lugs. The brushing makes the case sides less sensitive to scratches. The bezel is polished, giving the Aqua Terra a visually balanced appearance.
The brushed silvery-beige dial is distinguished by a horizontal “teak” pattern, along with a date window at 6H and an opaline Small Seconds subdial featuring an 18K Sedna™ gold ring.
The design is further complemented by 18K Sedna™ gold hands and applied indexes filled with white Super-LumiNova, as well as sandblasted minutes and seconds tracks on the dial and subdial.
On the 2021 editions, the screw-in caseback is polished-brushed with a wave-edged design, engraved with “AQUA TERRA” and the watch’s water resistance. The flat sapphire crystal on the caseback allows a clear view of OMEGA’s Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8917, certified at the industry’s highest level by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS). As always, OMEGA’s worldwide 5-year warranty applies to all of the new Aqua Terra timepieces.
The movement uses a non-typical speed of 3.5Hz with Co-Axial system and free sprung balance wheel. The co-axial system used by Omega since 1999, was patented by the watchmaker master George Daniels in 1980. The three pallets design has the advantage of the reduced friction. This minimizes the stress in the lever escapement and the need of lubrication of the classical Swiss lever escapement. The unusual speed offers the chronometric capabilities of the 4Hz movements with the long run robustness of the 3Hz calibres. An interesting and admirable move from Omega. Using two series-mounted barrels, Calibre 8917 packs a power reserve of 60 hours.
The Aqua Terra is a versatile luxury sports watch, with steel for the more utilitarian and gold for those who like the color and don’t mind the price premium. The 150m water resistance will suffice any amateur diver/snorkeler needs and the movement is as advanced as it gets.
That said, with the pool of dive watches out there and the lack of a design competitive edge, the movement arms race with Tudor will soon fizzle as a differentiator and unfortunately, being cannibalized by its much more popular Speedmaster colleague makes it difficult for the Aqua Master as with the Constellation models to find good footing.
This variant in gold and rubber strap is priced at US$18,700.