To be honest with you, I should not have bought another watch. Hell, I even said so myself mere days ago, and here I am, looking at another watch in my not inconsiderable watch collection.
Surprisingly, I did not suffer too much from buyer’s remorse as I thought I would, or perhaps I am still in denial of it. This watch actually feels like it should have been in my collection a long time ago, and unfortunately I cannot say the same for some of my other watch purchases.
Yes, you should have guessed it by now. It is the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m 38mm that I have been lusting for, for half a year, at least. And I would like to take this opportunity to gather my thoughts a bit, record why the hell did I buy another watch.
This article is broken into two sections, the former accounting for some objective facts about this watch while the latter will be dedicated to emotional drivers of this purchase. Feel free to skip the hard facts if you are not interested.
This is a 38mm watch with a lug-to-lug distance of 44mm and a thickness of 12.5mm. The short lug-to-lug is very accomodating to guys with small wrists like me.
Standard 316L stainless steel case with an interesting lug design. Mirror polished bezel with the case and lugs mostly brushed. The polished bevelling on the lugs gives a very good contrast to the bezel and the side. Signed Omega crown is very easy to grip and operate.
Turning over the watch you have a very beautiful view into the Omega Ref. 8800 calibre finished with Geneva waves in arabesque.
That strikingly handsome royal blue dial was really the first thing that caught my eye when I was watch hunting. The dial plays extremely well with light: under low light, it is a subdued blackish blue and when under the sun, the dial simply gives off a vibrant pop of blue.
The horizontal stripes are inspired by wooden decks of yachts and it helps brings out the sporty side of the watch.
Though marketed as kind of a sports watch, the elegantly applied indices give the Aqua Terra a dressy vibe. They are brilliantly polished on the side and brushed on the top.
The finishing on the hands is excellent. I especially like the two-step finishing on both the hour and minute hands. They follow the same motif as the indices: polished on the outside and finely brushed on the inside.
The Aqua Terra has a date complication at the 6 o’clock position instead of the conventional 3 o’clock position. It helps with the symmetry of the watch. It also has a colour-matched date wheel which I appreciate a lot.
The watch is perfectly balanced and symmetrical, with no frivolous distractions detracting the wearer from admiring the simplicity and the toolish nature of the watch. The 5-minute graduations on the chapter ring also make this watch very legible.
Overall the Aqua Terra gives off a very understated impression. At a distance, it might look like just another cookie-cutter blue-dialled watch. But up close, the details are so finely executed that only true watch lovers would appreciate. ‘Blink-and-you-will-miss-it’ is the phrase I would pair with the details of the watch.
One biggest highlight of this 38mm Aqua Terra is its movement, Omega’s in-house Master Chronometer certified movement ref. 8800. It embodies the pinnacle of modern watchmaking technologies. Some characteristics:
- Co-axial escapement that eliminates sliding friction to improve accuracy and lengthen service intervals
- Silicon hairspring and other antimagnetic materials to increase its magnetic resistance (up to 15,000 Gauss)
- Master chronometer certified (tighter tolerance than a COSC chronometer, -4/+6s per day (COSC) compared to -0/+5s per day (METAS))
- 150m of water resistance with a screwed-down crown
The only complaint I have with the 8800 is its slightly odd beat rate at 25,200 vibrations per hour (3.5Hz) compared to 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz) on most Swiss calibres, resulting in a less smooth sweep of the second hand. You also get 5 hours less of power reserve compared to its sibling, the ref. 8900 calibre (55 hours vs 60 hours), only available on 41mm Aqua Terras.
To me, Aqua Terra is Omega’s answer to Rolex’s Datejust. The Aqua Terra’s contemporary looks make a stark contrast to the Datejust’s timeless yet conservative design.
But with a price tag of almost half of Datejust’s, I simply could not justify getting it instead of the Aqua Terra, and honestly, the fluted bezel and the jubilee bracelet, albeit classic, does not speak to me as much as the Omega does.
Despite the fact that I consider the Omega Aqua Terra to be close to perfect, no watch can truly be perfect. It does have a few issues I would like to see addressed. First of all the lume is not that great. Compared with my Seikos costing 1/10 of the price, I can barely read the time in the dark.
The bracelet is also disappointing. Although it has female end links which helps fit my small wrist better, its polished centre mid links is a scratch magnet. The butterfly clasp should have been replaced with a divers’ clasp too. The quality of the clasp simply does not match the quality of the watch head. It is a shame.
The Omega Seamaster collection has always had a special place in my heart, because I inherited one from my grandfather back in 2018.
Me owning another Seamaster seems to perfectly complement this vintage, charming timepiece. Symbolically it is akin to me continuing my grandfather’s legacy with my own Seamaster.
2020 was also a particularly hard year for me. There was COVID-19 and also my radiosurgery. I have lost my hearing partially on my left ear and it has been tough for me to get by. Comprehending speech is very challenging when people have their masks on. I have been quite depressed about potentially losing the ability to listen to/make music when the radiosurgery seemed to have done more harm than good.
It was a lot of ups and downs in 2020. I turned 30, and not one day passed by without me questioning myself what have I achieved in these 30 years of my life and where do I want to go from here. Everyone close to me seems to have their lives figured out, they own a home, have good careers, are happily married or in a happy long term relationship. Yet here I am, spending hours rambling about ancient mechanical timekeeping devices that probably nobody cares anymore.
Perhaps this should be the part where I tell you watches are about heritage and history. There is something romantic about appreciating the duality of art and tool I guess. Watch collecting is my escape hatch to my day job. While I deal with the duality of 0s and 1s at work, this is where I throw logic out of the window and let my heart take my brain’s place.
But who am I kidding, watches, like all luxury goods, are by definition, not daily necessities. I was on the fence for nine months before actually pulling the trigger because I had a hard time convincing myself to make yet another big watch purchase. My late grandma (she passed two weeks ago. God rest her soul) gave me the final push of reminding me 2020 had been a crazy year, and it is only fitting if I get myself something to remember 2020 with.
This watch will always be the watch to commemorate 2020: my 30th birthday—the joy, the despair that comes with it.