Yesterday, OMEGA lifted the news embargo on its Omega Aqua Terra Sub-Seconds watches. More specifically, Rolex’s crosstown rival unleashed n-n-n-n-nineteen new models unto the world. All the usual suspects headlined the new-look AT, the majority polluting the watchblogosphere with the kind of hyperbole once reserved for communist Russia’s information officers. First up: Zach Pina at ablogtowatch.com:
I’ve always felt that the Aqua Terra is a watch that needs the extra dial aperture to let all the detail fully breathe, and given its already short lug-to-lug measurements on the latest revision, it strikes a modern, sporty silhouette, albeit one that’s comfortable and unobtrusive in all the right ways.
Mr. Pina may not be the only horological human bedeviled by a previously unfulfilled desire to see the OMEGA Aqua Terra festooned with an “extra dial aperture,” but I reckon you could transport them all in a Corvette (and I don’t mean the ship).
The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra has always been a bit of a no-nonsense everyday watch, at least to me. This Aqua Terra Small Seconds is no exception I think. It is a very easy-going watch and probably matches any of my “sartorial” choices. The fact that this watch has this two-tone dial makes it even more versatile, in my opinion.
I like the small seconds more than I thought I would do, in all honesty. Generally speaking, I like the large second hand moving around the dial, but the small seconds on this Aqua Terra give the dial a nicely balanced look.
Generally speaking, in my opinion, in all honesty, at least to me, RJB wants to say what anyone with a modicum of taste knows: the new OMEGA Aqua Terra Small Seconds is ugly. (I think.) I’m not saying it’s an abomination that ruins the AT’s classic design. But if you said it I wouldn’t spend much time arguing the point. Probably none. Nor would our man Klosoff.
“For those obsessed with the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra collection, and we know you’re out there, there’s a whole new crop of drool-worthy watches,” watchonista.com proclaims. “A small seconds sub-dial is a first for this collection, and it’s at the 6 o’clock position, imparting a pleasing design balance for the watch’s dial.”
Which is exactly what the subdial doesn’t do, thanks in no small part to the date window, which destroys any hope of “pleasing” symmetry. Needless to say, the date window-less watch above and model below are far less aesthetically challenging.
The white gold Limited Edition (88 examples) integrates the small seconds subdial as it should be integrated: in a vintage context. Lest we forget, the subdial’s six o’clock positioning was originally dictated by pocket watch movement logistics.
Bonus props to OMEGA for cocking a snook at convention with the Breguet hands’ cutesy tootsie branding. That said, this rendition is a Panerai-esque 49.5mm behemoth. And costs a not insubstantial $26k.
The “sportier” 38mm AT Small Seconds watches sport OMEGA’s Co-Axial Master Chronometer mechanical calibre 8802. Their more financially accessible 41mm sibs run on the watchmaker’s calibre 8916. “Luxury versions” are powered by 8803/8917 engines.
They’re all magnificent movements, all on full display via their casebacks (even the throwback model above). So there is that. And just so you know: the OMEGA Aqua Terra Small Seconds is only waitlisted because OMEGA hasn’t sent them to authorized dealers – “waiting list” sounds a lot more compelling than “coming soon.”
I have to give credit to monochrome-watches.com for not saying anything effusive about the AT’s small seconds subdial. Or critical. (Discretion being the better part of not biting the hand that feeds.)
Regardless, this is an Emperor’s New Clothes moment. Yes, the original Seamaster (reissue above) had a small seconds subdial. But the new OMEGA Aqua Terra Small Seconds subdial is a thoroughly awkward vintage move on a thoroughly modern watch.
The fact that none of the other watch blogs had the stones to make that point says more about their integrity than the 19-watch model line’s appeal. The [Rolex-deficient] market will ultimately decide that, of course. Meanwhile, I’m calling it: bad landing, wrong airport.