Deciding to buy the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra wasn’t exactly a no-brainer (my favorite kind of brainer). Here’s why I bought this timepiece and how I feel about it after a year. Before we take a look at the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra in further detail, though, I would like to introduce you to the field of semiotics.
I do not envy you if you have ever had the misfortune of being invited to dinner at a semiologist’s house. You have earned my deepest sympathies.
You will likely be treated to a conversation drier than the fish you are served and, at some point, it will turn to decorative veils.
The decorative veil isn’t headdress but the space existing between an object’s function and its design. Extensive analysis leading to complex theoretical explanations exist, apparently.
This space, this decorative veil, encourages debate around an object’s nature and its meaning. A example of this is the Alessi Juicy Salif by Philippe Starck.
Alessi has produced and has sold around a million Juicy Salifs, yet the device is practically useless at juicing oranges and lemons.
French anthropologist André Leroy-Gourham believes the notion of functional approximation to be crucial in offering a reason for an object’s existence, and that there has always been freedom in the interpretation of the relationship between form and function.
Our fascination with watches has very little to do with the study or understanding of time itself. Watches are instruments that measure time and are usually designed to reflect that; however, the desire for watch designers to push the decorative veil leads to a wide variability in legibility.
Does the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra, a watch marketed to be worn on a yacht or while playing water sports, drape a decorative veil over its wearer’s wrist or can it actually juice a lemon?
After a year of owning mine, I am happy to report that it can.
Launched by Omega in 2002, it is a good-looking, casual sports watch featuring George Daniels’ co-axial escapement, which was industrialized by Omega and integrated into Swatch Group ETA-produced Omega calibers in the 1990s.
Omega believed in the co-axial and developed the technology for use in robust in-house calibers. A sports watch is the perfect proving ground, and the Aqua Terra was one of the models to benefit from the brand’s technological progress.
The first watches were modern but inspired by past designs. Long, twisted lugs and arrowhead hands came to define the look of the Aqua Terra collection, which was an aquatic-themed watch equally comfortable on land.
As the movements were upgraded to in-house calibers dial patterns became more elaborate, with the most important style update coming with the “teak-pattern” dials. These were embossed with slim, longitudinal lines evoking the teak decks of luxury yachts that came to define the look of the Aqua Terra collection.
The movement grew in thickness and diameter as did the cases. The co-axial calibers were not without issues, and with each update to their reliability came a slight styling change to mark the progress: date window frames were discarded in favor of unadorned cutouts, center links were polished, and finishing improvements were offered.
The dawn of the Master Chronometer certification from the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology heralded a redesign unveiled at Baselworld 2017, bringing with it a reimagining of the Seamaster Aqua Terra’s look.
Until that point my interest in the watch was lukewarm; however the technology, new design, and finish raised my thermostat past tropical.
The question when considering to buy was what would a watch designed for life on the high seas and dinners at yacht clubs do for me? The closest I ever got to a yacht was owning a pair of Sperry boat shoes, and I imagined it would be dishonest of my wristwatch to proclaim Seamaster when I didn’t even live near a pool.
Aqua was in the name, but so was Terra. And while The World Is Not Enough for James Bond, I thought that the Aqua Terra might be enough for me. And after all, Bond made do with one (see Commemorating 56 Years Of Bond, James Bond: A Complete Rundown Of Watches Worn On Screen By The World’s Most Famous Fictional Spy and The On- And Off-Screen Watches Of Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan).
I took the plunge. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M was a birthday present to myself: a wristwatch that wouldn’t necessarily be precious but a robust, well-made, legible, and water-resistant daily companion.
The broad case band, horizontally brushed, hinted at the sporting aspirations of the watch, but the polished sections in the now-shortened lugs and bracelet center links imparted slightly dressier pretensions, softening its image without damaging its character. I didn’t mind.
Being highly reflective, the hands and indices motivated me to select a black dial, which would absorb some of the light, leaving the fireworks to the rest of the hardware. In bright light, the black dial appears iridescent due to its metallic sunburst pattern.
The case back design ensures that the watch sits slightly proud on the wrist, leaving the lugs never quite in contact with skin. When they do touch, there is the polished bevel waiting.