We reported on the new Seamaster Aqua Terra GMT Worldtimer during the May Time to Move Event in Switzerland. Here is our hands-on detail review of the watch.
The watch is not totally a new offering from Omega. In 2017, the Aqua Terra GMT Worldtimer debuted in a platinum case. The debut watch was a bit much for an Omega, both in price (US$48,000) as well as in the complexity of the platinum case, gold markers, hands, hand-crafted enamel world map, textured dial and the usual complex display of a world timer watch. We believe the Singapore Omega team did not order a piece then.
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra GMT Worldtimer
But for this year, the Aqua Terra GMT Worldtimer is offered in a multiple versions:
- Steel case, blue dial, blue rubber strap
- Steel case, blue dial, steel bracelet
- Sedna gold case, silver dial, alligator strap
- Sedna gold case, silver dial, Sedna gold bracelet
For this review, we selected our favourite from the lot – the version in a steel case, blue dial and blue rubber strap.
The case, dial and hands
The case remains the same shape and size as the original platinum version – 43mm diameter and in stainless steel. The visual impression is one which inspires confidence. The case is rather massive, but the elements on the dial, complex as they are, gives a very sporty, yet elegant vibe.
The dial is exceptional. First, as a GMT Worldtimer, it is called to display a lot of information. This would normally result in a busy and confusing dial. But not the case with the Aqua Terra GMT Worldtimer. The layout is clean and very legible.
The dial is composed of three different rings. The outer ring is shared between the applied hour indices and the city labels. As a nod to its origins, the city of Bienne is used for GMT+1, where the Omega headquarters is located.
Inward of that is a ring with the 24 hours display. The ring is made of hesalite crystal. A light blue half indicates daytime, while the dark blue half indicates night. Right in the middle of the dial is a cartouche of the Earth looking down from the North Pole. The cartouche is made from a titanium plate, which is laser-ablated to create the blue ocean, leaving a relief of the continents. The contrasting colors and textures on the surface is obtained by chemical reactions with the laser. This central cartouche is eye catching and provides a tinge of the unusual to the watch dial.
The strap is features rather interesting detailing. The textured middle panel provides visual relief to the strap, making it rather attractive.
The case back shows the movement through the sapphire glass. The entire GMT Worltimer display is controlled by the crown, with no pushers on the case band. The movement is the caliber 8938 for the steel model and caliber 8939 for the gold. The only difference between the two calibers is the 18K Sedna gold rotor and balance bridge used in the gold version.
The movement is based on the 8900, featuring a twin barrel construction for 60 hours of autonomy with a stable torque delivery. The escapement is co-axial with a silicon balance spring. And the movement is Master Chronometer certified.
Movement finishing is judged to be adequate for a watch of this caliber and price point. This means that it is competently designed and executed to a very high level of engineering. The decoration is kept limited to the Geneva waves in arabesque – a form of artistic decoration consisting of “surface decorations based on rhythmic linear patterns of scrolling and interlacing foliage, tendrils” or plain lines.
The caliber 8900 and its variants are a time tested and proven movement in Omega’s quiver. The 8900 was the first of Omega’s movements to receive the new METAS cerfication and have been service since 2015.
The competitive landscape
The landscape for worltimer watches with a sporty bend is perhaps more sparse than those intended for the classical traveler. In the classical vein, we have the traditional Patek Philippe World Timer Ref. 5131 which is only in precious metal.
From the sporty field comes the Vacheron Constantin Overseas World Time which is a rather interesting match. It hails deep within the realm of haute horlogerie.
In a stainless steel case, but with a SS bracelet, and a crocodile strap and a rubber strap thrown in for good measure, it retails at a much higher S$56,900, commensurate to the higher levels of finishing lavished on the watch.
A closer match to the Aqua Terra might be the Montblanc 1858 Worldtime Geosphere springs immediately to mind, though aesthetically from a totally different world.
The retail price is somewhat less expensive at S$8,300 in a SS case on strap. The dial detailing uses two two turning domed hemisphere globes to show the world time. Water resistance is lower at 100m.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second Universal Time goes for a more considerable S$21,900, but it is equipped with the unique True Second mechanism.
Visually, the JLC Geophysic bears some resemblance to the Omega Aqua Terra, though the case is smaller at 41.6mm. The overall aesthetic of the JLC is more classical, while the Omega takes the cake for being more sporty.
Overall, the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra GMT Worldtimer is a competently designed and executed watch. We expect that from Omega, who is known for the no-nonsense approach it takes to building watches, while pushing the envelop in terms of technical creativity and robustness.
We find the Aqua Terra well suited for the task it is set out to perform. The watch is handsome, very legible, even to a jet-lagged traveller, and easy to use. It is robust and flexible enough to go from airplane to hotel to board room with ease, always looking the part. And after the scare of the price of the Aqua Terra Ultra Light, the GMT Worldtimer in SS is rather reasonably positioned.
This review misses two key points: 1) The Omega has a true GMT mechanism to allow for the hour hand to be set when traveling. This is a great feature in a travel watch, and 2) The most direct competitor to this is the also new Breitling Aviator 8 Unitime, which is a similar size (43mm), similar price, and similar functionality. A comparison of this Omega to the Breitling would have been very interesting.