Review of the Omega Aqua Terra 2502.50.00
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Review
Model Number 2502.50.00
By: John B. Holbrook, II
August 2, 2003
It’s no exaggeration or hyperbole to say that the Omega Aqua Terra is the most discussed and written about watch of the last 12 months. Both online and in watch related publications, the Aqua Terra has received an enormous amount of attention. The attention is partly due to due the fact that the Aqua Terra is an entirely new model from Omega. How often do we see a brand new model launch from a company as old and traditional as Omega? This aspect alone would be enough to make the horologically inclined buzz with anticipation. But perhaps even more exciting is the new automatic movement contained within the Aqua Terra – the Omega Caliber 2500.
My first encounter with an Aqua Terra came last October during one of my frequent trips to Grand Rapids, Michigan. A visit to a regular jewelry store haunt with an excellent stock of Omegas yielded a wonderful surprise – a 41 mm silver dial automatic. I spent more time in the store that day trying on and discussing the watch than I had ever done so previously – about an hour. After leaving the store that day, I knew I’d own one. With a price tag of about $2600.00 though, I just wasn’t sure when. About eight months later I came across a deal on a brand new 41mm black dial that I just could not refuse. Thanks go out to Stephen Elkin for the lead!
The decision between the black dial and the silver dial was a difficult one. The black dial is to my eye more stunning, while the silver dial has a more classic appeal. Both are equally attractive (I did get the opportunity to audition a black dial version at Bailey, Banks, and Biddle of Cincinnati). In the end, despite the fact that I already have 2 other black dial Omegas, I went with the black dial on my Aqua Terra.
Right off the bat, the packaging brings the realization that you not only have a special watch, but a special Omega. The two other Omega watches I have purchased came in red leather boxes. The Aqua Terra arrived in the same white cardboard outer box, but inside was a very attractive wood box. The leather boxes are nice, but this wood box is something you’d be proud to display on your dresser.
As stated previously, the dial color was a tough choice, but in the end the high gloss, ultra-black dial won me over. Absent is the signature Seamaster wave pattern on the dial. This really ads to the classic dress appeal of the watch. The polished silver markers and hands also distinguish the Aqua Terra from other Seamaster watches. The markers and hands combine with the glossy black dial to make this watch a real attention getter! Another distinguishing dial choice is the use of the arrow head on the minute hand, and the spear head second hand. When I first saw the Aqua Terra, I wasn’t crazy about the minute hand but I quickly changed my assessment. Not only are the hands very attractive, but they add to the watches overall legibility. Protecting the dial is a sapphire crystal that is coated in the interior with an anti-reflective application. Encircling the crystal is yet another minimalist feature – a non-rotating and unmarked polished bezel.
The case of the watch more closely resembles other current models in the Seamaster line. The 41mm model I have is slightly larger than most other Seamasters (22mm lug width). The screw down crown is about the best I’ve used on any watch, and certainly better than any of the other Seamaster I own because it is much larger and easier to grip. The case has only half the water resistance of most other Seamaster watches (150m vs. 300m) – ostensibly due to the display back in lieu of the solid steel backs of most other Seamasters. The 41mm case size is something of a controversy – some say it’s too large for a dress watch such as this. I disagree. I have a 7 in. wrist size, and the watch doesn’t at all look too big. In fact, I tend not to wear my smaller size dress watches because my sport and dive watches have gotten me used to a larger size – less than 40mm just looks too small. The face of the Aqua Terra is quite expansive, which gives the Aqua Terra the appearance of being larger than it really is. I suspect most people would be satisfied with the 38mm version, but the 41mm I have is fantastic.
Upon first examination, one might easily confuse the Aqua Terra bracelet with a Rolex Oyster bracelet. In truth, the Speedmaster-derived bracelet with both solid center and end links is both larger (to accommodate the 22mm lugs) and more substantial than an Oyster bracelet. Where most “Speedy” bracelets (now used extensively in the Seamaster line as well) have polished ridges running along each side of the center link, the Aqua Terra bracelet has no ridges. The clean, Oyster-like style of the Aqua Terra bracelet fists perfectly with the overall simple and pure theme – an excellent choice for this particular watch. The clasp has drawn some criticism – it’s the same single button design used on the Seamaster GMT (black dial), the Seamaster 120, and the Omega Constellation. When closed, I personally feel the clasp is gorgeous. The clasp can be a bit awkward to close if you’re not used to it. However, having owned the Omega GMT with the same clasp, I can say with confidence that the clasp is very sturdy – I’ve never had my GMT single-button clasp open unintentionally.
As gorgeous and exciting as the rest of this watch is, I believe the Omega cal. 2500 movement within the case is the biggest draw to this watch. Like the Omega cal. 1120 which is commonly used in the Seamaster line, the 2500 is based upon the ETA 2892-2. The 2500 ads 2 more jewels (27 jewel total) as well as the legendary Co-Axial Escapement designed by George Daniels. The engineering advantage gained by this design feature is greatly reduced friction. The 2500 requires minimal lubrication, so the Aqua Terra can go 10 years without service, and has a warranty from Omega one year longer than other watches they sell (3 yrs.). Additionally, the 2500 is equipped with a simplified regulating system called a free-sprung balance which greatly improves precision. Finally, since the movement is viewable via a sapphire display back, Omega has stepped up the finishing of the movement over the 1120. Omega is not the first manufacturer to make use of George Daniels innovative design feature, but they are the first to include it in a mass production model watch. The free-sprung balance is another somewhat rare engineering enhancement rarely seen in watches attainable by mortal men (Rolex has used a similar regulation system for several years as a cornerstone of their movements precision). Every indication is that the Omega cal. 2500 will be one of the most reliable and precise mechanical movements ever created – indeed, Omega plans to replace the current cal. 1120 used in the Seamaster line with the cal. 2500.
I feel fortunate to own my Aqua Terra. It is a gorgeous timepiece in its first production year that has a great lineage, and a bright future. It has the prestige of the Omega name, and horological significance of the co-axial escapement. With a retail price of $2600.00, the AT is currently the most expensive watch in my collection, but I do consider it a true value when you compare its features to offerings from Rolex, IWC, and other truly high end manufacturers.
*All text and images contained in this review are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.