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The Servicing Of My Omega Aqua Terra: A Detailing Of My Experience With Sending My Watch To Omega In Bienne Switzerland


The Servicing Of My Omega Aqua Terra:

A Detailing Of My Experience With Sending

My Watch To Omega In

By: John B. Holbrook, II

October 4, 2004

Having owned my Aqua Terra (purchased new from an authorized dealer) for just over a year, I started noticing that my beloved Omega AT was running quite slow.  The watch had almost always ran on the slow side, but never more than a couple of seconds per day.  Sometimes it wouldn’t loose any time at all for days at a time.  Given my choice, I’d prefer a watch to run fast than slow – slow running watches irritate me.  Call it a pet peeve but when you synch up to an atomic clock source as I do whenever I slip on one of my watches, it’s much quicker and easier to do with a watch that runs fast than one that runs slow.  In any event, my AT started falling outside of COSC parameters, so I decided to send it to Omega for service and regulation.

As this was to be my first experience with Omega service, I decided to do a little background research.  I’d already decided based on testimonials I’d read that I wanted to send my watch directly to Omega’s service department in Bienne Switzerland, and not here in the US.  I’ve read absolutely glowing reviews about the Bienne Service Center, and horrible testimonials of service experience with the US based centers.  My first step was to dispatch an E-Mail to Omega via their customer service section of their company website ( detailing my problems, and requesting instructions for how to send my watch directly to Bienne.  I also sent long time Omega fan Keith Dowling an E-Mail asking for his advice on how to proceed, given that he’s been through the process.  About a day after I sent Omega the initial E-Mail, I received the following instructions:

Dear Mr Holbrook,

We thank you for your message regarding your two Omega watches. We shall gladly take care of your watches and suggest that you send them to our Customer Service in Bienne at the following address:


Customer Service

Rue Staempfli 96

2500 Bienne 4


Phone: 032 / 343 9561

Fax: 032 / 343 9855

The parcel should be sent by registered and insured mail, together with a “certificate of registration” form no CF 4455, which can be obtained at any Customs Office, to avoid difficulties upon the re-importation to your country. Please make sure that your parcel is clearly marked “watches for repair/customs clearing by receiver in Bienne, Switzerland”. NOTE FROM AUTHOR:  I asked the post office about form CF 4455 and they’d never heard of it.  I DID NOT fill out the form and experienced no problems as a result.

Upon receipt of your watches, our technicians will examine them very closely and we shall submit you our reports with all relevant details. Please be assured that we shall accord special attention to your Omega watches.

We would like to give you more details about the chronometer performances as following:

To obtain the title of “chronometer” every single watch movement must be submitted to the severe tests of the Swiss official Chronometer Control (COSC). The Swiss Norms for chronometer rating certificates are of -4/+6 seconds per day, when the watch is worn.

All Omega automatic chronometers can, however, be adjusted to a tighter rating, in order to obtain results above 0 second per day when the watch is worn.

The precision of a mechanical watch can vary from one person to another, depending upon the individual wearing conditions.

An adjustment to perform within these limits is very easy to be done through a qualified Omega watchmaker. However, before having such adjustment made, it is advisable to synchronize your watch with an official time signal and to wear it for about 15 days without re-setting it; any deviation can then be corrected.

The performance of a certified chronometer movement cannot be compared with that of a quartz movement, which has an entirely different basis, only a few mobile parts and is battery driven.

A mechanical chronometer still represents the watchmaker know-how and gives to the owner a feeling of comfort and pride to wear a timepiece representing the skill of the traditional Swiss watch making industry.

Awaiting your consignment we remain,

with kind regards,


Maria Mastrodonato

Customer Service

Phone: +41 32 343 9561

Fax: +41 32 343 9855


The very next day (August 18th) I packaged up my watch (you’ll want to let the post office seal it as is required for an international shipment of this nature) insured the watch, filled out the customs paperwork and sent my watch off to Bienne.  It took about 15 minutes at the post office, and cost me about $20.00.  In the package, I included a printout of the above E-mail, and added some fairly detailed instructions of what I wanted them to do.  I asked that the watch be regulated, and if possible, I’d prefer that the watch run fast not slow, and within COSC specifications.  Based on everything I’d read online, I expected the entire process to take about 4-6 weeks.

At the one month mark, (September 17th) anxious to see my Aqua Terra again, I dispatched an E-Mail to Omega in order to confirm receipt of my watch, and also to see if they had an estimated time of completion and return.  I got the following E-Mail back within 24 hrs.:

Dear Mr Holbrook, II,

We acknowledge good receipt of your  OMEGA watch.

Your watch has been examined by our technicians and our detailed reports have been sent to your address, by separate air mail post.

Please note the following repair number:

– Repair no 736.594 – Seamaster Aqua Terra watch reference 2502.50.00

The watch is actually at our workshop and will be repaired, as per your instructions. After passing successfully our final quality tests, your Omega watch will be despatched to you at the end of September 2004.

In the meantime we wish you a great day.

With kind regards,


Maria Mastrodonato

Customer Service

Phone: +41 32 343 9561

Fax: +41 32 343 9855


I was quite pleased by this response – not only had they received my watch, but they actually read my instructions and were following them!  Best of all, my waiting was almost over -the watch would soon be leaving Bienne and heading for home!

On Monday, October 4th, our regular mail delivery person walked in and announced she needed someone to sign for a certified international parcel – my AT was finally back from Bienne!  Upon opening the package, I was first greeted by the below pictured case which Omega ships watches in for the return trip back to their owner.  I was quite impressed by the thought that went into the design of this travel case – it contained specially cut foam to protect the watch inside the case:

The watch itself was also wrapped in the same protective plastic that a new Omega watch comes with.  Indeed, removing the plastic, I was taken aback by how brand spanking new the watch looked.  Clearly Omega had done more than simply regulate the watch.  I then located the invoice which detailed the work that had been done to the watch:

As you can see, Omega agreed with my assessment that the watches timing rate was poor.  They also noted that the case was scratched (if it was, I didn’t notice it but I don’t doubt them), that the bezel showed signs of “shock” (strange given that I’d never dropped the watch) and that the crystal was scratched.  That last one REALLY surprised me – how the heck to you scratch a sapphire crystal???  In any event, the invoice indicates the work they performed would normally have been an 80.00 charge, but was performed at NO COST under warranty.  They didn’t even charge me for the return postage.

I then found two baggies containing various parts.  It’s Omega’s normal practice to return to the customer any pieces or parts they remove from the watch.  I think this is excellent service on Omega’s part – not only does it help demonstrate the work that was done, but it also makes good sense – why not return the parts to the customer?  After all, they paid for them.  Here’s a picture of one of the small baggies I received with my watch:

You’ll see above that they replaced the metal spacer ring, a couple of gasket rings, and several gear components from the movement.  If you look closely, you’ll see they replaced the actual co-axial escapement from the caliber 2500!

Upon closer examination of my watch, it was clear that the bracelet and case had been carefully polished and not a scratch was on the watch – even the clasp looked as good as the day I first got the watch!  A second baggie I found contained – get this – spring bars.  Omega actually replaced the spring bars from the bracelet!

In short, to say that I was completely satisfied with my service experience from Omega is an understatement to say the least.  Omega went well above and beyond any expectations I had in their servicing of my watch.  In an industry where poor after sales service is more common than not, Omega seems to be an example for all others to follow.  I’ll close this article with a picture of my freshly serviced Omega Aqua Terra:

You can discuss this article in the Omega Forum of my online luxury watch discussion forum community WATCH TALK FORUMS.

Richard Mille Watches at Official Watches

*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.

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  1. Richard Chelvan says:

    That sounds like great customer service, so rare in this day and age. I would love to get an Omega Seamaster but I can’t afford the Co-Axial yet.

    I do own a couple of watches with Swiss movements that a lesser Swiss maker made. One of them is a 7750.

    On another note, I now own a SIG P210-6 pistol which is Swiss-made. The machining is superb and it is arguably the finest 9mm parabellum made. I am so proud of it.

    Finally, I think Swiss chocolate is the best in the world! 😉

  2. I’ve shot many firearms Richard. Do give the Springfield Armory XD(m) 9mm a try – my favorite shooter at the moment. A close second is my carry weapon of choice – the Ruger SR9c.

  3. Most excellent! Now I see what the fanfare is about around the return case; it’s quite nice. Many thanks for reposting the pictures.

  4. Thanks Carl!

  5. Hey John,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your articles, and also your Rolex website. I own a vintage Omega Seamaster which I had restored by Omega here in the States. It’s a Cosmic 2000 calibre 1012 which looks like the 70’s version of your Aqua Terra. I didn’t know any better and didn’t even think about just sending directly to Bienne. I used the service center locator on their site and of course it’ll give you the local service centers. They were able to do the work (after 2 trips), but the service was not what I expected from a luxury watch company, and the second time they scratched the case and crystal (I buffed out most of it myself). I mean, I can live with it, but was expecting more from such a prestigious watch firm. I still love Omega watches but next time I need work I think I’ll head the Bienne route, given there’s no new rule not allowing you go to there if you have a local center.

  6. I bought my Speedmaster Pro’ second hand at a very good price as it had been well used. The watch had been presented as a promo item at Goodwood Festival of Speed and in the papers I found a complimentary service card.

    Omega CH confirmed they would honour the service card and provided instructions on how to return it for a service.

    I sent the watch to Omega UK and received an estimate and list of recommendations the face being the only item requiring additional payment £56.

    What I received back is stunning!!!

    There were a few deep scratches on the clasp that are now barely visible. The crown, pushers, pusher mounts, plexi-glass are new the hands re-lumed and the bracelet stripped individually polished/brushed, re-pined and text re-stamped all as part of the standard service. I also opted for a new face.

    Total cost £70!

    As above it was shipped in a travel case with a bag of bits and delivered by a secure carrier. The UK service centre is defiantly to be recommended!!!

  7. Stan Elsdon says:

    I have an Omegs Speedmaster. have had it for 40 years and it is great. realised it needed servicing so I took it to the Omega repair center in Toronto Canada ( my home city) the estimate for a total overhall was $745 plus tax. No problem, please proceed!
    I picked the watch up and it looks great! all polished and all the replaecd parts in little poly bags for me to see, this is good. however at home I realised I could not stop the continuous second hand so I could syncronise the watch to another time piece. before it was repaired the stem could be pulled out one stop past the regular time setting adjustment point and the watch could actually be run very slowley in reverse to allow for accurate settings.frustrated bacause a return trip to Omega Toronto is a challange I phoned, finaly spoke to a customer service person who insisted on telling me the watch was not designed to stop the second hand or slowly reverse! he suggested I return it to the repair center. Ok but will they fix it as I wate?? no I would have to leave it!! another trip to the heart of Toronto?? I say not! they would not commit to a quick fix as I stand there. they will fix it nd Fed Ex it to me @ their expence. my opinion, only fair service, not good service and not worth the $745 charge seeing I have to go back.

  8. Omega’s co-axial movements are inherently unreliable. Lucky you have a good relationship with Omega customer service – you’re going to need to make good use of it during the lifetime of this watch.

  9. While my AT was sold long ago, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that the co-axial movement is “inherently unreliable.” Have any facts to support such a statement?

  10. I really like the watch you have here John. Thinking of trading in my old Seamaster Cosmic and upgrading. Do you recommend going with the Mid size or the full 40 or 42 MM version? What’s the price difference?


  11. The size you get is really going to depend on your own personal preferences and your wrist size. 40mm is always a good size for me.

  12. I have him 2. Great watch! Great dail love it…


  13. Tony Cariffe says:

    To Stan Elsdon – Sir, Omega Service in Toronto speaks the truth: the sweep hand in your 40-year-old Speedmaster Professional should not stop when the crown is pulled out to set the time. Don’t send it back, and don’t drive back to Toronto to have the watch looked at again because it’s performing exactly the way it was designed to. Best, Tony C. in East Aurora, NY.

  14. Sadly, I’ve had a disappointing experience with the service and repair of my Omega Speedmaster Professional. Having owned the watch for approximately three years (purchased new from my local Omega dealer) the power reserve was typically 27 hours against Omega’s claimed 48 hours. My local dealer said that a service would solve the problem. The dealer claimed to be an authorised Omega service agent. I paid £400 for the service but on receipt of the watch the power reserve was still 27 hours! The manager explained that the service was not overseen by his senior technician and offered no apology. I insisted that the watch be returned to Omega’s UK service department. Omega UK identified a faulty mainspring and repaired the watch but I was given no paperwork. Unfortunately, eight months on and the power reserve has dropped to 28 hours. I have today contacted Omega UK and await a response.

  15. Sorry to hear that. 🙁

  16. Ricardo Lapetra says:

    Hi John

    I’m glad to read your experience.
    Currently my watch is being repaired.
    I own an Omega Seamaster Diver 300 m James Bond 007 Collector’s Piece.
    It´s a diver 300m water resistant watch but recently have appeared condensation with a simple shower exposure.
    The watch is about four years old, so out of warranty,but the technical service in Madrid (Spain) has recommended sending it to Switzerland to analyze the causes of indoor humidity.
    It’s a bit frustrating that a swiss watch with 300m water resistance is affected by water from a daily shower!
    However the feeling with the technical service is pretty good and I wish to confirm the professionalism of customer service that you report.

  17. @Ricardo Lapetra

    Hi. I realize, that this is quite an old comment, but I just wanted to add for Ricardo and anyone who might read this, that this in fact is not that uncommon. After all every manufacturer of water tight watches states quite clearly that this is only at the moment of the test and that this water tightness cannot be guaranteed for long, for it depends on the way you treat your watch, hot-cold-cycles and a lot of other things.

    If your watch e.g. is warm from your arm and you go into very cold water without cooling adjusting the watch temperature, even a watch that might be water tight to a 100m might leak at once, for the gaskets shrink in the sudden coldness faster than the case.

    Things like that cannot be prevented.

    People who really take their watches into the water for a swim or a shower (and showering actually is much harder on the watch than swimming, for the water stream comes out of the shower head with pressures exceeding 3bar once in a while) should have them tested for tightness at least once a year.


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