A Week on the Wrist with the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra – more fun than the Rolex Explorer

Omega’s Seamaster Aqua Terra might just be the one watch you’d ever need

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra
(Image credit: Roland Moore-Colyer)

A go anywhere, do anything watch is a tad nebulous of a concept, as no watch is perfect for every occasion. Rather a so-called ‘GADA’ watch is a one that’s flexible: a watch that looks just as good on a leather strap as it does on a bracelet, and can go from the boardroom to the beach and most places in between. And I think the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra might just be the platonic ideal of such a watch.

Despite being rather new to watch collecting, I recently got a rush of blood to the head when looking for a watch to wear at weddings and decided to get my first ‘luxury’ watch. Not long after I found myself in an authorised Omega dealer with my heart set on a 38mm Aqua Terra in blue -- no easy choice as there’s also a 41mm model and a dizzying amount of colour, material and finishing options.

To go for a luxury watch priced in the thousands this early on in my watch journey might seem premature, especially as this Omega lacks the storified history of the Speedmaster, having been initially released in 2003 making it young in watch years. Yet I parted with my cash and have not looked back since, having worn the Aqua Terra literally every single day since.

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra: the specs

Let’s talk specs first. At the heart of the Aqua Terra – and indeed many other Seamasters – lies the calibre 8800. Sporting a co-axial escapement, this 35 jewels automatic movement operates a frequency of 25,200 vibrations per hour, has a 55-hour power reserve and uses a silicon balance spring that makes it resistant to electrical magnetic fields reaching 15,000 gauss. As such, this calibre has Master Chronometer certification by METAS, meaning it should only deviate by 0/+5 seconds a day even with major changes in temperature and all manner of bumps, bangs and scrapes.

That movement powers the Super-LumiNova-coated rhodium-plated hands that dance between triangular applied indices of the same material and lume. These make up the “teak” dial, comprising laser-etched horizontal lines inspired by the wooden decks of luxury sailboats, and a date at six o'clock.

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra

(Image credit: Roland Moore-Colyer)

On the outside, the robustness of the movement is complimented by a screw-down crown offering 150 metres of water resistance, and a domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the outside and inside. With my reference, the, all this is housed in a slick stainless steel case measuring 45mm lug-to-lug. 

For the current asking price of £5,900, the Aqua Terra offers quite a lot in terms of specs, features and finishing. That’s still a lot of money even for a luxury sports watch, but it’s in the details that the Aqua Terra can justify its price. 

What is the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra like to wear?

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra

(Image credit: Roland Moore-Colyer)

While I’ve not measured them, I have reasonably large wrists – a 42mm Omega Speedmaster doesn't feel too large, for example – but having tried on both the 41mm and 38mm version of the Aqua Terra, the latter is the size I’d recommend. The 41mm version looks great but I feel Aqua Terra’s case shape and the 12.2mm thickness works better on the 38mm version, which does not dominate my wrist but still offers plenty of room to stare at the glorious dial.

And what a dial it is. Over the weeks of wearing my Aqua Terra I’ve found myself simply staring at it and the watch as a whole. The anti-reflective coating sometimes makes the crystal look like it’s not there under certain light, giving the dark blue of my Aqua Terra’s dial a depth that my eyes just drink in. The sunburst finish in the teak design, combined with the polished hands and indices plays with the light, leading me to move my wrist to see how the light dances across the dial; it’s addictive. 

But there's a bounty of other details to enjoy. The broadhead arrow design of the minute hand evokes the Seamaster’s diver heritage, while the slimmer arrow of the seconds hand neatly aligns its lumed section with that of the hour markers, for a split second making them seem like a single component. In certain light the recessed minute track can look like it falls away from the dial, adding to that depth that evokes the deep blue sea.

Then we have the case itself, with a combination of polished and brushed steel finishing that extends to the twisted lugs to further play with light. This mix also means the Aqua Terra can thread the line between being a dressy watch on formal occasions and a sports watch when kicking about daily life.

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra

(Image credit: Roland Moore-Colyer)

Speaking of which, let’s get back to that idea of flexibility. I initially wore my Aqua Terra on its three-link bracelet, which I feel is well-made and comfortable, once I had a couple of half-links removed. But it’s far from perfect, with a lack of micro adjustment being a tad disappointing for a watch at this price. And the polished middle-links can be a tad too showy for my tastes – it worked well for one of the aforementioned weddings, but doesn't quite do it for me when it comes to daily wear.

Popping the Aqua Terra onto a leather strap refined things somewhat, though do be careful doing this if you’re not using a strap with quick-release spring bars as the polished surfaces can scratch easily if you’re a tad clumsy like me. 

But the real winner for me is the official Aqua Terra rubber strap. Arriving about a month after I got the watch, the rubber strap sports a crossweave pattern and contrasting white stitching, and is a bit of a revelation. It integrates wonderfully with the watch case and has a blue that matches the dial, offering not only a ready-for-action sporty feel but a degree of formality; you could mistake the rubber for leather at a quick glance. A robust clasp with a push-button release is just icing on the cake. 

My Aqua Terra now lives on the rubber strap, especially now in the warmer months where it’ll flex as my wrist changes size in the heat. But the fact it looks good on other straps and its bracelet, makes for a watch that can be both formal and playful – it really does feel like an everyday watch that I can wear to work but also on a coastal hike. I also reckon it would look brilliant on a Nato or sailcloth strap.

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra

(Image credit: Roland Moore-Colyer)

Is the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra worth the money?

The Seamaster range has risen in price over the years, and initially baffling is the Aqua Terra wants some £300 more than the Seamaster 300m Professional, which comes with a greater depth rating and a ceramic dive bezel.

While it would be madness to say the Aqua Terra offers good value at more than five grand, I believe one pays more for the exacting level of finishing and flexibility the watch offers over its more tool-like siblings. 

It was that idea of an everyday luxury watch flush with detail and a robust movement that had me part with my money – though I negotiated a decent deal at an authorised dealer so saved a good bit off the listed retail price. 

But even then, I’m under no illusion that the Aqua Terra is a perfect watch. And it irks me a tad that the larger 41mm models get the calibre 8900, which offers a jumping hour function and 60 hours of power reserve, all for the same money as the smaller watch. There’s also an argument that all the details can make the Aqua Terra feel over-engineered, with excessive polishing and brushing almost being distracting when compared to the simpler elegance of a Rolex Explorer. 

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra

(Image credit: Roland Moore-Colyer)

However, the fact that you can go into an Omega boutique or dealer and just buy an Aqua Terra already gives it an advantage over its crown-adorned rival. And I’ve yet to spot a watch that offers the specs, finishing, flexibility and colour options the Aqua Terra offers for around £5,000.

As I write this, I’m trying out a Christopher Ward C65 Dune in bronze that looks great and has a solid Selita movement and some excellent finishing on its Lightcatcher case, at a price of around £1,000. Now, my Aqua Terra isn’t five times the watch – like anything with a luxury element the law of diminishing returns is at play here – but it’s a notable step up in quality and specs, though I’d not dissuade anyone from buying a Christopher Ward watch either. 

So in short, I think the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra is worth its price, though do negotiate with a friendly authorised dealer. It offers a great alternative to the likes of the Rolex Explorer, can be worn just about anywhere, and for people who care about such things: Daniel Craig’s James Bond wore a blue Aqua Terra in Skyfall and Spectre

Just be aware that once you get an Aqua Terra you might find it hard to want to wear anything else – I’m certainly feeling that way. 

Roland Moore-Colyer is the Managing Editor for Mobile Computing at TechRadar. In addition to his main focus area, Roland enjoyes writing about games, computers, watches and cars.