The new Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Annual Calendar is about the closest thing you will see to line breeding in horology, for this Seamaster is a living embodiment of the genetic material that made the House of Omega such an unassailable presence in the world of production watchmaking during the halcyon nineteen-fifties and sixties.
Precision, ingenuity, quality, durability and style were the foundations upon which Omega’s reputation was originally built, and it’s gratifying to see a strong selection of these genes combine with today’s technology and meticulous production processes to create the Seamaster genotype we see in the Aqua Terra today. This is not hyperbole, but recognition of the long and restorative journey undertaken by Omega towards its true origins.
While some horological petrol-heads (a complimentary term that describes lovers of mechanical watches) have slated Omega’s Basel offerings this year as somewhat pedestrian, another way to view the company’s 2010 Basel releases is that of a year of consolidation: a year of building on a solid base of real accomplishment and innovation over the last decade. Let’s not forget the U.S. financial debacle and its impact on many of the boutique and less honorable Swiss brands, and let’s not forget that crises of this nature have a way of influencing trends and preferences. And so, we see prudence and circumspection reflected in the Omega 2010 portfolio – rightly so for any responsible watch producer.
The Seamaster Aqua Terra Annual Calendar is a natural outcome of this period of consolidation. Firstly, Omega recognises that that the Aqua Terra collection is a favourite amongst those who know their watches and are impressed by good engineering, good design and thoughtful innovation. Secondly, the AT Annual Calendar is powered by the in house Co-Axial 8601/8611 series (see here for a review of this family of calibres). Thirdly, the classic design of this model means that, unlike some of the more grotesque tool watches on offer across the brands today, the Aqua Terra is a stayer, and a likely collectible of the future.
The AT Annual calendar has authentic and not faddish style. Let’s explore the aesthetics of the bi-colour stainless steel and 18k pink gold model. The matt black dial is machined to create the appearance of decking, described by Omega as a “teak concept”. The surface of the dial has been radially brushed and the pink gold dial furniture strongly etched in a linear adoucissage finish. Sculpted in a contemporary asymmetric fashion, the date surround compliments the blunted applied arrow head hour markers beautifully. The classic Omega symbol and logo are applied in pink gold and all lettering is expertly embossed. A faceted and blunted Dauphine hour hand is contrasted by arrow-headed minute hand and second sweep. This uncluttered but strong union of design features renders a pleasing, timeless and sophisticated effect.
The case is an understatement. The polished pink gold bezel is offset by a brushed finish on the case body with a classic black polish chamfer that curls around the lugs, referencing four decades of case design of the Seamaster marque. A semi-recessed crown completes this elegant and subtle case design.
As mentioned earlier, The AT Annual calendar is powered by the OMEGA Co-Axial calibre 8601/8611. It is a high-precision COSC-certified chronometer that features the additional functionality of an instantaneous jump annual calendar complication. The movement automatically recognises months with 30 and 31 days and needs to be manually corrected only once a year, on March 1st. It also features an exclusive Si 14 balance spring that eliminates issues of magnetism and results in minimal loss of recovery of oscillating performance of the balance wheel when subjected to disturbances or shocks.
Perhaps in hindsight the Aqua Terra Annual Calendar will be viewed by collectors as a milestone piece, a watch that represented the very DNA of a revived and revitalised Omega manufactory.