These days there's no such thing, strictly, as an evening watch. The standards of formality have relaxed so markedly that the definition of formal wear has become tortuously ambiguous over the last three decades. It’s almost at the point where you could roll up at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester and bog into the tasting menu wearing little more than designer jeans and a Ploprof on your wrist!!
Wearing tool watches to black tie events and dress watches to work is commonplace…and in some ways more’s the pity. Men just don’t get as many opportunities anymore to climb into a penguin suit, don a precious metal watch, hang an elegant woman off their arm and mingle with polite society. Not that this new informality is particularly lamentable, but the joys of “dressing up” are few and far between these days.
To add to the ambiguity, watch companies have been transforming tool watches (watches designed and engineered to perform a particular function or in a designated environment) into dress watches and indeed dress watches into tool watches – witness the Omega Constellation Double-Eagle range (Talk about a design code identity crisis). And now the lines are to be blurred further with the release of the Aqua Terra jewellery range.
I’m a great fan of the Omega Aqua Terra collection, both from the aesthetic and horological viewpoint. Since I have waxed lyrically on the case lines and design elements of the AT previously, we will explore other features of this newly released series. To start with, Omega has taken a commonsense approach to case size. Discerning some movement in the market towards cases that do not rival the diameter of Dawn French’s backside, Omega has sized the case sensibly at 38.5mm. It’s hardly small by today's standards, but cleverly positioned in the dead middle of the size-fashion continuum.
The dial looks appealing with the Aqua-Terra’s signature teak design finished in black lacquer. The faceted arrow-head markers are dotted with eleven single cut diamonds and there is a brushed 18 Karat gold applied date window at 3 o'clock. The broad arrow minute hand, truncated Dauphine hour hand and arrowhead sweep draw deeply from Omega’s history and the overall effect of dial and hands is that of deliberately understated luxury.
The watch is presented on either a brushed 18 karat gold bracelet with Omega’s patented screw-and-pin system and a safety clasp or a black alligator leather strap with a fold-over clasp. A stainless steel version is also available.
The bezel is paved set with 52 full-cut diamonds and screams money or at least access to an excellent credit line. Overall, when comparing apples with apples, or jewellery watches with jewellery watches, the Aqua Terra has a timeless refinement about it and shapes up very well as an heirloom watch. Couple stylish design with the excellent calibre 8500 series under the dial and you have an aristocratic member of the montre bijoux class of watches.
The market niche for this collection? Women for sure, but I can also see half the Chinese Politburo salivating over these watches. A fair number of the more effete varieties of fashionisti would stab each other in the back for one and wealthy dudes with no sexual identity issues will wear them without self-consciousness. And if you add the usual suspects like gansta rappers, hip-hoppers, crack cocaine lords and Ryan Seacrest clones, there will be no shortages of takers.
Click on the pictures for magnified view