The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra XXL is the perfect accessory for those whose tailoring bears the same label. Making no distinction between walls of muscle or tubs of lard, this AT just cries out to embellish a wrist that would match the circumference of Rush Limbaugh’s head!
Omega literature declares that the XXL has a “bold” 49.2 mm case (‘Bold’ is the current horological euphemism for ‘ridiculous’ or ‘otherwise indescribable’). The case is a dead-ringer of the limited edition Railmaster colossus that shocked, or awed, depending on one’s outlook, the educated watch-buying public a few years ago, only this time it sports the AT livery.
That having been said, the Aqua Terra dial, combined with a sub-dial registering seconds, certainly offers a very clean design narrative and exceptional aesthetics, further flattered by brushed, polished and faceted hands with an attractive broad-arrow minute hand. The hands and the sharp arrowhead markers have super-Luminova inserts, which, to me, compromises the beauty of the dial and consigns the piece to a shadow-land of ambiguous identity. When, and where, would one wear this watch?
The power plant is interesting and has a lineage dating back to hunter-cased pocket watches of the nineteen-fifties, and, in fact, was designed for that purpose. The Omega chronometer certified calibre 2211A is sourced from an ETA calibre 6498 ebauche that was originally designed for pocket watches by the August Raymond SA company Unitas. This company was a casualty of what we now describe as the quartz and throwaway watch crisis of the late 1970s and when Ebauches S.A. absorbed Unitas, Valljoux and other manufacturers within ETA S.A and finally came under the umbrella of the Swatch Group, many of the original ebauche names and calibre numbers were retained. The tools and related equipment for the Unitas 6498 hunter pocket watch movement became the property of the Swatch Group.
So, the calibre 2211A has a glorious history and is of excellent and proven design. (For a nice little 'riff' on this calibre, click here) Even in its more basic ebauche form it is easy to regulate to chronometer specifications. The seventeen jewel hand-wind movement has deep grain snailing on nicely anglaged bridges (which is an interesting departure from the more common Geneva wave design) and functional finish is excellent. This movement is undoubtedly a classic, and while it provides power for many a brand name, including some Panerais, I would have liked to see this 36.6mm movement in a 41mm or 42mm case.
The size of the AT XXL reminds me of the way furniture design went during the Victorian era: from relatively interesting and sophisticated lines and embellishments in the early period to more fruit than on Carmen Miranda’s head in the late period. It seems that human nature dictates that a design trend must be blown out to the point of absurdity before a new counter-trend emerges, and maybe the 49.4mm XXL represents a turning point. But, it still leaves us with the question, who will wear a watch of this size? Japanese sumo wrestlers, steroid-addled body builders, poor little men with a size complex, the criminally obese, for sure, but who else with an ounce of urbanity would touch it?