Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 44 London Chronograph

Omega will, again, be the official timekeepers to the next Olympic Games. To commemorate the appointment, the company has released the 44mm Seamaster Aqua Terra London Chronograph. Omega’s association with the modern Olympics is a remarkable achievement and London 2012 will mark the 25th occasion on which the organisation has timed the games.

The AT 44 London comes in two models. The ‘terra’ version offers a two-tone 18 karat red gold and stainless steel case complemented by a black leather strap, while the ‘aqua’ version is constructed from stainless steel and accompanied by a fine brushed stainless steel bracelet, the design of which refers back to Omega bracelets of the late nineteen-sixties and seventies.(Click on the picture for a magnified view)

The aesthetics of the case are a delight to observe, thanks to modern case-making precision and methods. The bezel is mirror polished. It’s a perfect foil for the linear adoucissage finish of the inner lugs which are corralled by a broad raised strip of mirror polish sweeping around the entire outer case. As a piece of sculpture, the case is faultless. The abstract London Olympics logo is deeply pressed into the case back, which will please those wanting a memento of the occasion.

The dial is a standard chronograph configuration with small seconds sub-dial at 0900, 30 minute recorder at 1500 and the twelve hour sub-dial at 1800. The dial surface retains the popular Aqua Terra ‘teak pattern’ design and is coated in an attractive hue of blue PVD. While I have great affection for the luminous broad arrow and blunted dagger minute and hour hands, I believe they are better placed in non-chronograph dials because they impair visibility of the sub-dials and affect the functional purpose of chronographs. But, hey, who is going to let functionality get in the way of what is, essentially, an excellent piece of design.

The AT London is water resistant to one-hundred and fifty metres and has a self locking crown that screws into the crown tube. The pushers are attractive in their dual finish and rounded lines.

The movement? In some ways sadly, a calibre 3313 self winding Piguet manufactured column wheel chronograph powers this piece. Yes, it has all the co-axial fruit and a free sprung balance, but I am not convinced that this series of calibres offers the robustness that one should expect in a tool watch. Granted, there have been a number of design fixes over the years, but the riveted intermediate driving wheels remain a problem for me. If industry scuttlebutt is anything to go by, Omega has recognised the durability issues of this family of calibres and will retire them from their men’s chronograph ranges over time.

A good looking watch the Aqua Terra 44 London is, but if I was in the business of purchasing a commemorative London Olympics watch I might just wait until I discover if any commemorative Olympic models will feature the new in-house chronograph calibre 9300 series.