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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is a comparison review between the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 8500 Co-Axial and the Datejust/OP series. It is posted here to avoid biases and bickering in the respective brand fora and to give it good exposure for the benefit of those who seek info on the subject. The Review section of WUS seems to get not so much traffic, unfortunately.

Let's start with some pics of similar looking watches.


Shamelessly lifted from budubub. :thanks


Thanks, Amazon.

I own the Omega and I own an Explorer I as well as a Sea Dweller and have had more than enough time to familiarize myself with the Datejust features and characteristics.

Why is it important to compare these two watches? Two reasons. First, both watches are meant to be able to serve a man or a woman as a “one-watch” for all their life. They are among the very rare watches that will go from beach to boardroom or even ballroom without a glitch. They both have achieved a near perfect balance of sporty and elegant and they have very similar features and even sizes. Thus they are direct competitors. Second, Rolex has stood without a challenge to the crown for a good 30 years or even more. This particular watch has the stuff it takes to set an end (Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet) to the crown’s story.

I have hence structured the comparison in three parts. Things that I find the Omega has to its advantage, things where I find the Rolex wins and issues that can easily swing one way or another. I hope you find my outlook on things fair and equitable. I think it is, as I have nothing to gain from being biased against my own decisions.

You can see excellent pictures of the Omega clicking the link below and I will post the obligatory wrist shot once I get good light.
https://www.watchuseek.com/f20/aqua-terra-teck-231-10-39-21-02-001-a-329901.html

Enjoy!


Advantage Omega AT 8500

The Omega has the longer power reserve and a two barrel movement. 60 hours (62h have been reported) versus 50h for the Rolex.

Both watches are COSC but Omega is said to now regulate their watches to a 4 second range. I have not heard of an Aqua Terra running worse than +2 per day. But I have heard and owned Rolexes running worse. I do know that Rolexes can also run close to zero but it would seem that Omega is leading by a nose length in the accuracy department.

The independent hour hand is a clear advantage for the traveler. No more stopping the movement to set the time.

The same goes for the really easy and quick date change via the hour hand jump. This feature works better in reality than I thought it would. And the date can be changed forward AND backward.

The Omega does have a 50% higher WR rating at 150m despite it’s crystal back. The back is screw-in by the way.

The Omega also has a 50% longer warranty for three instead of two years. This even applies when bought grey.

It is a “fancy feature” the Rolex lacks. It makes sense because the Rolex 3135 movement is nothing big to look at. The AT 8500 movement clearly has the nicer finish. World’s first rounded Geneva stripes all over the bridges and rotor, blued screws, beautifully colored jewels, quite a few chamfered and polished edges, red inlaid engravings. Really, for an industrially produced movement this is probably as good as it gets.

Even the exterior finish is at least in the same class if not better than Rolex. For example the crown has alternating polished and matte ridges and the Omega symbol sits polished on a matte background. The hands and markers are white gold, too, but on the Omega they also play with the light through polished and brushed surfaces and chamfered edges. Very detailed and intricate. The teck dial, inspired by teak planks on a boat deck, is at least as elaborate as anything that can be found on a Datejust without going nuts with diamonds. The case sides are brushed, which makes wonderful sense. These are the surfaces that are most prone to scratches and on a brushed surface it’s much easier to get them out yourself. Easy everyday maintenance is a clear advantage in my book.

The crown is easier to grasp and turn because it is bigger and offers a better grip.

At the same time it is better protected because it screws down half-way into the case. Integrated crown guards so to say. Cool.

Things look similar for the crystal. It doesn’t protrude as much over the bezel as on the Rolex and has thus less exposure to chipping.
It is also domed and AR coated from both sides, which results in better readability. From certain angles you really think there is no crystal.

The bracelet and it’s nicely integrated double deployant clasp are on one level with the new Jubilee bracelet but more elegant than the Oyster bracelet and clasp and at least as secure but more secure than the Jubilee. Center AND end links are solid. The full bracelet is brushed except the polished sides. That makes it much easier to maintain a finish yourself as opposed to the polished center links in the Rolex models.

The movement is groundbreaking for Omega and for watch making. It is the first really new and innovative “workhorse” movement from anyone in years. It is conceived in-house with the help of watch making legend George Daniels and production is supposed to be transferred to Omega from ETA soon. This will make it a complete in-house movement. The machinery and standards of production up to 1/1000 of a millimeter set a new level for industrial production. The co-axial escapement is supposed to prolong the service interval. If this turns out to be true it will be a clear advantage. Other horological details are at the same level as the 3135 and even the new updated version of it, once the Silicon hairpspring is used. You can already get that in the ladies’ model and the Aqua Terra Annual calendar. While the movement has more power reserve and more torque it is also flatter by a little bit which is quite an achievement. This flatness doesn’t however translate to a thinner watch. I presume that’s because of the sculpted dial and indices and the display back. Still the proportions are spot on.

There is more lume on average than on the Datejust series. This makes for better readability at night. But the hour hand is only lumed at the tip which needs some getting used to.

Not everybody has one (yet). Personally, I find this a great advantage. While the Datejust is an icon and has deserved its crown, it has also become really common. Given that Omegas production numbers are lower, I suppose the AT will never be as common as the DJ.

The Omega, finally, is undeniably the less expensive watch - a clear advantage for me, especially in light of its accomplishments and how it compares to the Rolex DJ. It is at least as good or better but costs between 15 and 50 per cent less than the Rolex, depending on discounts and models.


Now let’s see how the old Rolex stacks up against the young kid on the block (Omega is the older brand, btw).

Advantage Rolex Datejust

First and foremost, the brand’s prestige and recognition is not easily topped and clearly stands above Omega. No flames please!

The Rolex movement has proven reliability and accuracy records and is a very fine, rather high-end movement, that is industrially produced in-house. The new Omega Cal. 8500 has the potential to unseat the 3135 but it will have to prove its meddle first. I’m not so sure for example how the tiny tolerance co-axial escapement will respond to shocks. I haven’t heard anyone reporting of failures yet but we’ll have to see. I give the 3135 the benefit of doubt.

The DJ is an iconic design, there is no way around it. It also has one more size variation to choose from and sheer countless bezel, dial and bracelet combos available. OTOH, this also makes it easy for the specialists to pick combos that really look bad.

It will be much easier to find a good choice of 20mm lug size leather straps for the Rolex than 19mm straps for the Omega.

Not all versions have great lume on the DJ. But if it has lume, it has lume also along the hour hand. I think I prefer that to only the lumed tip on the AT.

The DJ has a quick-set date. Yes, it is quicker than the AT method but not by much and it only moves in one direction.

The jump date on the Rolex is more instantaneous. It really snaps. On the AT it seems it first moves a little bit and then it snaps.

The 36mm version is flatter than the 38.5mm version on the AT. Personally, I like that.

Due to the slightly slower beat rate, the second sweep is not quite as smooth on the Omega.

The new Rolex clasp style, while bigger than the AT clasp, has more micro-adjustments and the Easy Link system. So you have to choose between elegant on the AT and practical on the DJ for the Oyster. If you choose the new Jubilee, the Jubilee will be even more elegant but the Omega more secure.

The shine and bling of a fresh Rolex is amazing and it clearly stands out against the Omega on this point which is much more subdued. I guess that’s not a clear advantage for the Rolex but for some people it might be. I like both, so I gave them both a “+” on that issue. This is mostly due to the 904L steel which achieves a higher polish and is 3x more expensive. BTW, that translates to about $4 more of material cost, if that.

The Rolex will probably have the higher resale value but it also has a much higher entry price. If we look at resale value as percentage of purchase price the two might not be too far apart. But probably Rolex gets the point here.


We see that most Rolex advantages aren’t as clear-cut as the Omega advantages already. Let’s get to the issues that can really swing both ways or are matters of taste.

Undecided

The display back on the Omega is more susceptible to breakage than the Rolex steel back but it is less susceptible to scratches that occur far more often and easily than breakage. I think it’s also esthetically superior and it still provides superior WR rating.

Loupe or no loupe? That is the question.

DJ 36mm version a bit small for many today but Datejust 2 just looks terribly proportioned, whereas both AT versions look well balanced and it just depends on your wrist size and preference which one you choose.

Design that everyone will recognize on the Rolex. Some think that’s good, others would like something more discreet. The branding is particularly discreet on the silver/white model where the applied logo and the printed very small writing really blend with the dial. Can’t say that for the Rolex crown.

The Omega design with the teck dial and lyre lugs is a bit retro. I think that’s good, as in the last 20 years there was not a single model that really sang to me, whereas the classics from the 50s and 60s were always singing to me. But it might be not forward enough for some. Not that the DJ design is forward. ;)

The second/minute track around the dial of the Omega is not exactly wonderful (if remotely useful) but the Rolex Rehaut is seen by many as terrible (and really has no use).

The Omega has lume also on the second hand. Some will like that others not.

The Omega in 38.5mm weighs 150g with all links. The DJ in 36mm with all links of the Oyster bracelet weighs around 110g. So the Omega will feel like the more substantial watch. However, when you have them on the arm, you will forget they are there for both of them.

The ticking of the Omega is marginally louder than that of the Sea Dweller which is most likely due to case construction. But it also has a little ring to it, like a bell. I find that quite pretty but it could be interpreted as sounding cheap.


Conclusion

Rolex better put on the warm clothes. Really warm. I find that the new Omega Aqua Terra beats even the new Datejust, especially in the really tangible criteria like WR, PR, crown operation, lume. It also has the potential to beat it on the movement but we will see. And I find it does beat it on finish. If you take the price into consideration the Rolex has to take its hat/crown and leave the scene. Sorry. Does this mean I don’t love me Rollies anymore? Hell no! They are fantastic watches in their own right and they deserved the crown for a long time. But now it might be time to surrender. I think the new AT 8500 will be as much of a universal everyday watch as my Explorer I has been for more than a decade for me. One is black, one is white. Ebony and Ivory live together in perfect harmony… at least in my watch box.

Till

Finally the promised pics. :)









 

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Excellent review Tfar :-!

(What does it mean Tfar by the way ? :-d)

Personally I think the above Datejust is not the right opponent of the AT despite its oyster bracelet, the Explorer might be a better opponent, can you try to compare the Explorer to the AT ?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
tfar are my initials, simply. What does lvt mean? :)

I picked the Datejust as an opponent because it has a date. Or do you mean the Explorer II? I think the date is a super critical feature and having one is a very clear advantage. I wanted to level the playing field. I also didn't pick the Milgauss because it has no date and is a better comparison to the IWC Inge with the anti-magnetic feature and so on. It is also a bit too "fashion and loud" to go to the boardroom and ballroom. I didn't pick the E2 because the GMT feature would be a very clear and unfair advantage for that watch. At the same time, again, it is not really a watch for the ballroom. You can pull it off with a suit but with a tux it looks misplaced. That's why I chose the DJ series and this one as a particular example because it has a similar silver style. Just to have something visual to compare, making things a bit more concrete. In principle it is really a review of one series of models compared to another series of models.

Till
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
And some critical points before I forget. The packaging was so-so. Red Omega leather box. Not bad, protects well but is rather unassuming. That is in sync with the watch but after all I'd expect a little more. The Rolex packaging might not be the most tasteful but at least it's a bit more impressive. If compared to the macassar ebony box that comes with much cheaper Maurice Lacroix models, both boxes can literally go packing. Let alone the superb "emballage" of a Zenith box ...
On my particular box some of the silver Omega printing from inside the lid had come off and fallen onto the watch. No big deal. Probably the Texas heat but still not superior quality. Also the apparent foam inserts in the box, not nice. I prefer that they invest money into the movement and the watch and they have undoubtedly done that but it seems all Omegas come in this red box with the same instruction manual and card holder. They could have then invested a bit more design detail into the making of these boxes. I do like the card holder, though. I put my extra links in there.

The clasp is a bit tricky. Double deployant as I said. But you need to press down the push buttons only to lift the main side with the Omega logo. You'd think that either both sides would open together or that you have to push again for the other side. My other deployants are like that. Here the other side is opened not by the buttons but simply by pulling on it with one hand. This is not intuitive but secure. The "inferior" side is held by friction with two tiny spring-loaded balls. I'd say the bracelet will fit a person with 7.5" wrists but suppose that it might be tight for a person with 8" wrists. They might need additional links.

I had a good chance to check the lume overnight. Could be better but I almost always say that. The Citizen Chronomaster has the best lume of all my non-diver watches. It actually competes very well with my divers. The 12 o'clock lume is not different from the other lume markers. This makes the dial more elegant but it also means you have to rely on the crown position for finding up and down. Having only the tip of the minute hand lumed is really a quirky decision. Yes, it allows you to read the time very precisely but first you gotta find the thing. The lumed second hand really is easy to see, though. And I wish the lume on the hour hand extended a little further. I maintain my point that there is more lume on it than on most Rolex DJs but the layout of the lume could be better.

Till
 

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Nice review, Till! I lean Omega, and lean that way in this comparison as well.
 

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Really nice review there Till, good job! I definitely see an Omega with the cal. 8500 sometime in my future ...
 

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Great review! The 8500AT is one that I keep looking at but still undecided. The hour hand looks like the arrow tip has broken off or something. If it wasn't for that, it would be part of my collection already...Still it is a very beautiful watch..
 

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Very detailed review of great watches. I own an AT 8500 and this piece just ooozes quality in every which way. The movement is state of the art...one of the most advanced ( if not the most) mass produced time only movements out there. As you mentioned, the finish on the movement is superb.
 

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thanks for the review. wow, looks like the omega wins in every category!!! well, except withstanding the test of time and brand perception. i perceive rolex to be a brand that produces products that stand the test of time. i can't say the same for omega right now. maybe time will change my opinion.
 

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I am concerned about one detail in your review:

"The Omega also has a 50% longer warranty for three instead of two years. This even applies when bought grey."

No grey market Omega has an Omega warranty. The Grey market dealer might provide their OWN warranty, but it is not covered my Omega.

I hope that this statement does not mislead anyone into thinking that they can purchase a grey market Omega and get the Omega three year warranty. That is a false statement.

Otherwise good review, and congrats on your new AT!
 

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One of the best new-owner reports I've read on WUS, and a good comparison as well. I want one of these two watches. If only the AT were just a little smaller, shorter, and plainer-dialed. Maybe the smart move would be to see how Omega's lineup evolves as the 8500 is inevitably incorporated throughout the range.

Thank you for sharing! :thanks
 

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Don't foget the Aqua Terra is also offered in 41.5mm and the newer Annual Calendar is at 43mm.

Omega all the way for me. I wouldn't consider anything under 41mm.
 

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Thorough in theory, but I have to say limited in reality. How can you do a real comparative review when you do not actually have one of the watches in question?

To me you (one) can talk until the cows come home about statistics and measurements and pictures, but it always comes down to how it is on the wrist.

I would have been more interested to hear how your AT compares to another watch you actually own after having worn them both for a significant period of time out in the real world.

Just my $.02.

HBL
 

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Discussion Starter #15
First, thanks for the very positive comments from everyone and the warning by SpringDriven not to misunderstand my warranty formulation. Very clearly, when you buy it grey there is no Omega warranty. But grey dealers will give you three years of their own warranty to match Omega's. Evidently, a dealer warranty is in all likelihood not as good as a mfr warranty but I never had to use either, except on my Panerai. And frankly the Cartier service in Paris sucked the gonads of a grey-haired, long-eared animal. ;)

I knew the comment on not owning a DJ would come, which is why I explained in the intro that I own two Rolexes with two movements, a 3000 from 1990 and a 3135 from 2008. I also own three different bracelets with three clasps. The Explorer has the same case, weight and dimensions as a DJ. It wears like a DJ. It just has different dial and hands and has no date wheel. Whereas the Sea Dweller has the same movement as a newer DJ. A ladies' DJ is in the possession of my mother and before was in the possession of my grandmother for decades. You can count on me to be perfectly able to extrapolate from that experience to the DJ. What will be different with the DJ as compared to my watches is the esthetic experience. I clearly state that one of the DJ's great advantages is that it comes in so many versions. Since I never liked the loupe and I didn't like the evident crown emblem, I chose the Explorer I for myself because I found it nicer than any Datejust. If I had only compared the AT to the E1, Rolex would have lost yet another point which is having no date. That's my only beef with the E1. I can live with it because the dial is so perfect and beautiful without it. And I got the SD over the Sub because it lacks the loupe and the rehaut and because the proportions are better in my eyes. Still when you have an E1, you should be perfectly able to imagine what it is to have a DJ. It's like an E1 with date, loupe and a different dial. Not really hard to imagine, especially when you've seen and handled the DJ many times. It's the same on the wrist.

I got the AT 8500 for a number of reasons. I really liked the new technology and features like the integrated crown guards, the PR and the WR. I liked that it had no loupe but still an easy to read date. I wanted a silver dial everyday watch quite in the style of the Rolex I posted above. But on the current Rolex models I didn't like the loupe, crown emblem, railroad index for hours and rehaut. Hunting down an old one would have resulted once again in lacking lume and would be more time consuming. I am also not a huge Omega fanboy. In fact, much of their production of the last 20 years never sung to me. But I thought it would be nice to have that brand represented in my collection. The AT came to the rescue. :) And I really liked that I could get quite exactly what I wanted with superior specs to the Rolex and without buying one of the most ubiquitous models on the market for about 30% less than what I would have paid for the Rollie.

Till
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I added some photos including a pic of the E1 for a more direct on wrist comparison.

Till
 

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I think that when Omega extend the 8500 through their range and in-house the manufacture, they will have a very strong proposition.

An in house movement with genuinely innovative features and fabulous finishing, versus the pointless reinventing of the wheel that other brands have undertaken to achieve the cachet of in-house manufacture.

That and, IMHO, the finest quality of case fit and finish at the midrange pricepoint, and they have an offering, which if marketed effectively really could give Rolex a run for it's money.

The latter will be important though, in my experience they are miles behind not only Rolex, but also Tag Heuer, in terms of non wis recognition, when it comes to shelling out on a 'status' watch. Probably behind Breitling too.
 

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Moved to Reviews, but I left a redirect on Public which should stay there for a while to keep the traffic moving.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I think that when Omega extend the 8500 through their range and in-house the manufacture, they will have a very strong proposition.

An in house movement with genuinely innovative features and fabulous finishing, versus the pointless reinventing of the wheel that other brands have undertaken to achieve the cachet of in-house manufacture.

That and, IMHO, the finest quality of case fit and finish at the midrange pricepoint, and they have an offering, which if marketed effectively really could give Rolex a run for it's money.

The latter will be important though, in my experience they are miles behind not only Rolex, but also Tag Heuer, in terms of non wis recognition, when it comes to shelling out on a 'status' watch. Probably behind Breitling too.

I quite agree which is one of the reasons I wrote this comparison. Once the production is moved to the Omega facilities, it will be an in-house in the strictest sense of the term. Fit and finish is spectacular on this particular watch. I've never seen a bad detail on another Omega, either. The same can't be said for Rolex. But you are right that they lack in brand status. Not really enough luster and glamour. For me, Tag is a bit of a "prolo" brand but even they are really making some nice watches now and working on the brand image. I think in the watch tier thread I listed Omega and Breitling in the same tier 3. For me Tag is tier 4 but borderline 3. They will get there. For others it's already higher, I'm sure.

But one thing is sure. When you do the punch per punch between this Omega series and the DJ series, the DJ gets beaten up a good bit. :-d

Thanks for the link, Eric.

Till
 
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