The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra certainly has a shorter time in the brand’s catalog than the likes of the Speedmaster, Railmaster, Seamaster, De Ville, and others, but this lack of history is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. We all know that Omega loves to leverage heritage and legacy whenever possible, and without that, the Aqua Terra is left to stand on its own merits alone rather than on tall tales of space conquests, mountaineering, or deep sea exploration. Originally launched in 2002, as what some have dubbed an attempt to contend with the Rolex Explorer or Oyster Perpetual, the Aqua Terra has evolved a fair bit over its 19-year existence. Most notably, the arrival of some serious anti-magnetic capability—up to 15,000 Gauss, to be precise—arrived in 2013, and soon became the norm across the entire model range. For that reason, it makes sense for the Aqua Terra to go toe-to-toe with the Rolex Milgauss, which is exactly where my mind went as the latest green dial variant arrived at my doorstep for review.
15649852

Poking my way around the case of the new Aqua Terra for the first time, the first thing I was confronted with was its substantive case proportions. 41mm in diameter, which isn’t that large depending on your wrist size and preferences, but what struck me most was the broadness of its lugs. Outside its dial aperture, there’s still a fair bit of metal to contend with, contributing to those lovely bevels, primarily. The look works, though it's not nearly as svelte as any of its Rolex competitors. With a 6 and ¾-inch wrist diameter, in the long run I’d be compelled to step down to the 38mm version, but for now let’s focus on the watch at hand. One key differentiation that I’ll note here in regards to the Milgauss parallel is the choice of case finishes. Where the Milgauss is fitted in a fully polished case, the only polished elements on this new Aqua Terra are its lug bevels and its bezel. This choice helps quite a bit in terms of the GADA (Go Anywhere Do Anything) feel of the Aqua Terra, even though certain other elements tend to feel a little more dressy.
15649854

On that front, I have to address the conversation about the Aqua Terra’s dial and indices. I’ve always been a bit confounded by the inconsistencies with these dials. First the Aqua Terra dials were plain, then they went to a vertical ribbing (often called a “teak dial”, and then more recently those ribs were rotated by 90 degrees—a configuration that some will no doubt associate with the Patek Philippe Nautilus. That said, I’ll include two counterpoints to the latter. First, the Nautilus does not “own” said pattern, as it has been used in watchmaking both before and after by several others. Second, if you go side-by-side, you’ll note that the Aqua Terra’s dial has its own sort of pattern, in that there are three thin grooves separating each broader one. Similar? Yes, but not the same (though I know some of you will have fun debating that one below). The dial pattern works well with its sort of brushed finish green dial, and as you can see there’s a healthy amount of color shift that happens with this not-quite-olive drab or military green depending on lighting conditions.
15649857

Short version is, the dial works for me, but I have to raise a bit of concern with the indices. This is where I’m finding Omega to be slightly undercutting the Aqua Terra’s “everyday” capability. Especially at a 41mm case size, those indices could definitely stand to be bigger. In certain light, where reflections blur the line between applied indice edge and luminous material, the proportions are passable, but these plots could objectively use more lume. This watch is delivering huge magnetic resistance, 150m of water resistance, a screw-down crown, and an available stock rubber strap (on every other color than the green reference, sadly). Looking at its indices, it feels like there was a “design by committee” moment where someone said the watch didn’t quite look dressy enough, and the indices were downsized to suit that complaint. I’ll admit this is a relatively minor item to be picking on Omega about, but when considering what the Aqua Terra is competing with, it’s still a consideration to keep in mind.
15649858

Following the generally heavy lines of its case profile, the bracelet of the Aqua Terra is expectedly hefty—I’ll admit that because of this, the watch spent a decent amount of time on aftermarket straps while in my possession. Simple in execution, the 3-link bracelet has polished center links and a single-fold locking clasp. Alternatively, this green dial variant can be purchased on a leather strap as well, though what I’d be more likely to do is acquire it on bracelet, and then order the black Aqua Terra rubber strap separately in order to have a little more versatility with it.
15649860

I’ve covered a lot of ground in terms of visual details here, but of course there’s still a matter of the new Aqua Terra’s inner workings. This reference is powered by Omega’s caliber 8900—a high spec self-winding unit, fitted with a silicon balance spring and a pair of mainspring barrels, delivering a power reserve of 60 hours. The movement—like others from Omega—is METAS certified. This means that first, its caliber passes through COSC certification for accuracy, and then when the watch is complete and assembled, it is sent to METAS for another round of tests over a 10-day period. Accuracy, deviation, water resistance, and other factors will all be tested, as well as its purported magnetic resistance. Unlike COSC, which allows for accuracy within a range of -4/+6 seconds per day, METAS cuts this down to 0/+5. Further to this, METAS results can be pulled by the owner of the watch on demand through this page on the Omega website. Now, some collectors are more obsessed with daily accuracy than others, but even I’ll admit that this extra access is a nice touch.
15649863

The last piece of the puzzle in all this comes down to price and access. As a Milgauss fighter, as I led onto from the start, it’s pretty to side with Omega on this one. For this reference, on steel bracelet, you’re looking at a sticker price of $5,700. Not cheap, but given its specs that’s not a bad ask at all. In contrast, the current Milgauss lists at $8,300, and that’s if you can somehow magically find a Rolex AD that can actually get you one in the first place. Steel Rolex models are still obnoxiously scarce these days, and a look through the grey market shows that even the Milgauss is being listed for over retail if you need to get your hands on a new one. In contrast, Aqua Terra models, this one or others, are readily available through ADs. Depending on the situation, negotiating a discount is by no means out of the question. On the grey market you’re probably not going to see much better than 25% off, and of course with that you can kiss goodbye to your factory warranty… Worth it? Probably not.

At the end of the day, a sway from camp Rolex to camp Omega is unlikely. We all know this, but it needs to be said from time to time that good (in this case even better) alternatives are out there for those who are on the fence about which way to go with their premium GADA watch selection. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; I’m absolutely considering adding an older generation (but still anti-magnetic/METAS) Aqua Terra to my personal collection. Having spent several months with a Milgauss a year or so ago, while I can appreciate the history and charm, the Omega just has more going for it if you’re not hung up on the unfortunate “investment model” of watch collecting.