Limited, special editions and collaborations are commonplace in the world of horology. This is especially true in the luxury mass-market range with brands from Swatch Group, LVMH, Richemont, and countless others. An elevated timepiece is released that can succeed in two ways, and sometimes both. The first is that it embodies the purpose, personality, and cause of the edition, whether for a charitable organization or to represent the collaboration better. The second is a watch that results from the brand’s efforts in elevating it from the rest of their offerings, thus bringing forth a beautiful product. The Nomos Orion 1989 Edition is one example where both were accomplished. This timepiece was initially commissioned to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The watch was fitted with a dark grey dial that resembled the concrete used on the Berlin Wall, and the amount of gold used on the hands and indices was twice that of their regular models. What resulted was a stunning timepiece still available in their catalog today and one that quietly stands above the rest of the Alpha-movement-powered Orions in terms of beauty. Expect a long-term review of this watch soon.
This brings us to the long-term review of the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Good Planet. Though it may not succeed in the first manner, where it somehow highlights the worthy cause of the Good Planet Foundation through its design, it succeeds in the second. This watch does so in such a resounding fashion that it is officially the most beautiful and well-executed non-precious metal timepiece made by Omega that I have handled.
On the Wrist
Though no longer in production, this 38mm case Aqua Terra would make the hearts of wristwatch enthusiasts of today (time of writing being July 2022) sing. This watch is perfect in how it wears and achieves this by exceeding expectations for this price point on multiple fronts. We will cover how it does so in greater detail in the following sections, but this watch wears well on my 6.75-inch wrist and its owner’s, which approaches 8 inches.
Its titanium construction ensures that it is never a burden for the wearer. Some may balk at the thickness of the 13mm case, but this has never been an issue with the cuffs of dress shirts. Because its case width is less than 40mm, and lug-to-lug distance of 45mm, this Aqua Terra does what the model line does best. This is to provide an optimal wearing experience for the owner in every level of formality that they may find themselves in. Whether this is a black tie event, a set of significant in-person contract negotiations with business partners who flew in from abroad, to relaxing in the pool with your family on a blistering summer’s afternoon, this Aqua Terra does it all, and it does it well.
This is, after all, what the Seamaster was made for in its inception. The mission statement of the first Seamasters, going back to 1948, was to offer consumers a watch they could wear on all occasions and not ever have to worry about water damage. The Aqua Terra accomplishes this by not pretending to be a diving instrument. As a result, the absence of a dive bezel, an overly thick case, and tool-ish aesthetics make them some of the most versatile watches ever.
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m Good Planet Specs
Nylon strap with titanium clasp
Omega calibre 8500
Its lacquer dial sets this special edition apart from the rest of the Aqua Terra line. Often thought of as the “poor man’s enamel” by armchair enthusiasts, it all comes down to execution. Plenty of factories abroad make lacquer and enamel dials for watch brands in all price ranges. For instance, what sets apart an enamel dial from a factory that produces thousands of dials a day from that of one made by hand by Donzé Cardans in Switzerland is often lost on the casual consumer and dedicated enthusiasts and collectors. The level of effort required in ensuring the purity of the dial and how it won’t fade over time require an attention to detail and nuance that most humans do not have the capacity for. I found this out first hand when writing a review for an haute horologie timepiece when owners of Seiko’s and other brands of watches reactively complained that their enamel dial in their sub $1000 watch deserved equal praise.
The refinement of this lacquer dial can only be truly appreciated when looking at it under a high-powered loupe or microscope. Here it is evident that, at least in this example, Omega went to much higher lengths in ensuring a lacquered dial that had no imperfections and was constant in its luster and quality throughout. I bring this up, for it is not uncommon to receive a new watch from Omega only to discover a hair on the dial or other imperfections such as inconsistencies with their painted hands on their sports models.
The other aspect of this watch which stands heads and shoulders above other Aqua Terra’s is the hands and indices. The hands are polished and brushed in a beautiful and rich blue. Combined with the deep white lacquer dial, this dial always seems alive and alert. In every lighting condition, the dial of this Aqua Terra appears to share a trait with the planet Neptune. Where the ice-giant emits more than twice the heat it absorbs, this dial appears to glow and constantly radiate. The presence of this timepiece is immense, and it always manages to catch the eye of onlookers. It is almost as if it exists in a higher resolution than everything else in its environment.
The lume is expertly applied and evenly coated in every single instance. The brightness is not eye-searing like that found on a Seamaster Planet Ocean, but it fairs better than the vintage lume-colored variants on the Seamaster 300. The lume can last throughout the night but will require a set of eyes that have been well adjusted to the darkness to see.
Some may take issue with the date wheel being placed at the 3 o’clock marker rather than at 6, but it is well executed here with a beautifully shaped date window.
Case and Strap
When enough effort is put into a titanium case, it can exude the qualities of some precious metals. Given the alloy’s darker tint, when polished and brushed, titanium cases offer a level of contrast that can result in stunning watches. This is the case with this Aqua Terra and its Grade 5 titanium case. This combination of brushed and polished surfaces gives the lyre lugs a very muscular stance, and the polished bezel works with the polished caseback lip to bookend the watch visually. Naturally, you can enjoy viewing the movement through the exhibition caseback.
The coated nylon fabric strap is paired with a titanium clasp that is comfortable and breaks in reasonably quickly. Due to the nature of the dynamic white dial, this watch pairs well with every single strap that I have thrown at it.
I wanted to touch on the crown before covering the movement, for this crown is again built to a different standard than other Omegas. Compared to other sports watches from the brand, this crown’s solidity, security, heft, and confidence in all facets of its operation are superb. It does not have the crisp otherworldly engagement point of Rolexes, but for some reason, this titanium Aqua Terra even beats them on feel.
The movement used in this timepiece is the in-house calibre 8500. I have plenty of experience with its sibling, the calibre 8400, which operates without the date wheel. One of the major criticisms that seasoned collectors scrutinize Omega for, and rightly so, is how well they are regulated out of the factory. My own 8400 in my Seamaster 300 was relatively fine from the factory when new, but when it came back from its first service, it was astoundingly accurate and +0.5 seconds a day. My Omega Trésor (look for a review soon) and its calibre 8910 sit at around +4 to +6 seconds daily.
The most amusing case of Omega’s less-than-stellar regulating consistency comes from a day when two close friends bought Speedmaster Professionals from the same authorized dealer. While one had his Speedmaster running at around +5 seconds, the other had his vary from +9 seconds to +14 seconds. Thus I have become hesitant about drawing any conclusions on Omega movements as they arrive from the factory. This Good Planet example has been excellent, however. When worn throughout the day and put dial side up for about 7 hours at night, it runs at +2 seconds a day. When worn for 24 straight hours, that rises to +4 seconds.
Some have complained about the 25,200 vph frequency, but that has never bothered many collectors I have also talked to. If you are someone who may be bothered by this irregular beating of the seconds hand, go into an authorized dealer and see an Omega in person before finalizing your purchasing decision.
Overall, Omega’s modern in-house calibers’ performance spoils their owners. Here the timepiece has a 60-hour power reserve, and newer models have that extended to a beneficial 72 hours. They instantly make traditional mechanical watches with 38-42 hour power reserves seem antiquated and less convenient when one has a rotating collection.
This Seamaster Aqua Terra Good Planet genuinely took me by surprise. Its level of finishing and detail is more than what I have come to expect from Omega. Some aspects of this watch belied everyone’s expectations when handling this particular watch. None of us could think of Omegas in our vast collections that could come close to this watch’s quality in every aspect. The only thing that gives me pause in blindly recommending this watch is how much it stands above the rest of Omega’s offerings in terms of its superior quality. I have not been able to source a second example to compare this model to, and a part of me fears that this may be an outstanding individual example.
Nevertheless, Omega has created a work of art with this watch. Its proceeds originally went towards the Good Planet Foundation’s efforts in Botswana, and if the foundation’s website is to be believed, it is a worthy cause. With an unbiased focus on ecology and humanism, this charitable organization is one of many deserving of attention and support. Do I, the owner of this watch, and other collectors whom I have shown this to wish that it somehow better represented the Good Planet Foundation through its design? The answer is a resounding no, for we all have been blown away by this watch and agree that it is one of the most beautiful watches Omega has ever produced.
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