For 2013, Omega fully rounds-out the Seamaster Aqua Terra family with the new Aqua Terra Chronograph GMT. With a new movement and solid looks, this is the semi-formal sport watch in the Aqua Terra collection to lust after. I had no idea that the Aqua Terra collection was so beloved until aBlogtoWatch viewers started to ask en masse a few months before Baselworld 2013 whether or not Omega was going to insert their newer in-house made Caliber 9300 automatic chronograph into an Aqua Terra model. The Omega De Ville got the movement last year (review here).
The question was reasonable as Omega is making a point to replace all watches with non in-house made movements with in-house made movements. Especially in their higher-end collections such as the De Ville, Planet Ocean, and Aqua Terra. So I waited for Baselworld to find out. What I learned is that not only will Omega release an Aqua Terra with an in-house made movement, but that it will also have a GMT complication. This is all part of the new Omega Caliber 9605 automatic movement.
Essentially, the 9605 is a version of the 9300 with a GMT hand in one of the subdials. Though, this really rounds out the design. When Omega released the caliber 9300 movement in 2011 (hands-on first look and explanation here), the idea was to have an exceptional in-house chronograph that was modern in every way, have a column wheel, silicon parts in the escapement, and be useful. It uses two subdials for the full 12 hour chronograph. This puts two hands in the right subdial, which measures both the chronograph hours and minutes.
In the 9300, the left subdial was for the running seconds. In the caliber 9605 you have a GMT hand in there as well. Now the two subdials are better balanced with two hands each. This also upgrades the utility of Omega's in-house movement to offer that extra feature. A chronograph with date and GMT hand is a wonderful travel watch. Omega also needed something to compete with Breitling's Caliber 04 movement (here in the Chronomat 44 GMT watch review). I have a feeling that the 9605 is every bit as impressive as the 9300 in terms of accuracy and utility. We still don't have a quick set feature for the date, but otherwise this is a damn useful automatic movement.
Omega isn't officially talking about the Aqua Terra Chronograph GMT yet so we didn't get the precise size. Though, it is about 45mm wide, wearing large on the wrist but a bit thinner than say, the Planet Ocean Chronograph. I personally prefer the Planet Ocean in its three-hand or GMT form, and believe that if you want an Omega with a chronograph, it should be an Aqua Terra or Speedmaster.
Using the GMT complication on the Aqua Terra is just as you'd expect in other GMT watches, only the hand is smaller and in the subsidiary dial. It does make it harder to read, but Omega does do a good job of offering legibility. Though with the small subdial and markers versus Arabic numeral scale for the 24 hour indicators, you won't likely be able to read the second time zone at a simple glance. On some models the GMT hand is red, while on others it is gold to match other details.
Design wise, the Aqua Terra Chronograph GMT is pretty much what you'd expect from Omega. At launch in a few months, a few versions will be available including both gold and steel bracelets. At the high-end, there is a solid 18k red gold model, as well as a two-tone version with a steel case and 18k red gold bezel, crown, and pushers. Most will probably opt for the all polished steel models though. The case is water resistant to 150 meters, and of course it has a sapphire crystal. Dial construction is unique as Omega uses a plate on the face that offers the appearance of recessed subdials while adding depth and texture. Dial colors come in both a deep gray and off white and overall, the face is very legible.
My first Omega chronograph love will always been the Speedmaster, but as a second choice I would happily take the dressier and more visually modern Aqua Terra Chronograph GMT. The addition of the GMT complication is useful, and helps Omega round-out their market offerings all the more. Look for a release later in 2013 The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Chrono GMT will be priced from $9,150 in steel to $42,000 in 18k red gold. omegawatches.com