Omega Aqua Terra GMT Watch Review

Omega Aqua Terra GMT Watch Review
Omega Aqua Terra GMT
Omega Aqua Terra GMT

Executed in beautiful copper-colored 18 carat gold, we have the Omega Aqua Terra GMT reference in for review today. Defining the high end of the Aqua Terra GMT series, I was delighted when Omega offered to let me borrow one for review.

Let's start with the gold. It's 75% by weight, as you can see by the hallmark on the lugs:

Gold hallmark on lug of Aqua Terra GMT


The case is a blend of brushed and polished finishes, quite striking and very well made. Quality and evenness of finishing is as good as I've ever seen, certainly at least as good as my IWC Aquatimer. The center-polish is a compromise of sorts - some shiny bling, but it'll scratch more quickly than the brushed sections.

Finish detail of Aqua Terra GMT

The lugs are in Omega's lyre shape, quite lovely. You'll see this in all of the Seamaster line, I think it was introduced in the 1960s and is unique to Omega.

Lug detail of Aqua Terra GMT

The 6.9mm crown has a polished logo inset into it.

Crown detail of Aqua Terra GMT

The dial has great visual depth, with what Omega calls their 'teak pattern,' meant to evoke the deck of a yacht.

Teak dial pattern detail of Aqua Terra GMT

The markers are applied, 18-carat gold, wedge-shaped and inset with lume.

dial detail of Aqua Terra GMT

The hands are dual-finish, with frosted centers and polished edges. The combination of dial and hands feels quite luxurious. Notice too, the depth present here - nice tall center cannon pinion, and the markers rising above the surface as you go from the center out. It evokes a small diorama.

dial detail of Aqua Terra GMT

The crown nestles into the integrated shoulders, and is screw-down to achieve the 150m water resistance rating.

Omega Aqua Terra crown

Luminosity is high-grade, though as befits a dress watch, it's applied in smaller areas than a dive or sport watch.

Lume shot of Omega Aqua Terra GMT

A bit difficult to read, in that the minute hand and GMT hand appear similar.

The movement on this one is actually why I asked to review it. Introduced at BaselWorld this year, it's quite something.

Omega 8615 movement

It's Omega's in-house 8615, from the co-axial 8500 series with the addition of a proper GMT. This is just fantastic for jet travel. You pull the crown out one stop, and the hour hand goes forwards or backwards in one-hour steps, while the GMT hand stays in place and the seconds continue running. In other words, changing time zones is as easy as a digital quartz. Magnificent indeed.

Omega 8615 movement

The movement is visually spectacular, with a full balance bridge and rotor both executed in 18k gold, twin barrels, spiral Geneva wave decoration.

Omega 8615 movement

I could stare at that all day. Silicon hairspring too. This is state-of-the-art for production watches. Chronometer spec, naturally, and with twin mainspring barrels, the power reserve is a solid 60 hours. Handwinding is buttery smooth, and the peculiar rate of 25,200 vph is visually indistinguishable from the normal 28,800. One quirk of the movement is that the date is not quick set, you have to cycle forward through days via the hour-jump. A minor nit, to be sure. It is quick-change, though.

The co-axial escapement is the invention of George Daniels, and serves to increase maintenance intervals and improve timekeeping. Omega has been using it since 1999, and their inclusion of an unusual four-year, full-coverage warranty here testifies to their confidence in the system.

The double-domed sapphire crystal has equally state-of-the-art anti-reflective coatings on it, as good as I've ever seen. Or not seen.

dial detail of Aqua Terra GMT

On the wrist, the 250g weight is very noticeable. Gold is heavy.

Omega Aqua Terra GMT on the wrist

It feels impressively dense. 42.7mm across, 14.2mm thick at the top of the crystal. 20mm lugs, with a bracelet that tapers down to 18mm at the butterfly deployant.

Omega Aqua Terra GMT on the wrist

The clasp is interesting in itself - one side is pushbutton, the other side is friction, held in place by two millimeter-sized pieces of Teflon inset into the clasp.

Omega Aqua Terra GMT clasp

Another view:

Omega Aqua Terra GMT clasp
Omega Aqua Terra GMT clasp

The bracelet is also unique - a central steel piece is held in place by gold screws on either end:

Omega Aqua Terra GMT bracelet construction

The screws are detailed with Loctite, as you'd expect. It's not a design I've seen anywhere else, but it works very well.

Omega Aqua Terra GMT bracelet construction

Some more wrist shots on my 7.25" wrist:

Omega Aqua Terra GMT on the wrist

Omega Aqua Terra GMT on the wrist

Omega Aqua Terra GMT on the wrist

I don't normally wear solid gold watches, so a week with this one has been a change. I had to work up some courage to size the bracelet, and worried more than usual about not bumping into things. It's less blingy than yellow or rose gold, but it certainly is attention-getting. A local realtor was noticeably more friendly after she spotted it, which was quite nice.

It's hard to discuss value on a gold watch. The jewelry aspect is dominant, and of course the material costs orders of magnitude more. I can certainly praise the movement, and suggest that those wanting less bling can find it in steel-cased models as well. If you want a wonderful movement in a first-class jewelry setting, then don't even break stride on your way past the Rolex shop. The Aqua Terra GMT is your short list.

Necessary Data
>Brand: Omega
>Model: Aqua Terra GMT
>Price: 36,000
>Would reviewer personally wear it: I can't afford it, but were one magically to appear; yes, I sure would.
>Friend we'd recommend it to first: The wealthy banker who travels frequently
>Worst characteristic of watch: Hard to read at night
>Best characteristic of watch: The movement.

  • gerikson

    This is my grail watch (in steel, though). Nice review!

  • Ulysses31

    A watch worthy of a Middle-Eastern despot.  Even though it’s gold (I usually find it terribly tacky and immodest) I like it, because aside from the colour it exemplifies things I admire; precision manufacture, durability, accuracy and innovation.  The “teak” dial pattern always reminds me of a dreary pin-striped suit rather than decking, but it’s subtle compared to the rest of the watch so I can overlook that.  Steel is usually my preference too but I think the black dial and gold case makes an attractive combination.  The use of brushed surfaces insures this isn’t too blingy.

  • Hacker4748

    “A bit difficult to read, in that the minute hand and GMT hand appear similar.”
    That should have been the minute hand and the second hand, seems to me.

  • sweeneyaxe

    I like this watch.. Its design, shape and color is very attractive.

  • Zeitblom

    If the gold were really an “order of magnitude” more expensive than steel, that would mean that there is probably $500 worth of gold in this watch. Actually I would guess a bit more than that, maybe even up to $1000. Either way, of course, nothing even remotely near justifying the price. As with every gold watch.
    I’d really like to see Herr Spinner of UTS make one of his massive dive watches out of 22 karat gold, and then charge just what the gold cost , with a reasonable mark-up. I would pay $18 K for a watch with 10 ounces of gold in it!

  • Aiko

    The Omega as shown with a gold bracelet is $36K. With a leather strap, it’s $21.6K.

    • phubbard

      Aiko Thanks! Corrected.

  • Kris C

    I feel like I should now be quizzed on what I just read; this was not a review, but an overly clinical sharing of standardized information. Where’s the personality? I’ve always felt this particular blog was great at evoking emotion, good or bad. Not so much today…

    • JonnyD

      Kris C 
      I couldn’t disagree more. That’s Paul’s style, he attacks your senses with bits of useful information and great photos, which brings the immediacy of wearing the watch to the fore. I thoroughly enjoy his reviews as they make a nice contrast to Ariel’s.

  • Will_F

    Very nice with great photos. Makes me want one badly. Thanks for the wrist shots too. Having the same size wrist I have a good idea how it would fit.

  • Livefyre

    Very nice with great photos. Makes me want one badly. Thanks for the wrist shots too. Having the same size wrist I have a good idea how it would fit.

  • TimelyOne

    This Omega really has a personality. I am a bit tired of chronographs and their ugly pushers, they look industrial, and very few of us really need to time things to the 10th of a second. The band screams Rolex Submariner….but oh this face and movement are lovely. A fine and unique world timer
    This watch on a fine black band would be a knockout. The movement is so beautiful, you would feel like wearing it face down.

  • flaviothepage

    The 8500 family does not have a silicon balance as i thought. Only the spiral spring is made of silicon. In fact, a silicon balance does not make any sense afterall, because of its low inertia.

    • phubbard

      flaviothepage Dang, that’s embarrassing. Corrected, thank you.

  • DG Cayse

    Well reviewed Mr. Hubbard…bravo! Your use of diorama was exactly what came to my mind while viewing the pictures of this beautiful dial. Such depth, such detail so correctly placed – just beautiful.
    I echo the person who mentioned “chronograph fatigue.” I also prefer the simplicity of 3 hands for the physical balance it provides. And also, that is all one really needs to ‘tell the time.’…lol.
    I musat say, it is just too much gold for my wrist. (I prefer Krugies or Eagles in my pocket) My particular favorite by this marque is the Seamaster Aqua Terra Chronometer (cosc) model. Not having my drinks wallah to wave the gold at for another G&T, I must make do with the simplicity and understatement of steel and cutting edge horological technology.
    Good read Sir.

  • Fraser Petrick

    If I found $36000 in a cookie tin I’d buy the Omega in a flash. I’d even consider taking up a life of crime. I love the case and bracelet. Not fussy about the odd numbers 1 – 23 around the face (visual clutter). Think I’ll go out and buy a lottery ticket.

  • big poopin

    Just get the regular aqua terra or hour vision omega deville. you can get those for under 7K and under 5K in the secondary market. 36K is outrageous and should be reserved for Lange and Patek or better yet a charity

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  • TomasinaCovell

    ATs are my favorite OMEGA line, but I would never buy gold plated or plated at all.  And all the wannabees that are plated just destroy any incentive to want to buy the real gold.  It’s as though they cater to the same type of person, a gold-buggabea.  k…

  • TomasinaCovell

    Fraser Petrick You innocent, INNOCENT!