Posted on November 29 2017
Omega's moon watch, the Speedmaster, is perhaps the Swiss companies most famous watch. However, it's appeal is highest among knowledgeable watch enthusiasts. The type of consumer who cares about the history and technological significance of his timepiece.
For the more casual watch fan the Seamaster, Omega's divers watch, is more desirable. Initially the Seamaster was a water resistant dress watch. A relatively uncomplicated watch designed for active men wanting a watch for “town, sea and country”. With the 1957 introduction of the Seamaster 300 the line became more associated with genuine divers. This culminated in the production of the 'PloProf,' a bold and chunky timepiece designed to break diving records. The Seamaster line had by then divided into two strands, the 'Professional' and 'Dress' ranges.
The Seamaster became more widely known to the public when in 1995 Lindy Hemming, an Oscar-winning costume designer, selected the watch for James Bond's GoldenEye. Bond author Ian Fleming had been clear. Bond wore a Rolex. Hemming felt differently, that Rolex's longtime competitor produced a watch that was more authentic for Bond's military/spy role.
Since then Bond and the Seamaster have become intrinsically linked.
In 2003 Omega launched the Seamaster Aqua Terra. Where the Seamaster professional line had continually increased the functionality through innovation, the Aqua Terra could be seen as a return to the ranges roots. A luxury dress watch designed not so much for diving, but as a reliable and rugged tool watch. A direct competitor to Rolex's Explorer 1.
The first part of the Aqua Terra to catch your eye is usually the distinctive “teak concept” dial. Reminiscent of the pattern on the wooden surfaces of luxury yachts the dial adds a uniqueness to these Seamaster models. As does the arrow on the minute hand. To round off the dial there are neat tapered indices.
In 2012's Bond film Skyfall, Daniel Craig's character wore the Aqua Terra, giving the dressier Seamaster an additional boost.
If Bond whetted your appetite for this watch, but your budget can't stretch to the Omega, we'll take you through some similar styled and more affordable watches.
Sea-Gull Aqua Terra
Chinese manufacturer Sea-Gull have a long and proud history of manufacturing - having produced watches for the Chinese military. Their airforce mechanical chronograph is a popular watch that has recently been remade and has proven a hit with watch geeks.
This Seagull watch is advertised as a 'Seamaster' so makes no bones about being an Omega homage. But it was well received when released and would probably be more popular if Sea-gull kept the watch in continuous production. Usually they appear to do small runs that sell out quickly then buyers are left trawling Ebay for used copies.
The watch itself is a beauty. At 39mm it's around the size of a modern Rolex Explorer, and as can be seen from the pictures, the dial, hands and indices all take a lead from the Omega. With 18mm lugs this is a modestly sized watch and with a screwdown crown and a water rating of 200m it's aiming very much to recreate the Aqua Terra's functionality.
Powered by Sea-Gull's inhouse automatic movement the ST16 the watch should be reliable. In a nice touch the display back lets the owner see the running movement.
Japanese giants Seiko produce many iconic watches, from cult divers like the SKX007 to their luxury Grand Seiko range. Most of these you'll never see on the high-street. The same applies to this model. The SARB035 is from their Japanese 'domestic market only' range. Watches designed to be sold only in Japan. However, with the internet these models have inevitably became available in the west and the SARB is a fine example of why these watches are held in such high regard.
Another modestly sized watch, the SARB isn't an Aqua Terra homage. Rather it's one of Seiko's many impressive tougher dress watches, maybe more reminiscent of a Rolex Datejust. The impression is certainly that of a luxury watch.
- Stainless steel Case
- Sapphire Crystal
- 38mm Diameter
- 19mm Lugs
- Ivory Dial
- Seiko Caliber 6R15 automatic self-wind movement
Lew & Huey Cerberus
Founded in the US in 2012 by Chris Vail, Lew & Huey is a popular microbrand. Based in Philidelphia the brand took it's name from a phonetic use of the Mandarin phrase 'Luen Huey', meaning rebirth or reincarnation. Playing with Vail's every dog should have it's day philosophy, this watch was named after the mythical three headed hound that guards the gates to hell.
Again, it's not a direct homage to the Seamaster, but it does have the teak effect dial which immediately brings to mind the Omega. What's also notable is the colouring. There's three options - Grey & Red, Blue & Orange and White & Blue. The Omega is an understated dress watch with just a touch of flair. The Cerberus is more obviously designed to be eye catching, with each variation using at least one bold colour.
At 42mm it's a little larger than the Sea-Gull and Seiko but it wears well having been promoted as a versatile everyday watch. Like the Seiko it's powered by a Japanese automatic movement, this time a Miyota.
- Stainless Steel Case
- Domed Anti-Reflective Sapphire Crystal
- 42mm Diameter
- 22mm Lugs
- Miyota cal. 9015 Automatic Movement
Orient Star Standard Date
The Orient brand is part of the Seiko Group, so like the better known brand they make well regarded quality watches with their own inhouse movements. Orient Star are the brands higher quality line.
Of the three variations of the Standard Date two have the Aqua Terra style teak effect dial. The third, the black, has a quirky carbon fibre. The watch itself is the most basic of the Orient Star range and has no other complications than the date.
The glass in the watch is Sapphire crystal, but interestingly, this was the first Orient model to use their SAR (Super Anti-Reflective) coating, apparently making the glass more anti-reflective, scratch proof and stain proof. At 40mm it's bigger than the Sea-Gull and Seiko but smaller than the Cerberus.
- Orient Caliber 40751 22-Jewel Automatic Movement
- Stainless Steel Case
- Exhibition case back
- Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with SAR anti-reflective coating
- 22mm Lugs
Citizen CTQ57-0955 Chronomaster
Japanese Citizen are one of the worlds biggest producers of watches. Like Seiko and Orient, Citizen also produce their own line of premium watches. These higher end Citizen's are known as 'Chronomaster' and like the Grand Seiko's they're priced significantly higher than the brands standard watches.
The CTQ57-0955 isn't a cheap watch and retails near the £2000 mark. However, it's a very nice watch and again seems to be aimed at a similar buyer to the Aqua Terra. There's not the textured dial of the Omega but the hands and tapered indices do give a similar look and at 38mm is sized as a classic dress watch.
Citizen are the manufacturers of Miyota movements so it may come as a surprise that the Chronomaster, don't forgot a 2k watch, comes with a quartz movement. But this isn't an ordinary quartz movement. The Citizen A660 movement is a High Accuracy Quartz (HAQ). This line of watches are unofficially said to be the most accurate watches ever made – out by only 5 seconds a year.
The Chronomaster, a Japanese Domestic Model, is a very desirable watch.
Stylistically, the watch is simple with just a perpetual calendar date and minimal text on the dial. The case and bracelet are both titanium and in keeping with the other watches on the list theres 100M water resistance.
- Sapphire Crystal
- 38.00 mm Diameter
- Quartz Movement # A660
- Titanium Case
- Perpetual Calendar Date
Best of the Rest
There's also a number of cheaper Chinese homage watches on the market too. Amongst the best are those by Alpha, Kassaw, Sangdo and Fineat.