The High End Quartz Controversy – Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m Quartz Review

To be honest with you, today’s review is the one I have really been looking forward to. That’s because today’s timepiece is my most-cherished piece. Let me introduce you to the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m Quartz, reference number 231.10.39.60.06.001. The name is pretty long, so for the sake of convenience, let’s call it the AT Quartz.

Look at what we have here today!

The AT Quartz comes in two dial variants, grey and silver. I opted for the former as I believed that the contrast in color between the dial and hour markers would look nicer. The dial features a grooved vertical texture, giving the dial a refined, yet sporty look. The hour markers and the Omega logo are painted on the dial, although one may hope for applied ones at this price point.

The quality is second-to-none, as expected of Omega

The hour and minute hands really do shine, especially under good lighting. Plus, the seconds hand hits the seconds markers perfectly. I sometimes find myself staring the hands instead on the dial, though most people tend to be mesmerized by the dial of a watch. Sports watch enthusiasts can rest easy too, as this beauty is protected by a sapphire crystal as it should be at this calibre.

Yes, that’s me in the reflection!

The case has a diameter of 38.5mm with a lug-to-lug measurement of 45mm. This is paired together with 150m of water resistance and a well-threaded screw-down crown, balancing aesthetics, wearability, and practicality. The Omega logo is etched onto the crown, which always stays in the same position when it is screwed down. A nice touch by Omega, indeed. The case also shows a nice mix of quality brushed and polished steel, easily showing us why they are one of the top watchmakers. With such case diameter, one would expect the lug width to be 20mm. However, Omega has opted for 19mm. I’ll talk more about this later on in the review.

A flowery start, so far

The AT Quartz comes together with a fully brushed oyster-style bracelet with a fold-over push button deployant clasp, with the Omega logo etched onto the clasp. The screwed links make the bracelet adjustment so, so much easier. And of course, the end links are solid. This means that micro-adjustment is not possible, however luckily for me, I have found the right fit without the need for such. If you take your Omega to an Omega boutique, they’ll help you find the best fit (shoutout to the friendly staff the Omega boutique in Pavilion, KL!). You could adjust the bracelet on your own, but I would rather get it done at the boutique since this is Omega that we are talking about.

As you may have noticed by now, I like greenery!

Wait, what’s that mythical creature on the caseback? It sure looks like a weird horse. The caseback actually features the Omega Hippocampus, or the Omega Seahorse as Omega themselves call it, which has become one of Omega’s staple attractions on some of their models. So how did this mythical creature happen to find its place in Omega’s casebacks? Long story short, Omega’s engraver Jean-Pierre Borle found the inspiration from the hippocampi on gondolas during his holiday in Italy. Evolving from an etch to now embossing, the Seahorse really represents Omega’s commitment to quality.

Nice watch, nice view

The AT quartz is a pretty simple watch, with only a single complication: the date function. With the date wheel being the same color as the dial, paired together with a simple, white font, the date blends in well with the dial as a whole. The cause of the controversy – the movement – is the Omega Caliber 4564 which is based on the ETA E64.111 quartz movement. Very limited information is available online regarding the stated accuracy of the movement, however it could only be a high-accuracy quartz movement as this is Omega we are talking about. After a year and a half’s period of ownership, I can only say that I am very impressed by its robust, accurate performance.

Hmm…

Now, onto the moans and niggles of the watch (yes, this is a “Just One More Watch” reference from Jody’s channel on YouTube).

  1. The painted Omega logo and hour markers. Surely at this price point, they could have opted for applied ones? Although I am not affiliated to Omega, my guess would be to differentiate the quality between their (now discontinued) quartz models and mechanical models. If you look at their mechanical models, at least for the Aqua Terra range, they have applied logos and hour markers. A little disappointing as a quartz model owner, but understandable.
  2. The lume is rather lacklustre, as shown in the image above.
  3. The 19mm lug width. Many watch enthusiasts see such odd lug widths as an abomination, which I would agree to some degree. Odd lug width straps are not as common as even lug widths, resulting in some difficulty in finding straps. Although a 20mm lug width would have been more convenient, I personally believe that the 19mm lug width gives the watch case the perfect balance. Should it have been 20mm, the lugs would seem out of proportion and make the watch less attractive, dare I say.

So, onto the controversy: is paying such a hefty sum worth it for a quartz watch? For this beauty, I paid around 3000 Australian Dollars (equivalent to around 2000 US dollars). Would I do it again for another high-end/luxury watch? I’ll be damned if I don’t (provided I have the funds for it).

Psst, I actually prefer Coffee Bean over Starbucks

But why, you may ask. “Quartz movements do not have a soul” or “quartz movements are not as sophisticated as mechanical movements.” These are some of the comments you can see online when people discuss about high-end quartz timepieces. Although these people do have a point, there are two things to consider: (1) You are essentially paying for the brand, to an extent, and; (2) the quality of the watch is reflected in the price, both inside (movement) and outside (exterior). Comparing this AT quartz to my other watches that range from as low as US$50 up to US$400…or maybe not, as they are simply not comparable. Build quality is worlds apart, as well as the performance of the quartz movements in the different price range. I have yet to experience the $500 to $1500 price range, so my thoughts may change in the future. However, for now, I strongly believe that the high price tag is justified.

Brand, quality, and happiness

Another thing to consider: some people are just not realistically willing to pay so much for a high end mechanical watch. This includes me. Although all the Rolex and Co-axial Omega models out there are beautiful and lust-worthy, I just cannot see myself spending 5000 dollars or more on a watch, even in the distant future when I will be earning more money than I am right now. And as shallow as this may sound, high-end quartz watches are a great and comparatively affordable way of experiencing high-end brands, you just cannot deny that. Watch snobs may say otherwise, which is rather unfortunate. This AT quartz is an absolute beauty and stunner, and definitely my most-cherished timepiece at this point in my life. Now, excuse me while I save up for a Grand Seiko 9F series…

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