Recently I decided I wanted to reduce my collection back down to around 7 watches (excluding G Shocks). I wanted to sell some pieces, whittle the collection down to something focused and manageable, and then purchase one more nice HAQ with my funds to round out the collection, but I decided I wanted to purchase a nice auto instead, and ended up with the AT. I am absolutely enamored with this piece thus far and it is a like ripping a new born from its mother’s arms when I take it off to sleep at night. I’m pretty sure I don’t have a whole lot of new insights to add to the plethora of reviews on all the different AT models, so I’ll try to make this quick and add some comparisons to other watches to make it more useful to others.
Dial, Hands, and Indices
The dial steals the show. It really is a stunner and worthy of the dangerous amount of time I have spent staring at it. I find the blue to be a darker, almost navy sunburst blue, but it is a classy sunburst that doesn’t overwhelm the dial. It shifts colors, but does’t violently sweep the spectrum and instead just alternates between darker shades of blue. It is by far the most interesting blue dial I have ever owned with my old GS sbgv225 trailing closely behind, although a completely different type of sunburst blue.
I like the teak deck wood style, but I cannot decide if I prefer the horizontal or vertical. Overall, I find the horizontal less distracting, and more refined and subtle, so I probably lean in the horizontal direction. I love the aggressive indices and was quite pleased with their finish. You can see the the vertical strokes on the tops and the polished sides ignite the already dazzling dial. The lume is also exceptionally good and I was quite surprised by its strength because I don’t hear it mentioned too often in reference to AT’s, but I’ll be honest it isn’t really important to me at all. The 6 o’clock date window is an absolute winner and something the newer AT’s nail. I also really appreciate that the date wheel numerals are a glittery silver that match the indices and almost appear raised off the wheel, which I found to be an exceptionally cool little detail only owners would notice.
Before I purchased this I spent a couple weeks bouncing around and trying on different watches. I decided in the beginning that I would get an AT, Datejust 41 (Milgauss if I could find one at a good price, but of course never did. Foolish of me to think that.), or another GS. I was able to find a DJ36 (of course for a significant amount more than the AT), and it was very disappointing.
Many of the things I don’t like about the 41 became even more salient in the 36, especially the hands. The AT hands are very unique and sporty, whereas the Rolex hands look thin and boring to me. I love the brushed tip on the AT’s hour hand and the blue tip on the seconds. I also remembered how much I disliked the bezel on the 41. It is far too thick and swallows the dial a bit, whereas on the AT it is less obtrusive and fitting, although both seem to be highly polished to the same degree. To sum up my feelings I would say the DJ is a very safe piece with a timeless design that leans more towards dressy, whereas the AT is far more aggressive, masculine and sporty, which was exactly what I was looking for. Trying on the 36 just reminded me that I already own several Grand Seikos which do a better job as a dress sports watch in many ways and at a fraction of the price.
As for the GS I found a sbgr097 available at a terrific price...but I just didn’t want to own another GS themed dial. Also, I found the blue a little too vibrant and I felt it kind of clashed with the refinement of the GS. Again, it boiled down to the AT being a more aggressive sports watch that could never be confused with anything other than a sports watch. As much as I love GS, it is hard not to feel like you are wearing a piece of fine China on your wrist, and at times you find yourself inadvertently babying it and being needlessly delicate while the AT is just asking to be worn anywhere and everywhere.
Case and Crown
The case is a nice combination of brush and polish. The sides are brushed and if you look closely at them there is a really beautiful grain. I prefer brushed sides, especially after owning quite a few GS’s that are constantly gathering wrist grease and smudges, plus it contrasts well with the polished lugs. It is a sleek case and although a bit thick (over 13mm I believe) it wears nicely and feels quite comfortable. The lugs wrap around fluidly and the bracelet seamlessly integrates with the case, too. The larger case just gives it a nice sporty presence and shouldn’t impede you if you’re wearing long sleeves or dressing up.
The crown on the the other hand is very stiff and I’m not sure what to make of it. The watch has a pleasurable feel when winding and also freely unscrews, but when I push it ccw and then begin to screw it in it feels very stiff and borderline difficult to turn. Does it need time to break in? I have kind of randomly tossed this question out on several threads hoping for some answers so if anyone has any input I’d greatly appreciate it.
One other thing I wanted to address directly at some point is the finish. From the indices, hands, case, even down to the bracelet it oozes quality, but I feel like generally Omega is kind of looked down upon in this area. Is it GS quality? No, in fact I refuse to put it under a loupe for that reason, but on the other hand I don’t think Rolex has anything on Omega in terms of finish. They might’ve in the past, because I do think the more recent models are more refined and elegant than previous iterations, but the current models seem up to the challenge.
The bracelet is aesthetically one the best sports bracelets on the market. You would think the polished center links would be blinding and over the top, but they are actually quite subtle and are not overly blingy. I feel like the bracelet compliments the flashy dial and bezel well, and putting a brushed bracelet on it would just be incongruous. My only complaint is finger prints...that bracelet is near impossible to get finger print free.
To talk in more detail, the bracelet pivots beautifully and has absolutely no play, but it is still no match for my GS bracelets. GS bracelets are just silky smooth and feel like butter on the wrist, whereas the AT doesn’t really standout in this regard. My GS bracelets also have a bit of play, but it seems to make them wear more comfortably (there was a good portion of a thread devoted to the intentionally designed play in GS bracelets that I found enlightening) I would also say my Oris Aquis bracelet compares quite well to the AT at a fraction of the price and I would even say it is a bit more comfortable. Another thing about the AT I meant to mention earlier is that like GS bracelets it is very hard to properly size, so I ended up sizing it a bit tighter since that is how I prefer to wear my watches for the most part.
Lastly, the clasp. Not a fan at all, but I knew that going in. Yes, it looks great and makes it a bit more refined, but I just really dislike butterfly clasps, especially considering they lack micro adjustments. That being said, it is very secure and doesn’t seem to pose any risk of popping open and even if it did, only one portion opens up while the other needs to be manually pried.
I have nothing new to add to all the heated discussions about the coaxial, other than I really appreciate the 5 year warranty and I really like 15,000 gauss antimagnetic capabilities of the 8900.
I wouldn’t call the Aqua Terra my grail because for one I hate that term and kind of cringe at the way it is so flippantly used and also because a grail implies something borderline unattainable, whereas this obviously is and was, but I will say it has been a dream of mine to own one for a long time. I’m actually not a huge Omega fan, which is maybe why I’m drawn the most toward a piece that has very little history or heritage in a company that overflows with it, but I feel that the AT is a standout piece that can throw elbows with the best of them on the highly competitive sports watch arena and I’m still ecstatic about having it in my collection. Sorry, this went on a bit longer than I expected. Also, I’m an average to terrible photographer so be warned. Take care.