Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 8500 So, why the Aqua Terra? Well, first of all, these watches come from manufacturers with roughly the same pedigree and both are part of a larger group: Richemont for IWC and Swatch for Omega. Second, these watches were both created and are indeed perceived as go-anywhere, do-anything watches, also often referred to as beach-to-boardroom. Third, their MSRPs are in the same ballpark, with the IWC maybe 15% more expensive. They both serve their purpose in providing ample protection during shipping and offer a measure of presentation while in the home. Imitation leather on cardboard for Omega and synthetic-coated wood for IWC, but IWC's box is a touch more classy and feels sturdier, although I presume that under heavy stress none would perform significantly better than the other. You get the compulsory booklets and warranty card, but no COSC chronometer certificate. Omega only provides one on request, while IWC's own quality standards exceed those of the august Contr?le Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, hence they have not a single officially certified chronometer and even fewer Officially Certified Superlative Chronometers, whatever "superlative" may mean. Sorry, I just couldn't resist the temptation. It is safe to say that both watch cases build on their respective companies' rich history, but that's almost the only thing they have in common. The Omega case has the company's exquisitely proportioned signature lyre lugs. The alternating brushed and polished surfaces are well balanced, complement the case just right and the quality of the finish and attention is excellent for this price category and about as good as you can get on a (relatively speaking) mass-produced watch. The fairly thick sapphire crystal is slightly convex and rounds out the top of the watch in class, offering an undistorted view of the dial at literally any angle. The double-sided anti-reflective coating is top of the class, you have to turn the watch around quite a lot to even see some reflection and under some angles it the makes the crystal disappear altogether. There are also no color hues to it. The see-through case back has a slightly raised flat sapphire crystal, giving a good view of the adequately finished movement. Omega has even labeled the two spring barrels as "BARREL ONE" and "BARREL TWO" hammering home the message. There are three reasons why I generally like see-through case backs. First, they provide some welcome entertainment on those occasions when you find yourself idly waiting without anything to read. Second, I found that the silky smoothness of the crystal is more pleasant to the wrist than almost any metal. Third, on an automatic watch it is the perfect visual aid should you want to explain to the uninitiated what an automatic movement is. Please

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