• Upcoming updates
    Over the next couple of weeks we will be performing software updates on the forum. These will be completed in small steps as we upgrade individual software addons. You might occasionally see a maintenance message that will last a few minutes at most.

    If we anticipate an update will take more than a few minutes, we'll put up a notice with estimated time.

    Thank you!

Vacation/Travel Watch

John Cote

Staff member
Director
NAWCC Member
Aug 26, 2000
5,069
2,394
113
Midwest USA
www.johncotephotography.com
Country
Region
This is the first draft of an article I am working on for submission to a couple of online wristwatch publications. I thought I would preview it here and see what members thought..

My New Favorite Vacation Watch
By John Cote, November 3, 2022

I have been a very frequent business traveler and vintage watch wearer for most of my adult life but picking a vacation travel watch has always seemed a difficult proposition. Vacation travel is different. It may involve crossing time zones, just like business travel but it often involves adventure and exposing a watch to the vagaries of nature that business travel does not. It can involve going places where obviously nice/expensive and or blingy watches elicit the attention of a criminal element rather than admiring stares in a board room.

Something you should know about me before I delve into my difficult choice is that I am a very passionate and prolific watch collector but a collector, almost exclusively of vintage watches. That said, I do have a few modern watches, which for me can mean watches made in the last 10-20 years in my collection, and I do tend to lean toward those when making this vacation watch choice. Generally speaking, the modern watches are more robust and, quite frankly, I probably value them less, or at least am much less emotionally attached to them. I do wear quite a few of the vintage watches, mostly chronographs from the '50s, '60s and '70s, for business travel but they are too prone to value decreasing scratches and dings or worse when worn on vacation.

HeuerAut-Twins.jpg

A pair of vintage Heuer GMT watches from the early to mid '70s which I wear for business travel but which don't fit the bill as vacation watches.

So, what are my travel watch criteria…
  • A look that is soul satisfying to me (a criteria for any watch)
  • Ease of time-zone/hour or GMT adjustment
  • Easily visible date function with ease of setting
  • Some degree of accuracy in time keeping
…And, what criteria might I add for a vacation travel watch?
  • A less flashy (attractiveness to thieves) look
  • A watch that is not a bother and which requires little thought
  • Robustness/water resistance
  • Bracelet as opposed to strap for sweat and water resistance and outdoor feel.
Well let's get to it. I just got back from an almost 2-week trip to Greece and I am writing this because the watch I chose is now my official vacation travel watch. This watch, the 41.5mm Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150m Coaxial Chronometer ref 231.13.42.21.06.001, seems to have been discontinued for a new version in around 2018 and doesn't seem to get much love in today's market. Most watch buyers seem to like the sportier/flashier looking Seamaster dive watches with rotating bezels.

OmegaAT-Dial.jpg

The beautiful gray "plank" dial of the Seamaster Aqua Terra

My version of this watch has a gray, plank dial and is on a well-built, robust, and nicely finished factory bracelet. To me the dial, which is supposed to have the look of the plank deck of a yacht, and the hands have a very satisfying look. The dial changes hues in different light which to me is a very pleasing effect. Though I prefer single hinge clasps to this double hinge/hidden clasp, this bracelet is very comfortable, robust and secure and it did not take much time to get used to the function of the clasp. To me the look of this watch is a sort of half dressy half sporty. It's a very versatile look.

OmegaAT-Clasp.jpg

The bracelet and clasp are very well done

The watch survived my knocking about in little island cars and aboard ferries and sport boats. It took dives in the salty Aegean, and more than a few warm fresh water and soap cleanings without a single burp or hiccup. As to its accuracy, the caliber 8500 Coaxial movement with its beautiful "Geneva Stripe" damascening, which can be viewed through a sapphire glass view back, gained a total of 5 seconds over the first 10 days of the trip. After that I just quit paying attention. This accuracy seems almost too good to be true for any mechanical watch.

OmegaAT-Mvt.jpg

The amazingly accurate and beautiful cal 8500 Coaxial movement of the Seamaster Aqua Terra

Let me get to functional aspect of the watch that most reviewers seem to like least. That is the lack of a "quick-set" date. This watch has a screw-down, waterproof crown with 2 setting positions. When pulled all the way out, the crown sets the time and the watch is hacked, which means the second hand quits running and is locked in place. This means the watch can be synced easily with atomic clock time. When pulled half-way out the crown simply and quickly moves the hour hand either forward or backward without the hack. It is functionally a time-zone adjustor, but it also functions as the not so quick date adjust as the best way to semi-quickly adjust the date is to advance the hour hand forward until the date is correct. This has been a "deal breaker" for some reviewers but to me it is a welcome and very functional travel compromise. As a vintage collector, I am used to watches which have much more tedious date setting functions. The fact that I can quickly and easily adjust the time zone by moving the hour hand for me is an asset which far outweighs the slightly slower date setting.

OmegaAT-Wrist.jpg

The Aqua Terra is a comfortable watch and looks great on the wrist

In short, I love the stylish but not blingy, versatile look of my Seamaster. I love the accuracy. I love the travel functionality. I love the knock about robustness. I think this will be my new favorite vacation watch and as a mostly retired old dude, I plan on wearing it on a lot of vacations.
 
Last edited:

PatH

NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Member
Dec 5, 2014
2,984
2,583
113
Texas
Country
Region
Very nice article and summary - as well as a great looking watch, John!
 
  • Like
Reactions: John Cote

Douglas Romero

NAWCC Member
Nov 3, 2001
347
95
28
New England
Country
John, nice article. Nice watch. I almost bought the omega aqua terra with small seconds and gold bezel with grayish blue dial and same non metal bracelet. Cute watch. Instead picked up a 3861 sapphire sandwich as referred to. The aqua terra more unusual. Doug
 
  • Like
Reactions: John Cote

Rhett Lucke

Board Chair
Director
NAWCC Member
Feb 18, 2001
2,237
1,503
113
rrstd.com
Country
Dang John, now I want an Aqua Terra. The want list just keep growing. While your enjoying retirement, I’m going to need a second job
 

John Cote

Staff member
Director
NAWCC Member
Aug 26, 2000
5,069
2,394
113
Midwest USA
www.johncotephotography.com
Country
Region
Dang John, now I want an Aqua Terra. The want list just keep growing. While your enjoying retirement, I’m going to need a second job
No my friend...you simply need to retire. You need to start beating your brother to some deals. I am glad, however, that you have seen fit to diversify and become a bit of a wristwatch nerd.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PatH

noelekal

Registered User
Jun 7, 2021
42
148
33
65
Country
Those Heuers are colorful and eye-popping in that excellent photograph. That red and green bezel is really something. I've not seen that combination on any watch before.


What I ought to wear on vacation is one thing. What I choose to wear is something different.

We've been planning a November vacation all year. I've been planning all year to wear the Omega Speedmaster on the journey, for one stop we intend to make is the Omega Museum. So ... ya' know ... Speedmaster would go so well.
thumbnail.jpg

But, noooo... I go and drop it in late July and it strikes the steel pickup bed from two feet distance. Apparently hit right on the upper pusher and internal damage was done. My watchmaker had taken six weeks off for a European trip so couldn't take delivery on it until the end of September. It's not yet ready so I'm choosing something simple and elegant and not too commonly seen, the '53 Omega cursive Geneve in 36mm diameter rather than the more common 34 mm diameter.
thumbnail-1.jpg


No special capabilities. No waterproof capabilities. And, it's typically rainy in Switzerland in November.

I realize that I ought to take a Seiko quartz or Seiko field watch I have on hand, but I enjoy the vintage ones so well.

The only other watch going along is the1956 Favre Leuba Sea Bird. It'll pull double duty as the alarm and as a spare watch for "just in case." It always goes along in that capacity.
thumbnail (1).jpg


Anyway, we're departing day after tomorrow.
 
Last edited:
  • Love
  • Like
Reactions: PatH and John Cote

John Cote

Staff member
Director
NAWCC Member
Aug 26, 2000
5,069
2,394
113
Midwest USA
www.johncotephotography.com
Country
Region
Those Heuers are colorful and eye-popping in that excellent photograph. That red and green bezel is really something. I've not seen that combination on any watch before.
First, let me say that I love this response and thanks for the kind words. The bezel on that Heuer GMT ref 741603 is a color changer. It is really blue with perhaps a tint of yellow so it does turn sort of greenish in the right light. It is one of my favorite watches.

What I ought to wear on vacation is one thing. What I choose to wear is something different.
I agree and I can absolutely tell you that I don't make the rational choice most of the time either. I can also say that from my standpoint a Speedy is a great choice for any occasion. Every wristwatch collection should have a Speedmaster.

The only other watch going along is the1956 Favre Leuba Sea Bird. It'll pull double duty as the alarm and as a spare watch for "just in case." It always goes along in that capacity.
Any collector who loves Favre Leuba is a true and astute collector. I love the brand. The NAWCC and the National Watch & Clock museum will be featuring a great FL Bivouac with altimeter function on social media soon. I will do my best to post pix here.

Anyway, we're departing day after tomorrow.
Have a great time and please post a couple of wrist shot photo updates to this thread.
 
  • Like
Reactions: noelekal

Forum statistics

Threads
178,952
Messages
1,569,581
Members
54,025
Latest member
Lurch
Encyclopedia Pages
909
Total wiki contributions
3,088
Last edit
Swiss Fake by Kent