The James Bond Spectre Aqua Terra is very unusual in being the only real dress watch in the Bond LE catalog. Featuring a very unique movement, and a beautiful design inspired by Bond's family history, it is one of the most comfortable and attractive of all LE Bond models.
A Very Different Flavor Of Bond Watch
The Spectre Aqua Terra Limited Edition is the first non-dive watch to make it as a Bond special edition piece. During Skyfall, Daniel Craig wore a standard production blue dial Calibre 8500 Aqua Terra, marking the line's inclusion in the franchise and setting the scene for the Spectre special edition's arrival. To this day, it remains the only dress oriented watch in the Bond catalog.
What makes this piece especially interesting is that it was only the second ever Omega to use the 15,000 gauss rated version of the Calibre 8500 movement which was pioneered in 2013 with the Bumble-bee Aqua Terra. The bumble-bee was a relatively low volume timepiece, but served as a testbed for this new technology, before the Spectre Aqua Terra brought it to a much wider market in 2015. While the Calibre 8900 would bring the 15,000 gauss rating to the entire product range later in 2015, the Calibre 8507G variant in the Spectre Aqua Terra brought it to a wide audience of 15,007 Bond enthusiasts nearly half a year earlier.
While the Gauss rating on the dial indicates >15,007 rather than >15,000 on the Bumble-bee, they are effectively the same. Omega simply chose to add 007 to the rating for flavor as the true number these watches are rated to is far higher than 15,000 as the > symbol in front indicates.
The limited production number of 15,007 is very high for a Bond LE, far above the 7,007 of the Spectre Seamaster 300, or 5,007 of the Skyfall Planet Ocean and made these watches far more accessible to the general public. In fact, given that this was a rather special and attractive model as well as one which includes both strap and bracelet along with a deployant clasp and strap tool, it actually represented quite good value both then and now.
With minimal Bond branding on the front of the watch, and styling that would appeal to a broad audience, the Spectre was a model of Aqua Terra not just for fans of the franchise, but for watch lovers in general. For Bond fans, this Aqua Terra was not about commemorating a movie specifically, but about telling a story, and touching on notes of nostalgia which date back to 1969.
Connecting Spectre To On Her Majesty's Secret Service
My personal favorite film in the franchise has always been On Her Majesty's Secret Service, with Bond played by Australian George Lazenby. While Lazenby was a commendable, if short lived Bond, what made the movie so special was the amount of world building that went into the story. OHMSS told us far more about the character than any outing before or since, diving into Bond's family, personal life, and without spoiling the film for those who haven't seen it, the only woman he truly loved. It is a film I cannot recommend enough. Among the many revelations are Bond's family history, coat of arms and motto, appearing during a meeting with a genealogist in an early part of the film.
It is often thought and reported that the Bond coat of arms and motto, "The World Is Not Enough" fictional, or a creation of the Bond franchise, but they do actually have some basis in reality. Fleming chose a real person, Sir Thomas Bond, 1st Baronet of Peckham, a British landowner to be the ancestor of his fictional character. Thomas Bond is mentioned by name in the film On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and the coat of arms and motto are very much authentic and correctly researched.
Fleming spent an extensive amount of time with close friend and officer of arms at the College of Arms in London Robin de la Lanne-Mirrlees learning about both heraldry and the workings of the college. Mirrlees was instrumental in selecting the Bonds of Peckham as the character's fictional ancestors, and provided significant inspiration for both the plot of On Her Majesty's Secret Service as well as the character of Sir Hilary Bray.
One of the most impressive aspects of Fleming's writing is the depth and quality of research, knowledge and first-hand experience woven into the Bond stories, as even in this relatively small plot point it remains evident.
The film Spectre, which this watch is named after doesn't directly involve the coat of arms per se, but it focuses strongly on Bond's family history, and his relationship with Blofeld during a battle of wits, very much echoing OHMSS of 1969.
Case & Bracelet
The Bond Spectre Aqua Terra is effectively a modified version of the >15,000 Gauss Bumble-bee with a different dial and rotor, sharing the same 3rd generation 41.5 mm Aqua Terra case design.
The changes made to make these Aqua Terra models anti-magnetic are all within the movement and related to choice of materials rather than shielding from the case. As a result, this case is identical to the mass production third generation Aqua Terra, identifiable by the polished center links on the bracelet. This model, like the bumble-bee features a full sapphire exhibition case-back, offering no protection to the movement as it simply isn't needed with these new Omega calibres.
The third generation Aqua Terra features a slightly asymmetrical case, offering a modest amount of protection to the large, knurled crown, without making it difficult to access. Twisted lugs give some character to the case, which features a simple sloping bezel which sits relatively flush with the sapphire crystal which only protrudes by a small amount.
The thickness of the Spectre Aqua Terra is a very reasonable 13 mm from front to back, making this one of the thinnest and most comfortable Bond limited editions ever made owing to the fact that the others are all dive watches. The display-back features engravings with >15,007 gauss, anti-magnetic, limited edition, and the LE number among standard Aqua Terra markings and keying.
The rotor itself is very special on this watch and is the key difference between this variant of the Calibre 8507G and the Calibre 8508 in the Bumble-bee. The rotor features a brass bullet casing design in the center covering the bearing, with 5 arms spiralling outwards to a circular ring around the edge, creating an approximation of the famous "gun barrel" Bond intro. A thin oscillating weight is attached to the lower four arms, sitting slightly below the outer ring, with the text 8507, Co-Axial and Omega written on it. This asymmetrical weight allows the rotor to still operate, while giving a far better view of the movement than a typical Calibre 8500 series movement would thanks to the skeletonized view offered by the "arms" supporting the weight. The entire rotor, including the James Bond text in the center is part of the rotor and spins beneath the case-back giving a very unique look.
The Spectre Aqua Terra only comes in a single reference, 126.96.36.199.01.002, which includes both the stainless steel bracelet and a blue nylon strap with yellow stitching on Omega's second generation single-fold deployant clasp. A strap change tool is also included in the package to allow owners to swap between the two options as desired.
The bracelet itself is very comfortable, though slightly higher maintenance than the previous Aqua Terra bracelet as the polished center links can attract scratches and swirls and be more difficult to refinish. Precise sizing is accomplished with half-links due to the lack of micro-adjust in the bi-fold butterfly clasp. Lugs on this case are the standard 20 mm, so a wide variety of Omega and aftermarket straps and bracelet options will also fit this watch without issue.
This is the second watch to carry a movement with the designation Calibre 8507 and while both are Bond watches, the two calibres are very different in rotor design and specifications. Both models are aesthetically altered variants of the venerable Calibre 8500 movement, but the differences are actually technical as well.
The first Calibre 8507 version used in the Skyfall Planet Ocean Ref 188.8.131.52.01.004 uses a fairly standard Calibre 8500 rotor, but with "SKYFALL" printed on the rotor, and the "007" gun logo printed below it. The Spectre Aqua Terra uses the second version of the Calibre 8507, with a gun-barrel themed rotor which makes up an entire 360-degree circle. The version used in the Skyfall Planet Ocean is designated Calibre 8507B and is otherwise identical to the Calibre 8500. The version in the Aqua Terra is the Calibre 8507G, containing parts from the 15,000 Gauss Anti-Magnetic "Bumble-Bee" Aqua Terra's Calibre 8508 movement, making it also anti-magnetic.
The Cal 8500 which both Cal 8507 variants are based on features a 3-level Co-Axial escapement, leaving it immune to the problems associated with early Calibre 2500 movements. It beats at 25,200 vph, is chronometer certified, and features hacking along with a jumping hour hand for date setting and travel convenience. The bi-direction automatic winding system powers two barrels for a total of 60 hours power reserve.
The aesthetic design of the movement is far more impressive than prior Omega models, with Cotes de Geneve en Arabesque in a radial, turbine-blade like finishing setting it apart from other watches. Also interesting and somewhat unusual was the Si14 silicon balance wheel, identifiable in matte black against the bright rhodium finishing.
While all movements have some teething issues when new, including the Calibre 8500, the movement has been a solid performer over time, with early issues resolved at time of service. By the time the Calibre 8507G was released, those early issues were resolved and there should be no problems with the Spectre Aqua Terra. These movements can be handled by any qualified watchmaker with access to an Omega parts account and should perform exceptionally well if correctly maintained.
One point of conjecture that comes up often on the internet is whether the Calibre 8500 is truly "in-house" in the strictest sense of the word or not. This is due to the fact that while the Calibre 8500 and 9300, along with their descendants were designed exclusively for Omegas, manufacturing was taking place on dedicated production lines at ETA facilities. Really it doesn't matter in the slightest, ETA is a Swatch Group company as is Omega, and ETA possess greater manufacturing expertise than anyone in the Swiss watch industry. Just as Omega leans on expertise from Comadur SA for high tech ceramics and composites, it makes sense to make use of the best talent available in the group, and this leads to a better product.
Dial & Variants
The dial of the Spectre Aqua Terra is by far the standout feature, with an impressive amount of detail setting it apart from other Aqua Terra variants.
The main feature is the dial texture, a tessellated pattern made from the Bond family coat of arms repeated in a three-dimensional pattern which catches the light beautifully and makes it dance. This is a dial that looks good from every angle, and you will catch yourself staring at it under different forms of lighting admiring how differences in illumination interact with the texture.
The choice of royal blue and light yellow to match the crest works incredibly well, with the yellow text standing out in the outer seconds track, the Seamaster text and the > 15,007 Gauss text featuring the Bond gun logo. It should be noted that this small gun logo in yellow is the only overt Bond branding on the front face of the watch, everything else is subtle and only recognisable by true devotees.
An applied rhodium-plated white gold Omega logo is used, along with standard Aqua Terra hour markers with luminous inlays, and luminous hands. The seconds hand is a unique to this watch in yellow, with another Bond family crest near the tip, which actually features lume for the white parts, a subtle but very nice touch.
The Master Co-Axial Chronometer text appears at the bottom in white, and a black date wheel is used with no applied date window surround.
As this watch comes with both strap and bracelet options in the same box, there is only one reference of 184.108.40.206.03.004 and no precious metal variants available.
There are no others references of the Spectre Aqua Terra other than the Ref 220.127.116.11.03.004 which comes with both nylon strap and deployant clasp as well as bracelet and strap tool, so there isn't much of a choice to make. The two watches people may cross-shop against this model are the regular blue dial Aqua Terra, often called the Skyfall, and the Bumble-bee for those interested in something anti-magnetic and a bit unusual.
As it was produced in 15,007 units, supply is very high and there are always plenty available on eBay, Chrono24 and forums. The best deals tend to come from no reserve auctions as per usual but there is also a very large price range depending on completeness of set. Unworn examples kept by collectors often carry a significant premium over the original retail price but very rarely sell. Complete but used sets go around the $5,500-6,500 mark as of late-2023, and incomplete sets or watch-only examples can sell well under $5,000 depending on condition. What is ideal for you is a matter of personal preference, and many who are keen on wearing the watch rather than considering it a collector's item might be very interested in those cheaper examples.
Condition wise these are very durable modern Omegas with excellent water resistance and accurate, reliable movements. The key things to look out for are any chips or scratches to the sapphire crystal, and deep scratches or dings to the case or bracelet. The bracelet and the polished center-links in particular can look very rough just from surface scratches and swirls, but this is easily remedied as long as nothing is too deep.
From an investment perspective, there are probably too many of these out there for there to ever be any real scarcity driving prices up. The owners who have preserved theirs brand new in box hoping for a future profit are unlikely to see much as there just aren't many buyers keen on that. That said, the current price for used examples likely is not going to go much lower if at all, and I consider them to be very good value at that price range. This is a watch that really should be on someone's wrist and enjoyed, not sitting in a box, so by all means buy one with some mild wear and enjoy it thoroughly.
The Spectre Aqua Terra remains the only dress-style Bond watch ever made, along with being one of the thinnest and most comfortable. It has a lot of unique design features, a unique story among Bond watches and the 15,000 gauss anti-magnetic movement, all significant reasons to value it over other Aqua Terra models. The dial however really is what will enchant owners the most, with the intricate blue pattern setting it apart from all others. It's a watch that does really need to be seen in person to appreciate, and one which will be appreciated by nearly all.