This Valentine’s Day, Omega Proves That Romance isn’t Dead

A celebratory new watch channels the spirit of romance with strategic use of one particular stone, aventurine.

Article by Luke Benedictus

The Context

In 1969, Richard Burton handed Elizabeth Taylor one of the most famous pearls in the world for Valentine’s Day. Weighing a preposterous 50.96 carats and measuring 25.5mm long, it was called “La Peregrina” and was originally bought by Spain’s King Philip II as a wedding present for Queen Mary I of England. At auction, Burton had to beat off competition from the Spanish Royal family, eventually buying the drop-shaped pearl for £25,700 — a sum amounting to about £375,000 today (or $711,660AUD).

I mention this because Valentine’s Day invariably gets a bad rap. To be fair, it is an easy target, due to being apparently designed in a money-grabbing conspiracy by Hallmark greeting cards, restaurants with prix-fixe menus, and smug couples flaunting over-zealous displays of affection for their Instagram frenemies. Things tend to operate rather differently in the real world. There, Valentine’s Day most common expression is often a tired bunch of cellophane-wrapped flowers, plucked from a petrol station forecourt at the last possible minute.

Yet as Burton demonstrated, Valentine’s Day is still capable of inspiring acts of head-spinning extravagance. And perhaps more of this may be going on than we think. Omega, for example, tell us that they are “exploring the unique dimensions of the deepest human emotion” by releasing a special watch to tie in with February 14. The Omega Constellation Aventurine costs a not inconsiderable $20,300. But the fact that one of the world’s greatest watch brands would launch a new timepiece for Valentine’s Day suggests that a market is potentially there.

The Hardware

Not surprisingly, a watch that channels the spirit romance makes strategic use of one particular colour. The dial is made of Aventurine, a natural quartz gemstone that comes in a range of hues and is distinguished by its wondrous shimmering quality as it catches the light. The colour here is an intense red with a heady depth that’s matched by the red leather strap.

Out of this fiery backdrop, blaze the diamond hour markers with more sparklers embedded into the bezel. Cranking up the opulence, the watch’s hands, logo and hour marker settings are hewn in 18K Sedna gold, Omega’s proprietary rose-gold alloy that maintains its lustre over time and whose subtle pink glow here complements the red. The 29mm case is made from a mix of Sedna gold and stainless-steel, the latter helping to anchor the visual pyrotechnics and provide a base for the more dramatic elements to shine.

There’s a lot for the eye to admire here, but thankfully Omega have applied the same painstaking care to the internals. For years, many brands attitude to women’s watches was essentially shrink it, pink it, smother it in diamonds and don’t worry about a mechanical movement. The patronising implication was that women only cared about the superficial appearance, not what literally made the watch tick. That’s absolutely not the case here. This watch is powered by Omega’s Calibre 8700, a self-winding movement with Co-Axial escapement that’s been approved by METAS to Certified Master Chronometer status.  Visible through the domed sapphire crystal caseback, it’s the watch world’s equivalent to a Ferrari engine.

The Verdict

As romantic acts go, the Omega Constellation Aventurine is certainly a grand gesture. It’s a gorgeous timepiece that pairs head-turning looks with superlative mechanical performance. My only note of caution to anyone genuinely considering this watch as a Valentine’s Day gift is that on the day I went on Omega’s Australian website a week before February 14, there was a “waiting list” for the watch. If you’re an ardent lovebird ready to splash the cash, maybe have a back-up plan so you’re not scrambling for the last bunch of petrol-station flowers.