Eddie Redmayne loves the sea - if he can see the shore. So Omega's newest timepiece is ideal, says Peter Howarth...
Life is nothing short of magical for Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne. He’s touched down in Venice, straight from the set of the second Fantastic Beasts film in the UK. He’s come to the famous “Floating City” in his capacity as ambassador for Omega’s new Aqua Terra, a timepiece that, as its name suggests, is all about being able to function equally well on both water (aqua) and land (terra). Venice, as a city built on the water, is therefore the ideal place to launch the new version.
The place is, Redmayne feels, truly magical: “I think Venice and New York actually have that same capacity to make your knees buckle slightly, you never quite forget it.” And the approach across the water is always memorable: “It was late last night, and we came in down the tiny back channels. The mist was down and everything looked like Death in Venice. We were completely sucker-punched by it – really beautiful.”
The more you speak to him, the more you realise that Redmayne is quite simply a romantic. His association with Omega, for example, is the indirect result of the fact that his father wore one. “He had an Omega De Ville that he’d been given. It was a very thin gold watch... and that was kind of what I knew watches to be, and occasionally I’d borrow it.” Later he owned his own Omega, and the firm then also lent him a timepiece; “I think it was when I was doing My Week with Marilyn,” he remembers. Thus, getting involved with the Swiss watchmaker was, he says, quite “organic”.
When he was approached to be a face for the brand, he says he accepted because of the narrative around it. “One of the things I loved about it was their heritage, of making for the British Army’s Royal Flying Corps, the NASA work [on the Moonwatch], the Olympic timekeeping, and also the way that with their watches, as they move forward, it’s always very self- referential – they’re always working from their own history.”
He also likes the aesthetic: “Frankly, I just think they are really smart, elegant watches.” It’s the elegance, in particular, that appeals, and the Aqua Terra is certainly refined in appearance and relatively modest in scale: “If you have a massive wrist you can always pull off one of those gigantic things; I don’t.”
First launched in 2002, the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra, to give it its full name, is indeed elegant. Designed to function equally well as a sports watch and a stylish day watch, it has a vintage look. With twisted and faceted lugs that recall Omega designs of the 1960s, and triangular hour markers that reinforce the old-school styling, it is a clean and simple piece. Water resistant, and with anti-shock and anti-magnetic technology, it also has “teak” grain-inspired horizontal stripes on the dial, which reference the decks of sailing yachts and provide a subtle signature motif.
You’d think Redmayne was a skilled sailor from the advertising campaign – he sits at the tiller of a large sailing yacht, looking every inch the captain of his ship. “So, here’s the truth. I did sail dinghies when I was a kid.” But the Omega shoot was something else: a team of about 30 people were making sure the boat was under control, he says. “When the helicopter came in to take the photo, said team of people ran underneath; I was on autopilot looking like I knew exactly what I was doing. It was the greatest acting moment of my life!”
He doesn’t, he explains, have any desire to sail anywhere challenging but he likes the idea of something more sedate: “Definitely more of the Aqua Terra vibe. I’m definitely more of the Ibiza, Formentera mindset; maybe a Greek island... Ithaca; maybe the Croatian coast, the Dalmatian coast... somewhere where you can see a bit of shore?”
But the sea is a draw: “I do love being on the water; I think there is something incredibly freeing about it,” he says. “We were out on the boat for a couple of hours this morning, and it makes you so tired in a way that is a most wonderful thing, isn’t it?”