Aqua cologne splashed onto the market in 1988 after the release of Davidoff’s Cool Water, changing the world of fragrances forever.
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Cool Water and those that followed were part of a new wave of fragrances which used advancements in synthetic technology to create fragrances distinguished by their fresh and marine-like scents.
New ingredients like calone and helional gave perfumers the ability to mimic salty, oceanic smells like never before.
These fresh flavors were marketed as sporty, outdoorsy scents, and although mainly marketed at men, the icy allure of these notes created a unisex appeal.
Our Favorite Aqua Cologne
David Chu’s Nautica* launched Voyage in 2006, created by the celebrated nose, Maurice Roucel. It stands as one of the wettest smelling fragrances on the market, with great longevity and a very affordable price tag.
The smell is dominated by a cucumber quality that gives it an irresistible crispness. The top notes are leaves and apple, with mimosa and lotus at the heart, along a woody core of cedar moss, musk, and amber.
It’s a well-rounded fragrance that will never offend but is unlikely to wow either. Instead, it’s a reliable and safe choice that goes well anywhere, anytime.
Davidoff Cool Water
The epitome of aquatic fragrances, Davidoff’s Cool Water* changed the perfume scene forever with its release. Its enduring popularity even today is a testament to the quality of the composition synthesized by legendary nose Pierre Bourdon.
The fragrance instantly brings to mind crashing waves, dramatic surf, and swelling, blue waves. Its fresh, woody smell is complimented by a subtle floral aspect that gives it an added complexity.
The top notes are seawater, mint, green notes, lavender, coriander, calone, and rosemary. The middle is of sandalwood, jasmine, neroli, and geranium. The base is dominated by musk, oakmoss, cedar, tobacco, and amber.
Chanel Allure Homme Sport
The 2004 release of this cologne took what its predecessor – Allure Homme* – was known for and fine-tuned it to fantastic effect.
Sharper, fresher, and dripping with vitality, this hot weather favorite puts orange and citric notes at the forefront. That zesty citrus remains dominant throughout, while vanilla blends perfectly to create a creamy, airy experience.
Top notes include water and aldehydes with citrus. The middle is composed of woods and spice originating from the pepper and cedar. While the base is combined of white musk, tonka beans, and amber.
Creed Millesime Imperial
The supreme Millesime Imperial by Creed* was created in 1995 to celebrate 150 years since the perfume house was birthed by royal decree of Emperor Napoleon III.
Olivier Creed is the nose behind this warm and romantic fragrance, 6th in the line of fathers and sons to take the helm at the legendary French perfume house.
Straightforward, yet addictively complex, this regal fragrance is devilishly indulgent. The top is dominated by fruity, salty tones. The heart is composed of lemon, bergamot, iris and mandarin orange. While the base brings forth musk, woods, and marine notes.
Bvlgari Aqva Amara
This 2014 offering’s name translates to ‘bitter water’, but don’t be fooled, there’s nothing bitter about this aqua cologne*.
It’s rich, deep, and citrussy. A summer fragrance that just can’t be cooped up indoors.
After spritzing, Sicilian mandarin dominates the fragrance, before neroli and water come to the fore in the heart. Finally, the base shines with olibanum and Indonesian patchouli.
Creed Virgin Island Water
Launched in 2007 by father and son Olivier and Erwin Creed, this watery scent* was inspired by the exotic, decadent atmosphere of the Caribbean. Its aroma activates memories of vacations, the beach, and serene relaxation.
The top notes are of white bergamot, Jamaican lime, and Sicilian mandarin, flanked by the copra – the smell of coconut whites. The heart then brings forth Indian jasmine, sweet hibiscus, exotic ylang-ylang, and tangy ginger. The base is a cocktail of sugar cane, musk, and white rum.
Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio
A creation of the 90s, this beachy aqua cologne* embodies summer freshness, dramatic cliffs, and crashing waves. A balanced symphony of citrus and freshness, with an airy profile that smells chilled out and comfortable.
It’s amazing what this fragrance packs in. The top notes are dominated by citrus fruits, jasmine, and neroli. The heart is cyclamen, nutmeg, mignonette, coriander, violet, freesia, sea, peach, hyacinth, rose, jasmine, rosemary, and calone. Finally, the base settles on amber, patchouli, oakmoss, cedar, and white musk.
Which One Is Best?
They say you can’t improve on perfection, and perhaps when it comes to aqua cologne this was true. Though the many fragrances to follow Davidoff’s Cool Water* dazzled and surprised with each twist on the fresh, seafaring attitude of water fragrances, none equaled the heights reached by Cool Water.
This era-defining triumph has remained a fragrance at the forefront of the scent world since its inception all those years ago. It’s staying power is a convincing testament to the concoction’s supreme quality.