When it comes to ludicrous, ultralight sports watches, there are usually some very evident concessions made around actual real-world practicality, as well as the ever-important, but subjective concept of individual taste, especially in a sector where more showy design reigns supreme. What makes the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra “Ultra Light” so appealing is that it looks essentially like to any other Seamaster Aqua Terra, save from some amazing casing and movement advancements that result in a startlingly light presence on the wrist. It’s a little unusual to look at on the wrist since, unlike many other halo watches, this all-matte Aqua Terra manages to go under the radar with an incredibly wearable and extremely practical execution. It is, for all intents and purposes, the ultimate Omega sports watch as a result of this. There’s just one problem: it’ll set you back $50,000.
The Seamaster Aqua Terra, first introduced in 2002, is undoubtedly Omega’s most flexible sport-lifestyle watch, and about as close a challenger as the Bienne-based juggernaut has to the ever-present Rolex Datejust, which more or less serves a similar design objective. But, where the Datejust ends in singularity — more or less as a dressier style everyday (or “GADA”) watch — the Aqua Terra has grown to represent a platform of pretty impressive versatility and latitude over the last two decades, including everything from simple day/date workhorses in steel or precious metal to globetrotting references with GMT complication. The unusual Ultra Light is, in practise, the fullest extension of the Aqua Terra’s adaptability — so much so that, while being widely available to anyone with the cash, it almost feels more like a “concept watch” than anything — and the lifestyle that can go along with it. End Of Advertising Message Omega Ambassador Sergio Garcia fires a shot while the Aqua Terra Ultra Light observes.
Professional golfers including Sergio Garcia, Rory Sutherland, and Collin Morikawa, who recently won the PGA Championship, all belong to the Omega Ambassadors programme. Another freshly minted Omega user, Mondo Duplantis, a young pole vaulting superstar and multi-world record holder, shot into popularity this fall during an outdoor contest in Rome when he cleared 6.15 metres (20 feet!) while wearing the Aqua Terra Ultra Light. The specific needs of these athletes helped form the basis for the watch’s design goals: a watch that was supremely lightweight, unobtrusive, and virtually unaffected by the effects of gravitational acceleration, despite being a far cry from the usual yachting or motorsport tie-ins that we’re so used to seeing (ie: a high-speed golf swing, or a fall from 20 feet onto a landing pad).
While crafting one of the year’s most spectacular wrist shots, Duplantis is on his way to achieving another world record – his second in 2020.
Unlike last year’s crazy Seamaster Planet Ocean “Ultra Deep,” which was strictly a concept watch and not meant for the general public, the Aqua Terra Ultra Light was designed with Omega’s stable of sportsmen in mind. To get there, the Ultra Light was designed with a new superlight aerospace-grade alloy dubbed Gamma Titanium and a new in-house-manufactured Calibre 8928 — a highly shock-resistant hand-wound movement made of titanium as well. Another first for Omega, this time in terms of innovation and complexity. The movement is regulated by a spring-loaded crown that fits flush against the integrated lugs at 3 o’clock; simply push it out of the case, and it pops out, allowing the wearer to grip and so pull out the crown to set the time. Pushing it back in secures it against the caseband, preventing it from pressing into the wrist and getting in the way while doing things like pole-vaulting into history.
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The watch is absurdly light at 55 grammes on the nylon strap (pictured here on the slightly heavier integrated rubber strap), but it’s also not particularly large, so its 41mm silhouette doesn’t lend itself to the strange optical and sensory illusion that a much larger composite-cased Richard Mille RM-27-04 for Rafael Nadal, the most recent of which weighs a scant 30 grammes, might. The continuous Richard Mille and Rafael Nadal collaboration has produced some of the lightest wristwatches in high-end sports horology, with the lightest being the RM-27 edition from 2018, which weighed only 19 grammes on the band.
Even so, this Aqua Terra is incredibly light — even ultralight. But, in my opinion, the main draw here is how modest and just ordinary it appears and feels on the wrist. It’s certainly featherweight, similar to the 38.5mm titanium Aqua Terra Good Planet from a few years ago. The complete lack of any flourish contributes even more to this. There are no polished surfaces, no suggestive text or naming conventions, and no strange skeletonized embellishments to be found anywhere. The only indication that you’re looking at something exceptional is the telescoping crown in its protective holster. Even the grooved “teak deck” type dial (encircled by a very cool matte, dark grey bezel) and 41mm case profile are identical to the normal stainless steel Aqua Terra, making it, in a word, a perfectly formed portrait of restraint portrayed in a radically uncontrolled execution. It’s true high-tech stealth wealth on a level that not even white gold, tantalum, or even palladium-cased watches could match — and I can’t think that this is a negative thing for a certain segment of buyers.
Even yet, it begs the question: for whom is a watch like this designed? Collin Morikawa, a professional golfer, was recently interviewed shortly after winning the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California. Collin has been spotted wearing the Ultra Light since his victory, though it’s worth noting that we were probably more interested in learning more about the shot that cemented his place in PGA tour history, but we also wanted to learn more about his ambassadorship with Omega and whether or not anything should be done with the Wanamaker Trophy’s infamous lid.[By the way] First and foremost, congratulations on winning the PGA Championship! Take us through the events leading up to hole 16. Was there a particular time or hole before to your heroic drive that gave you the confidence to hit such a long drive? Were you already manifesting the victory before that shot? [Collin Morikawa] [Collin Morikawa] [Collin Morikawa When I looked at the leaderboard after 12, I noticed that seven guys were tied at -10, and I realised that someone had to birdie to win the event, and it wasn’t going to be handed to anyone. I figured I could take advantage of a terrible approach shot on 14 and chip in for a lead over the next few holes when I hit a terrible approach shot and chipped in. Even after the eagle putt on 16, I never imagined I had the lead since it’s a Major championship and nothing is over until the last putt is made. I had to stay concentrated throughout the day and not give any shots away on holes 17 and 18, where anyone might make birdies.
Now, as for the drive itself, I understand you thought it was a high-risk shot due to the wind during practise – what changed your mind, or were you aiming to go for the green the entire time?
In the practise round, I don’t think I saw a pin location that was close enough to the tees for me to get to the green. But that’s golf; you have to adjust to the conditions, and with the tees being so close together and the pins being so close together, the driver was the ideal club. I didn’t have to do anything; it was a soft driver for me, so the ball would have landed just short of the green and rolled up. That’s how golf works: you have to alter your strategy based on what you’re given and what’s in front of you.
When it comes to major events, every shot should be difficult – but how do you decide whether to take a chance or not?
I wouldn’t call it dangerous. It was just the right shot at the right time. You have to feel comfortable in the final few holes of a Major event, and that shot felt comfortable to me. It wasn’t doing anything unusual; it was simply fading in and out. I walked down the left side of the green and then turned around to face the right. It was the perfect shot to play, and it definitely paid off, as the drive looked a lot better than some might have predicted given how difficult the attempt was.
Was it easier for you to feel at ease playing at Harding Park because you were a Norcal native during your time at Cal?
Yes, I believe that living in the neighbourhood for four years and playing the course a dozen times helped me gain a feel for it. I had some prior knowledge of the course, but it played quite differently than I had expected. The rough was up, and the course was much more difficult than I had anticipated. But just being back in San Francisco gave me a sense of comfort and familiarity that helped me get through the week.
What was it like for you to prepare for the PGA Tour from March to May?
Because we didn’t have the incentive to practise and grind on the range and on the course for the first month and a half until we found out we were going to return, it was difficult to practise and grind on the range and on the course. While it was difficult, it was also refreshing to be away from the clubs. We were notified approximately a month and a half in advance that we would be resuming operations. I was glad to be back out there, knowing that we were making progress.