The Omega Seamaster collection is made up of several sub-families, all of which spring from the original Seamaster dive watch that the brand introduced in 1948 (You can learn more about that original, groundbreaking watch, and other important historical Omega watches, here). Not all of them are dive watches per se, but all have some type of nautical or aquatic influence — hence the “Aqua Terra” and “Planet Ocean” monikers on the two major sub-brands. It seems a tad unusual, at first, that Omega would choose the Seamaster collection, specifically the Aqua Terra line, to host the brand’s first watch devoted to the sport in which one wants to avoid the water as much as possible — the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Golf. However, upon closer examination, and after a good old-fashioned wrist test that included an actual day out on the links, the choice seems more than appropriate.
What better way to review such a timepiece, after all, than strapping it on the wrist for an actual round of golf? That was my opportunity recently, and not in just any setting, but at the Carmel Country Club in Charlotte, NC — a resort right next door to Quail Hollow, which hosted the 2017 PGA Championship, the year’s final major, and one in which Omega would serve as official timekeeper, as it has done since 2011.
The watch I reviewed was from the original Aqua Terra Golf collection (Omega introduced new, redesigned models during the PGA Championship weekend; I reported on them here.) Its basic look is similar to those of other three-hand-with-date Aqua Terras, with some subtle variations inspired by golf: Green is used for the central seconds hand, which culminates in an arrow tip filled with a tiny triangle of luminous material, as well as for the Arabic numbers at the five-minute marks on the minute track, separated by thin, white indices.
Triangular wedge indices, also with luminous inserts, are applied at the hour markers, all except for the 3 o’clock position, where sits a modest date window, with white numerals on a black background harmonizing with the predominantly black dial. A silvery Omega logo appears below the 12 o’clock marker; beneath it is a cursive-script “Seamaster” logo, one more touch of fairway green. The Greek letter Omega, the Swiss brand’s longtime, recognizable emblem, appears in raised relief on the crown, which screws down securely to ensure the 41-mm stainless steel case’s 150-meter water-resistance.
The black dial catches the light nicely, and features one of those aforementioned nods to the Seamaster’s heritage, a vertical lined pattern that is meant to evoke the deck of a seagoing vessel. For most, this motif would not be immediately obvious — which may be why the brand chose to introduce a more pronounced, horizontal pattern on the newer Aqua Terra Golf Watches — but I personally like the subtlety here. (One other note: if you’re coming to this watch “cold,” you might assume the arrow-tipped minute hand is actually a GMT hand, since that is a look commonly used for GMT watches, but a quick counting of the hands (and the lack of a 24-hour scale on the dial flange or bezel) will quickly disavow you of that error.
Turn the watch over and through a sapphire caseback you’ll get a view of the movement, Omega’s in-house Caliber 8500, with its big bidirectional winding rotor, plates, and bridges all decorated with the radiating, “Arabesque” guilloché pattern that has become emblematic of Omega movements. As the minuscule text on the movement and caseback reveals, Caliber 8500 features Omega’s co-axial escapement and an outstanding resistance to magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss and above (though not, in this model, all of the METAS-certified Master Chronometer attributes possessed by the 8900 Caliber that supersedes it in the newer models), and two clearly labeled (albeit not readily visible) mainspring barrels, storing a 60-hour power reserve. Other engravings on the caseback reveals the case’s water-resistance level and the movement’s use of silicon (Si14) for the balance spring — an element increasingly common in timepieces produced by the brands of the Swatch Group, Omega’s parent company.
So how did the Omega Aqua Terra Golf watch fare in an actual 18-hole round of golf? As any good sports watch should while being worn during actual sports, it did its job when summoned and stayed in the background when it might have been a distraction. To wit: the watch never felt too heavy, weighing down the wrist when it was needed for a drive or a putt (which is good; my golf swing has plenty of issues without adding that complication to the mix). The caramel-colored calf leather strap, secured by a brushed steel folding clasp, never felt uncomfortable, even in the heat and humidity of a North Carolina August, and even the most powerful swings and strikes of the ball didn’t make me fret about whether or not the watch would come undone or end up in a sand trap or a lake. (Though, as it was a loaner, perhaps I should have been a little more concerned.)
Legibility remained strong on those occasions when I actually did need to check the time, with the contrast of the white indices on the black dial and overall simplicity of the design aiding the cause immensely; even the harshest sunlight did not render the watch unreadable in the glare. And while the green seconds hand doesn’t stand out as much as one would think against the black dial, the subtle but brilliant use of the little white triangle in the tip of that hand makes it very easy to see at a glance that the watch is running. Another concern that some sticklers for accuracy might have — that the harsh motions of the wrist during an 18-hole golf session might overwind the movement or make it run too fast — also proved to be unfounded.
All in all, I found the sporty yet quietly luxurious character of the Aqua Terra well suited to representing the somewhat leisurely sport of golf — much more so than, say, a chronograph like the Speedmaster, which is much more ideal for intense, timed-to-the-second sports like motor racing — which was, of course, what that watch was originally designed for in the first place. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra is just enough time clock for a game whose major appeal is that there is no time clock.