Omega has already racked up an impressive list of milestones and accomplishments in 2019 — paying tribute to the legendary Speedmaster “Moonwatch” with various collectible editions, the revival of a historic manual-winding caliber, and the setting of a new dive-watch depth record chief among them. Just this week, the brand that pioneered both the Co-axial Escapement and the Master Chronometer movement announced yet another technical breakthrough with the Seamaster Aqua Terra “Ultra Light” — its first watch specially engineered for athletic competition, with innovative solutions to minimize weight while maximizing comfort. Here are the details.
Developed with the input of an actual watch-donning athlete — namely, pro golfer and Omega “ambassador” Rory McIlroy — the Seamaster Aqua Terra “Ultra Light” features a case, caseback, and crown all constructed from Gamma Titanium, an alloy used in the aeronautics industry that is both lighter and harder than conventional titanium and prized for its impact resistance; it is used here for the first time in the watch industry and imparts to the watch a glare-resistant matte finish. The dial, made of sandblasted grade 5 titanium and adorned with the Aqua Terra’s hallmark teakwood relief pattern, uses a reduced amount of the material to further lighten the watch’s overall weight.
The case, which measures 41 mm in diameter and has a water resistance of 150 meters, boasts another first for Omega: a “telescoping” winding crown that retracts fully into the case when it’s not being used to wind or set the watch, thus maximizing the ergonomic shape of the case and, importantly for an athlete wearing it for play, not hindering the movement of the wrist.
The use of titanium extends to the watch’s innermost workings, which represent yet another groundbreaking micromechanical achievement for Omega. The manual-winding Caliber 8928 Titanium is the first movement produced by the company with its mainplate and all its bridges made of ceramized titanium. The use of this material minimizes the friction between moving parts and gives the movement, which is on display through a sapphire exhibition caseback, a distinctive dark gray color. The movement is outfitted with a co-axial escapement and boasts all the attributes of a METAS-certified Master Chronometer, including magnetic field resistance to an impressive 15,000 gauss. Fully wound, Caliber 8928 holds a power reserve of 72 hours, or three days.
The Aqua Terra Ultra Light’s matte gray look is offset by judiciously placed splashes of bright color — red, green, or blue, depending on the model — on the cursive Seamaster logo, the seconds hand made of lightweight aluminum, the numerals at the quarter-hour markers, and the contrast stitching on the rubber strap. Each watch also comes with an additional “in play” fabric strap for an even lighter timekeeping ensemble: on the strap, the entire watch weighs just 56 grams.
The other thing Omega is likely to lighten with this watch, it needs to be said, is your wallet. The sticker price for the Seamaster Aqua Terra Ultra Light, available at retail in early 2020, is $48,600 — many times more costly than the other, mostly steel-cased pieces in the Aqua Terra collection and nine times the price of McIlroy’s own Aqua Terra Golf model from 2017, but undoubtedly explained by the use of space-age, industry-first materials in both the case and movement as well as the extensive R&D that almost certainly went into creating both.