Rory McIlroy: Hot shot

Brummell chats to the four-time champion golfer about the watch he developed with Omega, the Seamaster Aqua Terra “Ultra Light“

People 25 Nov 2019

Golfer Rory McIlroy

Golfer Rory McIlroy

Rory, did you have fun helping create this new watch, the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra “Ultra Light”?

I enjoyed it. My first experience of designing things was with golf club manufacturers, so obviously, being a golfer, they would value the input you gave them. So, when Omega first got the idea of designing a watch that I could maybe wear on the course and play with, I was all for it, but my condition was: if you really want my input, you have to listen… I can feel a one or two gram difference in a golf club or a golf shaft when I swing it, so I need something that’s light and I need something that doesn’t inhibit that as well.

The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra "Ultra Light"
The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra “Ultra Light”

That’s a pretty daunting challenge.

We got to working and they brought me the first prototype 18 months ago, or maybe two years ago, and the first design was pretty similar to what you see today, but they’ve definitely made some changes since then. They’ve had to go and source different materials and build a watch that has a lot of performance, but is still true to the Omega brand – and is as light as it is. My input was in a functional way. “When I swing, I feel this – can you maybe reduce the glare, can you look at changing the strap?” All that sort of stuff. It was a fun experience – especially given how detailed Omega is and how much precision goes into it.

The watch has a crown you can push in, so that it doesn’t rub on the wrist. How did that come about?

Basically the first prototype that Omega showed me had this technology in there already, which is a wonderful idea. But you see how now the crown has the little ridges on it? The first iteration was smooth. Even little details like that are important – it was hard to grip and so we changed it to have little ridges for that extra grip so you can change it. But I think it’s such a great idea. I’m obviously wearing it on my right wrist, because I just feel more comfortable playing golf with it on the right. I usually wear my watch on my left, but for me, with my golf club, on my right, I’m just a little more comfortable with it there. But if guys wear it on their left wrist, to just be able to hide that crown, for that to just go away and blend in, is wonderful, that’s a great feature of the watch.

And the watch is really light, coming in at just 55 grams.

There’s a lot of new-age materials in here, it’s not just titanium, it’s gamma titanium.

So how did you first get involved with Omega as an ambassador?

It started here. I first played here in Crans [-Montana] in 2008, so even though I wasn’t with Omega at that time, I got to know some of the people who were involved with Omega. It was a very organic relationship; it wasn’t forced in any way, and then I guess it was sort of 2012/13 when we spoke about having more of a formal partnership. And I love Omega because when you look at some of the other watch brands that are associated with golf, they have so many guys, so many people, where I like how small the Omega golf ambassador programme is, and it feels like a family. And then also to have people like Michael Phelps, George Clooney and Nicole Kidman [as ambassadors], it’s a very cool family that you’re entering into. So that was one of the main reasons I wanted to partner with them: I love the vibe and I love that small family feeling.

If you were only able to keep two watches, the one you’re wearing now, the Seamaster Aqua Terra “Ultra Light”, and one other from your collection, what would it be?

For my birthday a few years ago the guys went into the vault at Omega and got me a Speedmaster that was made in 1989, and that was a really cool present. And I wore it on my wedding day as well, so that’s probably the one that I would choose.

And when did you first get into watches?

As a guy – for women it could be different, I don’t know – it’s one of the accessories that we can change, so I got into watches when I was maybe 16. I remember my first-ever big pay check when I turned pro… I had a nice watch at the time, but I had my eye on something.

And apart from watches, what are the other things you like?

Watches and wine are up there. As is the cars thing; I’ve got a couple of cars that I’m probably going to keep for a long time, because I will appreciate them. But they probably are the two things…