This year, marine researchers in Perth landed the deepest fish ever caught off Australia. Using a simple yabby trap attached to a $100,000 piece of scientific-monitoring kit, they succeeded in catching two snailfish that live some 6177 metres below the waves on the ocean’s pitch-black floor.
Once the fish were reeled in, the researchers’ examination had to be swift. Unable to acclimatise to the temperature change on the surface, after 20 minutes the fish began to melt.
The gloopy demise of those snailfish offers a stern reminder of just what an alien environment the ocean’s depths can be. And it’s not very hospitable to mechanical watches, either.
Should the merest suggestion of moisture permeate a watch, it’s likely to mean its time is up. As a result, a quality dive watch will harness a host of protective features to keep the water out. A screw-in case-back and crown will help it to become more watertight, while a thicker case can protect against those random knocks that can loosen the individual components and compromise the watch’s security. For any solid diver that’s water-resistant to 200m plus, these are the basic tools of the trade.
But that’s just for starters. A watch designed for deep diving will utilise other pressure-defying features like a domed crystal or a steel ring for reinforcing the case. Professional saturation divers, who do construction and demolition work at depths of 300m and lower, must also contend with another challenge. At those levels, helium particles can seep into the watch and, as the diver surfaces, the gas will expand, causing the crystal to break. To circumnavigate this problem, many serious diving watches therefore include helium-release valves.
The Omega Ultra Deep takes another approach. The new watch uses a high-quality form of specially coated sapphire crystal that is 5mm thick and whose domed shape makes it extra resistant to pressure. This innovation was necessary, too, because the Ultra Deep is water-resistant to an incredible 6000m. It’s based on a uniquely designed piece that Omega made for the millionaire adventurer Victor Vescovo who, in 2019, completed the world’s deepest dive in a submersible when he plummeted to a depth of 10,925m at the bottom of the Marianna Trench. Released earlier this year, the Ultra Deep translates some of that tech into a civilian version of Vescovo’s watch.
Are you ever going to put the Ultra Deep’s 6000m capabilities to the test? Unless you’re a snailfish, the answer is probably no. After all, the current record for the deepest ever scuba dive currently stands at 332m. Yet hardcore diving watches continue to hold a magnetic appeal for many.
If your watch can handle serious depth, it’s proof that it’s tough enough to laugh off pretty much anything you can throw at it on land or sea. In addition, a rugged diver also brings with it an in-built spirit of adventure.
Given the sanitised nature of modern life, that’s something worth tapping into, even if the biggest challenge your own watch will face is surviving the washing up.
Tudor Pelagos LHD ($6,450)
Glashutte SEA Q Panorama Date ($17,250)
Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic ($5275)
Tissot Seastar 2000 Professional Powermatic 80 ($1675)
MIDO Ocean Star 600 Chronometer ($2675)
Doxa SUB 600T Aquamarine $2395
TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver $9650
SEIKO Prospex SLA041J1 $6950
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep $17,175