Dive Watches & Extreme Depths

Dive Watches & Extreme Depths

How deep is the average dive watch rated for? Most dive watches available on the market today are rated to go between 100 to 300 meters deep. That is much deeper than most of us would ever go since the depth limit for recreational diving is 40 meters. Only professional and commercial divers—those who work for oil companies or in recoveries of sunken ships and cargo—need to go deeper than 40 meters. This then begs the following question: why do brands create watches that can go much deeper, for example to 500 or 1000 meters? What’s the reason? Well, to put it simply, it’s just about showing one’s engineering prowess and to further develop technologies that make watches better at resisting water ingress. 

In this article, we’ll first discuss why depth ratings are important and why they aren’t for regular humans, which watches have gone the deepest, and which deep-diving watches are currently available on the market. 

Everest Journal Dive Watches & Extreme DepthsSource: www.hodinkee.com

A Quick Word About Depth Ratings

Only professional and commercial divers need a watch that has a depth rating that goes beyond 40 meters. However a watch is not considered to be a proper dive watch if it doesn't have 200 or 300 meters of water resistance. Why is that? Well, it’s because having a 200 meters dive watch guarantees that water won’t get inside the case when washing our hands, snorkeling, or diving 40 meters deep. That’s because dive watches are tested for water resistance to depths greater than what we need to ensure they work as advertised. 

For a very long time, I thought that I needed a 200 meters depth rating on any of my watches to make sure that they could handle swimming in the pool. Now, I understand better how watches are made and the fact that 100 meters is plenty for what I do 95% of the time. And for the rare occasions I do go diving, I can strap a “proper” diver to my wrist and feel nothing bad will happen to it or myself. 

Everest Journal Dive Watches & Extreme DepthsSource: www.wikipedia.org

Record-Breaking Dive Watches 

Although watch brands have been competing with one another for decades to have the one watch that goes deeper than any other, you might be surprised to hear that it wasn’t Rolex or Omega that made the first 1,000 meters diver but Ollech & Wajs in 1964 with the Caribbean 1000. This was an outstanding accomplishment for a brand many didn’t know about back then and still don’t today. But it is true that Rolex and Omega do have the world-record for making watches that go the deepest, although these watches are too big for any normally constituted human to wear. 

Everest Journal Dive Watches & Extreme DepthsSource: @mainspring.watch 

And mentioning 1,000 meters as a depth limit is important because most divers being sold today as being made for the greatest depths generally are rated for 1,000 meters. 

I might be getting this wrong but it seems that Omega holds the current record for making the watch having the deepest depth rating in the Ultra Deep rated for 15,000 meters. Since the 1960s, Rolex had held a record with the Deepsea Special that was attached to the outside of the bathyscaphe Trieste and that went 10,916 meters below the surface. This record was broken in 2019 when prototypes of the Omega Ultra Deep reached 10,928 meters (that’s only 12 meters deeper than the Deepsea Special.) In 2023, Rolex’s most capable diver, the Deepsea Challenge, is rated to 11,000 meters. That’s 4,000 meters less than Omega’s Ultra Deep. 

Everest Journal Dive Watches & Extreme DepthsSource: www.rolex.org

Modern and Wearable Dive Watches

There are a few modern divers that have a 1,000 meters depth rating and that can be worn by most of us. While the Deepsea Challenge has a case diameter of 50mm and the Ultra Deep (the new and commercially available version rated to 6,000 meters) of 45.5mm, there are capable divers that are smaller. Earlier I mentioned Ollech & Wajs and the Caribbean 1000. The brand re-created this iconic model in the C-1000 that comes with a case diameter of 39mm. And the Mühle S.A.R. Rescue-Timer (also rated to 1,000 meters) comes with a case 42mm in diameter.

There are many other brands that make 1,000 meters dive watches, for example Seiko, Doxa, and Oris, however they come with cases with diameters around 43-46mm. That is a big watch even for those of us who have large wrists.  

Everest Journal Dive Watches & Extreme DepthsSource: @mainspring.watch

Final Thoughts 

I’m a certified recreational diver and I can only go 40 meters in depth. It’s actually deeper than most dive sites are, which tend to be between 10 and 20 meters. So, a 100m dive watch should be enough for me, right? Well, objectively it is but I do like seeing “200m” or “300m” printed on the dial of a watch. This is completely subjective but it makes me feel that my watch can do more and is better made. I might be completely wrong of course but that is how I feel. However, we shouldn’t look down on watches that come with 100 meters of water resistance because that’s enough as long as the watch is well built. 

I honestly don’t know of anyone who wears a Deepsea Challenge or an Ultra Deep, but I’m mesmerized by the fact that brands can make watches that can reach the deepest spots of the ocean. After all, we made watches that can be worn on the moon so why not? Maybe one day we’ll see watches made for exploration of the earth’s core or to function on a different planet. Only time will tell. 

Source: www.manofmany.com

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