This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the world's most outstanding records. This record has helped to bring no less outstanding watches into the world.
On January 23, 1960, the U.S. Navy's Trieste bathyscaphe with American Lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Picard on board conquered the lowest point on Earth's surface - the Challenger Abyss in the Mariana Trench, in the Pacific Ocean 200 miles from the island of Guam at just over 10916 meters.
It was supposed to take about 9 hours to get down and up and the brave pilots had to control the time clearly so as not to suffocate from an unforeseen delay. However, no company at the time produced a watch capable of withstanding the enormous pressure of 8 tonnes per square inch at a depth of 11 kilometres. At the time, Jacques Picard asked his compatriots at Rolex for help because only Rolex was experienced in creating professional waterproof watches: in 1953, Rolex produced the Submariner model with an unprecedented tightness of 20 bar, which corresponds to 200 meters.
The company has agreed to help record-breakers and created the Deep Sea Special. Its monocoque case was cast in steel, the crown assembly had many sealings not only on the crown, but also on the crown shaft, and the thick glass about 5 cm thick resembled a magnifying glass. The watch was also fitted with an automatic decompression valve. The descent went smoothly, without delay or interruption, and after 8 and a half hours, Trieste appeared again on the surface, setting an absolute depth record for manned and unmanned vehicles.
"I am delighted to say that at a depth of 11,000 metres, your watch is as beautiful as it is on the surface," Picard wrote a few days later in a telegram addressed to Rolex's Geneva headquarters.
This dive was not only a world record, but also a milestone in the exploration of the underwater world. For example, before that, scientists believed that at a depth where there is no light and oxygen, but there is tremendous pressure, organic creatures can not exist. But, having dropped to a depth of almost 11 kilometers, Walsh and Picard turned on the mercury lamps of a bathyscaphe and with amazement discovered at the bottom of a stormy life: unprecedented fish, vermin and algae. This unique discovery surprised the entire scientific world and gave humanity a wealth of valuable information that will sooner or later help it survive on Earth.
By the way, Rolex belongs to the championship in creating waterproof watches. It was created by the company's founder, Hans Wilsdorf. After experiencing several forms, he decided to use the know-how of nature itself and built the case on the principle of oyster. This is why the most popular watch in the world is called the Oyster.
Waterproof diver's watches are now in the lineup of every self-respecting company, or rather all those who are capable of producing them.
Here are the best novelties.
The diver's variation of one of the most popular models of the new time Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver has a steel antimagnetic 42 mm case and a conventional design. The bezel and back cover are screwed to the hull with branded octagonal screws, which have been tested for performance to the same standards as the submarine hull rivets. Another chip is the diving scale located inside and rotated by a screwed crown at 10 o'clock. The automatic movement AR3120 with gold rotor has a frequency of 21 600 pk/h and a 60 hour power reserve.
To celebrate its 275th anniversary, the oldest Swiss company Blancpain has updated the legendary Fifty Fathoms model. This watch with the declared water resistance of 50 sea saplings (corresponds to about 100 meters), the company produced for elite units of special forces. The water resistance of the 48-millimeter satin-brushed titanium monocoque case has been increased exactly 10-fold to commemorate the anniversary. Therefore, the model was named 500 Fathoms, which is equal to 1000 meters. The crown is protected from accidental impacts by powerful titanium projections. An automatic decompression valve is located on the side of the case at the 10 o'clock» mark«. Large luminescent numerals are cast in metal.
The IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000 is also an iconic diving model. The numbers «2000» in its name mean that it is water resistant in metres! Launched in 1967, it was the first production waterproof watch available not for divers or Special Forces, but for ordinary mortals. The dial and outer rotating bezel with a 15-minute sector in bright yellow are painted black.
To avoid any confusion with the reading, the minute hand indicating the dive time is also coloured in bright yellow. Inside the 44 mm steel case, the self-winding Calibre 30110 is powered by 28,800 pcs/h and has a power reserve of 40 hours. It is available on a steel bracelet or on a rubber strap.
The legendary Swiss manufactory Jaeger-LeCoultre last year signed a contract with no less legendary unit of the American Special Forces «Navy SEALs». This year in this line presented a new model called Master Compressor Diving Automatic Navy Seals. Ironically, it is the simplest (3 hands + calendar date), and therefore potentially the most reliable and in demand model from the entire collection, which last year was presented by a wristwatch alarm, chronograph and a watch with world time indicator. The model is water resistant to 300 meters. The unidirectional rotating bezel is finished in rubber, which together with the rubber strap provides stunning comfort.
This year, Jeanrichard has changed its own spelling (the letter «r» in the word "richard" - now lowercase) and introduced a novelty - Aquascope, which is a hybrid of diving watches in a round case with the bestseller TVScreen - in the form of a TV screen. This watch is equipped with an automatic movement of its own production JR1000 and is waterproof to a depth of 300 meters. The case features a bold combination of pink gold and rubber: the heads are cast in pink gold, while the case and bezel are in vulcanized rubber-coated steel. The heads have different functions. The one located at «3 o'clock»is traditionally responsible for winding and correcting the hour, minute and calendar hands. The head at the 9 o'clock mark is designed to control the internal diving scale. Both heads are screwed in for safety reasons. The watch is sold with two alligator bracelets in rubber and a prestigious alligator leather with water-repellent impregnation.
After Italy's defeat in World War II, the legendary Gamma Force submarine special forces unit was disbanded. The modern unit is named after Colonel Moskin and the watch is not made by its historical partner Panerai, but by the Swiss company Oris. This year it introduced the new Oris Col Moschin Limited Edition line of diving watches.
The watch was created in cooperation with the regiment's soldiers. The 49-millimeter case with the whole 1000 meters of tightness is made of titanium and is protected with a dark gray DLC coating. This coating makes the case glare-free, which helps Special Forces soldiers to maintain their camouflage. In addition, the model is also anti-magnetic. The Rotation Safety System (RSS) is designed and patented by Oris. The dive time can only be set when the bezel is raised. Once the time is set, the bezel will be blocked and cannot be reset.
And as for the famous company Panerai, it continues to produce luxury watches that will help to stand out both at a cool party, and help in the depths. The newest model Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days has a 44 mm diameter case in satin-brushed titanium, a polished titanium bezel and 2.6 mm thick corundum glass with anti-reflective coating. Inside the case is a Manufacture P.9000 automatic movement with a frequency of 28,800 pk/h and a power reserve of 3 days.
Ulysse Nardin, winner of several hundred international awards for the technical perfection of its watches, presented a diving version of the wristwatch marine chronometer - Maxi Marine Diver Titanium. This is probably the most luxurious model from the divers. The 45 mm case is cast in titanium, but the unidirectional bezel is made of pink gold. The caseback is sapphire rather than metal, so that the owner can enjoy the virtuoso finish of the UN-26 automatic movement, which is COSC-certified and has a 42-hour power reserve. The chic elements also include a calendar - large date, power reserve indicator and a huge additional second dial. This is not at all typical of a minimalist diver's watch, but very stylish! One pink and gold inserts in a rubber strap that are worth it! By the way, the water resistance of this glamorous watch is quite professional - 200 meters.
WHICH MEANS THE NUMBERS
The inscription simply informs that in a state of absolute rest (and as we know, such a state is an abstract invention of physicists to facilitate calculations) they withstand a pressure of 3 bar or atmosphere, which corresponds to 30 meters. But this condition does not take into account the fact that water from a tap, for example, can whip at a pressure of 4 atmospheres, and with a normal stroke, when you swim quietly along the coast, the clock is pressed from 5 to 9 bar. So you have to perceive the declared metrics on the watch dials as follows:
30 m - you can wash your hands very carefully without taking your watch off.
50 m - wash your hands boldly.
100 m - Hooray! This tightness allows you to bathe in the watch.
200, 300 and so on are professional watches suitable for both diving and scuba diving.
In any case, also remember to visit service centers at least once every 2 years for gaskets replacement.
Text - Timur Barayev Photos - Distributors
Published in YACHTS magazine #33.