Divers are some of the most popular watches amongst watch enthusiasts – and this also holds true for me. There are several divers that I admire frequently in my modest watch collection. The funny thing is that most diving watches will never be used for their intended purpose. Mine certainly haven’t been; my last dive was over 20 years ago. Most of my divers don’t even come into contact with water apart from the occasional wrist time in the shower.
Despite all of this, I simply love my dive watches. They get a lot of wrist time since they are suitable for pretty much any situation. No matter what you do or where you go, a sporty and robust diver always looks good. Someone recently asked me why one would need a watch that is waterproof to 200 meters (or more) seeing as most will never reach those depths anyway. It’s true! But you could say the same thing about cars. Why do you need a car that can go over 200 km/h when most countries have speed limits around 120 km/h? It comes down to the look, technique, brand, and its history.
If a standard diver already raises questions, what will people think about extreme divers? Standard diving watches are waterproof to an average of 200-600 meters, however, special models have been created to go even deeper. Let’s have a look at some extreme divers, all of which have been tested to withstand depths of 2,000 meters or more.
Hublot Oceanographic 4000
Initially launched in 2011, the Oceanographic was presented as a symbolic watch that pushes limits. It is capable of handling the level of pressure present at 4,000 meters below sea level. This watch comes in a 48-mm case in either grade 2 titanium or carbon. Two crowns are located on the right side of the case. The crown at 2 o’clock sets the inner rotating bezel, which is protected from unintentional changes by a cover. The lower crown sets and winds the Oceanographic 4000.
IWC Aquatimer Ocean 2000 Edition
This model dates back to the early 80s, when Ferdinand Porsche designed the prototype for mine clearance divers with a depth rating of 200 bar. The watch become available for non-military use as the Ocean 2000. To celebrate its 35th anniversary, IWC re-engineered this watch, making it much smaller while retaining the depth rating. The improved shape of the titanium case shrunk it from 46 mm to 42 mm in diameter, and from 20.9 mm to 14.5mm in height.
Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller
The prototype of this watch dates back to 1950. After several tests, one was strapped to a bathyscaphe in 1960 and submerged to more than 10,900 meters. It returned to the surface in working condition. At the time, commercial dive watches were ‘only’ waterproof to about 300 meters. In 2008, Rolex presented the Deepsea to the world with an official depth rating of 3,900 meters. With a 44-mm case and 5.5-mm domed sapphire glass, this watch is big, but still wearable. Staying true to the typical design of the Rolex Sea-Dweller, it comes with a ceramic bezel and helium escape valve on the left side of the case.
UTS 4000M Professional Diver
When it comes to extreme watches, it’s not just the famous brands that count. UTS Watches is a small watch company that creates 100% handmade watches in Munich, Germany. The 4000M Professional Diver is one watch in their collection. This 45-mm watch is fabricated from a solid block of German stainless steel. It features a rotating bezel that locks with a special ceramic ball bearing mechanism at 2 o’clock. Its 6-mm sapphire glass is not only glued in place, but also held by a stainless steel ring which is fixed with 7 screws.
You may wonder why there is a need to create watches that are capable of handling such extreme pressure. So far, humans haven’t made it any deeper than 534 meters below sea level on their own. This is simply because the conditions underwater make any more than that impossible. A single dive to 610 meters was successful, but it was done with a special diving suit. An onshore hyperbaric chamber also successfully simulated a dive to 701 meters.
Whether a watch needs such capabilities aside, these divers are certainly impressive. Creating a wearable watch that can survive in such hostile, extreme conditions requires outstanding design and engineering. And sometimes you don’t need a reason to create something grand. The world is full of things that serve no specific purpose, but are created simply because they can be. I love the fact that watch brands are pushing boundaries, regardless how practical they are. One thing is for sure: They are built to last.