All divers’ watches share certain characteristics that make them divers’ watches: unidirectional rotating bezels, secure screw-down crowns, higher-than-typical water resistance. Some of these divers’ watches, however, go the extra mile (or fathom), with cases that can descend to 3,000 or even 4,000 meters, chronographs operable at incredible depths, or high-tech depth gauge devices built into their mechanical movements. Below, we take a look at seven of these extreme dive watches and what sets them apart from the pack.
The Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea has a water-resistance level of 3,900 meters (nearly 13,000 feet), and it is more than 10 percent slimmer than it otherwise would have been thanks to a special case construction developed by Rolex. It consists of three pressure-absorbing elements: a 5.5 mm thick sapphire crystal, a 3.28-mm-thick caseback made of grade 5 titanium, and an inner ring (on which both of them rest) made of Biodur-108 steel. Last summer, Rolex launched the new Rolex Deepsea D-Blue Edition (pictured below), with a proprietary D-Blue dial that is dark blue at the top, and then darkens gradually to black at the bottom. More details and photos here.
The Breitling Superocean Chronograph M2000 has a chronograph that can be operated at a depth of 2,000 meters underwater. The watch is the first to feature a patented magnetic push-piece system, in which the chronograph controls are operated via the metal of the case. Along with the screw-locked crown and the 4-mm-thick sapphire crystal, these pushers enable the wearer to use the watch at the extreme depth of 2,000 meters (or 6,600 feet) without the risk of water seeping in. Click here to read our Watch to Watch article on the Breitling Superocean Chronograph M2000.
The Blancpain X Fathoms watch combines elements of its famous Fifty Fathoms ancestor with a modern mechanical depth gauge. Though only water-resistant to 300 meters, Blancpain calls it the most high-performance mechanical diving watch ever made, with several world firsts, including:
Measures depth up to 90 meters
Maximum depth reached memory
Separate indication on the 0-15m scale with an +/- 30 cm precision
Retrograde 5-minute counter for decompression stops
The 55.65-mm case, made of satin-brushed titanium, is water-resistant to 300 meters. It features a helium decompression valve for saturation diving and the characteristic unidirectional rotating bezel. The strap comprises 14 articulated parts to ensure a perfect fit on the wrist. Click here for more info on the Blancpain X Fathoms.
The Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon DeepQUEST has a water-resistance of 3,000 meters, achieved by crafting the entire case out of a single block onto which the bezel is directly screwed. The crown seals, generally considered the weak point of a watch in terms of water resistance, have been strengthened to prevent entry of water when in the screwed-in position. The watch also has a nonreflective sapphire crystal with its thickness raised to 5.3 mm and an automatic helium-release valve.
The Deep Blue Depthmaster 3000M, as its name suggests, is water-resistant to 3,000 meters. The watch is powered by the Japanese Miyota 9015 automatic movement. The 49-mm stainless steel case features a helium valve with a protective cap. The sapphire bezel is filled with Super-LumiNova and the domed sapphire crystal is 6 mm thick.
Requiring 18 months of research, development and testing to complete, the Hublot Oceanographic 4000 was the the first diver’s watch able to withstand the pressure exerted at a depth of 4,000 meters, or about 13,120 feet. (Hublot actually tested the seal all the way to 5,000 meters in a Roxer tank.) To ensure the watertightness of the watch and to resist this extreme pressure, the synthetic sapphire crystal is 6.5 mm thick. The screw-down caseback is made of grade 2 titanium. The Oceanographic 4000 has a helium valve, which allows gases that have infiltrated the watch during the descent to safely escape during the ascent. More detail on the Hublot Oceanographic 4000 here.
The UTS 4000M Professional Diver, another timepiece water-resistant to 4,000 meters, comes in a 45-mm case crafted from a single block of stainless steel. The 6-mm thick sapphire crystal is glued into the case and is also secured by a stainless steel ring with seven hex screws. To learn more about UTS, and what makes its German-made dive watches unique, click here to read our profile of the company.
This article was originally published in 2013 and has been updated with new information and photos.