Time of the blue abyss



The very first wristwatch appeared during the Second World War and was intended, of course, for professional divers. Perhaps the most famous story covered with numerous legends of that period is the creation of Panerai watches in the late 30s by order of the Italian special forces Gamma Force. It is known that the Florentine studio ordered from Rolex 300 mechanisms with an 8-day power reserve, which were installed in steel cases. A powerful factory spring was required in the first place in order to wind up the watch as little as possible and pull out the crown - the weakest point in the tightness of the case. At the same time, Panerai applied several solutions that laid the foundation for the future standard of underwater watches: a special lever that tightly presses the head against the case, thick glass that can withstand pressure drops and bright illumination. At first, radium bromide was used to cover the numbers (hence the subsequent name of the Radiomir collection), but in the late 40s it was replaced by a non-radioactive phosphor (the second collection is Luminor).

No professional watch for military divers would have pushed watch engineering so rapidly if the world had not stood on the threshold of a new era - the era of amateur diving in the early 50s. In 1943, François Dumas invented scuba diving, allowing the diver to dive independently, regardless of the length of the hose and technical support from the vessel, and the legendary Jacques Cousteau, who set several dive records and, most importantly, literally opened to humanity a whole undeveloped universe, issued banners, became its main propagandist this book, The Silent World, which was used to make the film, which won the Oscar in 1956 and the Golden Palm Branch in Cannes. All this contributed to the huge increase in the popularity of scuba diving and the creation of numerous diving clubs around the world. In this context, the world's first mass watches for deep diving were simply doomed to success.

It is believed that in the second half of the twentieth century, the development of the diver's direction in watches was carried out under the sign of the competition of two titans of the Swiss industry: Rolex and Omega. Both brands had a long relationship with the sea element: it is known that it was the Rolex Oyster that crossed the English Channel Mercedes Gleitze, this brand created the first underwater watches for Panerai, and Omega produced professional watches for Marine military divers since 1938.

Other manufacturers, such as Blancpain in the no less famous Fifty Fathoms series of underwater watches, initially used tritium, safer but also radioactive, which was then removed for a long time. Tritium returned to watchmaking only at the end of the twentieth century thanks to the only Swiss Mb-Microtec factory, which patented the technology of sealed tritium microtubes, called Trigalight. Today, several brands produce watches with a similar backlight, while most prefer the traditional luminescent composition Superluminova, "recharged" from daylight.

The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms series appeared in 1952 by order of the French Ministry of Defense for the unit Les Nageurs de Combat ("Military divers"). The name denoted 50 fathoms, or 91 meters - the maximum depth to which the diver and his watch plunged at that time. Blancpain such indicators were achieved thanks to a fundamentally new design of the casing, in which a mixture of air and helium was pumped.

A successful example of these two brands has led to the fact that since the 60s many manufacturers began to produce their own diver watches. Not many of them were truly “divers”, but the characteristic style became more and more fashionable until the sporting features merged completely with the features of luxury.

Two significant historical milestones in the evolution of diving watches date back to the 70s. Then the Hublot brand introduced the first watch in a gold case on a rubber strap, and the Paris Chaumet House in the Class One model for the first time combined a diver steel case, rubber and diamond inlay on the welt.

It is believed that in the second half of the twentieth century, the development of the diver's direction in watches was carried out under the sign of the competition of two titans of the Swiss industry: Rolex and Omega.

Today, a high degree of water protection is a must for every watch. Nevertheless, it is known that a real diving watch must meet a number of strict requirements, of which the WR (water resistant) marking on the dial is far from the most important.

In contrast to the widespread ISO 22810/2010 standard, which is responsible only for water protection, the International Organization of Standards (ISO) also has a separate marking for diving watches ISO 6425.

In addition to the standard test for water resistance not lower than 200 meters, 6425 also assumes the following characteristics: impact resistance, antimagnetic and chemical protection of the case (anticorrosion and resistance to salt water); the presence of a fixing spring at the crown, preventing it from accidentally unscrewing under water; unidirectional welt marked with dive time; readable dial with a luminescent coating, visible at a distance of 25 cm in complete darkness; reliable strap. For watches with a WR above 300 meters, a helium valve is welcomed to protect the case from decompression.

It is clear that not all watch manufacturers strive to follow ISO 6425, because an ordinary amateur diver himself rarely goes deeper than 30 meters. One of the rare exceptions is the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller D-Blue with a water resistance of 3800 meters. In this model, James Cameron sank to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.


Over the past two years, the topic of "serious diving" has reached a new level of popularity in watchmaking. The main trendsetter was Cartier House. He amazed his fans with the launch of the Caliber de Cartier Diver - the first watch that exactly matches the ISO 6425 standard: waterproof to 300 meters (tested in water and under pressure), with a unidirectional diving ring on the welt, a clear luminous dial, resistant to magnetic effects , temperature difference and salt water. The case with a diameter of 42 mm and a height of 11 mm is complemented by a embossed rubber strap. Inside installed an automatic caliber 1904 MC, first introduced in the Caliber de Cartier series in 2010. And in 2016, at the Geneva Salon, Cartier showed an updated version of Diver - now with a ceramic welt in bright colors.

Another debutant in the field of diving watches was the brand from Lucerne Carl F. Bucherer, who in 2014 supplemented the Patravi collection with ScubaTec models with water resistance up to 500 meters, a helium valve, a luminescent rotary ring on the welt and a CFB 1950.1 chronometric caliber. The back cover of the model is decorated with an engraving of two slopes - a sign of the Manta Trust foundation that supports these rare inhabitants of the ocean. The collection became one of the bestsellers of the brand, in 2015 there was a version in a combination of rose gold, ceramics and blackened titanium, and in 2016 in Basel the premiere and ladies' variation - Patravi ScubaTec White. The main trendsetters of 2016 were Cartier and Carl F. Bucherer

Another brand, associated with completely different works of watchmaking, came close to high diving standards - the Bulgari manufactory in 2015 introduced the Diagono Magnesium sports collection, where in addition to high waterproofness, the case boasts absolute protection against magnetic effects (which is very important when immersed) , as it is made of the innovative PEEK polymer, silicon ceramics and magnesium, providing increased strength and resistance to scratches and corrosion.


The Aquatimer Chronograph Edition "Expedition Jacques-Yves Cousteau" watch is dedicated to the famous deep sea explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. To shoot the film "Galapagos Dragons", the famous explorer of the sea, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, went to the distant islands in the Pacific Ocean in 1971. He managed not only to make sensational underwater filming of the Galapagos marine iguanas, but also to reveal the most secret secrets of mysterious creatures. IWC Schaffhausen has dedicated the Aquatimer Chronograph Edition "Expedition Jacques-Yves Cousteau" to this enlightening journey. The Expedition Jacques-Yves Cousteau is a reminder of a grandiose research expedition to the shores of the Galapagos Archipelago on the Calypso vessel, timed to coincide with the release of the 2014 IWC divers watch collection.

The Schaffhausen manufactory introduced underwater models in Geneva in 2014, and at the SIHH in 2016, the Audemars Piguet brand prepared its surprise by combining the two most popular variations of the Royal Oak Offshore collection: a chronograph and a diving watch. The 42 mm case is water resistant up to 300 meters and has a swivel ring controlled by an additional head.


This spring Baselworld also showed off some of the most exciting diving watches. Blacnpain created a version of Bathyscaphe Fifty Fathoms with a deep blue dial that stylishly complements the plasma gray ceramic welt with marks from Liquidmetal, an alloy that is not subject to deformation. Omega in the Seamaster Planet Ocean collection for the first time installed the new generation Master Chronometer calibers, which are tested not only for COSC accuracy, but also for antimagnetic, anti-shock and resistance to temperature changes - now the iconic underwater collection of Bond watches has become even more invulnerable.

But perhaps the most striking trend that most watch brands have demonstrated this year is “vintage diving”. As if everyone was reliving the golden times of the 60s, when the scuba diving enthusiasm was just beginning, and such watches seemed exceptional. Heritage Dive-style collections featured brands such as Alpina, Longines and Oris. The last in the Diver Sixty-Five collection has released a limited edition in a bronze case dedicated to the legendary submariner Karl Brashir, the hero of the Oscar-winning movie "Military Diver", as well as a particularly elegant version of the Diver Sixty-Five Deauville in gray and lemon colors.

But Tudor attracted the most attention thanks to the new models of the Heritage Black Bay series in a 43 mm case with black DLC coating or in today's very popular bronze - Basel alone had at least seven new products from this material.

A very interesting novelty from Ball Watch is one of the rare brands that uses Trigalight technology for backlighting. In the new version of Engineer Master II Diver Worldtime, a diving watch with a WR of 300 meters is supplemented with a world time module - apparently, a modern diver without a “world timer” will not figure out when to jump overboard and when to go to Skype to communicate with the office. Under water, the watch shines brightly thanks to 55 tritium tubes, designed for 25 years of continuous autonomous glow.

Supported the theme of heritage and the most "diving" watch brand - Officine Panerai. The manufactory presented this year the Luminor 8 Days collection set, which consists of two replicas of the cult models Luminor Black Seal and Luminor Daylight in a 44 mm case, created by the brand in the early 90s based on the original design of the 1950s.

Contrary to the amateurish opinion that modern divers do not need a watch, that now computers decide everything, diving watches are becoming more and more popular from year to year. And the revival of vintage design is another confirmation of this. Indeed, what is better than prestigious mechanics will remind you that scuba diving is a sport of aristocrats and thoughtful researchers who prefer the silence of the ocean to everyday hectic.

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