New line of cool dive watches

All new stuff Released at Watches and Wonders, the international watch trade show in Geneva that took place earlier this year, this is an event that is hard to miss. The name alone is huge: TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver. A big name for a large 45 mm watch, it boasts a hexagonal orange and black bezel, chunky bracelet, garage door-sized helium escape valve and blazing arrowhead hour hands It has enough lumens to read Proust in the dark — even 1,000 meters underwater. With a large and relatively slim crown guard that is – by deep dive watch standards – 15.75 mm thick, the message is clear: TAG Heuer has returned to the extreme dive watch market.

Superdiver is a project close to the heart of TAG CEO Frédéric Arnault, albeit one that was born out of frustration. A skier, golfer, chess master and tennis player, Arnault is also an experienced diver. “When I joined [TAG], I was approached to sponsor someone who wanted to go deep diving,” he said. “I thought, Okay, that’s great and it fits our tagline Don’t Crack Under Pressure. But if we do something like that, we need a watch that goes deep. And we didn’t have that.”

Now TAG Heuer does. The Super Diver is just the latest in the company’s long history of pushing the limits of ultra-deep dive watches. And this iteration merely brings the Swiss watchmaker back to where it was in 1982 when the 1,000-meter Diver debuted. Back then, one kilometer underwater was extraordinary, within reach but still 220 meters below the most iconic dive watch: the Rolex Sea-Dweller.

By the time the Sea-Dweller debuted in 1967, Rolex had been diving for a decade and a half. In 1953, off the southwestern coast of Italy, an experimental Rolex plunged more than 3 km into a fixed outside of a freestanding tub. This achievement was overshadowed in 1960 when the same vessel descended 10,916 meters to the bottom of the Challenger Deep (the deepest known point of the earth’s seafloor) in the Mariana Trench with another experimental Rolex attached to its hull. its ship. Although the watch is equipped with a crystal that resembles a transparent Ping-Pong ball making it impractical for everyday wear, the feat captured the imaginations of the world. . As offshore oil exploration gained momentum in the 1960s, the Sea-Dweller became the default watch of the underwater elite.

In 2008, the aptly named Rolex Deepsea sparked a new era for deep dive watches by operating at a depth of 3,900 metres. Three years later, Hublot released the 4,000 meter (King Power Diver) watch, available only to Rolex and above — or to be precise, lower — before that in 2012 with the specially crafted Rolex Deepsea Challenge fitted with a submersible with Titanic director James Cameron on board.

Then, in 2019, Omega claimed a record depth of 10,935 meters when three prototypes of the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep watch were attached. limiting factor, submersible owned by Texas businessman Victor Vescovo. That extra 19 meters gave Omega a chance to challenge Rolex for bragging rights and provide the plot for this year’s biggest-ever launch (minus MoonSwatch), the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep, a The watch has a diving depth of 6,000 meters.

Of course, 6,000 meters is overkill. The Association of Professional Diving Instructors defines deep diving as beyond 18 meters — and even extreme recreational divers limit themselves to 40 metres. The record for the deepest dive (701 meters) has been held by Rolex advertising star Théo Mavrostomos for 30 years, but deep dive watches have never been more popular. Breitling – mainly related to the aviation industry – has a 2,000 meter watch, while Zelos (a little-known brand but with accessible prices) has successfully crowdfunded the Abyss, the fifth edition. three have a depth of 3,000 meters and retail prices start at $699. It begs the question: What is a watchmaker to do, when it is increasingly difficult to stand out in the field? It seems the only answer is to go deeper.

A version of this story originally appeared in the June/July 2022 issue with the headline “Depending on the Clock. Incredibly Deep”.

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