The Five Deeps Expedition, the world’s first manned expedition to the deepest point in each of the five oceans, was the baby of submersible pilot and adventurer Victor Vescovo. Omega produced a Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep to accompany him and the team on their quest.
Between April and May in 2019 the Five Deeps Expedition team went to the deepest spot in the Eastern Pool of Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, with Vescovo piloting a DSV (Deep Submergence Vehicle) Limiting Factor to achieve a new world record – the deepest dive (10,935m / 35,876ft), in a twelve hour mission. It is the deepest that any human or watch has been, to date.
Two “full ocean depth experimental” (aka FOD-X) Omega Ultra Deep Professional concept watches were attached to the submersible’s robotic arm, and a third was strapped to a data-gathering unit. All three watches completed the dive without problems and only having lost one second, time wise.
These Omega Ultra Deep pieces had cases made out of grade 5 titanium, ‘Manta’ lugs, and a sapphire crystal with a special conical load-bearing design inspired by the viewport of submersibles.
Now, their 2019 concept piece is in serial production and available for everyone, with the release of the new Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep 6,000m in several variants, creating an entirely new collection. It meets ISO 6425 specifications and is suitable for saturation diving applications. The ISO 6425 saturation testing for helium egress is done to 40 bars (400m) for 14 days.
You may not personally be able to get down to the Mariana Trench, but it’s good to be prepared. The other most well known Mariana Trench watch-related adventure, 2012’s James Cameron Deep Sea Challenger expedition with Rolex, is of course the most obvious recent point of comparison.
The new Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep has a 45.5mm case made from grade 5 titanium or what they are calling O-MEGASTEEL, and features four patent-pending designs. It also does not have a helium escape valve (HEV) because the focus has been on strengthening the crystal, case back and crown. In fact the patents which are pending are related to water resistance – the two piece case back, the screw-in crown, the conical load-bearing crystal, and the crystal gasket. Both the crystal and crown, for example, have to be able to withstand the extraordinary pressure at such depths.
I mentioned the lack of a HEV. The crystal and placement of the crystal gasket creates a tight seal that prevents helium from entering the case. This effectiveness of the seal is tested by putting the watch in a 40 bar pressurized helium chamber for two weeks.
This new model/ collection is available in a total of eight launch variants. Alongside the two case material choices, there are different dial and bezel colour options plus bracelet or strap options. The models feature a ceramic bezel with diving scale in Liquidmetal™, as well as a high domed EFG AR-coated sapphire crystal. There is also a new crown guard.
Most of the new models are in this new O-MEGASTEEL stainless steel alloy, which the brand says is stronger, whiter, has more shine, and is more corrosion-resistant and 40-50% more scratch-resistant, than regular stainless steel. O-MEGASTEEL was designed to meet three goals – the new steel must be harder (300 Vickers vs 150 V for 316L steel), have a higher yield strength (560 MPa vs 200 MPa for 316L), and look whiter than stainless steel.
The titanium model (above) is made from the same forged titanium that was used in the Concept Ultra Deep (and on the Vescovo submersible). It has the integrated ‘Manta Lugs’ as per the Concept. The use of these lugs mean that the watch is only available on a NATO strap.
This model has a ceramised grade 5 titanium dial with applied hour markers and brushed indices filled with Super-LumiNova. The other dial options for the O-MEGASTEEL variants are transparent white lacquer, blue – black gradient, or grey – black gradient.
They all have 18kt white gold applied hour markers and numerals (with Super-LumiNova).
The case backs have a medallion and is laser engraved with “PLANET OCEAN”, “SEAMASTER”, “PROFESSIONAL”, “Ω”, “CO-AXIAL”, “MASTER CHRONOMETER” and “DIVER’S WATCH 6000 m FOR SATURATION DIVING”.
Powering the new model is the automatic in-house Calibre Co-Axial Master Chronometer 8912 which beats at 25,200 VPH and has a power reserve of 60 hours. It is magnetic resistant to 15,000 gauss, features a Silicon Si14 balance spring, an in-house free sprung-balance, a Co-Axial Escapement in 3 levels, and two barrels mounted in series. The finishing includes rhodium-plated rotor and bridges, Geneva waves in Arabesque, and blackened screws, barrels and balance wheel.
The six O-MEGASTEEL models come on an O-MEGASTEEL bracelet, black rubber strap mimicking a wetsuit with an O-MEGASTEEL buckle, or a black NATO strap with cyan stripe, made from polyamide yarn, sourced from 100% recycled fishing nets.
Some of you may know of the ‘original Omega Marine, one of the brand’s most significant pieces and indeed an important milestone in the history of water resistant watches. If you don’t know about it, you can read about it in this post about this important 1930s piece.
And of course there was the ugly-but-oddly-attractive Seamaster 600M Ploprof (PLOngeur-PROFessionel) of the 1970s, which was revisited in recent decades, along with the generally popular Seamaster options. The 1971 Ploprof was capable of being used for saturation diving requirements, and rated to 600m.
There’s no getting around how impressive this new model is, and even though the overwhelming majority of those who will buy one are unlikely to test it anywhere remotely near its specs, that is pretty much the case for a lot of watches anyway. It is a standout diving piece from Omega and a more than worthy addition to their rich history of commercially produced divers’ watches.
The pricing is AUD 18,825 for the titanium model and AUD 17, 175 for the O-MEGASTEEL models on a NATO or rubber strap and AUD 17,675 for the O-MEGASTEEL models on a bracelet.
[Photo credit: Omega]