In the last decade, the dive watch took on a rapid evolution cycle that resulted in three different paths. The first path is amusing in its excessiveness and looks at the addition of complications to dive watches.
The second path relates to the wars that broke out in depth-rating one-upmanship initiated by Girard-Perregaux’s Sea Hawk II Pro with its 3,000-meter rating, followed by Rolex’s Sea-Dweller DEEPSEA, which brought the depth-rating threshold to 3,900 meters; and then was usurped by the Hublot King Power Diver with its crazy 4,000-meter depth rating.
But the most interesting evolution relates to empowering the dive watch beyond its time-telling abilities. This began with a watch created in 1999 by IWC named the GST Deep One, the world’s first luxury dive watch with a mechanical depth gauge.
It should be noted that as early as 1966, Favre-Leuba had toyed with depth-gauge-equipped models named Bathy, but these watches were marketed more for their novelty value rather than as serious dive watches.
Conversely, Richard Habring, the designer of the IWC Deep One, was both incredibly serious about diving and serious about horology, having created IWC’s split-seconds chronograph mechanism as well as its tourbillon.
In 2008, Jaeger-LeCoultre created a depth-gauge watch, the Master Compressor Diving Pro Geographic that featured a largely externalized depth gauge in the form of a blackened steel membrane that would deform in a linear manner as seawater compressed it — transforming this deformation into a reading for depth from zero to 80 meters.