This year isn’t just the year of the Speedmaster, it’s apparently the year of the Planet Ocean too. Omega has just announced its latest creation, the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional, successfully made the world’s deepest dive, breaking the previous world record set in 1960. The previous record was made with the Rolex Deepsea Special watch, piloted by Captain Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard on board the bathyscaphe Trieste that went to ocean depths of 10,916 meters.
Omega’s expedition is made with Victor Vescovo, a private investor who also has a penchant for adventure. Having scaled all the highest points of the earth, he’s now set himself the task of conquering its deepest, with his self-funded Five Deeps Expedition, which would become the world’s first manned expedition to the deepest point in each of the five oceans.
Earlier this year, Vescovo plunged to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in his deep submergence vehicle DSV Limiting Factor to 10,928 meters, a remarkable feat made even more impressive because accompanying Vescovo was the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional. In fact, three of them tagged along for the ride: two were attached to the submersible’s robotic arms, while another was strapped to a data-gathering unit called the Lander. All three resurfaced from the extreme pressure completely unscathed and still keeping near perfect time.
The groundbreaking technology was celebrated at the British Museum in London on June 24th, where Vescovo joined Omega CEO Raynald Aeschlimann to reveal the three Ultra Deep watches to awaiting guests.
A Diving Legacy
For Omega, its ocean exploration history dates back to 1932 with the launch of its first commercially available divers’ watch, the Omega “Marine.” The watch was chosen by American explorer Charles William Beebe, the inventor of the bathysphere that could transport humans underwater. The “Marine” made history when Beebe wore it during his historical 14 metre dive in the 1930s.
The first Seamaster appeared in 1948, and was quickly snapped up by British aviators and sailors who needed a water-resistant and reliable watch during combat. Nine years later in 1957, Omega introduced the Seamaster 300 to supply diving amateurs and professionals alike in the ensuing underwater exploration boom in the post-war years.
The Proplof emerged in 1970; in 1971, the debut of the Seamaster 100; and in 1972, the Omega Seamaster 120 “Big Blue.” In 1981, when free diver Jacques Mayol free-dived to a record-breaking 101 metres, the Seamaster 120 was on his wrist. And of course, in more recent history, the Seamaster Diver 300M was launched in 1993, followed by its updated version last year on its 25th anniversary.
The Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional
But now, Omega dives even deeper. Masters they might be at creating dive watches, but to create the Ultra Deep, Omega started from scratch. The case of the watch is forged from grade 5 titanium that is made from machined cutoffs from the pressure hull of the Limiting Factor. The rotating bezel, dial and lugs are also made from the titanium, while the bezel top ring is made of ceramic with LiquidMetal markers.
For the sapphire-to-case assembly on the watch, Omega took inspiration from the viewport assembly on the submersible. There’s not your usual rubber o-ring to place and seal the sapphire crystal in place. Instead, the gasket on the Ultra Deep is made from LiquidMetal using a loadbearing conical design that minimises pressure on the inside edges of the cone and to spread stress distribution. The design is patent-pending, one of three patents Omega has for the Ultra Deep, with the other two being the design of the crown and the caseback.
Omega has also redesigned the lugs of the Ultra Deep that curl inwards until the lugs almost meet in the middle, but not quite. Omega found this design to be the strongest, and have named the lugs “Manta” due to their distinctive look.
Apart from the actual dive, the watches were also pressure tested at Triton Sub’s facility in Barcelona with the attendance of a DNV-GL surveyor. The watch obviously had to survive the Mariana Trench, but to be extra safe, Omega insisted on adding a 25 per cent safety margin, which meant that the watches, in the end, are tested to perform perfectly at an insane 15,000 meters.
Having survived both gruelling tests, the Ultra Deep watches are subject to one final test: METAS, a set of eight tests over 10 days to ensure the watches keep perfect time in whatever situation. After all they’re been through, each watch achieved Master Chronometer certification.
But all tech aside, how does the watch look? Instead of going with the usual bright colors that is associated with the Planet Ocean line, the Ultra Deep is made in a rather more sombre palette of blue, grey and white. Also unlike most models in the Planet Ocean line, the Ultra Deep lacks the helium valve, and the date window is eliminated which gives the watch a much cleaner and functional look that.
At 52.5mm in diameter and 28mm thick, the Ultra Deep isn’t exactly wearable for most, but this watch isn’t really about wearability—it’s about all the breakthroughs Omega has made and what it means for its commercial diver watches down the line.
We’ve yet to see the watch in the metal, but we know it’s just a matter of time before the watch makes its way around the different markets. And best believe when that happens, we’ll go in for an even deeper look at this history-making watch.