Deep Divers – A New World Record.

There’s a new deep diving brute in town, and it’s just beaten the current champion, Rolex Deep Sea Special, by 12 whole metres.

Bienne based Omega has just sent the “Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional” 10,928 metres down into the Mariana Trench.

If you listen in the wind hard enough you can probably still hear the screams coming out of Geneva.

The Ultra Deep was created for adventurer Victor Vescovo as part of his “Five Deeps” expedition. The expedition will be taking Victor to the deepest parts of the worlds five oceans. In May 2019, he successfully piloted his deep submergence vehicle “Limiting Factor” to the bottom of Challenger Deep within the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.

It was a record-breaking dive of 10,928m (35 853 ft).  

Victor Vescovo, born 1966, is a former naval officer, private equity investor and undersea explorer.

His objective is to thoroughly map and visit the bottom of all five of the world’s oceans by the end of September 2019.

As well as the Mariana Trench, Vescovo has now completed surveys of the Atlantic Ocean’s Puerto Rico Trench, the South Atlantic’s South Sandwich Trench and the Java Trench in the Indian Ocean. The final deep ocean visit is scheduled for August 2019 where the Limiting Factor will descend to the bottom of the as-yet unexplored Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean.

So far, the expeditions have discovered at least 3 new species, and depressingly, a lot of plastic, including a bag full of sweets at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. 

A full report on the achievements and findings of the expedition can be read here –

Omega and The Five Deeps Expedition.

To support the Five Deeps, Omega’s goal was to create a watch for a very specific task using technology that could be industrialised in the future.

Three Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional watches accompanied the expedition. One on each of the main vessel’s robotic arms and one attached to the detachable lander vehicle.

The Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional was built using DNV-GL certified grade 5 forged titanium cut-offs from the hull of the Limiting Factor. The watch is 28mm thick, so not really appropriate for wear unless you want to demolish door frames.

As with previous and current watches designed with the bottom of the oceans in mind, the sapphire crystal to case assembly is the area of greatest concern as it is the weakest point for the crushing depths. To spread the pressure and stress distribution Omega implemented the conical load bearing design of the Limiting Factors viewports working on the principle that if the submersible and its build could survive, so would the watch.

The lugs of the Ultra Deep Professional are fully integrated to the body of the watch and have been left open to lower the risk of exceeding material limitations at full ocean depth. These lugs have been named “Manta lugs” due to their similarity to another ocean going creature.

The SPO Ultra Deep Professional watches were tested rigorously at the Triton Sub facility in Barcelona with a DNV-GL surveyor in attendance. The chosen maximum pressure was set at the equivalent to the 11,250 metre depth of the Mariana Trench, the deepest known point in the worlds oceans. Omega set an additional 25% safety margin in line with dive watch standards meaning that the Ultra Deep passed water resistance testing to an insane 1500 bar/15,000 metres. Boom. Mic Drop.

The previous world record was held by Captain Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard who manned their bathyscaphe “Trieste” down to 10,916 metres in 1960 when they took on the Mariana Trench with the Rolex Deep Sea Special (#3)  strapped to their robotic arm.

The Deepsea Special #3 is currently enjoying retirement at the Smithsonian Institute, but there have been a number of models made and modified by Rolex as time has passed. You can observe the march of horological technology when comparing the enormous crystals of the specials which were 33 times the height of standard to the relatively “regular” proportions of the Omega Ultra Deep. No huge impenetrable domes needed nowadays.

The current Rolex behemoth of the deep is the experimental Sea-Dweller Deepsea Challenge which the standard Sea Dweller Deepsea (126660) is derived from. Available here –

This Challenge, rated with 12,000m of water resistance, accompanied James Cameron on his journey of 10,898 metres into the Mariana Trench in 2012 and, as with the Omega Ultra Deep, it was attached to the arm of Camerons submersible.

It will be interesting to monitor what Omega does commercially to the Planet Ocean Ultra Deep, particularly if we examine their goal of using technology that can be industrialised (and presumably made accessible) in future.

Does this mean that a Planet Ocean which will spank the water resistance of the 3900m rated DSSD is due for release once it has been modified to fit wrists rather than robot arms?

Its all a bit up in the air, or down in the depths at the moment but one thing we absolutely know for sure is that for 59 years from 1960-2019 Rolex was the the horological king of the deep oceans.

Omega has just snatched the crown. 

Over to you, Rolex..