Diving Watch History

Discussion in 'Watch Reviews' started by barbrine, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. barbrine

    barbrine

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    Here is a complete introduction of diving watch history,http://www.rolex-chat.com/divers-watches-story.html

    Nowadays sport and leisure morale are so popular, in addition to a strong wave of self-expression, diver's watches became the hot commodities in the market. You know watch plants launched new models every year, newspapers, magazines and watch journal are always full of articles about diving watches when summer comes. Absolutely, people who wear a diving watch does not mean he loves diving, and the watches divers wear in the water, perhaps most of are professional quartz diving watches which have the features of caculate water depth, decompression time, and records, not expensive mechanical watches. However, mechanical diving watch both have a steel appearance which full of uninhibited sport style and keep up with the fashion trend, with unique taste and excellent water resistance. it is a best choice for modern people to go outdoor, swimming and other occasions, so useful in our daily life, no wonder why people like it.

    A diver's watch, as the name implies is specially designed for diving, not for waterproof strong enough to call diving watch. A diver's watch should have the following features:

    (a) A water resistance greater than 200 meters.

    (b) The bezel have a one way rotating bezel, and available for measurement of dive time.

    (c) The divers usually in deep water where is dark, so the markers or dial of diving watches usually required luminous, so is more readible and clear for the users.

    (d) Strictly speaking, only the watches in line with the ISO's specifications, standards and testing, then can be called diving watches, this standard is for the safety of the divers. However, as the diving watches have epidemic and market acceptance, high-end mechanical watch factories sale are not limited to divers, so they compete to launch diving watch, don't need to meet the standars set by professional organizations.

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    Rolex Red Submariner Ref. 1680

    Compared to those watches and pocket watches in the past 100 years, the performance of current watches have great progress with the advanced techonology. Nowadays most of sport wathes are waterproof to 100m, and diver's watches generally waterproof to 200-300m. But, if we look back to the development history of waterproof performance, we will find that the waterproof performance we got used to today, in fact, is a hard-earned sweet fruit after long time of research and development, it worth the watch fans to savor. Thus, I don't plan to like other media spend too much time on what kind of new diving watches have been launched, simply want to share the fun of refresher and introduce the historical development of diver's watches.

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    Rolex Oyster in Twenties

    Since watches inception a century ago, water, dust, magnetism, shock are the four enemies of watch. During the 1920s and 1930s, watch manufacturers have begun to make great efforts to study methods of preventing external corrosion, in order to increase the watch durability and persistence. Authough before 1920s, there were a few watchmakers, such as: Francis Baumgartner, Paul Perregaux and Georges Peret and other watchmakers who were able to create high quality cases, provide a better seal thus have a good water resistance, Omega and Longines also used these cases. But, Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, was the people who really to see the potential of diver's watches, then he focused on further study, launched real waterproof watch and became the first person to win the public acclaim. Currently, the vast majority watch experts are recognized Rolex and Omega are the pioneer and promoter studing on water resistance.

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    Rolex Oyster and Mercedes Gleitzes

    Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf continued tireless efforts to improve the case prcision, microleakage of surface crystal glass and crown systems. In 1927, Mercedes Gleitzes was wearing a Rolex Oyster watch swan cross the English Channel which took 15 hours and 15 minutes, Rolex fame by media reports and ads. Durable, accurate, waterproof, and the outstanding symbol of sport and courage, the image of Rolex left in the deep impression of general population. While in 1932, Omega launched Marine, and worn by adventurers Charles William Beebe, at that time made a record of the first to dive to 10 meters uderwater. And Louis Cartier in accordance with the requirements of Pasha of Marrakesh, created a watch can let people know the time in swimming. Cartier invented a new screw-in crown, and used in The Pasha released in 1932, it can be said to be the world's first luxury diving watch.

    Generally believed that combat ways and the military watches are popular during World War II are another reason for promoting diver's watches. At that time U.S. Navy used Hamilton Sea Bees Diving watch, which waterproof to about 50 meters, its double crown technology primarily to increase the water resitance, Russian navy had a similar military watch. While hostility of German and Italian used Officine Panerai, which used a unique compression crown system, made the diving watch effective working depth of 30 meters. Although the the pictures of divers worn diving wathes often seen on the promotional materials, but the using scope and impact for war of these watches, in fact, far less than other navy watches, just like well-known British WWW (waterproof wristwatch, waterproof to 10 meters) or legendary Mark IX and Mark X and so on.

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    As mentioned above, Omega launched Marine as early as 1932, and was worn by Beebe deep dive to 10 meters(not Rolex Oyster swimming), and in 1948 introduced the famous Seamaster. But if get to the bottom of it, Marine and Seamaster 2 still can not be called as a real diving watch. So far, most of watch fans recognized that the diving watches really into the life of ordinary people should be 1954, Rolex released its revolutionary Submariner Ref. 6204. In 1956, Rolex agian launched the Ref. 6538 now known as James Bond Submariner, waterproof to 200 meter(660 meters). At that time, postwar full of sport and adventure atmosphere, in addition to promoted by media, diving and sport wathces have been unstoppable. After Rolex created the world's first waterproof watch in 1926, they put heart and soul into diving watch development. In 1960, Rolex has produced a few experimental diving watches(Deep Sea Specials), plug-in the U.S. Navy Trieste, and dived into the world's most deepest trench(Mariana Trench) reached 10,908 meters, since then Rolex in the leading position on diving watch. In 1971, Rolex developed Sea-Dweller with the helium escape valve, waterproof to 610 meters(2000 feet). In the early of the following year, M. Patrice Chemin and M. Robert Gauret Marseille in the heliox mixture enviroment to wear this typle of watch up to 2000 meters depth(about 600 feet), and consecutive for 18 days in Marseille, France, became the officially world record.

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    Rolex Submariner Ref. 6204

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    Rolex Submariner James Bond

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    Rolex Sea-Dweller 1665

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    Blancpain was claimed that its 50 Fathoms launched a few months ealier than Submariner, in the end of the year 1953. The performance of 50 Fathoms indeed won good reputation, well-known diver Jacques Cousteau was wearing Blancpain diving watch and created a diving success(however, people today are more in love with Submariner as the diving pioneer because the impression have been established, perhaps no so easy to change for historical argument). Later Blancpain launched famous Aqualung and Bathyscaphe diving watches. In addition, don't forget Omega released Seamaster 300(only 200 meters water resistant), after Seamaster 300 made a big splash, in 1970-71 gradually launched Seamaster 600 waterproof to 600 and Seamaster 1000 1000 meters water resistant. Putting aside the debate who is the history first, we can fairly say that the efforts and innovation of these watch factories, created a vast sky for diving watches and other sport watches.

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    Blancpain 50 Fathoms: Vintage and Contemporary

    The following one to two decades, except Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet and other few watch factories, almost all of the Swiss watch brands have gone into operating diving watches. Such as: Eterna introduced its famous Kon-Tiki in 1955, IWC in 1964 released its first generation of Aquatimer, JLC launched with alarm performance diving watch Polaris, while Vulcain introduced Cricket-Nautical with a pressure indicator.

    Even the previously wait and see top luxury brands Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe, were also respectively launched theme of marine atmosphere sport watch Royal Oak(the shape of Royal Oak from British Royal warships octagonal windows) and Nautilus. Of course, these two watches are not real diving watches, but the charm and trend of sport and diving watches it can be said that manifests itself in the shape, so the traditional and luxury watch factories could not ignore it.

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    Vulcain Cricket Nautical 2002

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    Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Alinghi Commemorative

    The invetion helium escape valve for diving watches, is an important milestone. Normal diving activities(or scuba diving), the ingredients of compressed air carried by diver is the same with nature air, 1/5 oxygen, and 4/5 nitrogen (N2). The nitrogen in cylinders, the nitrogen molecules under high pressure will integrate into the nerve cells caused a different levels of narcotic. About an hour in the water pressure of 30 meters, people will appear paralysis the so-called "nitrogen narcosis". However, if use pure oxygen under the pressure of 30 meters depth, stay about an hour will also cause brain oxygen toxicity. Thus, if the diver need to stay in the deep see for a long time, it must use helium instead of nitrogen. With proper ratio of helium – oxygen mixture gas diving, called helium-oxygen diving. However, the volume of helium is very small, even several times smaller than hydrone, so when in the enviroment of helium – oxygen mixture gas, even if hydrone dosen't penetrate in the watch, helium may into the watch under external high pressure. In this case, though a water resistance is strong enough professional diving watch also can not be avoided.

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    Especially using the PTC – DDC of saturation diving operations, the rates of helium penetrated in the watch is higher. In deep sea, helium under external high pressure into case, in this process of helium flow, will cause the internal case pressure the same as external's. On the contrary, once the diver rise up, will make the internal pressure larger than external's. In Japan 1966, a diver was wearing a waterproof to 300 meters watch in the deep sea diving machine operation, when it rose up the pressure changed, thus the case exploded. From then on, various brand diving watch development began to pay attention to the important of escape helium.

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    Rolex Sea-Dweller Ref. 1665

    In 1971, Rolex first to launched Sea-Dweller with helium escape valve, waterproof to 610 meters(2000 feet). Since 1980, Sew-Dweller increased its waterproof to 1220 meters until now. And this Sea-Dweller with sapphire crystal glass face, and equipped with Swiss official Observatory certified self-winding movement, with a date display window. Left is the helium escape valve, when the case inner pressure larger than outside, the valve will automatically open, exhaust gases while maintaining waterproof. With this function so the divers needn't to take a toothpick to open it any more. Apart Sea-Dweller, Omega Seamaster 300 Professional also have helium escape valve.

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    Porsche Design Ocean 2000 BUND by IWC

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    IWC GST Aquatimer 2000

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    Ocean 500

    To overcome the limit of waterproof depth, apart helium escape valve, there are still other methods. IWC has always been emphasized combination of perfromance and sport, in 1980s cooperated with F.A.Porsche launched a series of sport watches, and the most prestigious are Ocean 2000 and Ocean 500 respectively waterproof to 2000m and 500m. Ocean 2000 created the highest mechanical waterproof record at that time, and keep for 20 years, until 2002 broke by Breitling Avenger Seawolf which used the same titanium case, waterproof to 3000 meters.

    Ocean 2000 without helium escape valve design, IWC claimed that its titanium case composite meterials have a metal washers, this can prevent the thermal expansion to affect the case tightness, but can quickly evaporate, as its seepage helium performance sufficient to meet the divers rose time, so no need helium escape valve.

    After ending 20-year cooperation with Porsche, IWC launched new professional GST sport watch, GST was available in 18K gold, stainless steel and Titanium. IWC GST Aquatimer automatic diving watch was water resistant to 2000 meters, it inherited the excellent waterproofing system of the previous Aquatimer and replaced the popular but discontinued Porsche Design Ocean 2000 by IWC.

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    Breitling Avenger Seawolf

    IWC launched GST Deep One in 1999 Basel Fair, this was world's first fully automatic machine operation, and let the water flows into the inside case of the diving watch, and can measure the water depth to 45m. The crown at 2 o'clock position charge of inner depth of Deep One, and 4 o'clock position crown is the inlet valve. It can alert the consuming time of oxygen cylinders, Arbitrary replacement of stainless steel or titanium strap, make this diving watch worth of remarkable. Interestingly, this professional diving watch mark only waterproof to 100 meters, IWC acclaimed that it has far beyond the limits of human non-mechanical diving, is enough. The humility concept to nature of IWC wasn't a whim, the world's first waterproof to 2000 meters IWC watch Porsche Design Ocean 2000 (BUND), at that time offered to the German Navy divers, only marked with a conservative figure 300 meters.

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    IWC Deep One

    Argon movement protector and movement humidity self-test system are another worth mentioning invention in the developent history of diving watches, and first appeared in Sinn 203 diving chronograph watches. All well-designed movements are need the protection of grease, to ensure accurate operation, however, pervasive humidity accelerated the aging process of oil and watch movement, this was obviously in the long time deep sea diving watches. Sinn developed a unique argon gas protection system, poured the argon into case, when the case was sealed, oxygen could be effectively block the oxygen and other humidity material invasion, prevent the movement of aging, keep a high accuracy. Sinn in one side of the case put a tube which filled with copper sulfate powder and covered by a transparent sapphire crystal, when moisture penetrated, it will turn from white to blue, and when it become to dark blue, that means the owner should maintenance it.

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    Sinn 203

    At last, I'd like to talk about the interesting facts, this is another reason why diving watch so deeply in people's heart: fueled by film media. In 1956, Rolex launched Submariner Ref.6538, and other follow-up models, as worn by 007 on screen and then widely welcomed by people, even nicknamed James Bond Submariner.

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    Rolex Submariner in 007 film: Live and Let Die

    Omega Seamaster 300 professional watch took place of Rolex Submariner since 1995 they offered watches for 007 in the movie "Golden Eyes", this typle of cooperation extended to "Tomorrow Never Dies" (1997) and "The World Is Not Enough" (1999), and the latest 007 movie "Die Another Day". In the series films of 007, Omega Seamaster was portrayed as of survivor's life-saving magic weapon, or even given weapons performance, such as the laser performance to cutting steel plate, detonating device, pull out the cable, hanging in a helicopter to escape and so on, this strengthen the impression of diving watch in generally people's heart. No matter Rolex Submariner or Omega Seamaster, a series films of 007 the diving watch accompanied 007 from mountains to the sea never beyond areas of a diving watch. Submariner and Seamaster can become the secret weapon of James Bond, a part of reason came from business operations and publicity, but it indeed has outstanding achievement in the field of professional diving watch, thus the film and brave fictional characters can complement each other.

    Not matter how much you know about diver's watches, in this section we review the history and interesting stories, I hope you will have a little bit of interest on diving watch though you never wear a one, for those reader who have diving watches, I hope this article will bring you a freely and wonderful life while cherish the memory of history.
  2. RW16610

    RW16610

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    :goodpost: That sure did make for a rather interesting read :thumbsup: Thanks for posting it here :cheers: