The alluring, mysterious ocean propelled Omega to reach extraordinary depths with the groundbreaking Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional.
As part of the Five Deeps Expedition in 2019, the Ultra Deep made history when it reached the deepest place on Earth.
"There’s a wonderful moment when I visited the Omega headquarters in Switzerland. We were looking at having a watch associated with the expedition,” undersea explorer Victor Vescovo says. “Initially, the thought was to have a normal watch that could survive normal pressures, which rapidly evolved into a conversation about how Omega could make a watch that could survive full ocean depths. And in an extraordinary technological tour de force, the team at Omega was able to take titanium from my submersible and fashion it into not one but three brand-new watches. They could actually survive!”
The DSSV Pressure Drop is home to the world’s first human-crewed expedition to the deepest point in Earth’s five oceans, charted by adventurer and submersible pilot Victor Vescovo.
In 2019, when private equity investor, former naval officer, mountain climber and undersea explorer Vescovo piloted his deepsea submersible to the bottom of the Pacific’s Mariana Trench (nearly 6.8 miles down), these three Seamaster Ultra Deep models went along for the ride. Two watches were placed on the outside of the sub, and a third was placed on a data-gathering robotic “lander.” All three watches resurfaced unscathed aft er descending to depths no human being has ever been before.
The distinctive “manta ray” lugs of the titanium Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional allow for NATO strap flexibility during descent.
Two Seamasters were placed on the outside of the sub, and a third was placed on a data-gathering robotic “lander.” All three watches resurfaced unscathed after descending to depths no human being has ever been before.
Private equity investor, former naval officer, mountain climber and undersea explorer Victor Vescovo
Omega looked to space for inspiration. The polyamide strap and Velcro closure are similar to materials used during the Apollo missions.
For Raynald Aeschlimann, president and CEO of Omega, joining the dive project felt perfectly natural.“When I first heard about Victor’s vision and met him personally, I was very impressed by his incredible spirit and determination. It resonated with me because it’s all about technology, innovation and precision. And I knew that Omega must play a very important role in this project.” Omega’s legacy in deep-sea exploration is the stuff of legend. It started in 1932 with the Omega Marine, the world’s first commercially available divers’ watch. Wherever and whenever deep-sea exploration occurred from that point forward, Omega could be found on the front lines. The watchmaker pioneered dive watch technology throughout the ’50s and the ’60s and continues to support contemporary explorers like Vescovo to this day.
Watches were pressure tested at Triton Sub’s facility in Barcelona. To be extra sure and comply with all dive watch standards, Omega added a 25% safety margin. All watches performed flawlessly at 1,500 bars or 15,000 meters.
Newly equipped with data from the expedition, Omega offers seven new models of the Seamaster Ultra Deep that are ready for collectors’ wrists. Newly developed testing procedures ensure each watch can survive the most extreme conditions, bringing four patent-pending innovations for this bold new diver, including key components like the crystal, crystal gasket, crown and case back. With a case diameter of 45.5 mm, a height of 18.12 mm and lug-to-lug diameter of 51.95 mm, the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional is designed and built to conquer the most extraordinary conditions on Earth, and to return home in one piece.
Each Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep received master chronometer certification after days of extreme underwater testing.
“The watch was subjected to the harshest environment on the entire planet, 16,000 pounds per square inch in freezing cold waters,” says Vescovo. “And not only that, but one of them has now been to the bottom of the ocean four times and still works flawlessly. The fact that they could fashion a watch that could repeatedly survive in that environment is just an extraordinary technological achievement.”
Together at last, the entire depth-defying collection of Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Chronometers
Water-resistant to an astonishing 6,000 meters (nearly 20,000 feet), the Ultra Deep will be available in either Grade 5 titanium or O-MEGASTEEL, a proprietary, super-hard steel that’s 40% to 50% stronger than conventional steel. The ceramic bezel colors each coordinate with the Ultra Deep’s different dials—a new electric blue is of note (it’s the last color your eyes can make out when deep underwater, where light is scarce); so is a very attractive orange designed to commemorate the first Planet Ocean, released back in 2005.
The protuberant sapphire crystal is essential to the strength of the Ultra Deep, yet free of visual distortion and able to withstand the equivalent of 7.5 tons of pressure, while a new crown guard guarantees a perfect air-tight seal. A NATO strap is available for the titanium model, with either rubber straps or metal bracelets for the steel versions. The bracelet is equipped with a diving extension clasp, designed to fit perfectly around a thick wetsuit. Powered by Calibre 8912, officially master chronometer-certified by the Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS), the watch features a power reserve of 60 hours. Self-winding in both directions, the watch displays central hour, minute and second hands on either a black dial with a titanium case or white, blue gradient or black-gray gradient dials cased in steel.
“I think something that actually binds all explorers together is a certain set of attributes,” says Vescovo. “The obvious one is curiosity. We are the kind of people that always want to know what’s on the other side of a hill or what’s in that blank space on the map. But then you have to combine that with people who have a strong sense of perseverance who are not afraid to subject themselves to personal physical danger or just adversity. And it’s that combination of qualities, that we don’t care as much about what happens to us because we’re so hungry for that knowledge. And we will risk a lot and suffer a lot to achieve that.”
The risks and challenges set forth allowed Omega to flaunt its design and technical prowess. From materials to mechanics, the final results speak for themselves.
“For me, this project is all about facing new challenges, facing your fears and embracing them. And once again, we prove that it’s not about magic,” says Aeschlimann. “It’s about hard work, determination, precision and creating. Keep creating until success comes.”
Starting with the prototypes used by Vescovo, Omega set its sights on a depth rating of 6,000 meters for a production model to join the collection. It sized the case down to a more wearable proportion than the prototype, though the titanium Seamaster Ultra Deep model requires a NATO strap that allows the watch to sit high on the wrist. The distinctive integrated “manta lugs” are left open to allow strap flexibility during intense dives. The expedition’s logo is located on the watch’s case back, featuring concentric circles that evoke multibeam sonar technology. The model, reference number, materials, DNV-GL certification (ensuring the reliability of components and systems in the face of marine hazards) and the words “tested to 15,000m/49,212ft depth” are laser engraved on the case back.
“Through the technological mission of constructing a vessel to dive to any point on the bottom of the oceans reliably and repeatedly, [we built a vessel that] had never existed before,” says Vescovo. “And the way to actually prove that it could do that was to take the ship around the world and dive in places no one had ever dived before. We were able to achieve that mission. At its essence, I chose to partner with Omega because we share the same values of precision and innovation and a love for the sea. And I couldn’t think of a better partner to have as we go and do all these other expeditions.”