Omega released a series of watches yesterday in their Omega Watch Days show. We attended the conference online, and here is our top pick from the watches released – the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep. A very special watch, challenging the depths of the oceans where no watch has gone to before.
The new Omega Seamaster Ultra Deep – a technical discourse
Press Release information and technical commentary in italics.
We had a technical discussion on the new watch with Omega, and bring you the highlights and our commentary on this new, very interesting dive watch. A dive watch to rule all dive watches?
Quest for the deepest dive watches is a race which began even as the first water resistant watches were developed. And Omega was there in the beginning. Probably the first diving watch was an unusual timepiece – known as the Omega Marine in 1932. This was way before water resistance became a thing, and dive watches became a mainstream watch. It was an experimental watch by Omega with a rectangular case…well, actually a double case, with an inner case which slipped under the outer, and sealed with a cork gasket. It was tested in Lake Geneva and was proofed to 73m, but later it was discovered that it could be rated to an even deeper 135m.
Then came the race for dive watches which is more familiar, circa 1950s. Among the key players were Blancpain with their Fifty Fathoms, Rolex with their Submariner, and Omega with the Seamaster trio of watches in 1957. These watches were perhaps more conventional in their design. At least with modern sensibilities. They had round cases, thick glass and a rotating bezel. Architectural elements which became the blueprint for the future dive watches.
Rolex started the war of the deep in 1960. They with strapped a special watch to the outside of the Bathyscaphe Trieste, and voyaged to 10,916m (35,814ft) ±5. This was well documented, and we presented a primer on Rolex dive watches Part 1 and Part 2 here. They repeated the feat with another watch, also specifically designed for the task in 2012, and four years later, Rolex released a commercialized a version known as the Deepsea Sea Dweller Ref. 116660. (DSSD) which is rated to a more shallow depth of 3,900m.
However, at the sidelines, a small German watchmaking company has been tackling the problem of ultra deep dive watches and the need to withstand ultra high pressures differently. In the late 1990s, Sinn introduced the EZM Hydro, which used a case is filled with pure silicone oil. This not only provided optimal visibility at any angle when submerged, a very useful feature, but it also could withstand an unlimited pressure as the oil is an incompressible liquid. In theory, this watch can be used in any depth, but in typical Sinn understated fashion, the EZM Hydro was simply marked “Water Proof”. Does not really sound very impressive, but the latest version, using the exact same silicone oil technology in a watch called the UX (EZM 2B) was rated at 12,000m diving depth (= 1,200 bar, 39,370ft), certified by DNV. However, we note that Sinn has not participated in any real test of the depth rating with a dive to these depths, unlike Rolex and Omega. Also, the UX and EZM2 both have quartz movements as the hands need sufficient torque to operate under the high viscosity silicon oil.
Omega rose to occasion in 2019, when it created a Concept Ultra Deep which was used by diver Victor Vescovo on a mission to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean and was able to test the watch to a depth of 10,935m (35,876 ft), the deepest any human or watch has ever gone. Two Concept Ultra Deep watches were attached to the submersible’s robotic arm, while another was strapped to a data-gathering unit known as a Lander. All three watches proved their worth and completed the 12-hour dive without a problem and surfaced completely unscathed. Omega reckons that they can rate this watch to 15,000m, deeper than any point on Earth.
In yesterday’s new release, Omega introduced the commercial versions of the Ultra Deep. These commercially available watches are rated to 6,000m and meet ISO 6425 specifications for diving watches. We think the 6,000m rating is an important factor, as their competitor Rolex’s commercially available Deep Sea Sea Dweller is rated to 3,900m. Omega handily beats Rolex. We do note that the watch is designed for and is suitable for saturation diving applications. Omega tells us that the ISO 6425 saturation testing for helium egress is done to 40 bars (400m) for 14 days. This is more than sufficient for practical purposes, but technically not at the full depth rating. The watch also has 4 patents which are pending, mainly on the techniques to make the watch more water resistant – the assembly of the case back, the crown assembly as well as the crystal assembly. As so much care and engineering is taken to ensure the crystal, case back and crown are strong enough to withstand the pressures, no helium escape valve is incorporated. The hero version, in our books is the one in titanium. It is made of forged titanium, which is the same material used in the Concept Ultra Deep as well as on the Vescovo submarine. It also bears the special “Manta Lugs” which is integrated in a streamlined construction with the case modeled after the Concept. The use of these lugs mean that the watch can only be offered in a NATO strap, and bracelet options are not possible.
Also, the new Ultra Deep is not one off special watch, but an entirely new collection. In addition to the Titanium version, Omega has also announced a version in a new steel, which they call O-MEGASTEEL. This version is available in a total of 8 variants with options for colour of dial and bezel as well as the choice of a steel bracelet or a rubber strap. The case construction is more conventional, with regular lugs and the steel models can accommodate a steel bracelet or a rubber strap.
The use of a new O-MEGASTEEL is also a significant noteworthy technical detail. Omega decided to use a new steel, working with a steel foundry foundry (Omega has its own gold foundry. But for steel, they work with a supplier, as the volumes required to produce steel need a huge foundry, much larger than one for gold.) O-MEGASTEEL was designed to meet three goals – the new steel must be harder (300 Vickers vs 150 V for 316L steel), have a higher yield strength (560 MPa vs 200 MPa for 316L) and is visually whiter in hue to standard stainless steel used in the watch industry (316L Stainless Steel). The harder and stronger steel means that it takes considerably more effort to cut, shape, and polish the steel.
As a sidetrack, we note that Omega had introduced the PLOngeur PROFessionnel (Professional Diver) 1970, a watch capable of being used for saturation diving requirements, and rated to 600m of water resistance. In 1971, Rolex also made a dive watch for the saturation dive market, but the Sea Dweller Ref. 1655 had a higher depth rating of 1,200m. This watch had a helium escape valve to prevent the rapidly escaping helium gas a quick way to be released during decompression without blowing the crystal. The helium had diffused across the steel during the days or weeks it has spent in the saturated diving application where the environment of a helium–oxygen mixture is required to prevent nitrogen narcosis. We covered this historical landmark in our hands-on review of the Sea-Dweller, Ref. 126600. What is interesting is that Omega’s 1970 PloProf was not equipped with a gas escape valve, but the Omega had no helium issues. The brand’s solution was to make the watch air-tight. The watch utilized a monoblock case construction and a crystal which is bonded to it which is strong enough to withstand the pressures. We do note that the current version of the PloProf is equipped with a helium escape valve. The reason is because the new PloProf has a sapphire glass display back which is not constructed as robust as the front crystal, and the depth rating is improved to 1,200m. As noted, the new Ultra Deep is not require a helium escape valve, and during the technical discussion, we asked why this was so. The reply was interesting. It is only from the 2019 project and the construction of the new Ultra Deep, with its 4 patents pending, that Omega is able rate the watch for saturation diving without a helium escape watch. Begging the question, of course, that the next generation of the PloProf will be sans escape valve. A suggestion which was met with a response that this may well be the case.
We look forward to seeing and handling the watches in person and photographing them. We will also continue to bring you the other novelties released during the Omega Watch Days.
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep
The retail prices for the new Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep are as follows:
- Seamaster Ultra Deep in Titanium : 18.104.22.168.01.001 RRP CHF 11,400 / RSP SGD$18,050
- Ultra Deep Steel on Steel : 22.214.171.124.03.001/ 126.96.36.199.06.001 RRP CHF 10,700 / RSP SGD$16,950
- Ultra Deep Steel on Rubber: 188.8.131.52.03.001/ 184.108.40.206.04.001 RRP CHF 10,400 / RSP SGD$16,450
Swiss CHF prices are before taxes, and SGD prices are inclusive of 7% GST. Available soon in stores.
A powerful continuation of OMEGA’s diving legacy
In 2019, the very first Ultra Deep watches made history when they reached the deepest place on Planet Earth. In 2022, the technology that made the dive possible has been transformed into a game-changing 6,000 m collection available to the public. 45.5 mm models with high-performance materials and patent-pending designs, that represent the very pinnacle of OMEGA’s dive watch legacy.
90 Years Under Water
A true pioneer in the maritime field, OMEGA’s ocean story began with the “OMEGA Marine” in 1932 – the world’s first divers’ watch available to civilian divers. Characterised by its clever double case design, the superb water-resistance of that timepiece became sought-after by ambitious explorers and paved the way for OMEGA’s diving future.
With the release of the very first Seamaster in 1948, OMEGA’s passion for the sea was reignited, leading to the launch of the Seamaster 300 in 1957 – OMEGA’s first professional divers’ watch. Many legendary OMEGA dive watches have followed since then, including the distinctive Seamaster 600M “Ploprof” and the Seamaster 1000 for major explorations, as well as the popular Seamaster Diver 300M – worn by Commander James Bond since 1995.
The Original Ultra Deep
As a consolidation of OMEGA’s impressive ocean experience, the original Ultra Deep arrived in 2019. To survive the toughest conditions, the forward-thinking watch included indestructible features, such as a case completely machined out of forged grade 5 titanium, robust “Manta lugs” that provided an innovative way of securing the watch, and a sapphire face with a conical loadbearing design inspired by a submersible’s viewport.
In April of that year, three Ultra Deep watches joined explorer Victor Vescovo on a mission to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. Originally recorded as 10,925 m (35,843 ft), the depth was later updated to 10,935 m (35,876 ft) and is the deepest any human or watch has ever dived. Two of the Ultra Deep watches were attached to the submersible’s robotic arm, while another was strapped to a data-gathering unit known as a Lander. Thanks to their ingenious build and design, all three watches completed the 12-hour dive without a problem and surfaced completely unscathed.
The New Watch in Titanium
Taking the next step in state-of-the-art ocean design, 2022 sees the release of seven new models in the Ultra Deep collection. Water-resistant to 6,000 m (20,000 ft), the 45.5 mm range is led by a bold version crafted in sand-blasted and forged grade 5 titanium.
To achieve its unique personality, the watch features a brushed ceramic bezel with a Liquidmetal™ diving scale, along with the distinctive “Manta Lugs” and streamlined asymmetrical case that are reminiscent of the original Ultra Deep model. They support a striped NATO strap, in cyan and black, made from polyamide yarn, sourced from 100% recycled fishing nets. Fixed to the wrist with a loop and buckle in grade 5 Titanium.
Beneath the protuberant and domed sapphire crystal, the dial has been produced in black ceramised titanium with cyan numerals and a blued gradient on the central seconds hand.
Turning the watch over reveals a grade 5 titanium caseback featuring a black laser-engraved Sonar emblem, with the iconic OMEGA Seahorse at its centre. The words “Diver’s watch 6000 m for saturation diving” are included to reaffirm the watch’s adventurous credentials.
The New Watches in O-MEGASTEEL
Six models in the Ultra Deep collection have been built in brand new O-MEGASTEEL. This high-performance stainless steel alloy once again proves OMEGA’s leadership in the production of advanced materials, with qualities that surpass the normal standard. O-MEGASTEEL is notable for its superior strength, whiter colour and incomparable shine. It also offers exceptional resistance to corrosion for a longer-lasting appearance.
Mounted on each O-MEGASTEEL symmetrical case is a ceramic bezel with diving scale, as well as a protuberant and domed sapphire crystal, which is neatly bevelled and designed for maximum strength under pressure. A new crown guard is also integrated to the watch’s case, assuring protection when deep under water.
The choices include white or gradient-effect dials, which transition from grey-to-black or blue-to-black, and include a glossy finish as well as 18K white gold hands and indexes. Each piece includes a grade 5 titanium caseback with the same laser-engraved Sonar emblem and wording as the full titanium model.
Each design is completed by either a rubber strap or an O-MEGASTEEL bracelet. The rubber straps feature a technical diving suit structure on the upper surface, along with an O-MEGASTEEL buckle. For the metal bracelets, OMEGA’s patented extendable foldover rack-and-pusher has been included, with a complementary length adjustment and an extra diver extension – perfect for use around a thick wetsuit.
Depth Tested and Certified
Driven by the Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8912, all watches in this collection are Master Chronometer certified at Switzerland’s highest standard of precision, performance and magnetic-resistance. What’s more, OMEGA’s Ultra Deep was ocean-tested at a depth of 6,269 m (20,567 ft) in the Mariana Trench in 2021.
The markings “For Saturation Diving” are included to meet the ISO 6425 standard for saturation divers’ watches which is certified by Switzerland’s independent testing body METAS – a premiere in the watch industry!
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Specifications
Ti / O-MEGASTEEL
OMEGA Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8912
Watch officially certified by METAS
Self-winding in both directions
Frequency: 25,200 A/h (3.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 60 hours
- Exclusive features with:
- Magnetic resistance: 15,000 gauss
- Time zone function
- Silicon “Si14” balance spring
- OMEGA free sprung-balance
- Co-Axial Escapement, 3 levels
- 2 barrels mounted in series
Special luxury finish:
Rhodium-plated rotor and bridges
Geneva waves in arabesque
Blackened screws, barrels and balance wheel
Central hour-minute-seconds hands
Case: Grade 5 titanium – [ZrO2] ceramic bezel ring / O-MEGASTEEL – grade 5 titanium medallion – [ZrO2] ceramic bezel ring
Strap: Grade 5 titanium – polyamide NATO Strap, O-MEGASTEEL bracelet or rubber strap
Buckle: Grade 5 titanium / O-MEGASTEEL
Diameter: 45.50 mm; Height: 18.12 mm; Lug-to-lug: 56.00 mm
Water resistant: up to 600 bars (6000 m / 20000 ft). Four patents pending on the technical design
Casebody: sandblasted forged grade 5 titanium / polished-brushed-sandblasted O-MEGASTEEL
Bezel: sandblasted forged grade 5 titanium uni-directional rotating – dot at 12H with Super-LumiNova (green emission); brushed black ceramic [ZrO2] with Liquidmetal ™ diving scale / polished black ceramic, orange ceramic or blue ceramic [ZrO2] with Liquidmetal ™ diving scale; polished-brushed-sandblasted O-MEGASTEEL; uni-directional rotating – dot at 12H with Super-LumiNova (green emission)
Crown: sandblasted grade 5 titanium screw-in with “Ω” / polished-sandblasted O-MEGASTEEL screw-in with “Ω”
Front EFG sapphire crystal: domed, protuberant and scratch-resistant with anti-reflective treatment on both sides
Caseback: sandblasted grade 5 titanium, wave-edged, screw-in caseback with oriented sandblasted grade 5 titanium medallion laser engraved with “PLANET OCEAN”, “SEAMASTER”, “PROFESSIONAL”, “Ω”, “CO-AXIAL”, “MASTER CHRONOMETER” and “DIVER’S WATCH 6000 m FOR SATURATION DIVING” / polished-brushed-sandblasted O-MEGASTEEL, wave-edged, screw-in caseback with oriented brushed grade 5 titanium medallion laser engraved with “PLANET OCEAN”, “SEAMASTER”, “PROFESSIONAL”, “Ω”, “CO-AXIAL”, “MASTER CHRONOMETER”, and “DIVER’S WATCH 6000 m FOR SATURATION DIVING”
Colour: black ceramised grade 5 titanium / Finish: transparent lacquer in a blue-black gradient / grey-black gradient / white
- Hour-markers: brushed indexes, filled with white Super-LumiNova (blue emission)
- Brushed Arabic numerals, varnished on top in cyan
- “Ω” logo, “OMEGA”, “PROFESSIONAL”, “6000 m / 20000 ft”, minute track and “SWISS MADE” transferred in white
- “Seamaster” and “ULTRA DEEP” transferred in cyan
Dial engraved with [Ti] (under centre hole) / absent for O-MEGASTEEL versions
Brushed hands with white Super-LumiNova
- Blue emission: hour & seconds hands (in line with indexes)
- Green emission: minute hand (in line with the dot on bezel)
- Seconds hand with white to cyan gradient
Black NATO strap with cyan stripe, made from polyamide yarn, sourced from 100% recycled fishing nets.
Fixed with a sandblasted buckle and strap keepers. / Polished-brushed OMEGA patented screw-and-pin bracelet; OMEGA’s patented extendable foldover rack-and-pusher with extra diver extension
Fitting: 22 mm between lugs, 22 mm on buckle / 22 mm between lugs, 18 mm on clasp
International 5-year warranty
Delivered with a Master Chronometer certification card, ensuring that the watch has passed the tests certified by METAS
Bracelet, where applicable: complementary length adjustment: total 33.30 mm
- release clasp, press on “push” and slide inner clasp
- adjustable to 6 positions over 9.70 mm
- extra diver extension: 2 x 11.80 mm
Conforms to the requirements of the ISO 6425:2018 standard for saturation divers’ watches