First Omega set their sights on the outer reaches of the planet by going into space with the Speedmaster, and now they have conquered the deepest depths on earth. In 2019, adventurer Victor Vescovo became the first man to pilot a submersible to a depth of 10,928m underwater in the Mariana Trench. And strapped to his craft, was the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional.
The Mariana Trench is the deepest known point on earth and all throughout history man has sought to reach its bottom. Vescovo’s dive was part of his Five Deeps project where the aim is to reach the deepest point in each of the five oceans. For this record-breaking dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, he used a submersible called “Limiting Factor” and strapped to this incredible submersible were three of these Omega behemoths.
If the story of strapping a timepiece onto a submersible plunging into the deepest depths of the sea seems familiar to you, its because it is. Vescovo new record breaks the previous one held by Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard who reached a depth of 10,916m in 1960. And strapped to their submersible, the bathyscaphe “Trieste” was the Rolex Deep Sea Special. With almost 60 years between these two dives, the advancement of technology is visually evident in terms of both the submersible and the watch that accompanied it.
Omega is no stranger when it comes to watches made to function underwater. In 1932, they used an amusing double case for the Omega Marine that Charles William Beebe took to 14m with his ‘bathysphere’, and today they have the Seamaster Professional and Planet Ocean that can consistently reach depths of 300m and 600m respectively. It is with this advancement in waterproofing technology that the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional project could come to fruition.
One of the interesting things about this watch is that the case used to build this chunky beast is machined cut-offs of grade-5 titanium taken from the same material used to construct the hull of the Limiting Factor. On the case, you will also find unique ‘Manta’ lugs which were fashioned to lower the risk of exceeding material limitations at full ocean depth. As for the crystal, it may look like a simple boxed sapphire but actually, it is made in a conical shape, based on the engineering principles of the viewports on the Limiting Factor submersible. In order to secure these three watches onto the craft – two on the submersible’s robotic arm, another to a Lander – Omega decided to use a familiar strap of a polyamide strap and Velcro closure based on the ones used during the Apollo missions.
Even though the watch broke the record at a depth of 10,928m, their testing rates the watch to an even further 15,000m on Omega’s insistence for a 25 per cent safety margin. The watches were not pressure tested at Omega’s labs but rather at Triton Sub’s facility in Barcelona with the attendance of a DNV-GL (international maritime authority for extensive, repeated dives to extraordinary depths) surveyor.
Unfortunately, even though the watch would make for a great collector’s item, the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional is not for sale. It is, however, one hell of a story.