Of all the brand new releases at Watches and Wonders, the worldwide watch commerce present in Geneva that occurred earlier this 12 months, it was the toughest one to not miss. The identify alone was big: TAG Heuer Aquaracer Skilled 1000 Superdiver. A giant identify for a giant 45-mm-diameter watch, it boasts a dodecagonal black-and-orange bezel, a chunky bracelet, a garage-door-size helium escape valve, and an excellent arrowhead hour hand loaded with sufficient lume to learn Proust at midnight—even at 1,000 meters underwater. With a big brutalist crown guard and a comparatively slim—by deep-dive watch requirements—15.75-mm thickness, the message is obvious: TAG Heuer is again within the excessive dive watch market.
The Superdiver is a mission near TAG CEO Frédéric Arnault’s coronary heart, albeit one born out of frustration. A eager skier, golfer, chess grasp, and tennis participant, Arnault can be an skilled diver. “After I joined [TAG], I used to be approached to sponsor somebody desirous to go deep diving,” he says. “I believed, Okay, that’s cool and it’s consistent with our Don’t Crack Underneath Strain slogan. But when we do one thing like that, we’d like a watch that goes deep. And we didn’t have that.”
Now TAG Heuer does. The Tremendous-diver is simply the newest within the firm’s lengthy historical past of pushing the bounds of ultra-deep-dive watches. And this iteration merely returns the Swiss watchmaker to the place it was in 1982 when the 1,000-meter Diver debuted. Again then, one kilometer underwater was extraordinary, placing it inside attain however nonetheless 220 meters in need of essentially the most emblematic of maximum dive watches: the Rolex Sea-Dweller.
By the point the Sea-Dweller launched in 1967, Rolex had already been deep diving for a decade and a half. In 1953, off the southwestern coast of Italy, an experimental Rolex plunged to a depth of greater than three kilometers mounted to the skin of a bathyscaphe. The achievement was eclipsed in 1960 when the identical vessel descended 10,916 meters to the underside of the Challenger Deep (the deepest recognized level of the earth’s seabed) within the Mariana Trench with one other experimental Rolex connected to its hull. Although the watch was geared up with a crystal resembling a clear Ping-Pong ball that made it impractical for on a regular basis put on, the feat captured the world’s creativeness. When offshore oil exploration hit its stride within the Nineteen Sixties, the Sea-Dweller turned the default timepiece of the underwater elite.
In 2008, the appropriately named Rolex Deepsea sparked a brand new period for the deep-dive watch by performing at depths of three,900 meters. Three years later, Hublot launched a 4,000-meter watch (the King Energy Diver), just for Rolex to up—or, extra precisely, decrease—the ante in 2012 with a specifically engineered Rolex Deepsea Problem connected to a submersible with Titanic director James Cameron aboard.
Then, in 2019, Omega claimed a report depth of 10,935 meters when three prototypes of its Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Extremely Deep watch have been connected to Limiting Issue, the submersible owned by Texas businessman Victor Vescovo. These further 19 meters gave Omega an opportunity to problem Rolex for bragging rights and supplied a backstory for its largest launch to this point this 12 months (MoonSwatch apart), the Seamaster Planet Ocean Extremely Deep, a watch with a dive depth of 6,000 meters.
After all, 6,000 meters is overkill. The Skilled Affiliation of Diving Instructors defines deep dives as past 18 meters—and even adventurous leisure divers restrict themselves to 40 meters. The report for the deepest dive (701 meters), achieved by Rolex promoting star Théo Mavrostomos, has stood for 30 years, but the deep-dive watch has by no means been extra common. Breitling—primarily related to aviation—has a 2,000-meter watch, whereas Zelos (an obscure however accessibly priced model) efficiently crowdfunded the Abyss, the third iteration of which has a depth of three,000 meters and a retail value that begins at $699. It raises the query: What’s a watchmaker to do, now that it’s getting more and more difficult to face out on this subject? The one reply, it appears, is to go deeper.
A model of this story initially appeared within the June/July 2022 problem with the title “Going Deep on Watches. Extraordinarily Deep.”