The Rolex Deepsea and 6 Other Extreme Dive Watches


All divers’ watches share certain characteristics that make them divers’ watches: unidirectional rotating bezels, secure screw-down crowns, higher-than-typical water resistance. Some of these divers’ watches, however, go the extra mile (or fathom), with cases that can descend to 3,000 or even 4,000 meters, chronographs operable at incredible depths, or high-tech depth gauge devices built into their mechanical movements. Below, we take a look at seven of these “extreme” dive watches and what sets them apart from the pack.

The Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea has a water-resistance level of 3,900 meters (nearly 13,000 feet), and it is more than 10 percent slimmer than it otherwise would have been thanks to a special case construction developed by Rolex. It consists of three pressure-absorbing elements: a 5.5 mm thick sapphire crystal, a 3.28-mm-thick caseback made of grade 5 titanium, and an inner ring (on which both of them rest) made of Biodur-108 steel. Last summer, Rolex launched the new Rolex Deepsea D-Blue Edition (pictured below), with a proprietary “D-Blue” dial that is dark blue at the top, and then darkens gradually to black at the bottom. More details and photos here.

Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea D-Blue Edition
Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea D-Blue Edition

The Breitling Superocean Chronograph M2000 has a chronograph that can be operated at a depth of 2,000 meters underwater. The watch is the first to feature a patented magnetic push-piece system, in which the chronograph controls are operated via the metal of the case. Along with the screw-locked crown and the 4-mm-thick sapphire crystal, these pushers enable the wearer to use the watch at the extreme depth of 2,000 meters (or 6,600 feet) without the risk of water seeping in. Click here to read our “Watch to Watch” article on the Breitling Superocean Chronograph M2000.

Breitling Superocean Chronograph M2000
Breitling Superocean Chronograph M2000

The Blancpain X Fathoms watch combines elements of its famous Fifty Fathoms ancestor with a modern mechanical depth gauge. Though “only” water-resistant to 300 meters, Blancpain calls it the most high-performance mechanical diving watch ever made, with several world firsts, including:

– Measures depth up to 90 meters
– Maximum depth reached memory
– Separate indication on the 0-15m scale with an +/- 30 cm precision
– Retrograde 5-minute counter for decompression stops

The 55.65-mm case, made of satin-brushed titanium, is water-resistant to 300 meters. It features a helium decompression valve for saturation diving and the characteristic unidirectional rotating bezel. The strap comprises 14 articulated parts to ensure a perfect fit on the wrist. Click here for more info on the Blancpain X Fathoms.

Blancpain X Fathoms
Blancpain X Fathoms

The Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon DeepQUEST has a water-resistance of 3,000 meters, achieved by crafting the entire case out of a single block onto which the bezel is directly screwed. The crown seals, generally considered the weak point of a watch in terms of water resistance, have been strengthened to prevent entry of water when in the screwed-in position. The watch also has a nonreflective sapphire crystal with its thickness raised to 5.3 mm and an automatic helium-release valve.

Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon DeepQUEST
Ball Engineer Hydrocarbon DeepQUEST

The Deep Blue Depthmaster 3000M, as its name suggests, is water-resistant to 3,000 meters. The watch is powered by the Japanese Miyota 9015 automatic movement. The 49-mm stainless steel case features a helium valve with a protective cap. The sapphire bezel is filled with Super-LumiNova and the domed sapphire crystal is 6 mm thick.

Deep Blue Depthmaster 3000M
Deep Blue Depthmaster 3000M

 

Requiring 18 months of research, development and testing to complete, the Hublot Oceanographic 4000 was the the first diver’s watch able to withstand the pressure exerted at a depth of 4,000 meters, or about 13,120 feet. (Hublot actually tested the seal all the way to 5,000 meters in a Roxer tank.) To ensure the watertightness of the watch and to resist this extreme pressure, the synthetic sapphire crystal is 6.5 mm thick. The screw-down caseback is made of grade 2 titanium. The Oceanographic 4000 has a helium valve, which allows gases that have infiltrated the watch during the descent to safely escape during the ascent. More detail on the Hublot Oceanographic 4000 here.

Hublot Oceanographic 4000
Hublot Oceanographic 4000

The UTS 4000M Professional Diver, another timepiece water-resistant to 4,000 meters, comes in a 45-mm case crafted from a single block of stainless steel. The 6-mm thick sapphire crystal is glued into the case and is also secured by a stainless steel ring with seven hex screws. To learn more about UTS, and what makes its German-made dive watches unique, click here to read our profile of the company.

UTS 4000M Professional Diver
UTS 4000M Professional Diver

This article was originally published in 2013 and has been updated with new information and photos.

45 Responses to “The Rolex Deepsea and 6 Other Extreme Dive Watches”

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  1. Jens Köppe

    I Love the Hublot Oceanographic 4000. Very durable watch for all kinds of extrem sports

    Reply
  2. Just found out that the Borealis Seafarer II is rated to 4000m. Talk about an affordable beater, under $500.00 4.5mm domed sapphire w/AR, a helium escape valve, RC Tritec bgw9 lume w/ lumed sapphire bezel insert, and reliable viton and tefzel gaskets. This deserves to be included in any dive watch round-up, as well as the Deep Blue 1 to 3 K meter watches.

    Reply
  3. Steve

    Not on this list is the affordable Oris Aquis depth gage
    Watch. Great diving watch and nice looking as well!

    Reply
  4. William DeVault

    You left one off the Charmex 20,000 ft record holder
    seems like all you talk about is the top tier watches
    SAD!!!!!!

    Reply
  5. All great watches and many more could have been included. Perhaps my Tudor Hydro 1200m? Cheers

    Reply
  6. BigJoe

    You left out several deep diving watches, including the Roven Dino Marianas with a depth rating of over 5 MILES! The most water resistant watch I know of in the world.

    Reply
  7. Enrique

    Nobody go more than 150 feet underwater if had a PADI or NAUI training. The shower was the most popular place to use your dive watches. I think is a great mistake buy and pay thousends of dollars to use in a pool or the shower. 200 mt-666 ft underwater pressure is sufficient.

    Reply
  8. John Johnson

    All great watches but think twice about the Deep Blue. My wife bought me their “Top of the range” watch in December 2013 and gave it to me as a very special Christmas present. It is based on the Valjoux 7754 movement and is an absolutely beautiful watch. It is probably my most prised possesion depite the fact I own several fine watches. Unfortunately it was broken the following February (1 year ago to the day) it was returned to Deep Blue and it still hasn’t been returned. My wife is extremely upset. Beautiful watches but appauling Customer Service! Despite the emails and phone calls from England to New York I doubt I will ever see it again. Shame on Deep Blue!

    Reply
    • Berton Kanne

      I have heard about quality control and customer service issues from Deep Blue. I think their watches are stunning. Too bad!

      Reply
  9. The BALL is in a class of its own and banf4buck is the pick here! A mate got one as a wedding engagement present and if he does ill dig it back up and ware it. Its too go not to be seen or worn.

    For almost anyone else a 300m watch is more than enough IMO

    Reply
    • Johnny Mac

      +1. I’m a huge fan of Ball’s quality/features/price, currently owning 7 models, including a NEDU blue, that’s rated to 600m.

      Reply
  10. Liquid fill a QUARTZ/SOLAR movement case and it would have near infinite depth rating and no need for HELIUM with fluorocarbon clear filler. Ive seen some done & they look amazing! The dials FLOAT on the face of the watch!

    Reply
  11. Bert Kanne

    The UTS would be my choice since it has incredible machined details and most people usually think Rolex or Breitling.

    Reply
  12. The UTS 4000M doesn’t need a helium escape valve because its case is milled from a block of 316L steel and the 6mm+ crystal is glued into place then secured by a steel ring bolted to the case. Case openings are secured with double Viton seals. If helium doesn’t get in, you don’t need to allow for its escape.

    Reply
    • Sorry, I don’t agree. At the time of writing this I am in a saturation system with 5 other divers. Contrary to popular belief, Helium molecules will get into everything. Regardless of what has been inbuilt as a deterant. Most of the guys in here are wearing the Rolex Deepsea(blues) I favour the Breitling Superocean(44).
      I have seen many a unhappy diver at the end of a 28 day saturation who thinks that simply unscrewing the crown of his time piece will stop the sapphire crystal from popping out.
      It always makes me laugh when I see business men or other professionals trying to explain the working attributes of any watch that has a helium escape valve. Every single man that works as a sat diver that is wearing a watch of this caliber are very attached to the history and reliability of there friends on there wrist. The two other guys in my team both have a beautiful collection of Submariners, Sea Dwellers, Panerai’s, as do I. These are items that we couldn’t do without in our field of work. Also remember that to work in Saturation doesn’t always involve great depths. I have done some shallow sats of just over – 25 meters, which in the scheme of things doesn’t sound deep. But at the same time the helium is getting in everywhere. I have worked on jobs all over he world at great depths and always look forward to articles from this site. Thanks for the great work. It makes living and working in these conditions a lot more enjoyable because I can get reviews on the next pieces In my wish list.
      Next time u see a guy at a airport who is wearing jeans, t.shirt, tattoos, stubble and sporting a rolex that doesn’t look like he can afford ,and his two buddies are wearing he same………they are probably sat divers:-)

      Reply
      • Great response. Thank you. As someone who is genuinely relying on these watches as professional equipment, are there other brands you would trust aside from the Rolex and the Breitling? How about the Ball? What about the Sinn UX (liquid filled) or any of the others in the Sinn line? Very interested to know your take on some of the lesser known brands. I share your concerns about UTS’s claim that they don’t need a He escape valve because their construction is so precise. If there is a seam, He will get in! If you aren’t working in a saturation habitat, I suppose it doesn’t matter, but most of these matches are excessive for anyone but you. If you couldn’t have the Rolex or the Breitling, what would it be?

        Reply
  13. Why did the Omega PloProf 1200m not make it on the list? It is an awesome professional dive watch.

    Reply
  14. Richard

    Mark, a very nice list and nice variety. I enjoyed this article a great deal. Thanks for the varied price points as the watches should be measured by their work and their merit. Thank you for that. Love that Blancpain.

    Reply
  15. virtanen

    “The (Hublot) Oceanographic 4000 has a helium valve, which allows gases that have infiltrated the watch during the descent to safely escape during the ascent.”

    This misunderstanding needs to be corrected right away:
    Helium gets into the case while (professional or failed) diver goes to the pressure chamber. The valve is needed when the pressure gets down and the diver gets out of the chamber. The pressurized helium may break the watch glass. This can be avoided like IWC has done (they glue the glass to the case). The case withstands (200 bars water and) 10 bars of pressure outwards from the case and the helium gets slowly out through O-rings (crown, caseback…) without breaking the watch.

    At the moment (simulated) WR of depths is made by a COMEX diver in a pressure (hyperbaric) chamber. They reached 701 m and the test took 43 days to complete. Read some more about COMEX and Theodoros (Theo) Mavrostomos from:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolex_Sea_Dweller
    and
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturation_diving

    Reply
  16. sharon

    The best watch is swiss military cx 20,000 f check it and see

    Reply
  17. Jason

    Correction: The Breitling Avenger Seawolf Chrono, ca. 2011. Rated to 1000m and has the same magnetic push-piece system. As I understand it, this was the first to use magnetic push-pieces. Purchased mine in Feb., 2011.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  18. Robinoz

    It’s interesting that we love diving watches and the depths to which they will go, but very few of us (I guess) ever go diving, certainly not to the depths to which the watches survive. It would be nice to hear what professional, deep sea divers are using.

    Reply
    • Richard

      Well I know National Geographic divers use Deep Blue. Check out the web site for the story and video. I personally love the list put together here.

      Reply
    • Hi,

      Stumbled across this forum…

      I’m a commercial/deep Sea diver, and own a Rolex SeaDweller Deep Sea. Awesome watch, but do I take it on site…. Not yet. Usually I use a Seiko 200m ‘Monster’, good watch, and no problem if it gets smashed or falls into the abyss, however the bezel has a habit of seizing occasionally.

      As a rule, Our dive times are monitored by our supervisors, which makes wearing a watch at work a little redundant (most of the time), and they can get in the way.

      The depths these watches are rated to well exceeds what most commercial divers will reach using common, current techniques (including saturation dives). They are, in my opinion, feats of engineering, items of beauty, and a measure of badassness at the bar and/or office watercooler.

      As for those confused about the need for a helium (He) Valve/release. These are only needed for saturation diving.

      Basically when in saturation you breathe a mixture of Oxygen/Nitrogen/Helium, also known as Trimix.

      As i understand it, Helium is a very small and light molecule, this molecule has the ability to seep into the watch while under pressure (in the chamber), which is fine, until you start to ascend. At this point the trapped helium that has seeped into the watch will begin to expand, if trapped it will cause damage (such as crystals popping off). The he valves allow this expanding helium to bleed out of the watch without causing any problems.

      Watches that ‘do not require’ a helium escape valve tend to be made out of solid chunks of metal, with less parts ie less gaps for the helium to get into, and are over engineered, apparently stopping the helium to manage to penetrate the watch. I personally do not know too much about these watches. Never used one.

      Actually looking for a cheap beater that still has the He release valve…

      Hope that helps a little

      Reply
  19. Gadgety

    So the Hublot Oceanographic 4000 has a helium valve, and goes to 4,000 meters. The UTS 4000M Professional Diver also goes to 4,000 meters, but doesn’t have the helium valve. Howcome?

    Reply
  20. Pretty great post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your weblog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing in your feed and I am hoping you write once more very soon!

    Reply
  21. Jonathan W. Fink

    I’m not sure what to make this group. Breitling versus Blancpain, okay so far, versus Deep Blue- huh? I understand including Deep Beep Blue if you include other watches at every price point in between it and the Blancpain. Where are Seiko, Citizen, Doxa, and Tag Heuer? What about the Longines Hydroconquest (my dress diver)? Others include the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean and the Rolex Sea Dweller. Put all these watches in a comparison and you would have a truly wild test.

    Reply
    • Bob's Watches

      The new Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea has a nice design and is a good choice.

      Reply
  22. Great watches guys but for around $2500
    you can get a Sinn UX Hydro. 5000m for the movement
    12000m for the case. Made with submarine steel and lighter.

    Reply
  23. Matthew

    I own a UTS 4000M and can vouch for its awesomeness. There really is nothing else like it. A fantastic watch totally handmade and limited to 200 only.

    Reply
    • James Burlington

      I totally agree. I have the 1000m GMT: UTS watches are the best watches on the market today!

      Reply
  24. Marcus redman

    I prefer the Rolex deep sea dweller a stylish watch with plenty of weight
    I wear mine with a suite or jeans and jumper and it still looks good

    Reply
  25. MrTissot

    What about the Breitling Avenger Seawolf which can go 3000m? That’s 1000m deeper than the Breitling Superocean M2000? But seriously, any watch that can truly go down to these depths should really be equipped with Tritum Tubes IMHO. So my vote goes to the Ball DeepQuest.

    Reply
    • Fathoms looks the best in my opinion. There are a few good ones missing, but overall a great collection.

      Reply
  26. Nice and interesting article, thanks,
    I’m missing some brands that could have a place of honor in the list,
    such as Doxa and Aquadive…
    Would be very helpful if you put the criteria that guided you to choose the list
    just to be more transparent and reliable.
    Regards,

    Reply
  27. Debashish

    These watches are fine, but I think you missed out on Rolex Deepsea as it is also water-resistant to 3,900 meters.

    Reply
    • Think your information on the deepsea is a bit old considering their 2012 model is rated to 12,000 Metres.

      Reply
      • Stewart, the Rolex Deepsea Challenge is an experimental watch. That could be why the author didn’t include it.

        Reply
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