Dive Watch Wednesday: The 12,000-Meter Dive Watch (and It’s Not a Rolex)

Vintage VDB P1070 Deepsea - dial CULast week, we introduced you to the watches that were used during the U.S. Navy’s “Project Nekton,” with the Rolex “Deep-Sea Special” becoming the first watch that ever actually reached a maximum depth of 10,916 meters, or 35,797 feet. This week, we show you a modern-day dive watch that its makers hope will achieve another such record-breaking feat.

The Deep-Sea Special’s record would last for 52 years, after which Rolex again managed to build and submerge a specially designed watch on the outside of a submarine operated by film director and deep-sea explorer James Cameron, who became the third human being to ever reach the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. (Cameron also became the first to go down solo, and the first to spend three hours at depths of 10,908 meters below the surface.) Now it appears that there will be a third watch that will try to achieve the same depth, and for the first time it will not be a Rolex. The boutique German watch brand Vintage VDB (which we introduced you to in a recent Dive Watch Wednesday article) has, just recently, successfully tested a large 46 x 55 x 25-mm dive watch to a simulated depth of 12,000 meters at the Fraunhofer Institut in Germany. More importantly, the handmade “P 1070 Deepsea” is planned to be used on a real dive in the Mariana Trench soon. So far, only four descents have been achieved (one unmanned), with upcoming (unmanned) expeditions seeming to focus on collecting trench bacteria, recording video, collecting samples of sea life, and recording sounds from such depths for the first time.

Vintage VDB P1070 Deepsea - dial

Vintage VDB P1070 Deepsea - profile-lugs

The sandblasted, stainless steel watch is powered by a micro-rotor movement from Universal Genève, the huge crystal is made of Plexiglas (which was, by the way, also the material used for the Trieste’s porthole). Despite being undeniably huge, the dimensions still seem rather manageable, compared to other watches with similar depth ratings (unless they used a giant for the wrist shot provided).

Vintage VDB P1070 Deepsea - profile
Vintage VDB P1070 Deepsea - wristshot

Which begs the question: should the watch be considered a “highlight” or a “low point” in the short history of the young company, given its 12,000-meter water resistance?

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