Diving watches market is quite saturated these days. In an era when every bigger watch manufacturer has at least one diving model that is designed for use at greater depths, it is quite a challenge to make a watch that would stand out by its functions but also by its value for money. If finances are not a problem (lucky you) and you are looking for a diving watch with a mechanical depth gauge, you can always turn to IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre or Blancpain for such a diving instrument. Of course, in that case, be prepared to pay a large sum of money, approximately 130.000,00 kn for the IWC Deep Two (which is also the most favourable and a bit older model from the list).
However, to produce a watch that could do the same technically as before mentioned IWC for only 1/7 of the price is a challenge. Oris accepted this challenge and successfully completed it. We are presenting Oris Depth Gauge.
Although now the offer of mechanical diving watches is larger then ever, there are a lot less real reasons to use them. Modern technology has enabled a production of smart diving computers that are taking in account a dozen key parameters that enable simple and more importantly, safe dive. But, modern diving computers have a tendency to stop functioning usually at a critical moment when we are already deep under water (Murphy's law), so redundancy in the form of high-quality mechanical watch is very, very desirable. Besides compressed air pressure, information on current depth and time are extremely important to the diver, so decompression time could be calculated based on those data. Oris Depth Gauge is responsible for obtaining precisely those data.
If you follow Oris models, then you are familiar with the whole Depth Gauge story. Massive stainless steel case, oversized crown with protective guards, non-standard lugs, convex case, minimalist designed dial. everything we are already familiar with. Only when you take a closer look at the dial, you notice that it is not just another Oris, as embossed polished indicators in combination with yellow scale set inside a sapphire crystal create a 3D effect. Those details unfortunately cannot be seen on a photo, you need to put a watch on your wrist to be able to appreciate it in full.
Another indicator that tells you this model stands out from others is a small opening on the top of sapphire crystal. No, this is not an error in production or crack, but that is a channel, milled into the side of 4,5 mm thick sapphire crystal with an opening on the top which is used for depth gauging. Depth gauges in modern watches often use complicated mechanical systems based on variety of membranes and levers to measure current depth.
Such systems easily brake down and have expensive maintenance which ultimately may prove to be a disadvantage.
Oris Depth Gauge on the other hand uses a system that is virtually indestructible, unless you manage to brake 4,5 mm thick sapphire crystal.
Depth gauge is based on Boyle's law, which states that the volume of gas at constant temperature is inversely proportional to pressure. Translated to our language, when diving and descending, water enters through the hole and compresses air trapped inside the channel, so that you can see the difference in light grey (air) and dark grey (water) on the crystal. The edge of this colour difference is actually an indicator of depth that can be read on the yellow scale. There are no moving parts, so nothing can brake down. In case debris accumulates in the channel, a cleaning set is included into the package.
When you put Depth Gauge on your wrist, you do have a feeling it is a quite large lump of metal. Even though 46 mm diameter sounds a bit daunting, thanks to convex shape, flat steel back case and relatively short lug to lug distance (50 mm), it is surprisingly comfortable. Of course, it would be foolish to write that you cannot feel the constant presence of this model on the wrist, especially if you wear it with a steel bracelet Oris provided as standard equipment together with a rubber strap. But considering its dimensions, it could easily go as an everyday watch even with people with smaller wrists. Even though depth gauge is limited to only 100 m, the case is water resistant to a five times greater depth so that if you plan to use this model as a professional tool, you can freely take it into consideration.
The lunette is extremely precise, with virtually zero millimetres of idle motion, and sides have prominent notches so it could be easily turned with diving neoprene gloves on. With the exception of depth gauge, the dial is almost sterile, with the exception of few information regarding the model name and declared maximum depth. And that is exactly what we need of a diving watch, because readability (especially in the dark or in murky water) is of outmost importance. Reflective hands are generally nice addition that raise the overall impression, and even though blue BGW9 illumination is intense enough to last all night, it would be better to have a bit more of it.
As for the movement, there is nothing new. Oris' Cal. 733, more commonly known as Sellita SW200-1 is based on popular ETA 2824 movement. And when it comes to a watch, that is, an instrument you would have to rely on, this is probably the one you would like to have on the wrist. It does not have a refinement of in-house movements by famous watch manufactories, no modern anti-magnetic systems, has standard power reserve of 40 hours but will surely work in the moment your diving computer refuses to obey you.
Movement gained on average about 6 seconds per day in the test, which is on the very verge to meet COSC requirements. It is quite a satisfactory result which could be improved with a little adjustment. The above mentioned steel bracelet is a part of standard Oris set that consists of Pelican case (that can survive a small nuclear disaster) with a rubber strap, strap changing tools, even spare pins and screws. Rubber strap is a part that is brilliant on this watch, especially in combination with the new type of buckle that is now standard with Aquis and Prodiver models. Soft and sturdy rubber strap also safely stabilizes quite heavy Depth Gauge's "head", and micro regulation buckle allows for very easy adjustment in sudden temperature changes (due to changes of the wrist in mm).
Although the buckle is very well made and designed, it is applicable only when not diving. When you dive deeper, a neoprene wet suit can squeeze up to a few millimetres, so a strap sufficiently tightened on the surface could be a couple of millimetres too wide around the wrist when diving. It is not a big problem, but given that this is the model Oris really made to serve as underwater instrument, it is a pity they did not present another buckle version, similar as what Seiko MarineMaster or Tudor Pelogos have.
All in all, a very professional and really applicable diver's watch that offers a functionality of mechanical watches at only a fraction of the price of the competitors. Oris Depth Gauge is available from authorised Oris distributor in Croatia - Dicta d.o.o. and also via the official WEB shop.