Timekeeping
By Jason Heaton
on 6.10.14

Depth gauge dive watches are not only unique, they’re also useful as a backup instrument should you decide to — gasp! — actually take them diving. As always, you have a difficult choice between two great watches: the top shelf IWC Aquatimer Deep Three and an ingenious alternative from ORIS that works without any moving parts.

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IWC Aquatimer Deep Three

In January, IWC raised the curtain on the latest revision of its Aquatimer dive watch family. IWC fans were happy to see titanium back in the lineup and some real Schaffhausen overengineering in the SafeDive bezel system, as well as subtle cues from IWC’s past designs. The collection includes three-hand bottom timers, a bronze chronograph and even a perpetual calendar. But at the top of the pyramid sits the Deep Three ($19,100), the newest in IWC’s iconic depth gauge lineage.

The Deep Three carries over IWC’s depth sensing technology from 2009′s Deep Two, which consists of a pressure-sensitive membrane on the side of the case that is linked to a rack and pinion system driving two needles — one for current depth and one for maximum depth — on the watch dial. The gauge is highly accurate, even compared to a digital dive computer, and sits alongside a mechanical self-winding movement inside a 46-millimeter titanium case. Of course, all of this doesn’t come cheap; at 19 grand, it leaves little left to pay for a dive trip. Still, if you’re buying the Deep Three, chances are you live on your own Caribbean island already.

ORIS Aquis Depth Gauge

Boyle’s Law says in a nutshell that pressure and volume are inversely proportional. If you’re an ORIS watchmaker, that translates into the means for an ingenious new depth gauge dive watch. The Aquis Depth Gauge ($3,500) from the independent king of bombproof affordable dive watches, is the first depth gauge watch that has no moving parts to indicate how deep you are.

ORIS put a small hole in the Aquis’s sapphire glass at 12:00 to allow water to enter a channel cut around the outer circumference of the crystal. As water pressure increases, the water inside that channel moves further around the outside of the dial and becomes its own depth gauge, visible against a calibrated scale below. While the watch is pressure-proof to 500 meters, the gauge itself goes “only” to 100 meters. (If you’re that deep, you’ll be too narc-ed to care anymore, anyway.) And at $3,500, it might leave you enough in the bank to pay for the necessary trip to a hyperbaric chamber.

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