Equipment Review: Oris Aquis Depth Gauge Dive Watch
Presented on the recent Basel World 2013 watch expo, this brand new mechanical dive watch is aching to show you how deep it is.
Swiss luxury watch manufacturer Oris has a solid reputation among divers. While their watches do not have the notoriety of Rolex or Omega, they are well-known for creating both dress watches and true workhorse dive watches.
Bulky and solid, these watches clearly show that they mean business and that while all of Oris’ watches are purely mechanical automatics. Meaning they do not run on batteries but are wound by the movements of the user, they are by no means flimsy watches just for show.
On the recent watch expo Basel Watch 2013, Oris presented their latest dive watch offering, the Aquis Depth Gauge. A classic dive watch, with rotating bezel and a choice of strap or bracelet, the defining feature of the watch is a first for Oris; an analog depth gauge.
Simplicity makes perfection
The approach to the depth gauge on the Aquis is as simple as it is ingenious; by the 12-o’clock marker, you find a small groove in the crystal. This isn’t a flaw, it is a hole! Put there on purpose!
From this hole, water can enter a canal that runs counter-clockwise around the outer rim of the watch face, showing you your current depth.
This works because of Boyle’s Law, a well-known physical principle taught to divers everywhere. As you descend, pressure increases and more water are forced into the canal, and vice versa as you ascend, constantly showing you your current depth. A simple, sturdy solution, with no moving parts that can break or get stuck, causing problems during a dive.
The watch itself is quite large, 46 mm in diameter, and quite tall, too. For people with small wrists, this may be extreme, though the watch wears well, and doesn’t feel as big on the wrist as you might expect.
The uni-directional rotating bezel is ceramic, rather than steel or titanium, making it very resistant to scratches. The crystal is made of scratch-resistant sapphire, and it is slightly domed, making it easier to read when viewed at an angle.
The legibility of the watch was one of the things I really liked about it. I’ve tried diving with mechanical depth gauge watches before, such as the Blancpain X Fathoms, and apart from being very expensive (think $40,000). I found the face of the watch to be so clogged with dials that it was almost impossible to decipher the information you needed, be it time or depth.
The Oris’ face is simplicity itself, and the depth gauge is very discreet, yet, as the depth is marked by the canal changing color from light grey to black, very easy to read.
Including the Watch
The watch, true to form, comes in a waterproof pelican-style case. In this case, you’ll find the watch along with relevant documents and both a rubber strap and a metal bracelet, as well as tools needed to change between them yourself. Included is also a cleaning kit for the canal, a good move as clogging of the canal from debris and salt deposits is the only potential failure point I can see.
All in all, this is a watch that is as unique and bold as it is discrete, and could very well become a modern-day dive watch classic.
It is built like a rock, and with the built-in depth gauge, it’s also a backup dive computer for the meticulous diver. The main drawbacks of the watch being the size and weight, as well as the fact that while you can get current depth.
The watch cannot show you maximum depth reached during the dive, which some divers prefer to have for logging purposes.
The watch is priced at CHF 3,500 (roughly $4,000), or about three times the cost of many top-of-the-line dive computers, which will definitely drive away some potential buyers. But then again, this is not a dive computer, just like it’s not a watch for everyone.
This is a watch for dive watch aficionado, who is looking for a Swiss mechanical luxury watch that can go from an executive boardroom to the deck of a dive boat, and be fully in its element in both locations.