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Omega - Omega, into the deep

Omega Omega, into the deep

Omega furthers their collaboration with Five Deeps, a great-depth exploration campaign of epic proportions, led by an equally epic character.

In early 2019, I happened to read an unbelievable press release. A diving team was attempting to reach the bottom of the world's five oceans. Five Deeps is led by one Victor Vescovo — borderline-billionaire, investment fund manager, ex-Navy officer, plane and helicopter pilot, he also conquered the two versions of the Seven Summits (the world's seven highest peaks AND the highest peak in each of the seven continents) and reached both poles by ski... a mere trifle to this intrepid adventurer. He set up the operation entirely on his own funds and, amazingly, without a single watchmaking sponsor. I mentioned the name to several brands and none of them had even heard about the expedition, even though it is by far the most ambitious of the kind.

Omega, into the thick of deep

Victor Vescovo in diving outfit © Omega

Later in June 2019, Omega announced they had become the official timepiece supplier of the expedition with a monster of a watch, the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional, aka the Ultra Deep. This purpose-built timepiece is 55mm wide and a mere (!!!) 28mm in thickness, and machined out of blocks of titanium. Synthetic gaskets offering insufficient resistance for the extreme pressures of the deepest points of the ocean, the sapphire dial crystal is bonded to the titanium case with LiquidMetal, an amorphous alloy with extraordinary resistance capabilities. It's exactly what the doctor ordered, since the watch had to be able to withstand 1,500 bar of atmospheric pressure, which is the pressure one experiences when 49,200 ft deep.

Omega, au fond des grands fonds

The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional © Omega

Three units of the Ultra Deep were then fitted onto the hull of the manned submersible Limiting Factor and its sonar exploration rovers. This titanium deep-submergence vehicle (DSV), designed and built by specialist firm Triton, is one of the toughest of its kind. At least, one hopes so, since each dive is manned, and most of the time by Victor Vescovo himself. And he is lining up quite the series of feats. December 2018: he reaches the deepest floor in the Atlantic, the Puerto Rico Trench, at 27,480 ft. In February of 2019, he moves on to the Southern Ocean and the South Sandwich Trench, at 24,388 feet. In April, he reaches the Indian Ocean and lands down the Java Trench, 23,596 feet deep. Because it's next in geographical order, Five Deeps dives right into the expedition's most crucial trial, the legendary Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. Limiting Factor went down 35,853 feet deep, the world's new deepest point. They did it not just once, but a total of four times, one of which lasted four hours under the unfathomable pressure of 2,238,229 lb/ft². He then concluded his tour of trenches with the Molloy Deep, located approximately 18,209 ft deep, somewhere near Greenland, in the Arctic Ocean.

Omega, au fond des grands fonds

55 mm in diameter, 28 in thickness and METAS-certified, each Ultra Deep has been fitted onto the Limiting Factor's hull, or one of its sonar exploration rovers' © Omega

None of these dives, and there have been a total of 39, was for record's sake only. They all aimed at mapping the ocean's deepest floors and discovering new species, which earned Five Deeps the help of several Oceanographic institutes. For Omega, the interest was even more obvious, since the brand is going for the record of greatest depth rating of the watchmaking industry. They broke the standing record by a hair (or more precisely five feet) to make their point. Yet that still wasn't enough so Omega decided to have all Ultra Deep timepieces go through their METAS certification procedure after they came back from the diving expedition. Each one of them passed with flying colours, chronometry, magnetism and of course, water-resistance test included. 

Five Deep aren't resting on their laurels. The vessel and its submarine are at it again with a new campaign, which started in July 2020. They're welcoming new participants on board, including Kathy Sullivan, the first American woman in space back in 1984. She'll soon be joined by Kelly Walsh, son of Don Walsh, who was the Captain of the Trieste, the submarine that first conquered Challenger Deep, the world's deepest point, back in 1960. 

Omega, into the thick of deep

The exploration vessel Pressure Drop and its submersible, Limiting Factor © Omega

 

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A company of the Swatch Group, OMEGA has been behind major revolutions in watchmaking technology and the timekeeping of numerous Olympic Games. Its watches are worn by world-famous celebrities and have travelled to the moon, the depths of the ocean and everywhere in between.

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