About a year ago, we published a guide that highlighted some of the most unusual complications we’ve come across. Among the parking meter timers, vibrating alarm watches, and altimeters, we featured depth gauge watches, which seek to combine two essential pieces of give gear into one device. Measuring depth using a pressure reading is simple enough, but becomes quite complex if you need to do it with a tool that can’t tolerate any water ingress whatsoever. Such is the unique challenge of a depth gauge watch. Lots of brands have made attempts at this over the years in different ways, but the Oris solution is unique in that it allows water to enter the watch in a controlled fashion. Announced today, the new Aquis Depth Gauge refines and improves the brand’s unique depth tracking solution. Let’s take a look.
The Aquis Depth Gauge takes advantage of the scientific principle known as the Boyle-Mariotte Law, which describes how the pressure of a gas increases as the volume in a container decreases. The container in the case of the Aquis Depth Gauge is a thin channel that has been milled directly into the sapphire crystal. When the watch is topside, this channel is filled with air, but fills with water as it descends during a dive. As water gradually enters the channel as air leaves under increasing pressure, it creates the appearance of a “watermark” where the air and water meet, which corresponds to a gauge running around the crystal that can be used to determine depth at a quick glance. It’s an elegant solution to a complex physics problem that doesn’t put your watch in any immediate danger, or even require any intervention on the user’s part. It simply begins working as soon as the watch is submerged – Boyle’s Law does all the work.
Oris has made several small changes to this latest version of the Aquis Depth Gauge to improve the watch’s overall performance. The most significant improvement is to the depth gauge system itself. Oris claims that the process used to mill the channel into the sapphire crystal has been improved, with the result being better accuracy and legibility of the gauge when it’s in use (and, by definition, underwater). Sapphire fabrication is notoriously difficult and always an expensive piece of the watch manufacturing process, so while this might not be a flashy change from one generation to the next, it underlines Oris’s commitment to getting the details right.
In addition, Oris has made changes to the meters-to-feet conversion chart on the caseback, which is now designed to always be set at 90 degrees to the 12:00 position. Oris expects this to make using the watch much easier for divers who need to make use of this chart on a regular basis, as the relevant information will now be in the same logical location every time it’s accessed. Lastly, the Aquis Depth Gauge now uses Oris’s Quick Strap Change system, which allows for easy switching between the watch’s bracelet and rubber strap without the use of tools.
As you’d expect, the watch itself is something of a bruiser, measuring 45.8mm in diameter in the now familiar integrated bracelet footprint common to the Aquis family. The dial is a basic black with a matching ceramic bezel insert, and yellow highlights on the depth gauge. Water resistance is 500 meters, and the watch runs on the Oris 733 movement, a modified Sellita SW200. It comes packaged in a waterproof Pelican style case, further underlining that this watch is meant to leave the impression of a professional instrument.
The new Aquis Depth Gauge is available this month through Oris authorized dealers, and has a retail price of $4,100. Oris