Go Deep! Hands-On With The New Oris Depth Gauge (2nd Generation)
You may remember my introduction to the striking black and yellow depth gauge that Oris released at the start of May. The Depth Gauge was one of Oris’s most technologically advanced timepieces. It features a mechanical method for divers to track their current depth underwater. However, as I noted back then, mechanical depth gauge watches are not exactly commonplace in our industry.
Before I get stuck into this review, I wanted to add a caveat that there is a limitation to the Oris Depth Gauge, and that is, it only tracks the current depth. Therefore, there is no record of the deepest point of the dive. Now, for decompression time calculations, this is an essential factor to take into account. Still, anyone undertaking serious dives would more than likely be using a digital dive computer to track this information. Unfortunately, there are not many affordable watches that can be used as a sole dive companion in this day and age. Now before someone mentions the Blancpain X Fathoms in the comments, I did say “affordable”…
Upgraded in all the right areas
The second generation of the Oris Depth Gauge combines subtle and clever upgrades to the first generation. I’d forgive you for not being able to pick up the differences at first glance, even side by side. On the surface, the Depth Gauge is pretty much the same. The large and attractive 45.5mm stainless steel case sits nicely on the wrist. Better than the size might suggest on paper. The watch we had at HQ came on the rubber strap, but a stainless steel bracelet is also available should you prefer. I always prefer rubber straps on dive watches; I believe they offer a certain level of comfort that a bracelet can’t compete with.
If you were looking closely, you might notice that the crown guard has received a slight update to bring them in line with the design used on the other current Aquis line of watches. The lugs are still the signature Aquis design, but if you flip the watch over, you’ll see that Oris has decided to upgrade to its brand new quick-change strap system. It really was a breeze to use and means that owners can change their straps on the fly without tools or trips to a jeweler. Scratched lugs no more!
Light it up
The dial layout remains essentially unchanged, but there are a few subtle tweaks that offer enhanced legibility. The hour markers are slightly longer, which, of course, means slightly more lume coverage too. Similarly, the hour and minute hand designs have been tweaked, and they are somewhat wider, bringing the same lume boost. Even the lumed section of the second hand seems bigger too. Always a positive on a dive watch! I love, love, love the black and yellow color scheme. This is not the first time I have professed my love for black and yellow as a color combination, nor will it be the last. I can only apologize in advance.
On the topic of legibility, a small but handy upgrade can be found around the back. A closed case back offers an excellent opportunity to provide helpful information to divers. Indeed it’s the case here as Oris has included a meters-to-feet depth conversion scale on the case back. Previously, the case back could have been orientated at any degree when screwed on, so you may have to rotate the watch somewhat to actually read the scale. First-world problems, I am well aware, but now Oris has re-engineered the case back to always align in the same position, with the conversion scale set at 90 degrees to the 12 o’clock position.
Water inside a watch? Are you mad?
You know how the idea of letting water into our watches has always been a big no-no, and the very thought of it strikes fear into the heart of any watch owner? Well, Oris designed the Depth Gauge to let water into the watch. Before you have a heart attack and decry “witch!”, the mechanics remain dry and water-free. Phew! When you take the water into the water, water enters a small channel through a hole in the crystal at 12 o’clock. The deeper you go, and as the water pressure increases, the more water is forced into the channel around the crystal. This then lines up to the depth scale around the edge of the dial. It all sounds straightforward, but the level of precision required to engineer this with any kind of accuracy is quite advanced.
With the second generation of Depth Gauge, the water ingress channel around the edge of the crystal is updated. In addition, Oris has refined the process used to mill the channel for greater accuracy and legibility of the gauge reading.
A valid question I’ve seen asked before is to do with maintenance. With saltwater and god knows what else getting into the water ingress channel, how is it kept clean? Well, The Depth Gauge comes with a syringe and fine tube that threads into the gauge hole. You fill the syringe with water beforehand and flush out any salt or debris that might have collected. As with any dive instrument or equipment, regular cleaning and maintenance is part and parcel of ownership.
So I guess all this leaves two main questions for me to answer…
How does the Oris Depth Gauge feel and wear?
Well, the watch was slightly larger than my wrist usually prefers, so while it was a little unwieldy on my smaller wrists, but not unreasonably so. I can tell that it will sit nicely on normal-sized wrists, as well as over a wetsuit. The Depth Gauge is classic Oris Aquis: a comfortable case and pleasurable wearing experience. The Depth Gauge does not move to detract from this mantra.
Would I buy the Oris Depth Gauge?
You know what, despite the larger size, I totally would. If I was diving regularly again, this would make a fantastic mechanical backup piece. For the price of just €3,500 on the rubber strap, I defy you to find a dive watch with the same bevy of useful features for this price. I loved the color scheme, and the depth gauge complication is as useful as it is fascinating. So yes, I would definitely grab one of these Depth Gauges for my dive gear. It’s hard to find anything that really comes close at this price point. This may sound like a big claim, but it’s a valid statement as far as I am concerned.
If you’re sold, you can find more over on Oris’s website. Prices start at just €3,500 for the Oris Depth Gauge on the rubber strap.
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