The 2015 Models of the Aquis Depth Gauge
Aquis Depth Gauge DLC (left) and Aquis Depth Gauge Chronograph (right).
In 2013, Oris came out with their Aquis Depth Gauge, a 46mm steel dive watch featuring a depth scale around the inner rim of the dial. It was the best selling Aqus that year and really distinguished itself from other Oris dive watches. The watch came in a pelican case that included both steel bracelet and rubber strap, and it retailed for $3,500.
The Aqus Depth Gauge received a lot of great press and was hailed as a price competitive alternative to the $10,000+ mechanical watches with depth gauges offered by IWC, Jaeger LeCoultre, and Blancpain. This year Oris has come back with two new versions of the Aquis Depth Gauge, the Aquis Depth Gauge DLC and the Aquis Depth Gauge Chronograph.
Before getting into how the new offerings are cosmetically different from the 2013 model, lets briefly revisit the "depth gauge" feature. The watch features a capillary-style depth gauge system protected by the sapphire crystal. Inside the sapphire crystal is a groove that allows water to enter. At depth, the water encounters air trapped in the groove. As the depth and pressure increases, the air in the groove is further compressed allowing water to travel up the gauge indicating increased depth. Rather than using a dial hand or rotating disk to tell depth, the gauge simply uses the point where the water and air meet to indicate the depth level.
The first new model for this year is the Aquis Depth Gauge DLC. This model features an identical dial to the original Depth Gauge, however its case is finished in a matted black coating of diamond-like carbon (DLC). Instead of featuring the black ceramic bezel of the steel model, a tungsten carbide bezel is used. Oris previously applied this bezel style on some of their most rugged dive watches, including the ProDiver Chronograph and the limited edition Col Moschin. The tungsten carbide has a similar if not slightly stronger scratch resistance to a ceramic bezel, but has the look of gun metal. This allows for the same type of two-tone look on a black-cased watch that a black ceramic bezel provides on a steel case.
The DLC look does have some durability constraints. While it is certainly harder to scratch DLC models than the PVD pieces of the past, the downside of DLC is that it is not polishable if scratched. The only way to remove the scratch is to replace the case. In contrast, steel can be buffed to look like new.
The Aquis Depth Gauge DLC comes with the same pelican case as the steel model, but includes two rubber straps, one black and one yellow. The watch really pops on the yellow strap, and it coordinates nicely with the yellow elements of the depth gauge.
Mechanically the watch features the same 733 calibre that is in the other 43mm "standard" automatic Aquis models. This is the model that is based on the Selita SW200 which in turn is based on the elaborate grade of the ETA 2824-2. If you wanted to think about how much the depth gauge premium costs when compared to other models, the retail of a 43mm Aquis 300m is around $2,000-$2,100 with two strap options. Accordingly, the depth gauge complication and greater water resistance adds around $1,400 of retail over the more standard offerings.
The tungsten bezel and black DLC case of the Aquis Depth Gauge.
The adjustable side of the DLC deployant dive clasp.
The clasp is one of the best features of the watch. It features the well thought out system that is the hallmark of the Aquis line and, like the case, is finished with the scratch resistant DLC. One side is adjustable with holes while the "clasp side" is cut to length. The watch also features an easy to use dive extension.
The open clasp of the Aquis Depth Gauge DLC.
The Depth Gauge Chronograph is essentially the same color watch as the steel 2013 model with the addition of a chronograph. While it is slightly larger at 48mm and significantly thicker to accommodate the chronograph movement, it features the same ceramic bezel and bracelet options. It, too, comes with a steel bracelet and black rubber strap.
Mechanically it features the same 774 calibre that is featured on the ProDiver Chronograph. This movement is based on an Selita S500 which is nearly identical to the workhorse ETA 7750. It's essentially the same Oris chronograph movement that they've been using for years in their dive watches.
The chronograph blends subtly into the dial background. It is a typical two register twelve-hour chronograph with its indices just outside of the circular guilloche. The change in texture makes the hands very easy for your eye to pick up.
Date and chronograph hour indicator at the six o'clock position on the dial.
The second indicator at nine o'clock.
A look at the dial of the Aquis Depth Gauge Chronograph.
The lume is also very good on both models. Each feature an identical signature featuring BG W9 Lume; the cool blue color that is the second brightest the luminova chart. It's particularly functional and due to different shapes in the cutouts, it's easy to discern the difference between the minute and hour hand.
Both of these watches could legitimately serve as backup equipment for a professional diver or, alternatively, as a fun conversation piece whose maximum depth reached by its user is the bottom of a swimming pool. The DLC depth Gauge retails for $3,500 while the chronograph is $5,200.
The Aquis Depth Gauge chronograph (right) is significantly thicker than the Depth Gauge DLC (left).The Topper Blog consists mainly of original writing by Rob & Russ Caplan with occasional special contributions and interviews. All photography in the blog is taken at Topper Fine Jewelers , or on location unless otherwise indicated in the photo captions.