Last year one of the most talked about dive watches was Oris' surprise hit, the Aquis Depth Gauge. I don't think Oris realized what a hit it would be, and even we were surprised by how many people professed their desire for this watch. Oris is well-known as a producer of well-made, extremely durable, and rugged looking mechanical Swiss dive watches. There is absolutely no shortage of divers in their collection, but the Aquis Depth Gauge is the first model in their product line-up to offer a way of measuring depth. So will this be your next diver?
We discussed the capillary-style depth gauge system in the watch more when we initially covered the Oris Aquis Depth Gauge watch here. The brilliance of the system is that it is simple, unobtrusive, and useful. Unless there is physical damage to the sapphire crystal the depth gauge ought to work. Oris in effect has created a back-up depth gauge system that many divers may want to have in addition to their dive computers. It is pretty unreasonable these days to expect people who dive to rely of mechanical versus computerized equipment. Though it is not unreasonable for a diver to have a mechanical watch as a back-up timing device. That it may also have a depth gauge is an added benefit.
It is also worth pointing out that mechanical watches with depth gauges are extremely expensive. Look to IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, or Blancpain for a depth gauge-based diver (among the very few brands that even offer one) and you'll be in for sticker-shot. All for what essentially will be a back-up tool? Most people don't have the budget or stomach to dive with one of those. Oris divers are serious tool watches at heart to taking them into the depths should be no cause for alarm. Chunky and produced in steel, the thick 46mm wide case of the Aquis Depth Gauge feels anything but fragile.
Nevertheless, it has a slick design and good looks that accompany most Oris products. The 500 meter water resistant watch has the looks of an elegant beater. More good news is that when you aren't diving the depth gauge does not get in the way. What I've said about most depth gauge divers (such as the Citizen Promaster Aqualand Depth Meter reviewed here) is that they feel almost strange on land because it feels like so much of the dial is being unused. The Aquis Depth Gauge has a simple channel for water for enter around the periphery of the dial with a scale of yellow markers around the edge of the dial. While it is easy to notice that the depth gauge is there, it doesn't get in the way of the hands nor does it feel like half the dial is dedicated to the said features. For me that is really important getting people excited about wearing the watch more regularly than when they dive (if they ever dive).