What I did not expect was that the process of operating the bezel would become a bit harder on the dive boat after a few dives and when my fingers’ skin started showing some wrinkles from being underwater too long. Basically, you might argue that the bezel is too smooth for some people in some situations underwater – though I know this is a weird complaint as well. Using diving gloves would likely alleviate much of this problem, but it’s worth noting as I compare the Oris’ bezel with that of my Rolex Submariner. I can see that the Oris bezel is smoother whereas the Rolex’s is sharper and likely grips more easily. Again, a minor issue that only happens in a very specific situation, but worth mentioning for the record.
Besides these two shortcomings, the Oris Aquis Depth Gauge Chronograph was my faithful companion during this dive trip and one I would not hesitate a minute using as a primary or redundant timekeeper for life-and-death dive situations. While none of my dives (this time or before) even came close to such situations, I did have several encounters with reef sharks and barracudas during this dive. Fun times.
I even got caught during my third dive in a rift current that took me and my buddy far from our dive area and had to surface to a friendly dive boat who called ours for “rescue.” To be honest, there is nothing any dive watch or computer could do to prevent this or to help, but as I remember swimming at seven meters of depth against the current trying to orient with my analog compass, I knew that the 500-meter water resistance of the Oris Aquis Depth Gauge Chronograph watch would be tested with every stroke. It performed brilliantly.
Remember that moving your arm at a few atmospheres increases the actual pressure experienced by the watch significantly. Hence, while a watch with 500 meters water resistance could seem laughable, it actually is not at all. It simply indicates that the overall pressure the watch is tested under means it will survive any condition you might throw at it during professional or recreational dives.
The Oris Aquis Depth Gauge Chronograph uses an Oris caliber 774 which is based on the base Swiss Sellita SW-500 chronograph automatic movement. This is basically a Valjoux 7750, which I found accurate and easy to actuate, stop, and reset. The watch’s accuracy and power reserve (48 hours, operating at 4Hz) were never an issue for me during my time with it. I wore it constantly for three weeks, rotating with one other watch every other day or so, and never had to set the time aside from the initial day I strapped it on my wrist.
As I mentioned above, the supple but thick Oris rubber bracelet and its micro-adjusting clasp meant it was easy for me to wear and also provided for some comfortable relief to my wrist on a hot day at the beach after long hours of wearing this large, 220-gram steel-cased watch.
While my experience diving with the Oris Aquis Depth Gauge Chronograph would be enough to recommend it wholeheartedly to any dive enthusiasts, when one then thinks of the $5,200 MSRP price, one can only be bullish about this watch and Oris in general. For that price, you not only get the rubber strap shown but also a nice pelican case that includes a well-made stainless steel bracelet, tools to change the strap, and even a small tool to help you clean the depth gauge hole after dives if dirt or sand gets into it. A great package of tools and extras, if you ask me.
With the Oris Aquis Depth Gauge Chronograph not only do you get a unique patented watch innovation, but you also get all the trimmings that most watch companies offer as additional costs. If you were not a fan of the Swiss Oris brand, it is perhaps time to take a look – especially if you are a diver. These guys truly live their motto: “real watches for real people.” Price for the Oris Aquis Depth Gauge Chronograph reference 01 774 7708 4154-Set RS is, again, $5,200. oris.ch
>Model: Aquis Depth Gauge Chronograph reference 01 774 7708 4154-Set RS
>Size: 48mm wide
>Would reviewers personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Any friend who is a diver, interested in diving, or loves any type of water activities. The watch could be used for other sports, but water sports is where it shines.
>Best characteristic of watch: The patented depth gauge mechanism. The simplicity of the depth gauge that disappears above water but is clear to view underwater.
>Worst characteristic of watch: This is a big watch. Wearable, as I mentioned, but still big. I am 6’1” so it does not overpower me too much, but it would if I were smaller or had smaller wrists. I’d say if you can wear the bigger Panerai and love the fit, you will likely love this as well.