Dust, not rust, is the primary concern of watchmakers. It is also the desire to keep dust out of the mechanism, which has led to the birth of waterproof watches. And to this day, waterproofing is no longer a difficult problem.
Rolex Oyster watch, 1926
Finding effective solutions to block the weak points of the watch, divers can only imagine carrying a dive with them. But this is not an overnight success. In fact, for the former model, dust is the number one enemy of mechanical mechanisms. Of course, excessive moisture or accidental immersion in water is the death kiss of a mechanical movement. Continuous dust contamination will always hinder the normal operation of the watch.
One of the first ‘waterproof watch’ patents filed in Switzerland from Achille Cella of Messine, June 2, 1893. Two rubber rings surround the center of the pocket watch, and a small rubber tube surrounds the winding stem to prevent dust and moisture. This is not a trivial matter. Since then, more patents have emerged, each of which has helped us move closer to the goal of ‘complete waterproofness’.
Mido Aquadura Cork Sealed Crown System
In the early 1920s, the British watchmaker John Harwood (1893-1964) immersed himself in research and development in the Isle of Man, trying to improve the water resistance of the watch in a new way: the manual winding crown / stem was abandoned. In 1923, John Harwood applied for a patent for the world’s first self-winding watch (the self-winding movement is placed in the case, and the case has no opening). Bill Schild S.A. (ASSA) made the first blank based on this patent, and then Fortis, Selza and Blancpain produced and promoted the series.
Harwood watch, Blancpain movement
Rolex Oyster takes an important step
In 1926, the Oyster watch was born, and Rolex took an important step in the history of waterproof watches. For this innovative timepiece, the name ‘Oyster’ is a fitting one. A year later, Mercedes Gillis crossed the English Channel wearing an Oyster watch. Following the footsteps of Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf, many watch and case manufacturers have launched their own waterproof sports watches. Various new technologies and materials are wonderful, and the Eight Immortals cross the sea to show their magical powers, to prevent the intrusion of air, dust and water (especially from the winding stem and buttons). Mido’s original Aquadura cork-sealed crown system has proven to be very effective. Even today’s helium exhaust valves or other such technological inventions have the same principle basis.
The waterproof depth of modern diving watches must be at least 100 meters. Its distinguishing features are: Even in the dark underwater environment, the dial is still easy to identify, thanks to the luminous numerals, scales and hands; equipped with a unidirectional rotating bezel To allow divers to decompression dive in stages. Whether it’s a wartime frogman commando or a peacetime marine life observer, the environment they face is extremely complex and hostile. Therefore, for safety reasons, watches must be worn in accordance with strict regulations.
Panerai watches, water-resistant to 1000 meters, 1980
Explore technical depth
It seemed that in an instant, the waterproof performance limit of the watch had broken to an astonishing level. Today, the deep blue ocean, which is 1,000 meters deep, is no problem for diving watches. Even the 11,000-meter trip to the bottom of the Trieste under Professor Jacques Picard in 1960 is not a luxury. Obviously, it is impossible for divers to go to such a deep ocean floor and personally test to prove the outstanding technical strength of the watchmaker; but correspondingly, they have developed advanced testing equipment to develop inspection certificates.
IWC Aquatimer Automatic 2000
This is exactly the essence of advanced watchmaking: continuous research and development and technological innovation for each component applicable to the watch. In 1980, Panerai designed a watch that could withstand the pressure of 1,000 meters under the sea, and it was all the rage. In the spring of 2004, Schaffhausen IWC introduced the Marine Automatic 2000 series, which doubled the waterproof limit. The ‘2000’ in the name does not refer to the year of series release, but the titanium case and the self-winding movement mechanism can withstand 200 atmospheres of pressure, even the deep-sea fish is amazed.