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Where do you think more people have been – on the moon or in the deepest depths of our oceans? Well, believe it or not, it's actually the moon. Because until now only three people have ventured down to the deepest depths of the earth. But now another person can join this exclusive group: as part of the Five Deeps Challenge, private equity investor Victor Vescovo ventured into the eternal darkness of the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Whether the adventure is on the moon or in the Mariana Trench, the special watches from Omega are always among the action.

The Five Deeps Challenge

The objective of the Five Deeps Challenge is to reach the deepest points in each of the world’s five oceans. The five points are located in the Atlantic Ocean at the Puerto Rico Trench, in the Antarctic Ocean at the South Sandwich Trench, in the Indian Ocean at the Java Trench, in the Pacific Ocean at the Challenger Deep, more specifically the Mariana Trench, and in the Arctic Ocean at the Molloy Deep.

From December 2018 to May 2019, four of the five points were reached on the expedition. The last dive in the Arctic Ocean followed in August 2019 and was successfully completed. In doing so, the American adventurer Victor Vescovo, who navigated the submarine, set several records at once. His dive in the submersible (10,925 metres) to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, for example, surpassed the dives from Jacques Piccard and James Cameron (10,908 metres) by a full 20 metres. Victor Vescovo is now the first person to have been on expeditions to the seven highest points (Seven Summits Challenge) and the five deepest points on earth. Within ten months, the expedition covered an astonishing 87,000 kilometres (47,000 nautical miles).

Omega Seamaster Diver 300 M diver's watch under water

Facts, figures, dates: the objectives of the Five Deeps Expedition

Location Ocean Depths Date Completed
Puerto Rico Trench Atlantic Ocean 8,376 metres December 2018
South Sandwich Trench Antarctic Ocean 7,434 metres February 2019
Java Trench Indian Ocean 7,190 metres April 2019
Challenger Deep (Marianengraben) Pacific Ocean 10,925 metres May 2019
Molloy Deep Arctic Ocean 5,550 metres August 2019

Who is Victor Vescovo?

When you see Victor Lance Vescovo for the first time, you can picture him in the role of the daring adventurer with absolute certainty. Born in Dallas in 1966, the Texan studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and attended both Stanford and Harvard University. After his time at university, Vescovo began a career in the US Navy, which he ended in 2013 after 20 years of service as a commander. With this naval background in mind, it is easy to understand why Vescovo didn’t choose a quiet retirement but took part in the Fives Deep Challenge in 2018 instead.

Making discoveries on the ocean floor

When Vescovo was journeying to the incredible depths of our planet, it was unsurprising that he made one or two discoveries on board the DSV Limiting Factor, the submersible used for the expeditions and designed to withstand the pressures of depths up to 11,000 metres. In addition to finding various animal species unknown to mankind, Vescovo also came across a far more frightening find.

While taking on the hugely technical challenge, the entrepreneur was also interested in highlighting the diversity of the oceans, which hasn’t been widely researched to date, and to show what footprint mankind leaves behind. Sadly, it was reported that during the fourth Five Deeps expedition, Vescovo found not only new species of animals at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, but also a plastic bag that perhaps nobody would have expected at a depth of 10,928 metres. This discovery is very worrying and certainly raises questions. How much waste is still lying undiscovered on the seabed currently?

Black dial of a Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600 M diver's watch with orange colour highlights

Omega's contribution: The Seamaster Ultra Deep Professional

Since the 1930s, Omega has been developing diving watches like the ever-popular Omega Seamaster Diver 300 M and Seamaster Planet Ocean 600 M. Nevertheless, the Omega is always looking for new challenges. To meet the demands of the Five Deeps Expedition, Omega had to develop a very special diving watch. The aim was to create a watch that wasn’t just fit for a single challenging expedition, but one that could also withstand the most demanding conditions again and again. When designing the Omega Seamaster Ultra Deep Professional, the team was guided by the method used to produce the submersible. The sapphire glass above the dial has been shaped and worked into the case in such a way that it evenly distributes the extremely high pressure encountered at a depth of 11,000 metres over the small surface area of the watch. Fortunately, Omega is always looking to make this type of technology available in series production. To guarantee that the watch worked reliably, it was subjected to rigorous testing. During lab testing, the watch even withstood a pressure of 1,500 bar, which corresponds to a depth of about 15,000 metres. Despite this being deeper than any of the locations on the expedition, Omega wanted to test the watch under tougher conditions before it was used. In addition to performance, Omega also attaches great importance to the style of their timepieces. The Omega Ultra Deep Professional had to be much more than a solid block. Thanks to the lightweight titanium and durable Nato strap, the watch is also comfortable to wear – even if the timepiece is only attached to the manipulator arm of the submersible.

Omega Seamaster Diver 300 M diver's watch in steel with blue dial

Omega's supreme diving watches

Omega was already attracting attention back in the 1970s with a watch model that broke records. Impressively, the Seamaster Ploprof, as for example the reference 166.0077, was water-resistant up to 600 metres. Its angular design, however, still divides opinion to this day. It also has an iconic Milanese mesh bracelet and is even said to be able to withstand shark attacks. In 2007 the company relaunched the Ploprof with the Ref. and doubled the water resistance to 1200 metres. The design and name of the watch still remain true to the original concept of the 70s. However, it no longer features a monoblock case, which means that carrying out a revision is significantly easier. Furthermore, the Calibre Omega 8500 is a current co-axial movement. For now, it remains to be seen what kind of record-breaking watch Omega will present next and we can’t wait to find out.