OceanicTime Archives


OLLECH & WAJS Caribbean 1000 & GLOBAL MARINE Inc.

The humble spring bar; made from Stainless steel, mere millimeters in length; these tiny little bars are all that separates you and your treasured diver’s watch from an eternity on the ocean’s bed. 

This is the story of how the World’s best deep-water engineering company helped improve Ollech & Wajs’ spring bars. All content, below is courtesy of Ollech & Wajs’ Vincent Fremont. Many thanks for sharing this fascinating story with us. 

Btw, included among the photos are some of the O& W Astro-Chron ref. 2003 similar to the model tested by the Global Marine dive team.

If the name Global Marine Inc. sounds familiar, it’s probably because of its controversial involvement in the Central Intelligence Agency’s $500 million attempt, in the early 1970s, to raise a Soviet submarine off the floor of the Pacific Ocean. 

The audacious mission, to recover K-129 along with its nuclear missiles, cryptographic equipment and code books from a crash site almost three miles beneath the surface, is said to be the CIA’s most daring covert intelligence-gathering operation ever. 

It was certainly the greatest-ever feat of deep-water engineering. But the story of Global Marine Inc. goes far beyond its Cold War salvage work.

The US-based company was one of the early pioneers of offshore drilling and, in the late 1950s, developed the technology to drill at greater depths than had previously been thought possible. 

While other firms worked on shallow-water jackup rigs, Global invented the technique of using ship-mounted drilling rigs to explore previously unreachable parts of the ocean bed for oil and natural gas.

It soon became the king of the deep-water drilling, and by the mid-1960s, Global Marine Inc. was one of the world’s biggest offshore drilling firms, with rigs off the coasts of Alaska, Nigeria, Australia, Libya, California, and Louisiana, and in the Persian Gulf and the North Sea. 

It was not an oil or gas company and did not sell either commodity, but it rented its rigs and crews to oil and gas companies for offshore drilling.

Global Marine’s expertise lay in sophisticated engineering and innovation, and the company was continuously exploring new ways to utilize its skills and equipment. 

With its core business prospering, Global diversified into related fields, taking on contracts from a variety of business, scientific and educational institutions involved in oceanographic and geological exploration. 

The US government also made use of Global’s unparalleled extreme deep-water expertise, earning it contracts from the National Science Foundation, the US Navy and various federal agencies, including the CIA.

Global Marine’s technology and expertise was being used not only to harvest the ocean’s resources but also to further understanding and knowledge of the planet. 

One such project it undertook was an unprecedented worldwide geological survey of the seabed. A purpose-built deep-sea research and scientific drilling vessel, called the Glomar Challenger, took core samples from the ocean floor, some of which was up to 16,000 feet deep. 

The data collected allowed major advances in the theories of plate tectonics and provided evidence of continental drift. Each Global Marine drill ship had its own specialist dive team ready to go into the water any time day or night.

By 1967, Global Marine Inc had recruited entire teams of geologists and geophysicists, and had set up an ‘oceanics division’. It was around this time that Ollech & Wajs invited Global Marine to evaluate its watches for use in extreme deep-water environments. 

O&W had earnt a reputation for its professional-grade, high-performance dive watches but now wanted to expose their watches to conditions that could not be simulated in a lab. 

Bob Howard, a diving supervisor with the oceanics division, was assigned the task. Bob coordinated dive support teams for Global Marine’s twelve offshore drill ships and, like many oil field divers of the day, was ex-military.

Bob had an athletic physique, forged by years of toiling with the relentless force of the ocean, invariably laden with heavy equipment. One ex-colleague described him as "an impressive specimen”. 

He thrived on the challenge of venturing where others would not dare and was often called upon to do so at any time of the day of night. 

The two Ollech & Wajs models to be field-tested were the Caribbean Precision 1000 ref: 702 and the Astro-Chron diver’s chronograph ref: 2003. Over a four-month period, the watches accompanied Bob and his team to some of the most challenging ocean environments in the world, clocking up hundreds of hours under water.

From the North Atlantic to the Arabian Gulf, the watches were subjected to depths of up to 400 feet and radical temperature and ambient pressure changes, including periods in decompression chambers. 

Wherever the divers went, the watches went too, and they suffered the daily abuse of commercial diving activities, with no special effort made to pamper them. 

Aside from some inevitable scoring to the Plexiglas crystals, both watches gave excellent service and evidenced no mechanical malfunction at all throughout the four-month test period. 

Bob, who personally wore the O&W Astro-Chron on 63 field diving operations, conceded in his report on March 6th 1968 : “Both watches functioned far beyond our expectations”.

The test findings were not, however, entirely faultless. During a routine dive, two weeks before the trials were completed, the Caribbean 1000’s strap became disconnected from the case and the watch was lost. 

Due to the depth and time limitation of the dive, no attempt to recover the watch could be made, but the most likely explanation was  a failed spring bar. 

While the loss of a test watch is always regrettable, its sacrifice was not in vain. Ollech & Wajs learnt a valuable lesson from the lost Caribbean — even a dive watch with a 1,000m depth rating is only as reliable as its weakest component. This was a basic engineering principle the experts at Global Marine Inc. knew only too well.

No doubt O&W had some stern words on the matter for the spring bar supplier—there is certainly no record of another ref: 702, or any other dive watch, being lost at sea. The incident also affirmed O&W’s belief in the process of iterative testing. 

The Global Marine team were nonetheless satisfied with the performance of both watches, and Mr. Howard emphatically concluded his report with the following endorsement: 

“I would be most happy to recommend these watches to anyone interested in purchasing a reliable piece of diving apparatus”.

The fate of the missing Caribbean 1000 remains a mystery. There is a possibility it still lies undisturbed in the same murky spot where it fell, well beyond the reach of daylight, entombed under decades of sediment—a permanent testament to one of the most celebrated dive watches of its era. 

However, an ex–Global Marine colleague of Bob’s, named John Hollett, has his own theory: 

“A lost watch in deep water is exactly the kind of thing that Bob would have considered a professional and personal challenge. My bet is that at the very next opportunity he’d have geared up and gone right back down for it”.



Aquatico OYSTER 500M Collection

Aquatico Watches has a new affordable retro diver’s watch collection. The new Oyster collection takes its vintage styling cues from the 60s & 70s with a blend of elements such as its almost cushion-shaped case. I say almost because the barrel-shaped case has some subtle straight edges such as those around the lug horns.

This otherwise this classic shaped case comes in Stainless steel with a brushed finish and polished beveled edges. It measures 44mm in diameter by 13.5mm in height. 

Its lug-to-lug measurement is 49mm.

Diver’s features included a 120-click steel diver’s bezel with lumed polished ceramic inlay, a double AR-treated Sapphire crystal and 500 meters of water-resistance. All hands, dial and bezel markers are with C3 SuperLuminova while the dial rehaut is illuminated in blue glowing BGW9. Power comes from a 24 jewels, Seiko NH35 automatic mechanical movement with hacking seconds. The Aquatico Oyster is currently on sale for 300USD. It comes on either: a high-quality, black carbon-fiber strap with orange stitching or a natural rubber diver’s strap.

Follow the link embedded, below for more on this and other diver’s collection from Aquatico. 



Formex REEF Automatic Chronometer COSC 300M

Formex are rebranding themselves, and their first newly rebranded model is a diver!

Introducing the brand new Formex REEF Automatic Chronometer 300M, the Swiss brand’s first diver’s model that truly commands attention. 

Not only does the new REEF have a more grownup look, but this elegant timepiece still offers all the utility that Formex are known for but done totally differently – not a hex screw in sight!

Formex still offer what they call their ‘diver’, a 200m model that alludes far more to the brand’s earlier DNA with its hallmark, clunky yet robust style with hex and y screws aplenty. The new Reef on the other hand, is a clear illustration of the direction in which Formex wish to head which is to offer a higher level of refinement and sophistication, watches that could go toe to toe with other premium Swiss brands. It’s been five years since Formex came under new ownership. The current boss brought with him a wealth of technical knowhow in materials and engineering gleaned from the world of high-end watch manufacturing. However with the launch of a brand new logo as well as the new REEF diver’s model, he hopes to finally make a clear distinction between the Formex of old and Formex of new. To that end I would say that he has been very successful.

So how about this new diver, the REEF? 

Firstly thanks to an online watch configuration tool, the REEF can be had with 32 possible looks with bezel and dial color options, as well as strap and bracelet options which can be mixed and matched in every which way you please.

The REEF is based on 42mm Stainless steel case with a distinctive shape that provides a functional integrated crown-guard which has been mirrored on the left lateral side of the case to create a sense of balance and symmetry.

With a double gasket construction the REEF has been designed and tested for 300 meters of water resistance. 

While its combination of mirror-polished bevels and brushed surfaces throughout offer a happy balance between utility and luxury.

The REEF’s case is equipped with a diver’s bezel made of an extremely hard and scratch-resistant Zirconium oxide ceramic. Its graduations and indexes have been engraved by femto-laser pulsations.

Each bezel takes a full hour of precision engraving to achieve its three-dimensional effect. Machined gear-like indentations on the bezel’s edge are there for increased diver ergonomics. 

The 60-click cycle is said to be smooth and responsive while offering firm and precise bezel functionality.

The REEF is on trend with a sunray finished dial which has been manufactured at Formex’s in-house dial manufacture in the Jura mountains. 

The gradient for the different colors has been hand sprayed. Colors include: black, blue, green and grey.

The REEF’s bold rehaut-style hour markers are also hand-applied and triangle shaped, pointing towards the broad hour and minute hands that share the same detailed beveled mirror polish and brushed top surface finishing. 

The hands and hour markers as well as the capsule on the bezel’s 12hr marker have all been deep-filled with Swiss SuperLumiNova BGW9 that emits a long-lasting blue glow in the dark.

Powering the REEF is a self-winding Swiss Made SW300 with date that comes in Sellita’s highest quality grade ‘Chronometer’, using top of the line components only found in Chronometer-grade movements. 

Formex purposely chose this thin movement as it allowed them to construct the REEF with a thickness of just 11.4mm with a perceived height of 9.4mm.

Each of the movement has undergone the COSC-certification process, a meticulous 15-day rate test to ensure its excellent levels of mechanical accuracy and precision. 

 Only movements that have passed this stringent assessment can be certified and engraved with a unique serial number. Btw the movements’ power-reserve extends to approximately 42 hours.

The REEF Automatic Chronometer 300M can be configured on the Formex Online Boutique with each 4 dial and bezel options as well as a Stainless steel bracelet and a texturized rubber diver’s strap. Both the solid-link bracelet and the strap feature a buckle with a patented fine-adjustment system as well as a completely re-engineered and patented quick release system that allows you to interchange straps without the use of tools. The collection is available now starting from 1,670USD for a limited PRE-ORDER period and will be delivered in December of 2020. Follow the link above or the one embedded, below to be taken to the Formex Online Boutique. Thoughts? This is an unexpected yet welcome departure from the Formex that most of us know. Firstly the new logo is far more fitting of a premium Swiss watch maker helping to elevate the brand substantially.

While the REEF itself offers a high level of refinement and utility; for starters you get a ceramic bezel, an in-house made sunray dial, a sleek 11.4mm (high) case but also a COSC-certified movement as well as a patented strap changing system. 

The fact that you can also mix and match dials and bezel makes the new Formex REEF a very interesting proposition. So what do you think?


AUDAZ Sea Armour 200M

Audaz release their seventh brand new diver’s watch collection, the Sea Armour with its 45mm case machined from a single block of 316L Stainless steel. The collection comes with five bold looks which include: a classic black dial and matching black ceramic bezel, a blue dial with a blue bezel, a graphite grey or sand colored dial with a special texturized finish and black bezel, and a classic black dial with a bi-color black and blue GMT bezel AKA Batman. And like any Audaz diver, the new Sea Armor gets its own specially engraved case-back design which in this instance is a 3D trident/ship’s anchor motif with Sea Armour name. Diver’s features of the new Sea Armour include: a unidirectional rotational diver’s bezel with an engraved ceramic inlay, a screw-down case-back and crown, and 200m or water-resistance. In addition the Sea Armour’s case is equipped with a Sapphire crystal while the dial below with its generously proportioned hands and markers make use of blue glowing Swiss SuperLuminova. Powering the Audaz Sea Armour is a reliable Japanese, Seiko NH35A automatic movement with 24 jewels and hacking seconds.

The Sea Armour comes on 316L Stainless Steel link bracelet with solid end-links. It is priced 400USD. 

ORDERS are open as of September 30th with shipping from October 21st 2020. 

MAGRETTE Moana Pacific Waterman VINTAGE

This is the new Moana Pacific Waterman Vintage, the 2nd Edition of the popular Moana Pacific Waterman Bronze plus the new Waterman Vintage in steel.

In addition a further colorway has been created for Auckland NZ-based, Magrette Timepieces’ popular Moana Pacific Waterman Bronze. 

The Waterman debuted in 2016 with its blend of classic styling and vintage cues in a 42mm case. Like so many of Magrette’s nautical inspired timepieces it was well received by enthusiasts.

In 2019 the Waterman Bronze was added to the lineup with a cool blue dial set against a warm CuSn8 bronze case; this first release quickly sold out. 

Back popular demand, this second edition also adds a new colorway with its velvet black dial and black ceramic bezel, punctuated by Old Radium SuperLumiNova. Both models offer a functional dual-timing bezel.

Further features include: an old school box-style sapphire crystal, an engraved ceramic bezel fully lumed with Swiss SuperLumiNova, a screw-down crown and water-resistance to 500M. 

Power comes from the Swiss ETA Caliber 2824-2, automatic movement, highly regarded as one of the industry’s most reliable workhorses.

Both timepieces ship with textured rubber straps (blue or black) plus vintage minimal-stitch leather straps with custom steel buckles; each presented in one of Magrette’s custom leather travel cases.