FIRST IMPRESSIONS I’ve never been as excited as I was about the arrival of a watch as I was about the arrival of the 20'000 FEET. It was greeted with a huge grin. The watch had been incredibly well packed in a number of outer boxes; I think four in total including the 20’000 FEET’s outer cardboard box.
PRESENTATION The presentation box itself was outstanding; a plush black lacquered wooden box with a sporty yellow lining. Inside meticulously wrapped in plastic was the 20'000 FEET. I immediately picked it up to feel its weight; for a titanium diver it felt quite heavy, but considering its 6000 meter depth rating, it suddenly felt quite light, again. A quick turn of the bezel revealed a nice smooth 60-click cycle, the 20'000 FEET had arrived!
IN THE BOX Included in the box was: its warranty card, a C.O.S.C certificate, an instruction manual, two strap changing tools, and a high quality articulated rubber strap with divers extension.
Some additional paper work and certificates were also included; a copy of the 20'000 FEET’s pressure tank testing certificate from the University of Southampton's National Oceanography Center, a copy of the certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records awarded to the mechanical wrist watch with the highest depth-rating . . .
And one additional item that was included was an insurance certificate. CHARMEX have insured each and every 20'000 FEET against theft for up to 2years from the date of purchase. I have never heard of a watch company doing this before, it’s a very nice touch; the icing on the cake of what was already a top-notch presentation.
I take the 20’000 FEET for what it is; a rugged diving tool, utilitarian in its design, yet still refined and attractive. The fact that it has been designed to function in one of the harshest and most extreme environments on earth has naturally reflected in its appearance.
BEAUTY Aesthetics are subjective, we like what we like; beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that, not everyone is going to find 28mm thick watch with a 10mm thick Sapphire crystal attractive let alone beautiful. This is a beast of a watch, but it does have some beautiful features such as its stunning domed Sapphire crystal and pearlescent silver-white dial that ever so slightly catches and reflects light and color.
For a chronograph, the 20'000 FEET's dial is simple clean and uncluttered totally apt for a dive watch, however would it have benefited from larger hands? In my humble opinion slightly larger hands would have been more in keeping with it being a divers instrument. More lume could have been applied and the dial could have been more easily read at a glance.
EXTREME MACHINE The 20'000 FEET is what one might call an extreme machine, it displays some pretty extreme design elements. Take its enormous domed case back, its imposing 10mm thick domed Sapphire crystal, its huge 25mm wide clasp or the 8mm thick PVD bezel that wraps around the crystal. Not your typical dive watch stats are they? However they add up to create a look that is both unique and pleasing to the eye; evocative of what one might expect from equipment used in oceanic exploration.
MINI SUB When I strap the mini sub that is the 20'000 FEET to my wrist my imagination is stimulated. I'm provoked with thoughts of diving into the deep blue. For me this is what deep dive watch ownership is all about!
RUGGEDNESS The 20'000 FEET is great example where ruggedness meets refinement. It has all the ruggedness of serious off-road vehicle with the refinement a luxury car. The Range Rover of dive watches!
AWESOME If you’ve taken the time to read this review then you’re probably already in the market for a 20'000 FEET or like many others have been struck by its sheer awesomeness, and can’t help but read every review or piece of news pertaining to it, but please understand this, I don’t use the word 'awesome', lightly, it's often misused, but finally along comes a watch that is truly worthy of such an adjective . . .
The 20'000 is an awesome watch with awesome capabilities, its staggering depth rating denoted by its name make this a watch not unrivaled, but certainly unmatched.
Because ISO standards for diving watches stipulate a margin of no less than 25%; the 6000 meter rated 20'000 FEET is actually water-resistant to 7500meters. It is the undisputed champion of the deep; neither Titan nor Neptune himself could argue with this!
WORLD RECORD In 2009 the 20'000 FEET was entered into the Guinness Book of Records for the deepest mechanical dive watch, this was CHARMEX's second entry. In 2005 their 12’000 FEET diver was also entered into the books for the same achievement with a 3657meter rating.
Was achieving such a high depth rating really necessary, how could we ever practically utilize such a gargantuan depth rating, what’s the point?! If you are reading this review then you’re probably on the side of then fence that says; because we can and because it’s just so cool, which is true, but there is more depth (intentional pun) and meaning attached to what has been achieved here than just because CHARMEX were able to and because it was such a cool endeavor.
The 20'000 FEET has pushed the boundaries and limits of what is possible and achievable with a mechanical wrist watch; the CHARMEX engineers have again fought an almost impossible battle with the laws pressures and resistance, but have again come out victorious.
MAGNETISM The 20’000 FEET is also resistant to magnetic fields. 4800 A/m (60 Oe).
INDESTRUCTIBLE The 20'000 FEET has been tested to in-destruction! On top of the rigorous testing that each and every Swiss Military Watch undergoes the 20’000 FEET was also subjected to the most extreme testing ever carried out by a watch manufacturer. I’ve seen what a Casio G-Shock goes through, which is child’s play compared to what the 20'000 FEET went through.
Testing involved the use of a shotgun, fire truck, an HGV, a water cannon, TNT explosive and 5000 feet freefall. . .
SEALED Chronograph watches by their very nature are harder to seal owing to the fact that they have three entry points. Maintaining the 20'000 FEET's integrity under the crushing pressures exerted by 6000meters of seawater needed some pretty clever and innovative engineering. Even when in the open (operational) position the pushers are still resistant to 300meters.
HIGHLY RATED And if having your watch rated to 6000meters isn’t innovative then I don’t what is.
The CX 20'000 FEET has been constructed from brushed Grade 5 titanium as used in the aerospace industry. Titanium being a light and extremely tough metal alloy made it an obvious choice for a dive watch with such an extreme depth rating.
SELF-HEALING As well as being hypoallergenic another great property of titanium is it ability to heal its own wounds (so to speak). As part of titanium’s natural oxidization process light scratches and swirls will eventually fade, and this is without re-brushing or polishing.
HEV The 20'00 FEET has a lateral automatic helium escape valve making it suitable for SAT diving. Completely unnecessary, but nonetheless it's yet another cool deign feature of this amazing dive watch.
BEZEL A chunky, bold-looking 8mm thick, two-piece titanium and PVD coated titanium bezel sits on top of 20'000 FEET’s case. As mentioned before the 20'000 FEET’s bezel is the 60-click type. It has a lovely precise and solid action. Its elapsed dive time scale has been marked out with Swiss C3 SuperLumiNova. The bezel is exceptionally functional in terms of how easy it is to manipulate whilst being turned and its great legibility when read in poor lighting conditions.
CROWN A large titanium crown sits in-between two titanium chrono pushers. The crown is inlaid with the Swiss flag in red. The crown is protected by multiple o-rings and has a very solid feel to it. Both movement and closure are spot-on.
GOT DOME An epic 10mm thick sapphire crystal is the 20’000 FEET’s crowning glory. It makes for a stunning visual feature but of course protects the watch from the crushing pressures of the deep ocean. The domed theme continues through to the case back which is equally impressive. Hence the earlier mini sub references.
The case back has been very lightly engraved with usual; WR, LE # of 1000, materials used etc. However everything there is a little faint. I would have liked to have seen something a little bolder, perhaps a larger and deeper engraving making a feature of its 'Deep Sea Tested' anchor symbols, that would have been very cool.
DIMENSIONS Ø 46.0mm, thickness 28.5mm, crystal 10mm, total weight 265gr.
BRACELET / STRAP
Finally a deep-sea diver with bracelet and clasp to match its case. The 20’000 FEET comes fitted with a solid brushed titanium bracelet. The bracelet has been beautifully finished and is of an impressive weight, but what I really love about it is its clasp. The clasp is a good 25mm wide, one of, if not the widest and most substantial clasp I’ve come across. It perfectly compliments the 20'000 FEET’s bulky case. The clasp has a flip lock and is micro adjustable.
As previously mentioned the 20'000 FEET was supplied with a high-quality rubber strap with divers extension. Both feature brushed titanium buckles and double stoppers. The buckles have been signed with the CX Swiss Military logo.
The 20'000 FEET houses the Swiss made ETA 7750 Chronograph movement, which has been C.O.S.C, certified. Functions include; time, date, sub seconds, chronograph and date. As one might expect the watch keeps exceptionally good time.
FUNCTIONALITY / wear-ability
The 20'000 FEET is a first and foremost a functional and utilitarian diving instrument. It’s a prime example where form has followed function rather that function following form.
It features a 60-click unidirectional rotatable bezel, a chronograph, date function, a clean legible dial and excellent lume that has been applied to the hands, markers and its elapsed dive time scale.
The 20'000 FEET is a big, heavy, chunky watch but is still reasonably comfortable to wear. It is by no means a daily wearer though! Having said that I've worn mine solidly, day in day out for the last 2 weeks without too many issues. Make no mistake, this is a man’s watch, your wife or girl friend won’t get away with wearing this one!
Three Watches in One If you were to break down the 20'000 FEET into its raw materials there would be enough to build three very capable dive watches.
Shot at with a shotgun, run over by a fire truck and an HGV, hosed down by a water cannon, dropped 5000 feet from an airplane and blown up with TNT, yet the 20'000 FEET survived and continued to work perfectly, a virtually indestructible watch!
The 20'000 FEET has Swiss C3 SuperLumiNova applied to its, hands markers and bezel. The lume is bright and long lasting. I would rate at very good to excellent.
3,000 euro (including 19% VAT) is a considerable amount of cash, but not for what you get. If we take into account; the testing and development of such a watch, the amount of raw materials used in its construction (enough to make 3 very capable divers), the use of a high-grade C.O.S.C certified Swiss chronograph movement, its grand presentation and finally its status as the world’s deepest rated mechanical wrist watch, then I think it would hard to not to agree that 20'000 FEET offers great value for money for what you get.
Have you ever picked up an artist’s new CD and fallen in love with it, so much so that you set out to get some of their earlier works. The 20'000 FEET has done exactly this for me. It has given me a great introduction to a quality Swiss watch brand that I had until now not yet owned anything from. It has made a positive impression on me leaving me wondering what other great divers Swiss Military Watches have; if the service and build quality is on par with what I’ve just experienced from the 20'000 FEET then I couldn’t wrong with another.
The 20'000 FEET is without a doubt the most incredible watch I have. It is a phenomenal feat of modern engineering. Whether or not you understand or appreciate the 20'000 FEET or what it's achieved, there is no denying that owning one means that you have a little piece of dive watch history. This watch is a world recorder holder, it will always be talked about, discussed and remembered by those that love and appreciate extreme dive watches.