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HUBLOT Oceanographic EXO4000 & EXOSUIT [Return to Antikythera]

By TLex HUBLOT have made a Special Edition of their über-diver, the King Power 48MM Oceanographic 4000 in tribute to the work of the team of scientists behind the incredible 'Return to Antikythera' adventure as well as the futuristic dive suit, EXOSUIT that was piloted by some of them. Introducing the Oceanographic EXO4000 ref. 731.QX.EXO14.

There is one part of our planet that we know very little about - the ocean floor. To enable explorations at ever-greater depths, engineers, inventors and technicians work tirelessly to keep pushing the boundaries of the rational and the possible. Hublot have also pushed those boundaries to create a dive watch that is resistant to the extreme pressure, found at 4000 meters.

Whilst it is unquestionably over-engineered to the point of looking a little odd outside of its natural habitat, the Oceanographic 4000 is a genuine diving instrument and is equipped with the most highly-developed technology available, today, which includes superbly designed ergonomics for efficiency and ease of handling.

It took a full 18 months of research, development and tests throughout 2010 and 2011 before the first Oceanographic 4000 was unveiled at the Monaco Oceanographic Museum; since then there have been a number of variants and special editions released.

Almost all the features of the Oceanographic EXO4000 are exceptional, in terms of design, development and manufacturing. To be described as a ‘dive watch’ with a resistance to the pressure exerted at the depth of 4000 meters, the watch had to meet the exacting specifications of the international standards of Swiss watch making - NIHS.

Starting with its water-resistance, tested in the Hublot manufacture in a ROXER tank, submerged and pressurized to the equivalent of 5000 meters. To ensure the watch was water-resistant and could withstand this pressure, it was fitted with a Grade 2 Titanium screwdown caseback and a 6.5mm thick Sapphire crystal, thicker than normal, but reasonable for this level of resistance.

As its case is made of Carbon Fiber, a material prized for its extreme strength and lightness, the Oceanographic EXO4000 is very easy on the wrist despite its diameter of 48mm.

The elapsed dive-time measured by the internal-bezel must be legible from a distance of 25cm in the dark. To meet this requirement, the dial, bezel and hands of the Oceanographic have been optimized to have a larger surface area treated with SuperLuminova. The lume of the EXO4000 emits a red color.

The reading method has been made as safe as possible, using a rack-driven, unidirectional internal rotational divers-bezel with a dive-time indicator. The dive-time indicator has been placed as close as possible to the dial to minimize the risk of inadvertently altering the dive-time. It also makes the dive-time easier to read. In accordance with the NIHS standards, the Oceanographic 4000 has a minute scale on which the five-minute periods are clearly highlighted.

The watch is fitted with two screwdown crowns (a protective measure that helps ensure water-resistance by compression of an O-ring seal). The bezel crown which sets the dive-time is placed at the 2 o'clock position for easy access and more comfortable use.

It is unidirectional, again for safety reasons, with a bayonet fitting, and protected by an over-sized crown guard, for extra safety and easy operation when handling diving equipment. The second crown, for winding and setting the time and date, is positioned at 4 o'clock to avoid obstruction.

Finally, the Oceanographic EXO4000 has a Helium Escape Valve, a feature essential to any dive watch capable of descending to great depths. When the watch is used in Helium decompression chamber, the Helium valve allows gases that have infiltrated the watch during decompression to safely escape upon ascent. The valve is made from Stainless steel, and is positioned at 10 o'clock, visible from the left-hand side lug.

The watch comes with two tongue and buckle straps (Town & Diver). This type of fastening is more secure than a folding clasp for this type of use, and is also easier to handle and close when wearing diving gloves. The Diver strap, a blend of rubber and nylon, longer than a standard strap, has been developed to be worn over a diving suit up to 8mm thick. The length of the strap designed to be worn with the EXOSUIT is actually 50cm!

To support and mark the dives in the EXOSUIT with its Hublot branding, Mathias Buttet, Hublot R&D Director attended the dives, and presented the Oceanographic EXO4000 dive watch.

Like a space suit or a futuristic aqualung... Led by the diver and archaeologist Brendan Foley, this expedition boasts a very valuable asset: a cutting-edge dive suit, akin to a "submarine suit of armor", developed in the US, which allows diver-archaeologists to combine the flexibility of a dive suit with the resilience of a submersible.

Known as the EXOSUIT, it can be used to depths of 1000 feet (300 meters). It sports the Hublot colors, in recognition of the brand's support for the expedition.

Two meters in length, weighing 240 kilos and made entirely from aluminum alloy, the diving suit has water thrusters and 18 rotating joints, which make it relatively flexible. This allows it to combine mobility and resilience at depth. Carbon dioxide is chemically removed and oxygen supplied according to the diver's metabolism "at both working and resting rates".

With a maximum autonomy of 50 hours, it hugely expands the possibilities for exploration. With the atmosphere kept at normal pressure, the diver does not have to work with complex combinations of gases, as found in diving cylinders. Due to its advanced technology, this equipment carries a price tag of $1.3 million.

At this time, just one EXOSUIT has been manufactured for the company J.F. WHITE, who kindly allowed the equipment to be used for the "Return to Antikythera" expedition. A second suit, also for J.F. WHITE, is currently being produced.

Hublot and the Antikythera adventure - Hublot has been involved with the Antikythera project since 2011, firstly by lending its support to an exhibition at the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, then by partnering a major project at the Archaeological Museum of Athens which, thanks in no small part to Hublot, was able to create a special Antikythera room with a giant armored, earthquake-resistant display case, manufactured in Switzerland to Hublot's order, to showcase the remains of the mechanism.

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