The 1960s was an interesting time for waterproof replica watches – and for the world – as the human race ventured further than ever before. There was an obsession with space exploration and the future, fuelled further by films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and The Planet of the Apes (1968). Exploration of any sorts throughout pop culture was cool, relevant and exciting. The world watched on eagerly as we discovered new depths and developed exciting new technology along the way.
Although this excitement peaked with the Moon Landing in 1969, an obsession with conquering the unknown lingered. For brands producing watches, this fascination with exploration presented a new opportunity to take their products to a whole new level, and market to a captive audience.
A TIME OF EXPLORATION
Like the famous Space Race, another competition much closer to earth had begun – the race to the deepest, darkest parts of the ocean. In the same vein that cheap copy Omega attached themselves to the moonwatch, both Rolex and Omega were eager to prove their prowess and jump aboard the new trend that was deep sea diving.
Very much carrying on the tradition that Rolex replica started in the 1920s, the 1960s and 70s were a time where demonstrating performance was more important than a celebrity sporting your watch. If you’re in the business of tool watches, specifically tools built for diving – then your competitive edge was all about how deep you could go.
Saturation diving was both dangerous and exciting, as the development of experimental underwater habitats, such as SEALAB I, II and III, built to test the limits of the human race demonstrated. Through using saturation diving and isolation, the objective was to learn more about the human limits of physiological and psychological strain – pushing deep sea diving into a new era.
Techniques in saturation diving were being developed to extend dive times. In order to go deeper for longer and combat the stress on the human body at such intense depths, a mixture of breathing gases with high helium content was used. Essentially, divers were kept in a pressurised environment, matched with that of the water, and decompression was done at the end of the tour. Having less decompressions equals less risk, but presents challenges of its own.
Water resistance was only part of the equation, and in 1960 Rolex’s sub-aquatic adventures were well underway. They attached a highly experimental watch to the bathyscaphe Trieste, on an expedition led by Jacques Piccard, a Swiss Oceanographer, and Lt Don Walsh. This radical timepiece, the Deep Sea Special, successfully endured the unfathomable pressures of 10,916 meters, in the depths of the Mariana Trench. When the vessel resurfaced, the Deep Sea Special had kept perfect time.
The other element – helium – presented a challenge; how to build a watch that would stand up to the pressure of extreme depths, and cope with the helium used in saturation diving, while remaining intact upon decompression. Two particularly interesting watches birthed as a solution to the problem, came from Swiss fake Rolex and Omega watches. Both brands took very different approaches to solving the same problem, with the results aesthetically and functionally very different.