MWC "Depthmaster" 100atm / 3,280ft / 1000m Water Resistant Military Divers Watch in PVD Stainless Steel Case with Helium Valve (Quartz)
The MWC "Depthmaster" range Military Diver models are MWC's latest heavy-duty range and are both extremely robust with a sapphire crystal as well as being suitable for diving with mixed gases at extreme depths due to the 100atm water resistance rating, they also have a wider strap at 24mm (most military divers watches use a 20mm strap) and a non-scratch ceramic bezel which is easier to grip in extreme cold. These watches are specifically designed for use by professional divers under very challenging conditions.
All MWC 100ATM models are fitted with a helium escape valve, people often ask us how helium gets into a dive watch in the first place and the answer is very simple, essentially a helium molecule is among the smallest of all molecules. What this means is because they are so small even though the seals are working fine to keep water out the helium molecules can still get through and enter the watch even though other gases and water cannot.
The main users professionally of watches with helium escape valves are saturation divers who spend long periods of time at great depth with high pressure, the result is that the helium molecules can build up inside the watch creating pressure inside the case, this can inflict serious damage to the watch and even blow out the crystal or crown when it’s unscrewed, this is potentially extremely dangerous if for example you are just checking or resetting the time, it can also potentially write off the watch. What the helium escape valve does is automatically allow the helium molecules to escape from the watch during decompression when the watch returns to normal standard sea level pressure. The valve is only one way so it lets the helium out but prevents anything external from getting in.
For anyone who does not know why helium is an issue, it’s important to understand why helium is employed for deep diving. The reason is that helium is one of the very few gasses which does not have negative effects such as we see with nitrogen which causes nitrogen narcosis, consequently helium is used to replace nitrogen in most deep-sea mixed gas diving applications.
In some situations, professional divers can operate at great depth for extended periods where they live in dry environments pressurised with an oxygen/helium mix. When the divers surface and decompress after days or even sometimes weeks this gas must be removed to prevent problems as mentioned earlier such as the crystal or crown being blown out which can potentially injure or even blind someone.
The reality is that most divers will not be living in a pressurized environment for days or weeks on end, this means they will have no need for a watch equipped with a helium valve, regardless of how deep they dive but with deep diver watches such as our 100ATM range, it's essential the valve is there just in case it’s needed because the watch would not be fit for purpose without it.
This particular variant has a Sterile European NATO pattern dial and is finished in black PVD stainless steel. The special covert matt black non-reflective PVD finish used for this watch is often specified in military contracts for many special forces units as well as by anti-terrorist units and for various covert operations. In the PVD process, the steel is not black all the way through because the colour is created by a special chemical PVD plating process which is vastly superior to the painted finish used on some lower-quality watches which can easily fade or rub off. This PVD process means that the colour of the steel is altered at a molecular level, therefore it will not deteriorate even during heavy usage although it can be destroyed if the case is badly damaged by a piece of metal being gouged out or if the case is worn down by continuous heavy abrasion against rocks, etc.
Whilst this watch is very similar to MWC's other 100 ATM models but it was produced specifically for a military procurement contract, the contractor specified that the watch should be designed to maintain high levels of accuracy at altitudes up to 12,000m / 40,000ft without compensatory pressurization. There was an additional requirement that the watch be resistant to magnetic fields up to 4,800 A/m, or about 60 gauss. Quite why these two requirements were specified we don't know but they were unusually demanding specifications hence, this watch is slightly different MWC's other watches in the 100ATM range because of the two features referred to above, and also the fact that the contract specified the watches be unbranded with a sterile dial.
The movement is a high-quality Ronda 715li with 10-year battery life and a hacking function to enable synchronization.
Dimensions and Specification:
- Movement: Swiss Ronda 715li quartz with hacking function and 10-year battery life
- Water Resistance: 100atm / 3,280ft / 1000m
- Screwdown crown
- Helium Escape Valve
- Width: Inc Crown 47mm (Exc Crown 44mm)
- Bezel Type: Unidirectional Non-Reflective with Ceramic Insert
- Thickness: 18mm
- Crystal Diameter: 31mm
- Crystal Type: Sapphire with Anti Reflective Coating*
- Lug to Lug: 48mm
- Weight: 132g
- Case: 316L PVD Stainless Steel
- Illumination: Luminova on markers, hands, and bezel
- Strap: 24mm NATO Webbing Strap
* A lot of people ask us what are the benefits of sapphire crystal over a standard mineral crystal? The answer is that synthetic sapphire is by far the best material for watch crystals because it is very strong and also shatter and scratch-resistant, these characteristics make it very appealing to military and security personnel, police officers and people who lead active outdoor lifestyles, these groups account for over 70% of our customers. To get things into perspective we find that when clients have accidents with watches resulting in a cracked crystal over 90% usually watches with mineral glass crystals, even factoring in that we use hardened mineral crystals they still do not come close to sapphire for durability under adverse conditions. The reason that sapphire crystals are so strong is that after the sapphire glass is manufactured it is also heat-treated to remove its internal stresses—which can cause weakness—it is then made into the watch crystals and two layers of anti-reflective coating are applied, interestingly sapphire crystal is now used on the latest iPhone. Of course, sapphire crystal comes at a price hence you find that it's normally only fitted to higher-end watches.