Right. This one”s a little different.
Most of what I know about this watch has been gleaned from French dive watch forums (see list below).
There was a small arms race in watchmaking in the mid-90s: a race to develop oil-filled watches that would be able to resist incredible pressures (below 300ATM). One of the competitors, Beuchat, approached a company called Innovation Capital who produced a design for a new watch with an oil-bathed ISA quartz movement and a specially toughened mineral glass crystal. These Beuchat new models also incorporated a “Hydraulic Pressure System” or HPS, to allow for thermal expansion.
However, Beuchat was, apparently, pipped to the post by Bell & Ross’ Hydromax with its whopping 11,000m WR. This set Beuchat back a bit, but they were able to use Bell & Ross’ experiences (and indeed Sinn who were also trying to build a deeper watch) to modify their models (the 6,000m-rated Abyssal and the 4,000m-rated Genesis). B&R / Sinn watches allegedly suffered from a structural weakness / flaw in their design, so Beuchat added a flexible membrane at the back of the watch to (a) allow for better removal of any gas bubbles while filling, and (b) allow for expansion / compression. This apparently works by allowing water to act directly on the flexible membrane through the small holes in the metal case back.
The watch is not subtle – yellow and black scream “warning” or “danger”. An odd combo, and one that”s not used in too many designs. However, it”s smaller (38-39mm) and a lot slimmer than many modern divers. The bezel is solid enough, with a decent “click” to it, although there is no lume.
The use of oil means that refraction is significantly reduced, allowing the watch to be read at all angles above and below the water.
The battery needs changing, so I’m going to have to find a Beuchat AD somewhere – presumably on the continent – or send it back to the guys in Marseilles.
As I said, it’s an interesting piece – relatively rare (probably around 200 made) with an interesting history. Beuchat’s new owners allegedly plan to release a new version of this watch in due course.
- Forum – MDP