American Explorer Victor Vescovo Talks About His Adventures with Omega
When I purchased a Speedmaster, I don’t think the people at the Omega boutique really knew what I was doing until I actually dove to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. And that was the first time that it had even been done. Then Omega started to realize that this could actually happen and that is when I met Stéphane from the senior leadership team and they said that this is something that they wanted to be part of. They wanted to push technological innovation on a kind of crash course.
Omega developed a timepiece that could go down to the very bottom of Challenger Deep at 11,000 metres and not just that, but they tested to 14,000 metres. So, the three timepieces that Omega produced in record time went on the outside of the submersible. To my knowledge, no timepiece had ever been tested to that extraordinary depth. And then of course, one of the three timepieces was attached to a scientific lander that was not attached to the submarine, and of course, on one of the dives, it actually got stuck and was down at Challenger Deep for over two days… and it was functioning perfectly when it got back to the surface.
I don’t need sponsorships to do what I do, but I chose to partner with Omega just because they embody a lot of the same values that I have, which are really about precision engineering and pushing the limits of technology. I have been down to the Challenger Deep now 15 times and the watch that went down with me on the outside of the sub was kindly given to me by Omega, and now it has been down 11 times. I’m not aware of any other timepiece that has ever been down to the bottom of the ocean more than once.
I had an incredibly tight-knit and capable crew on my expedition, as you can imagine, it was almost like the movie Ocean’s 11. It was a question of recruiting the best people in the world to man the sonar station, to run the ship, to lead the expedition, to take care of logistics, to analyse the science, all these things. I was able to track down the best people in the world because this was a project people wanted to be a part of. And, of course, Omega was part of it as well and they created 50 special timepieces for my crew so they all have Seamasters with the Five Deeps logo on the back. This is something that I know all of them prize very highly.
The most recent thing that Omega did was they produce the Seamaster Plant Ocean 6000M Ultra Deep and the dial is a relief map. This was actually generated by the sonar system on the ship, the Pressure Drop, and it is the most detailed map of the Challenger Deep ever created. It was done by my extraordinary sonar operator Cassie Bongiovanni and was those million points of sonar date that were then given to Omega, which I think almost broke their computers trying to reduce it down to a dial on a watch face.
But the story doesn’t end there. I actually sold my deep diving system to American billionaire Gabe Newell, who is now dedicating it to five years or more of doing nothing but scientific dives all over the world. And that was really how I viewed my role as a technologist. I’m not a marine scientist, but my job in many respects is to push the technology developed and perfected so it can be used in the wider world in the same way that Omega does with its timepieces.
I am not stopping. I am now in deep discussion – pardon the pun – to design and develop the next-generation submersible. Sometimes people say, ‘What can you possibly do better?’ Well, you can always do better, you can always take the technology a step further, you can always make it more reliable, more precise, more capable, and that’s what we are going to do with the next hopeful version of the submersible. And I know that Omega is not going to stop with its timepieces either. So, hopefully, we will continue this relationship, continue exploring the world, continue our best to conserve the oceans, and continue developing technology because that is what I love doing and it seems that Omega likes doing it too.