If you’re looking to spend a wad of cash on a luxury item, it’s always advisable to stop and think about what you’re paying for. Generally speaking, large companies that can afford heavy advertising either have large production numbers or just inflated prices (this is admittedly a broad statement). This is one of the many reasons why small-scale operations, especially in the watch world, fascinate me. With the Internet growing to become a two-way communication tool, places like Twitter and Facebook have enabled smaller manufacturers to personally reach out to their customers without pouring huge sums of money into advertising.
One such company that has chosen to spend the surplus on its actual craft is Pita Barcelona. With very low production numbers of watches handmade in Barcelona, Pita is a tightly run operation that is dedicated to be inventive and original in their watch making. Their arguably most famous offering, the Oceana, is now available after a year of buzz in the blog world. JamesList friend Ariel Adams wrote very favourably about the chunky diver last spring, and the Oceana has gathered quite a bit of attention in the watch world before its actual release. So, what exactly sets the Oceana apart from every other big & bold diving watch out there?
One of the most iconic watch designs ever, the Luminor from Panerai, is famous for its patented crown guard, protecting the crown from hits and bumps while submersed. Pita has taken the concept even further and done away with the crown altogether. Instead, the time is set (and the watch is wound, although the movement is automatic) by screwing the actual caseback of the watch. This allows the Oceana to be set and wound deeply underwater, a rather unique feature for a mechanical watch (enough so to warrant its own two patents, the Pita-TSM or Time Setting Mechanism, and the Pita-RT or Remote Transmission). How does it work more exactly? Well, it’s a bit complicated (yet very elegant): the disk sets the time without actually directly “communicating” with the movement (this constitutes the Remote Transmission), while the usage of certain materials, systems and magnetism that works on top of the Time Setting Mechanism that separates the movement from the remontoire subsystem. Yeah, I barely understand either.
Speaking of depth, the water resistance is a jaw-dropping 5000m (compare this to the Rolex DeepSea for instance, which is certified to 3900m). What’s even more ridiculous is that the Oceana does not feature gaskets or rubber seals. To be fair, I did fail physics in high school, but this is where the sceptic in me woke up. How the hell could a watch stand the pressure of being that far underwater (or even 100m) without some kind of rubber in it? Turns out that the answer is a very inventive case design. Notably, the crystal is made of a polycarbonate material which is comparably soft. What does this mean as far as the unbreachability of the Oceana is concerned? It’s actually very clever. If you’ve ever used a diver’s mask (in a deep swimming pool or something comparable), you will have noticed that as you go deeper and the pressure rises, the mask clenches tighter around your face. The same principle applies to the reformable crystal (which is impressively thick at 8,2mm) in the Oceana, eliminating the need for rubber seals and the maintenance thereof.
The movement, dubbed the Pita-003, is a heavily modified version of the workhorse ETA-2678.
Another interesting feature is the chromatic depth meter. See the star shaped hand in the center of the watch? The idea here is that depending on what depth you are, the different wave lengths of light responds differently to your eyes, so to speak. This means that at different depths, the human eye is able (and unable) to see different colors (see the handy chart below) depending on the so called chromatic absorption. This way, the diver can estimate the depth he is at by looking at this watch. Somehow, I think I’ll still use a chart, just to be on the safe side.
Call me superficial, but the best part of the Oceana is the wide array of customization options. I mean, with a limited run of just 50, the ability to even further personalize your watch is just brilliant. Virtually every material under the sun is available, ranging from regular brushed 316L steel to PVD treatment, 18k yellow, white or rose gold or even platinum. Even a regular sapphire crystal is available as an option, for us desk divers. Depending on what options you choose, a base model will run you around a little over $3000.
The Oceana just might be the most interesting development in diver’s watches during the last few years. For those of you travelling, Pita will be exhibiting their watches at both the 2010 Tokyo Watch Fair and at next year’s BaselWorld.
Love Blomquist, JamesList
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