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Deeper, Further, Faster: Why Do Some Dive Watches Have Helium Escape Valves? - Reprise | Quill & Pad

Deeper, Further, Faster: Why Do Some Dive Watches Have Helium Escape Valves? – Reprise | Quill & Pad

Humans have since a long time ago had an interest with the depths of the ocean, endeavoring to go ever deeper, ever further, and ever quicker by stretching the boundaries of the human body, innovation, and advancing modern science.

But like all things, we people are faced with limits.

Deep-sea divers used to confront these cutoff points when underwater for significant stretches. During time underwater tissue assimilates gases, and the time needed for climb to the surface can require numerous hours, in any event, when simply exposed to specific depths for a couple minutes.

Lengthy decompression times posed an issue for divers needing to spend prolonged periods of time at depth; and each decompression comes with chances too. An answer was needed.

In 1957 Dr. George F. Bond, a United States Navy doctor, started the Genesis Project, a medical trial to study the impacts of presenting creatures to different breathing gases at different underwater depths to notice the consequences for their bodies.

The try proved that bodies arrive at an immersion point and no more opportunity to decompress is needed whenever this has been reached, regardless of the time spent underwater. All through the undertaking, different blends of gases at different depths were used and it was observed that if most of the breathing gas was helium, all the subjects survived at different depths for different lengths of time.

In 1962 human preliminaries started at a gas blend of 21.6 percent oxygen, 4% nitrogen and 74.4 percent helium. With these preliminaries demonstrating effective, a world of chance had now opened up with divers having the option to live and work for periods of 30 days at depths of 600 feet.

This fairly obscure investigation changed the horological landscape always, producing quite possibly the most befuddling and unmistakable highlights of dive observes today: the helium get away from valve .

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller Deepsea D-Blue with helium escape valve


After the accomplishment of the Genesis project, the United States Navy launched Sealab , which was likewise headed by Dr. Bond. Sealabs  (I, II, and III) were trial underwater environments developed by the U.S. Naval force during the 1960s to demonstrate the practicality of immersion diving just as people living in disconnection for extended periods of time. Sealab I ran into some specialized issues due to a moving toward storm, with the analysis canceled following 11 days. Sealab II and Sealab III before long followed with more fruitful results.

These underwater natural surroundings were pressurized living quarters for divers, providing a blend of breathing gas composed essentially of oxygen, nitrogen, and helium. The Sealabs included a resting territory, restroom, and living region and ensured that divers could spend several days all at once underwater playing out all essential errands without making tedious, dangerous risings on a customary basis.

Helium escape valve

During risings in diving chambers, it was noted that every now and then the gem from one of the divers’ watches would fly off with a loud bang.

This was attributed to helium buildup for the situation, which advances in by means of diffusion by entering the elastic gaskets.

As the diver ascends in the chamber, the gas pressure outside of the watch decreases, with the pressing factor inside of the watch staying higher. When the difference is too incredible, the pressing factor buildup makes the precious stone fly off the watch since gems were for the most part basically grating fitted on dive watches of the 1960s.

Rolex decided to handle the issue head-on and introduced what it called the gas get away from valve , a single direction pressure-discharge valve that allowed the helium to get away from the case once the pressing factor difference reached a certain amount.

This valve was incorporated into the presently loved Rolex Sea-Dweller . On the Sealab III mission, Rolex Sea-Dwellers equipped with gas get away from valves were issued to the diving crew, hence tackling the issue of helium entering the case.

Advertisement for the Doxa Sub 300T with helium escape valve

At a similar time Rolex was developing its gas get away from valve, the Doxa  watch brand was likewise involved with its own venture. In 1964 Doxa teamed up with a few expert divers, one being Claude Wesly, who was essential for the legendary Jacques Cousteau dive group, having participated in the Precontinent I, I, and III dive missions like Sealab carried out by Cousteau and his team.

While Rolex was focused exclusively on commercial applications, Doxa’s objective was making an affordable dive watch for sporting and expert divers.

Rolex and Doxa enjoyed a good relationship and the decision was made to share the patent for the helium discharge valve.

Michael Phelps’ own Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Master Chronometer Chronograph as photographed in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympic Games; it also has a helium escape valve


The history of helium get away from valves is definitely an intriguing one, with humankind indeed demonstrating it will remain determined to overcome the unknown.

And, as usual, the watch industry was at the front line of assisting boundaries with being pushed.

While the normal purchaser doesn’t actually need a helium get away from valve fitted to their dive watch, it is a wonderful piece of diving history to convey around.

Average customers don’t need watches that can arrive at depths of 3,900 meters or keep time to inside two seconds out of every day; nor do they need vehicles that can arrive at maximum velocities of 300 kilometers each hour. Yet, that isn’t the point.

The point is you can have those things since people can make them. These accomplishments of human designing and resourcefulness are what drive us to go further, quicker, longer, and higher.

So I say, long live the helium escape valve.

* This article was first published on March 18, 2018 at Deeper, Further, Faster: Why Do Some Dive Watches Have Helium Escape Valves?

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