The dial is a matte black, and the text upon it, much like the markers, are flat. Early on, Aquadive used applied, soldered-on markers, which gave the dial added flare. Notice that I said ”added flare,” which is much different than “needed,” since the Bathysphere 500 is nearly aesthetically perfect, including Aquadive’s decision to depart from their initial marker application. Of course, this is subjective, but having been a long-time forum member, I have come to note that more and more Aquadive enthusiasts are enjoying the less cluttered current dial offerings. The lumed markers are perfect in their application with absolutely no bleed over to speak of. The lume is abundantly applied in three separate coats, giving the dial a trouble-free readability, day or night.
The date window is positioned at the 3 o’clock position, and it too is matte black. The date’s numerals sit squarely in place, unlike other brands whose numerals get swallowed up by the window itself. The Aquadive logo is found directly under the 12 o’clock position, and underneath it you’ll find a three line script. This is one of the main areas my dial differs from version two and beyond, as my wording is scaled down in size as you move downward. Version two scaled down the Bathysphere 500 text, but added the words “meter” and “feet” versus version one’s “m” for meters and “ft” for feet.
Aesthetically, the Bathysphere 500 appears very similar to other watches within Aquadive’s Bathysphere line, as they share key styling components such as case shape, a fluted bezel, and the world renowned ISOfrane strap that comes with every watch within the Bathy family. What is immediately different is the sub dial just above the 6 o’clock position, having affectionately dubbed this model the Bathysphere “small second.” Initial rendering showed the small second hand in white, but Aquadive listened to its customers, changing it to orange shortly after production began. “Swiss Made” has been removed from the dial, replaced by its ½ German and ½ Swiss designations on the case back.
The 43mm case is German made and is CNC cut from a solid cylinder of surgical grade 316L stainless steel. The Bathysphere 500 will not be produced with a helium escape valve, which was a welcomed omission by many. The upper edges of the case are a high polish and outline the case nicely. As it sits, the Bathysphere 500 is 3.5mm thinner than the Bathysphere 100, reducing the case, bezel and case back’s height by 20%. The screw down crown, which in its extended position, experienced no wobble and is embossed with Aquadive’s logo. It too is fluted, giving it maximum grip with or without gloves.
The sapphire crystal on my version is flat, while owners of latter versions have reported a slight dome.
The stainless steel bezel is 120 click, uni-directional, and due to its laser cut ratcheting spring, it turns smoothly, but with purpose. This is key as many tool diver’s bezels turn with the slightest nudge, making it as effective as a colander for a bucket. The engraved insert is made of scratch-free ceramic and filled in with a generous helping of superluminova.
Another feature that sets the Bathysphere 500 apart from its Bathysphere brethren is the display case back. Numerous movement junkies posed the argument that such a beautifully decorated movement should be admired and not hidden beneath a solid case back. Aquadive again rose to the challenge and designed two case backs for the watch so that options for either could be available to the customer during the purchase process. While I have not personally seen the solid case back made for the Bathysphere 500, I would assume that it’s much like that of the 100 and 300 series. While simple in design, it does provide the user all the pertinent information regarding the watch.
ISOfrane is a brand that has become synonymous with quality and, as previous Bathy models before it, the 500 comes equipped with what I believe to be the pinnacle of what the rubber dive strap industry has to offer. The dive strap is a genuine ISOfrane 22mm vanilla scented strap with an Aquadive signed RS tang buckle. Since the strap itself is 200mm, the strap will accommodate wrist sizes up to 250 mm (10 inches) depending upon the actual lug to lug length of the watch you position it on.
From an early age, we are taught to not judge a book by its cover, and the Bathysphere 500 has brought this saying back to life within the dive watch community. It was clear to me that Aquadive not only wanted to blaze by the competition with the introduction of the Bathysphere 500, but that it wanted to reinvent a category, emerging as ‘the’ premier dive timepiece under $5,000 dollars.
Granted, Aquadive could have easily slipped in an ETA movement, as they had in previous models, but they dared to dream bigger with the introduction of this model… a dream so bold that many still have trouble wrapping their brains around it. Aquadive reached out to Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier, who builds high end movements for many companies whose watches hover around the price of a large well-equipped home. This automatic twin-barrel movement enables the Bathysphere 500 to possess a more stable daily rate and a longer power reserve of 60 hours. Its size allowed Aquadive to reduce the height of the timepiece, making it not only a dream come true for those who wear a wetsuit, but for those who wear fitted sleeves as well.