I recently signed up for a week's diving in the Red Sea, and decided that it would be a useful opportunity to road test a watch. In this instance, I chose the Bremont Supermarine SM500, as I'd previously conducted a similar test on a Seiko SBDC005 "Sumo". I also thought it would be a good opportunity to compare the results in key areas. I'd previously taken the SM500 freediving in Egypt with Sara Campbell, but never bubble-blowing. This was also my opportunity to take it a little bit deeper than my freediving personal best (approx. 55ft). So, I packed full dive kit (ex-tanks), dusted off the Nitrox C-cards, changed the batteries on my Aladdin Pro Ultra, re-checked all the o-rings on the underwater housing and dragged our luggage down to London Gatwick's salubrious South Terminal.
The diving we'd chosen was a week aboard a boat in the Southern Red Sea, visiting some of the less accessible reefs and hoping to see Oceanic Whitetip sharks. Of course, when diving the Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone, there's also the chance to see other pelagic sharks, such as Scalloped Hammerheads, Grey Reefs, Silvertips, etc. All in all, a pretty exciting opportunity, and one I was very much looking forward to. Liveaboard boats are interesting places. The lower deck is usually reserved as a diving platform and is the only wet area on the boat. Large numbers of aluminium / steel tanks are dotted around, usually in rows to allow for easy donning / doffing. Wetsuits hang from beams. Cameras and housings litter the tables. For watches, it's a place lurking with dangers - whether it's being smacked by a wayward tank, knocked against a railing, scratched, dinged, or otherwise abused by a host of metal objects, D-rings, strobes, torches and regs. Of course, the diving is predominantly on reefs, often with strong currents which may differ at the surface from the watwers below. Negative entries are common, and Zodiac diving is de rigeur. Of course, these small boats are also littered with hazards for the unwary watch. All in all, a perfect lace to test the toughness of the Supermarine.
The Supermarine (SM500) is named for the "British racing seaplane developed by R.J. Mitchell for theSupermarine company to take part in the Schneider Trophy competition of 1931. The S.6B marked the culmination of Mitchell's quest to "perfect the design of the racing seaplane" and was the last in the line of racing seaplanes developed by Supermarine." While not a true "diver's watch" (the Bremont is not tested to ISO 6245), the SM500 appears to meet, and exceed all the requirements that one would expect for an underwater timing device:
- Patented Bremont Trip-Tick case design, with toughened upper and coated mid-barrel
- WR to 500m and tested to deformation at +1400m equivalent
- Sapphire, uni-directional bezel
- SuperLuminova liberally applied to the dial, hands and bezel but the seconds hand remains unlumed
- Anti-magnetic and anti-shock protection (uses the same movement and mounting as the Bremont MB2)
All in all, a not unimpressive piece of kit, and it certainly looks the part above water. But how did it do under the water?