Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Pre-SIHH 2019 Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Nery is the Extreme Tool watch for Extreme lifestyles

On a single breath, French freediver Guillaume Nery is capable of descending 139 metres. Now, Panerai is launching a SIHH 2019 Submersible Chrono inspired by him.

Jan 04, 2019 | By Jonathan Ho

On a single breath, French freediving champion Guillaume Nery is capable of descending 139 metres underwater. It wasn’t even intentional. Nery had only aimed to beat his previous record by going down to the 129 metre mark but, as fate would have it, record officials made an almost fatal mistake – Organisers at the AIDA Individual Depth Championships Pre-Competition in Limassol had set the daredevil Frenchman’s guide line on the dive off Cyprus to 139 metres rather than the 129m world record depth he was aiming for. On his way up, 15 metres from the surface, Guillaume Nery blacked out.

15 metres away from the surface, he nearly drowned.

“(A dive) is a journey between two breaths. A journey that takes place between two breaths — the last one before diving into the water, and the first one, coming back to the surface. That dive is a journey to the very limits of human possibility, a journey into the unknown.” – Guillaume Nery, TED Talks Toulouse

The Extreme Life of French diving champion Guillaume Nery

What had transpired on that fateful attempt was that officials had lowered the guide line too quickly, thus shallower depth indicators were not noted. Compounding the fact was that not only had the earlier indications been missed, the extended tape beyond the 130 metre mark was also missing and so the climax might very well have been Nery’s death rather than his intended depth.

In case it needs to be stated, humans cannot breathe underwater. Nevertheless, evolutionary biology has gifted us with a diving response otherwise known as a mammalian diving reflex – a set of physiological responses to immersion that overrides the basic homeostatic reflexes: you start taking shallower breaths reflexively, you require less oxygen as a result of reducing body temperatures and heart rhythm irregularities (peripheral vasoconstriction), redirection of blood to the vital organs to conserve oxygen, and the release of red blood cells stored in the spleen.

“As soon as I leave the surface the first mechanism kicks in: the diving reflex. The first thing the diving reflex does is make your heart rate drop. The diving reflex causes peripheral vasoconstriction, which means that the blood flow will leave the body’s extremities to feed the most important organs: the lungs, the heart and the brain. This mechanism is innate. I cannot control it.” – Guillaume Nery, TED Talks Toulouse

Thus, even a world champion Frenchman like Nery, trained to the limits of human capability from an extreme lifestyle now ingrained into muscle memory, is subject to the physiological baselines as a regular joe. According to Guillaume Nery, we share this instinct with marine mammals: dolphins, whales, sea lions, etc. When they dive deep into the ocean, these mechanisms become activated, but to a greater extent. And, of course, it works much better for them. We live on land. A life underwater is the literal opposite to what our bodies are physically designed for.

“60, 70 meters down, I keep falling, faster and faster, because the pressure is crushing my body more and more. Below 80 meters, the pressure becomes a lot stronger, and I start to feel it physically. I really start to feel the suffocation. You can see what it looks like — not pretty at all. The diaphragm is completely collapsed, the rib cage is squeezed in, and mentally, there is something going on as well.”  – Guillaume Nery, TED Talks Toulouse

Suffice it to say, it’s not our natural state. Even the majority of health professionals are ill prepared to deal with the physiological threat of DCS (decompression sickness); they are more inclined to diagnose the symptoms as traditional muscle strains or carbon dioxide related brain phenomena, further compounding the dangers.

Growing up in Nice, with a life spent by the Mediterranean sea, Nery would discover the wonders of the underwater world as a young boy but as growing teenagers are eventually wont to do, on a dare from a friend, teen Nery took up a challenge to hold their breaths for as long as possible. From here, a simple game turned obsession where Nery eventually managed to meet Claude Chapuis, the founder of AIDA, eventually becoming his trainee. By 2002, diving to a depth of -87m using fins alone, Guillaume Nerybecame the youngest ever freedive record holder, marking the beginning of a life beyond measure (as in the case of his almost deadly record attempt, literally beyond measure). Guillaume has beat the world record 3 times and while he continues to dive routinely to 125 metres, his French record, he has retired from competitive diving after his close brush but the multiple world record holder and the double reigning world champion isn’t enjoying a life of leisure, taking his life of athleticism and blending it with a combination of performance and film.

Pre-SIHH 2019 Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Nery – the Extreme Tool watch for Extreme lifestyles

Inspired by the Frenchman, the Pre-SIHH 2019 Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Nery is designed as an extreme tool watch for extreme lifestyles. Ensconced in 47mm brushed titanium, the mammoth Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Nery enjoys water resistance of 300 metres, almost double the depth of Nery’s dive record. Incidentally, the caseback is engraved with his signature and his single breath, freedive record of 126 meters.

Featuring a shark grey dial with subtle textures reminiscent of the skin of some of the underwater world’s denizens, Panerai’s pre-SIHH Submersible Chrono is designed for diving specifications, complete with high legibility luminous hands, hour markers and dots. Other functional elements follow Panerai design codes you’ve all become familiar with – chronograph hour counter at 3 o’clock, small seconds at 9 o’clock and central chronograph seconds and minute hands.

Within the SIHH 2019 Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Nery beats the heart of the manufacture calibre P.9100 with 3 days power reserve.

SIHH 2019 Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Nery Price and Specs

Movement Automatic manufacture calibre P.9100 with 3 days power reserve
Case 47mm titanium case with 300 metres water resistance
Strap Caoutchouc rubber strap
Price TBC

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