When it comes to deep-sea diving, few names are as reliable as Rolex and Omega, but they aren't the only brands making watches for scuba divers.
So, if you're looking for the perfect dive watch to suit your individuality and sportsman's needs, these five watches should definitely make your shortlist.
1. Sea-Dweller Deepsea D-Blue Dial
James Cameron completed a historic dive in 2012 as the first solo explorer of the Mariana Trench. In honour of that remarkable event, the Sea-Dweller Deepsea D-Blue Dial was created two years later.
The D-Blue is almost identical to the standard Sea-Dweller Deepsea except for the eye-catching blue gradient dial. Both watches feature the same chunky 44mm stainless steel case and Oyster bracelet. They also have a unique automated helium escape valve on the side of the case opposite the crown. This is for saturation divers, who work for long periods of time at great depths and spend their time in a hyperbaric chamber filled with a mixture of oxygen and helium. Rolex found that the helium particles were so compressed at depth that they could seep past the rubber gaskets, and when the diver slowly returned to the surface the trapped helium particles would expand and pop the crystal off.
The vessel in which James Cameron completed this famed dive was green, hence the distinct green "DEEPSEA" logo on the dial. Another interesting piece of trivia is the colour change of the face from deep blue to black. This is meant to symbolise the changing colour of the sea as a diver plunges deeper and deeper down.
You can take this watch a whopping 12,800 feet below (that's 3900m), making it both luxurious and more functional than you'll ever need. Odds are, if you're taking the Blue Dial to its depth limits, you'll be the next to have a watch dedicated to you.
2. Officine Panerai Submersible Carbotech 42mm PAM00960
Panerai's Submersible range of diving watches is a firm favourite amongst the diving watch community, and for good reason. The sheer number of designs built upon the classic Panerai design ethos is extraordinary, and yet every version of the Submersible is unique.
The Carbotech models are some of the most interesting watches in the range. They use a proprietary material made from sheets of carbon fibre bonded with resin and then superheated under pressure until the sheets become one piece. Every Carbotech case has a unique pattern on it, thanks to the randomisation of the carbon sheets when they are heated, so no two are exactly alike.
Featuring a 42mm diameter cushion-shaped case, bezel, crown and crown-guard system made from Carbotech, the PAM00960 seemed like the perfect choice for our list. It can come on a variety of rubber or fabric straps and has a unique appearance thanks to the black on black case with blue lume. Other versions are available in this size including titanium and gold editions.
3. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback 5200 0130 B52A
We're stepping up the haute level for a minute with the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback ref 5200 0130 B52A. It's one of only two watches on the list to bring something other than a date window to the table, and it comes in the form of a flyback chronograph. Unlike a regular chronograph, which has to be stopped before it can be reset, a flyback chronograph can be reset even when the chronograph is running. Further still, if it is reset while the chronograph is running, the seconds hand will immediately start timing again without the need to follow the stop/start/reset order that most chronographs do.
It also comes armed with the sophisticated calibre F385 which, along with the flyback chronograph, also features a date, a 50-hour power reserve, a silicone balance spring and a 5Hz beat rate. That's the same beat rate you get from the legendary El Primero calibre by Zenith.
All that tech is wrapped up in a 43.6mm black ceramic case that's been brushed to give the watch a stealthy appearance. This particular reference comes with a black sailcloth strap that can be switched to NATO if you prefer. it's also water resistant to 300m.
4. Longines Heritage Diver 1967
If you like a masculine watch, this one's a good pick. A 42mm stainless steel case, black strap, and a steel clasp make this watch a handsome diver. It's also got some history to it, as it's based on the Longines Diver Chronograph ref. 7981 from 1967. That's why you get mismatched subdials, as the original had a larger chronograph minutes subdial than running seconds. It's also why the watch has a claret diving bezel. The 12-hour subdial and date window at the bottom are not part of the original design and could have been left out, but they are at least functional.
The chronograph is complimented nicely by the black dial and automatic movement with a screw-in crown. If you're looking to make a statement with your diver's watch, the Longines Heritage will definitely fit the bill.
Alongside the other watches on this list, a Longines brings with it the intense quality to be expected from centuries of Swiss watch-making. With the experts in Swiss, luxury watch-making behind this design, it won't disappoint. Buying a pre-owned Longines is a steal. You can even purchase it with an authenticity card and additional, spare Longines watch strap.
5. Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600m ref 188.8.131.52.01.002
The premium diver in the Omega Seamaster collection has to be the Planet Ocean, featuring chunky cases with double the water resistance of the standard Seamaster Diver 300m. The Planet Ocean lacks the wave dial that makes the Diver 300m popular, but it does come with looks that are more contemporary, no wavy bezel grips or brain slug-shaped helium escape valves here.
The mid-size Planet Ocean ref 184.108.40.206.01.002 comes in a 43.5mm steel case with a chunky steel bracelet (although both NATO and rubber straps are available). This is probably the best daily beater watch on the list, it's robust and can go anywhere but isn't as showy as a gigantic Rolex. It's also not likely to shatter if you drop it by mistake and it comes with the in-house made calibre 8900 which has a 60-hour power reserve and a Master Chronometer certificate awarded by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS).
Planet Oceans are generally a good buy on the pre-owned market, too. Their prices are reasonable and there's plenty of choice. If you like the look but want one with a GMT hand, there's a watch for that. If you want this one in ceramic, there's a watch for that. And, if you have lots of cash and want a solid gold brick of a diver, there's a watch for you as well.
Origin of Dive Watches
The first diving watch that has a layout we'd recognise today as a diving watch was the Zodiac Sea Wolf from 1953, which was swiftly followed by the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. Rolex would start making what is now the world's most iconic dive watch, the Submariner, in 1953 as well, but they didn't release it to the public until 1954.
Diving watches were specially designed to help assist scuba divers in timing their dives. The rotating bezel is used to mark the point at which the diver must start their ascent to the surface, as this can take a while depending on the depth of their dive.
ISO standard no.6425 governs the requirements of a professional dive watch. There are quite a few requirements that may or may not apply to some dive watches (depending on whether they are mechanical or battery-operated). The most crucial are that the watch must have at least 100m of water resistance, it must have lume applied to the hands and markers (including the seconds hand) and it must have a rotating dive bezel.
Nowadays, luxury diving watches are unlikely to be relied upon apart from as a very last resort. Modern diving computers can do a whole lot more than just telling the time, they can also tell you information such as exactly how long you have left to dive, which gases you're breathing and they can help you time your ascent intervals. Still, we all like to imagine we're out there venturing underneath the waves, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Find the Perfect Watch for You
Pre-owned dive watches are an excellent choice if you're looking to own the watch of your dreams without breaking the bank.
Browse our wide selection of pristine men's watches and find the right fit for your needs and tastes.
After all, a watch should do much more than just tell the time. Let us help you make a bold statement with one of our many luxury watches.