5 of The Most Iconic Dive Watches You Can Buy in 2018
5 legends, 5 names that created history and 5 watches that are direct descendants of these icons
In the world of watches, there’s a puzzling but immense attraction of men for dive watches. Should it be the adventurous look? The toolish design, the masculine, sporty, robust attributes…? For multiple reasons, various examples of dive watches have become some of the most iconic timepieces ever created – even if nowadays most of them aren’t used for what they’ve been created at first (hello, desk divers!) While the market is crowded with such watches, here 5 dive watches that you can buy in 2018 and that truly deserve the “icon” title, as all of them have somehow created history.
Note: this list is far from exhaustive. There are many more watches that could have been part of this selection. For this reason, feel free to add your favourites in the comment section, at the end of this article.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC
A selection focused on iconic dive watches has to include a Fifty Fathoms by Blancpain. For what reason, you’ll ask us? Well, back in 1953, Blancpain introduced a watch that simply was one of the very first true timing instrument made to dive. In 1952, the French “Nageurs de Combat” or Navy Seals, managed by Captain Bob Maloubier, felt the need to have a watch suitable to their underwater missions. Blancpain and his CEO Jean-Jacques Fiechter, himself an avid diver, accepted the challenge. This lead to the creation of the Fifty Fathoms (as the watch was water resistant to 50 fathoms, or 91.44m) later in 1953, as one of the first modern dive watches. Everything was there: the black dial with luminous indexes/hands, the large steel case, the rotating bezel…
Over 60 years later, the Fifty Fathoms is still part of the Blancpain collection and this is why it deserves to be here, especially the new MIL-SPEC edition – as the first models were indeed related to military forces. We also chose this version for its vintage inspiration (40mm case, faux-patina dial) as well as being faithful to the original model with a rounded, polished bezel insert – here done in sapphire and not in bakelite anymore.
Quick facts: 40.3mm case – stainless steel, polished, sapphire bezel – 300m water resistant – calibre 1151, in-house, automatic – hours, minutes, seconds and date – NATO strap, sailcloth strap, or steel bracelet – limited to 500 pieces – CHF 13,400 – more details at www.blancpain.com
Any Doxa Sub-300
Just like the Blancpain above, the Doxa SUB has a rich history and a true pioneer spirit. Conceived and developed with Cousteau and Aqua Lung, tested the worst possible conditions, it was also one of the first (if not the first) watches to be equipped with a helium escape valve. In 1964, Urs Eschle (head of operations of Doxa) decided to create a new dive watch that could be affordable, reliable, legible and mainly, a watch answering the needs of professional divers. The orange dial, the no-decompression bezel, the expanding bracelet, and the highly protected cushion case have all been developed for this exact reason.
In 2017, Doxa celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Doxa SUB 300 with a series of 3 limited edition watches (unfortunately sold-out) but that opened the door to other watches. Thus, the brand regularly comes with new versions – Aqua Lung, Black Lung, Poseidon, Silver Lung. All of them share the same vintage-inspired case and style, as well as a chronometer-certified movement. So be sure to check when a new edition will be launched, as they sell like hot cakes (and for good reasons).
Quick facts: 42.5mm diameter x 12.4mm thick – monobloc stainless steel case – 300m water resistant – ETA 2824-2, automatic – Chronometer COSC-rated – hours, minutes, seconds and date – “beads of rice” bracelet in stainless steel – approx USD 2,500, depending on the editions – more details at doxawatches.com
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Professional
The Bond watch is back, nicer and more innovative than ever. This watch is iconic for multiple reasons. First, it has a 70-year history to tell, when Omega introduced the first Seamaster watch in 1947. But it really became the watch we know today in 1957, when the Biel-based brand introduced the Seamaster 300 CK2913, followed by dozens of innovative, professionally-oriented pieces such as the PloProf. The second reason for its icon-status is 007. Indeed, the 1993 Omega SMP 300M appeared on the wrist of Bond in Goldeneye and since then, it is one of the best examples of accessible, well-built, no-nonsense dive watch.
The Seamaster Diver 300M has been tastefully facelifted this year, with the comeback of the wave pattern on the dial and the addition of Omega’s ultra-innovative in-house Master Chronometer movement. There’s a lot to love in this watch, both for the story behind it or for the inherent quality of the product itself.
Quick facts: 42mm diameter x 13.5mm thickness – stainless steel case, ceramic bezel and dial – 300m water resistant – Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8800, automatic – hours, minutes, seconds and date – steel bracelet or rubber strap – as of EUR 4,400 – more details at omegawatches.com
Rolex Submariner 114060
This watch needs no introduction. What you’re looking at certainly is the most sought-after, most well-known, most recognizable watch of the entire Swiss production. Meet the Rolex Submariner no-date 114060… Born in 1953, the “Sub” is the definitive dive watch, the one that most people consider as the essence of luxury but don’t be fooled. The Submariner is, above all, a true diving instrument – it just isn’t used as such anymore. If the design remains quite close to the original, Rolex never ceases to upgrade this watch with new technologies or innovative materials. The precision of the watch, its overall incredible quality, the durability of the movement and of the materials or the styling have created a true modern icon.
The best option for us remains the classic black dial/stainless steel case/no-date display version ref. 114060, but another model exists in the collection, with a date and a Cyclops (in steel, in two-tone or in gold). And if you’re really into professional instruments, Rolex has two other watches for you: the Sea-Dweller and the DeepSea. And also a more accessible option with the Tudor Black Bay.
Quick facts: 40mm diameter – Oystersteel case, polished and brushed, ceramic bezel – 300m water resistant – calibre 3130 automatic, superlative chronometer – hours, minutes, seconds – steel bracelet – EUR 6,850 – more details at rolex.com
Seiko Prospex Diver 200m PADI Turtle SRPA21
Last but not least, Seiko was one of the brands that had to be in this selection. Not only the Japanse manufacture has been active in the dive watch field for over 50 years but their earliest instruments have been the inspiration for the creation of the ISO standards that regulate the concept of dive watch (ISO 6425). There had been dozens of iconic pieces launched on the market – 62Mas, Tuna, SKX007 and more…
Yet, we decided to choose the “Turtle”, for multiple reasons. First, it is inspired by one of the most iconic watches of the brand and retains this vintage cushion-shaped case. Then, it is a standard production and isn’t limited as many of these cool Prospex divers you see on MONOCHROME. Finally, it is truly affordable and had an almost unbeatable price/quality ratio – in-house movement, great case and details, steel bracelet, 200m water resistance and more. Available in various editions, we think the PADI SRPA21 is the best of them all, with its blue dial and Pepsi bezel.
Quick facts: 45mm diameter x 13.42mm height – stainless steel case – Aluminum bezel – 200m water resistant – calibre 4R36, in-house, automatic – hours, minutes, seconds, day-date indication – steel bracelet – EUR 449 – More details on www.seikowatches.com.
No Panerai? Considering Giuseppe Panerai’s influence on early diving watches (along with Hans Wilsdorf) I would’ve thought you could’ve picked a Luminor above something like the Seiko, for example. *shrug*
Anyway, if ever I need a diver’s watch, I reckon it’ll be a Blancpain. That mil-spec is a beaut.
Was that disclaimer note there before I posted my previous comment? If so, sorry, should have phrased it better. Let me think of another one…
…Ah yes, the AP Royal Oak Offshore Diver, the blue & yellow dial in particular. But it’s not that great a diver’s watch, seeing as you have to unscrew the top-left crown to rotate the outer dial, thereby breaking the seal.
With some thought, there are probably some other watches that could be added to the list. (Seiko Marine Master, Bulova 666, the Rolex Sea Dweller and …)
That said, this is wonderful list of solid watches that were and are still used by women and men who spend their lives in and around the water.
Comments on the Christopher Ward Trident collection? Those are pretty insane for dive watches. 600m water resistance.
Add the Sinn UX EZM 2B on first place, whatever it’s (oil filled) quartz movement and “just” 2160€. Official mission timer of almost German special units (Army, Police). Probably the best divers watch ever made and beats everyone in pressure ability.
Just remember, the title of the article is the most ICONIC dive watches, and as such I feel you’ve nailed it, great job. The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is on my Grail list, just as the Breguet Type XX was on my Grail list for pilots watches until I found one. Chronometers, or maybe dress watches next?
Maybe include a Zodiac Sea Wolf in the mix.