Some Of The Best Compressor (Or Compressor-Style) Dive Watches On The Market
And distinguishing actual Compressor dive watches from those that merely look like one in the process
Whenever we come across a dive watch that has an inner rotating bezel and a dual crown set-up, we tend to label it as a Compressor dive watch. While it certainly is the correct terminology for the style, it depends on the construction of the case if a watch is actually a proper Compressor dive watch or not. Watches that simply look like a Compressor diver might have you fooled a bit, as most merely capture the visual essence of those early watches. But every now and then, a true Compressor dive watch pops up. Today we take a look at such a watch and compliment the style with a few others as well.
From a historical perspective, the difference between an actual compressor dive watch and a piece that only looks like one is quite important. Developed in the late-fifties by Ervin Piquerez SA (EPSA), a (Super)compressor dive watch has a patented spring mechanism between the case and the caseback. This system made the watch more water-resistant the deeper it went, as the increased pressure sealed the case tighter and tighter. Watches with this type of construction were regularly rated at 200m water-resistance or more.
The distinctive visual characteristic of such watches is an inner rotating bezel and a double-crown system. One crown would operate the inner bezel, while the other was used to adjust and wind the movement. The style remains very popular to this day but advancements in materials and case construction no longer necessitate the type of architecture developed by EPSA. For the most part, we see Compressor-style watches, embracing the spirit rather than the construction method of the early Compressor divers.
As mentioned, there’s only one real compressor dive watch listed in this buying guide, and that honour goes to the recently released Circula Supersport. This historic brand has been revived by the grandson’s founder after watch production ceased in the early 2000s. The Supersport collection is the latest to come from this revival and very much stands out from the masses for various reasons.
The case construction features a spring-like O-ring in the caseback that compresses as the pressure increases when going down in the water. The Circula Supersport has an original design, with interesting features such as the cushion-shaped case and the profile of the lugs extending on the top side of the caseband. The sandwich dial is very legible and comes in one of three variations; matte black and orange, petrol blue/green and yellow, or grey and light-blue. It’s equipped with a Sellita SW 200-1 automatic movement and prices start at a very reasonable EUR 699 with a few options to choose from.
Quick Facts – 40mm diameter x 12.5mm height – stainless steel case – domed sapphire crystal – solid caseback with functional Compressor construction – screw-down crown for winding and setting, turn-only crown for internal dive bezel – 300m water-resistance – matte-black dial with sandwich construction – orange and white indices – steel hour and minute hands, orange seconds hand with Super-LumiNova – Sellita SW 200-1 (optional top-grade execution) – automatic winding – 38h power reserve – EUR 699 to EUR 899 depending on the selected strap and movement type
For more information, please visit Circulawatches.com
Longines Legend Diver With Gradient Brown Dial
The Longines Legend Diver is pretty much a no-brainer when discussing Compressor-style dive watches. It is an iconic watch and one that has become available in several variations over the past couple of years. Originally presented in a black dial, it is a recreation of the 1959 ref. 7042 dive watch by Longines (which you can see at the beginning of this article). One of the most interesting modern interpretations of the LLD, as it is affectionately known, is this gradient brown dial version.
The Longines Legend Diver has a 42mm diameter case with a gradient brown dial, cream indices and numerals and a date window. The top crown rotates the internal diving bezel while the bottom crown adjusts the time. The solid caseback and screw-down crowns ensure a 300m water resistance. Do note that this watch, and all others following, are not compressor dive watches in terms of case construction. It mimics the style but features a screwed caseback, and admittedly does so very well!
Quick Facts – 42mm diameter x 13.5mm height – stainless steel case – sapphire crystal – solid caseback – internal rotating bezel with 60m scale – screw-down crowns – 300m water-resistance – gradient brown dial – printed markers with Super-LumiNova – polished hands with Super-LumiNova – Calibre L888.5 (ETA A31.L11 base) – automatic winding – 64h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds, date – EUR 2,240
For more information, please visit Longines.com
Milus Archimedes Wild Green
Green is all the rage at the moment, and Milus’ answer is the Archimedes Wild Green. This Compressor-style dive watch is modelled after the Milus 666 (for 666ft of water-resistance) from the 1960s. The case measures a modern 41mm in diameter and is water-resistant to 300 meters thanks to its screw-down crowns and caseback. It also features a Helium Escape Valve at 9 o’clock to release built-up pressure when ascending too fast.
The dial for the Milus Archimedes Wild Green is, well, green. As with all watches featured on this list, legibility is very good with a strong contrast between the base dial and the various indices and markings. Large “broad arrow” hour and minute hands are coated with a generous amount of Super-LumiNova and accompanied by a lollipop seconds hand. The watch is fitted with a top-grade ETA 2892-A2 and has a 42h power reserve. It retails for CHF 1,919.
Quick Facts – 41mm diameter – stainless steel case, brushed and polished – domed sapphire crystal – internal rotating bezel – dual screw-down crowns – Helium Escape Valve – 300m water-resistance – green dial with contrasting indices and markings – broad arrow hour and minutes hand, lollipop seconds hand with Super-LumiNova – top-grade ETA 2892-A2 – automatic winding – 42h power reserve – tropic-style black rubber strap – CHF 1,919
For more information, please visit Milus.com
Baltic Aquascaphe Dual Crown
The refreshing Baltic Aquascaphe Dual Crown is perhaps the most contemporary watch featured. With no history like the other brands to rely on, Baltic has opted to capture the essence of the Compressor-style dive watch and give its own spin to it. While you still get a steel case, inner rotating bezel and dual crown set-up, there are a few surprising little details to be found.
The 39mm case features polished bevels on the caseband and bezel, as well as a distinct tourbillon-brushing on the top of the bezel. The dial also has a more modern and updated look to it, compared to other interpretations of the concept. Powered by a Miyota movement, the Baltic Aquascaphe Dual Crown retails for a reasonable EUR 780.
Quick Facts – 39mm diameter x 11.9mm height – stainless steel case with polished accents (also available in black PVD) – tourbillon-brushed fixed bezel – internal rotating bezel with double-crown system (screw-down for the movement, non-screw-down for the bezel) – sunray-brushed blue or glossy black dial – painted indices in white Super-LumiNova – brushed hands with Super-LumiNova – Miyota 9039 no-date movement – automatic winding – 42h power reserve – EUR 780
For more information, please visit Baltic-Watches.com
Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 Heritage
With almost 140 years of watchmaking under its belt, Alpina has a rich history in producing quality tool watches and regularly shows it knows how to make a proper modern interpretation based on a vintage model. The Alpina Seastrong Diver Heritage collection, introduced in 2016, takes its design cues from a 1960s Alpina 10 Seastrong dive watch, a watch that featured an Ervin Piquerez SA (EPSA) built Super-compressor case.
The recently released Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 Heritage comes in a 42mm wide steel case but without the EPSA case construction. The latest edition has a rather fetching combination of a sunray brushed black dial and yellow gold-coloured and -plated hands and indices. It has an automatic Sellita SW 200-1 based AL-520 calibre, which gives it 38 hours of running time. The Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 Heritage retails for EUR 1,495.
Quick Facts – 42mm diameter x 12.30mm height – stainless steel case, brushed and polished – screw-down crown – 300m water-resistance – sunray brushed black dial – yellow gold-coloured and -plated indices and hands – AL-520 calibre, Sellita SW 200-1 base – 38h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds – brown leather strap with an additional black rubber strap – EUR 1,495
For more information, please visit AlpinaWatches.com
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date
So far most entries in this list are relatively affordable, generally retailing for less than 3k. That doesn’t mean there aren’t high-end Compressor-style watches though, as this Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date clearly shows. The Polaris collection is Jaeger-LeCoultre’s take on a sporty-elegant watch and serves as an ISO 6425 compliant dive watch. It’s modelled after a 1968 Memovox Polaris by the Maison and features a robust build with a cool gradient blue dial.
What makes the Polaris Mariner Date stand out compared to others is its sapphire crystal caseback. Not common for a dive watch in general, but even less so for a Compressor-style diver. Nevertheless, it comes with screw-down crowns for setting the time and manipulating the inner rotatable bezel and a 300m water-resistance rating. It’s driven by JLC’s automatic 899 calibre, providing a healthy 70 hours of power. The price for the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Date is EUR 11,000.
Quick Facts – 42mm diameter x 13.92mm height – stainless steel case – sapphire crystal front and back – double screw-down crowns – inner rotatable bezel – 300m water-resistance – gradient blue dial – white Super-LumiNova indices and markings – JLC calibre 899 – automatic winding – hours, minutes, seconds, date – stainless steel bracelet – EUR 11,000
For more information, please visit Jaeger-LeCoultre.com
The Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor and the Farer Aqua Compressor are both true, functioning compressors and would have been good entries to this list
@Jonathan – we’ve reviewed the Farer indeed and we could have added it to the list (but we have to make some choices…) As for the Christopher Ward, it’s a watch that we’ve never seen in the metal, hence why it couldn’t be listed here.
Rather feeble to include only one real compressor on the list, when Farer and Christopher Ward both offer excellent true compressors.
Farer has a screwdown caseback. I don’t believe it actually compresses as it goes to greater depths.
@peter – according to Farer’s website (https://farer.com/collections/aqua-compressor-automatics) the case is built around a principle of compression.
Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor for me. The most beautiful of all.
I love my farer aqua compressor endeavour, and whether it is on your list or not, it still tops mine! I believe exciting new releases are coming from farer on the aqua compressor range in 2022 so watch this space!
…Quick Facts – 42mm diameter x 13.92mm height – stainless steel crown – sapphire crystal front and back – double screw-down crowns – inner rotatable bezel – 300m water-resistance – gradient blue dial – white Super-LumiNova indices and markings – JLC calibre 899…
May be – stainless steel CASE? 😉
Microbrand Mitch Mason’s Maelstrom model is worth mentioning. Beautiful watch with a respectable movement from Citizen (Miyota 9015) with a depth rating of 300M (dual crowns screw-down) and Swiss Super-LumiNova (even the date wheel is lumed); a lot of watch for the pre-order price of $549. Reviews are on YouTube.
A valid point, hence the reason we covered it a little while ago. It didn’t make the list though, as we cannot include everything of course.
I cant find the Alpina Heritage without the date complication anywhere. Can you please provide a link for this model. Otherwise fantastic review!
An affordable option is the Phoibos Eagle Ray: 200m water resistance, double domed sapphire crystal, 41mm X 47mm stainless steel case, SII NH-35A movement, 15 layers Super-LumiNova BGW9 on hands, indices and bezel markings.