Monochrome Watches
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MONOCHROME’s Favourite Dive Watches of 2020

Let's dive into the list of the best aquatic watches of the year!

| By Brice Goulard | 10 min read |
Rolex Submariner 41mm 124060 no-date Steel 2020 - dial and case

Dive watches… are not even a style or a category of watches anymore, but a proper market with its own codes, its icons, its contenders, its specifications and its aficionados. Needless to say that a well-built and nicely designed dive watch is almost a necessity for accessible or luxury watch brands, with only a minority not having its own take on the aquatic timepiece. And I’d go as far as saying that a dive watch is a must in every collection. With this in mind, we couldn’t make our lists of favourite 2020 watches without taking a look at diving-oriented models. From accessible to high-end, from all-time-classics to original takes, from modern to vintage-oriented, here are the 10 dive watches that we think stole the show in 2020.

Note: this list is based on our own preferences. Feel free to share your favourite dive watches introduced this year in the comment box at the end of this article.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition

Blancpain and the dive watch is a long love story. The brand was actually one of the pioneers of the genre back in 1953, with the Fifty Fathoms model, one of the watches that defined the category and was followed by many others after. With such a pedigree, it feels natural to see the brand still active in this field, with many robust watches in collection. One of them plays on original and unusual design cues, with a clear 1970s inspiration, the Bathyscaphe Day Date. Equipped with “funky” dial elements and a day-date display, this year it comes in a new sand-beige colour scheme, that the brand named “Desert Edition.” The rest is a superb execution, robust specifications, a nice in-house automatic movement with 5-day power reserve, all in a 43mm satin-brushed steel case.

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Quick Facts: 43mm diameter – stainless steel case and bezel, brown ceramic insert – 300m water-resistant – calibre 1315 DD, automatic in-house – sand-coloured sail canvas strap – 5052-1146-E52A, limited to 500 pieces – CHF 11,900

Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec Black

The Patravi ScubaTec has always been one of our favourite luxury dive watches at MONOCHROME. Strong, powerful, with a design that stands out from the crowd and with great execution, it has several arguments to compete in this packed market. This year, Carl F. Bucherer introduced a very cool edition, all dressed in black and silver, the Patravi ScubaTec Black. The case, the strap and the dial are all done in this stealth colour, yet highlighted by well-positioned touches of silver on the bezel and dial – the latter still featuring a cool pattern. Inside the case is an automatic movement based on a reliable ETA ébauche and certified as a chronometer by COSC. Just note that this a large watch at 44.6mm, but comfort is great and the lightweight titanium case is well designed.

Quick Facts: 44.6mm diameter – black DLC-coated titanium case and bezel, black ceramic and steel insert – 500m water-resistant – calibre CFB 1950.1 (ETA-2824), automatic chronometer – rubber strap or rubber and PET textile strap, DLC-coated titanium folding clasp – 00.10632.22.33.99 – EUR 6,400

Certina DS PH200M Blue

Clearly one of the most attractive-looking dive watches of 2020… Certina has a long tradition of robust watches, incarnated by its proprietary DS concept (for Double Security) and the 2018 version of the Certina DS PH200M was already a very pleasant retro-styled dive watch. But the evolution for 2020, with its new blue colour scheme, its new rounded bezel, improved materials and upgraded movement, is simply spot-on. With its vintage design elements but modern proportions and execution, it has charm and can perform underwater. It now comes with a new, convex-shaped ceramic insert, some gild elements and an automatic Powermatic, with extended power reserve (80 hours) and anti-magnetic balance spring… all of that for less than 1,000 euros.

2020 Certina DS PH200M Blue

Quick Facts: 42.8mm diameter – stainless steel case and bezel, blue ceramic insert – 200m water-resistant – ETA Powermatic 80.611, automatic with 80h power reserve – grey-blue NATO fabric strap – C036.407.18.040.00 – CHF 880

Doxa SUB 300 Carbon Aqua Lung Sharkhunter

Doxa has always been among the most remarkable brands for dive watches. A sort of highly-focused, almost niche treasure that manufactured some of the greatest and most innovative diving instruments of the 1960s. The brand came back to the forefront only recently but now expands its collections with cool affordable models (the SUB 200) and with evolutions of its iconic piece, the SUB 300. One that really caught our attention was totally unexpected. Mostly vintage-inspired, the brand here mixes its classic case with ultra-modern materials and colours, resulting in the SUB 300 Carbon Aqua Lung Sharkhunter. And the result is the most striking, unique, boldest Dox’ ever. The carbon case and dial dive both a stealth look and a feather-light comfort. And inside is a classic COSC-certified ETA 2824.

Doxa SUB 300 Carbon Aqua Lung Sharkhunter

Quick Facts: 42.50mm diameter – forged carbon case and bezel, with patented no-decompression dive table – 300m water-resistant – ETA 2824, automatic and COSC certified – black rubber strap and PVD-coated stainless steel clasp – limited edition of 300 pieces – 822.70.101AQL.20 – CHF 4,790

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition

The Seamaster Diver 300M is already a great, great watch – one that can easily compete with another icon of the industry. But with the 007 Edition, Omega designed a watch with super-cool military attire, a no-date display and a lightweight, instrumental-looking titanium case. As the watch worn by 007 in the upcoming movie, it adds a lot of charm and vintage aura to a watch that often looks a bit too technical. Other than that, all the great features of the classic SM300 have been kept, including the solid case, the helium escape valve and the powerful, anti-magnetic in-house automatic movement. It is available either on a striped NATO strap or (preferable) a mesh titanium bracelet. The most desirable version in the collection…

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition

Quick Facts: 42mm diameter – grade 2 titanium case and bezel, matte tropical black aluminium insert – 300m water-resistant – Omega calibre 8806, in-house, Master Chronometer – titanium mesh bracelet or striped fabric NATO strap – – non-limited edition – EUR 8,640 on titanium mesh

Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400

The Aquis Date is a classic for Oris, known for its robustness, its very pleasant quality of assembly, its modern and instrumental look, and very decent price. Although the design didn’t evolve this year, the mechanics inside are made a massive jump in perceived quality, as the brand unveiled its brand new Calibre 400 in this very watch. Presented as the “new standard”, its role is to become the mid-range movement for most collections and a great alternative to ETA or Sellita ébauches. Powerful (5-day), pragmatic, anti-magnetic with silicon for the anchor and escape wheel and expected to be reliable (since the brand gives a 10-year warranty and claims 10-year recommended service intervals), it positions the Aquis Date in a whole new category. And the price remains competitive.

Quick Facts: 43.5mm diameter – stainless steel case and bezel, blue ceramic insert – 300m water-resistant – calibre 400, in-house automatic with 120h power reserve and anti-magnetic properties – stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp – 01 400 7763 4135-07 8 24 09PEB – CHF 3,200

Rolex Submariner 41mm Ref. 124060

Or basically, all other stainless steel models in the 2020 Submariner collection – meaning the 126610LN and 126610LV too. I know, this is an obvious and conventional choice but, in all fairness, it is hard to talk about the best dive watches of 2020 without mentioning the new Submariner… probably the most discussed watch of the year. What has changed? Not much and everything at the same time. This is where Rolex’ genius can be appreciated; it tweaks the Submariner without breaking the codes, it upgrades the specifications without shocking its fan base. The new Submariner is 100% a Submariner but with a different case, slightly larger (half a millimetre) but better shaped, a new movement and a differently proportioned bracelet. Some very small updates are visible on the dial, the bezel and on the crown guard. The quality is, as you’d expect, simply stunning and the design is well… that of a Submariner. But to us, this 2020 edition is better than the previous on many levels. If only it was easily available!

Rolex Submariner 41mm 124060 no-date Steel 2020 - case and bracelet

Quick Facts: 41mm diameter – Oystersteel case and bezel, black ceramic insert – 300m water-resistant – Calibre 3230, in-house automatic, Superlative Chronometer – Oystersteel bracelet with folding clasp – ref. 124060 – CHF 7,700

Seiko Prospex Diver 62MAS Interpretations

Even when producing vintage-inspired watches, Seiko always had a tendency to go big for its modern pieces… Even re-creations of the brand’s first-ever professional dive watch, the famous 62MAS, the SPB05x models, were large and relatively bulky. But this year, things have changed in Japan and Seiko is slowly moving back to more restrained diameters. Case in point, the very cool SPB14x collection, which brings back the attractive design of the 62MAS in modern attire, and now with a diameter of 40.5mm. Our favourite of the range is the SPB147J1 presented here, with its dark brown dial and gilt accents, which has an incredible charm. It is also a high-quality piece with sapphire crystal, a nice metallic brushed bezel insert and a 70h power reserve automatic movement.

Seiko Prospex Diver 62MAS Interpretations SPB143 SPB145 SPB147 SPB149

Quick Facts: 40.5mm diameter – stainless steel case with super-hard coating, bezel with metallic brushed insert – 200m water-resistant – calibre 6R35, in-house, automatic – silicone strap with steel pin buckle – SPB147J1 – EUR 1,050

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Bamford Limited Edition

Collaborations between watch brands and external designers or watch customisers are a growing thing in the industry. And what happens when TAG Heuer, the avant-garde brand known for its robust sports watches, meets Bamford Watch Department, the famous UK-based personalisation house, is this very cool, unusual take on the brand’s classic dive watch, the Aquaracer. Fully transformed with a sandblasted grade 2 titanium case and bracelet, some cool 1970s orange elements and a dial that has a record-like (or radar-like, as you prefer) pattern, this Aquaracer Bamford looks unique, different and still retains all the necessary elements of robust dive watches. A bold move.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Bamford Limited Edition

Quick Facts: 43mm diameter – grade 2 titanium case and bezel, sand-blasted – 300m water-resistant – calibre 5 (base Sellita SW 200-1) – automatic – grade 2 titanium sand-blasted bracelet with folding clasp – WAY208F.BF0638, limited to 1,500 pieces – CHF 3,800

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue

For the last watch of this list on the best dive watches of 2020, we have selected a model that might not have changed much, but that certainly demonstrates the ability of the Rolex group to develop superb aquatic watches. Launched a couple of years ago, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight is an even more vintage, smaller and slightly more accessible take on the watch that consolidated Tudor’s success. With its 39mm case and thinner profile, it is a great all-rounder that can withstand action. First available in black with gilt elements, this year the brand introduces a blue edition that feels fresher, more modern, more technical. It is still fitted with a great manufacture, chronometer movement with a long power reserve and anti-magnetic properties.

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue BB58

Quick Facts: 39mm diameter – stainless steel case and bezel, blue anodized aluminium insert – 200m water-resistant – calibre MT5402, automatic manufacture, COSC certified – stainless steel riveted bracelet with folding clasp or blue soft-touch strap or blue fabric strap – M79030B – from CHF 3,200

22 responses

  1. I can confirm the Rolex 124060 wears surprisingly differently on the wrist than the 114060. Little changes here and there add up to a happy Gav.

  2. Y’know, I could swear it’s a slimmer case height, too – but maybe I’m just seeing things.

  3. @Gav – from what I know the differences are actually minimal. Only 0.3mm in diameter (40.2mm vs 40.5mm now… and not really 41mm), the lug to lug is the exact same (about 47.5mm) and the height is also the same (about 12mm). But the new case actually makes the watch feels more compact, less « square » and a bit thinner indeed! Mostly because of the thinner lugs and larger bracelet, and the redesigned crown guard

  4. My personal favourite release of the year would probably be the Seiko SLA037. Hi-Beat sweep, lovely blue dial and the squared-off signature 62MAS style case. Then again, I’ve turned into a bit of a Seiko fanboy. Also a sucker for domed crystals, readability be damned.

    The WIS crowd may scoff at the idea of paying luxury-Swiss money for “just a Seiko” but as an owner of the SLA017, the SLA line is well worth its price in my eyes. Not perfect – the movement accuracy is generally within chronometer spec (my 017 consistently gains 1.5 sec a day, regardless of position) but if we’re paying Grand Seiko money, we need GS regulation put down on the spec sheet and GS-level 5yr international warranty coverage – but in terms of finishing, I can guarantee it’ll beat that overhyped new Submariner under a loupe. Heck, people give Seiko a hard time because of subpar finishing on their cheaper Prospex models, but Hodinkee’s review copy of the $40K new white gold Sub with blue bezel showed a misaligned rehaut.

    Sadly for me, finances were a tad tight this year, so I settled on a model from the regular Prospex line; the SPB153 “Willard-X” in green. Liking it so far. No misalignment issues. It’s a strap monster.

    The Sinn U50 (all-black PVD version) is another one I’d look at this year. Design is a bit divisive, but I quite like the overall aesthetic. Haven’t handled one in the flesh though, so I have no idea how it wears (its big brother, the U1, is simply too chunky) on my skinny wrists.

  5. Oh, forgot to rate your list. Let’s see;

    The Blancpain is probably the best of the lot in terms of finishing, and their movements are generally gorgeous. A bit too big for me, and I’m not a fan of the desert-tan look.

    CFB ruins the Patravi with that bold font on the dive bezel. Hard pass.

    The Certina looks good. Decently priced too.

    The Omega Seamaster seems confused. Is that faux-vintage lume or an ode to orange juice? Nato logo? Hah, I’d rather get a Marathon or a CWC.

    I know Williams have history and all, but nowadays they consistently finish last. Worse still, they sold out to some Russian oligarch who’ll probably put his bratty kid in one of the cars. As a result, I can’t take any Oris seriously. Still a better love story than Ferrari-Hublot, at least.

    No comment on Seiko or Rolex, as I’ll show too much bias.

    Anything Bamford related is the equivalent of used toilet-paper.

  6. That was a nice, quick, review of some seiko’s there Matt ! Thanks.

  7. I’m going to go out on a limb and say invicta anyone? Totally underated the quality and price will beat out any sekio in my book and I do also own Rolex seadweller as a collector but that one i can’t wear at used price of a whopping $8500 My invicta cost $250 and it’s 52mm monster with a depth of 300 meters Grand pro diver please check it out I’m sure everyone will agree it’s the smartest choice 🙂

  8. As we are going through difficult times why splash out on vastly over-priced divers from Rolex or Blancpain if one can have a well made attractive quality watch, fit for purpose at a fraction of the price from Seiko? I would recommend the SRPD09K1 as a budget entry and indeed the SPB153 Captain Willard-X costing a bit more but not breaking the bank. Price-quality wise it does not get any better. And it enables all of you desk-divers to save up for a nice dress watch in due course….

  9. @ Ray

    Heh, no. Just got a good history of custom – Breguet, Vacheron, AP, JLC, previous Sub.

  10. @ Ray

    Heh, no. Just got a history of custom – Breguet, Vacheron, AP, JLC, previous Sub.

    (Brice, if this is a repeat post just delete it please, as I posted another that hasn’t shown – cheers)

  11. There is one watch here that defines the whole market segment. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition, a really nice looking watch, with day and date perfect for any time. The canvas strap looks comfortable but the one place you will almost never need a dive watch is in the desert.I have a number of “Divers” but the only one that gets wet is a cheap Casio quartz that’s easily replaced. The Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400 looks a pretty desirable proposition as does the Tudor, but neither of them would be getting wet either

  12. I’d take the green Willard, or either of the new Shoguns, over any of these.

  13. ^ Ah, forgot about the Aquastar re-issue. Lovely piece. Shame (for me) about the increased case size though.

  14. How about the Edox Skydiver Neptunian? I absolutely love that blue dial.

  15. @Tom – we haven’t seen the watch in the metal yet so we can’t judge until we’ve tested it. But the watch is promising.

  16. Got it. I am thinking of pulling the plug on that one, so I’m doing some research beforehand 🙂

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