Man’s Guide To Dive Watches | How To Buy The Right Diver’s Watch
Having planted the plastic explosives, Bond sets the timer on the detonator after first checking the time on his Rolex Submariner.
Later, after removing his scuba gear to reveal an immaculate white dinner jacket, he again glances at his watch as a massive explosion rocks the nightclub.
Just like that, Sean Connery propelled the dive watch into stardom, where it has remained ever since.
Dive Watch History
Along with the field watch and the aviation watch, the dive watch is one of the most prolific men’s watch styles.
In this article we’re going to look at what goes into a good diver and how you can add one to your collection.
It should be obvious that accurate timekeeping is crucial when hundreds of feet underwater while carrying a finite supply of air.
As a result, divers have always demanded superior timepieces.
Modern scuba didn’t really exist until the 1950s, right around the time Ian Fleming started writing the James Bond novels.
Fleming wrote the novels every summer while vacationing at his home in Jamaica, where he was an avid diver.
What Makes a Good Dive Watch?
In addition to accuracy, a dive watch must also possess superior water resistance.
A true diver will conform to the ISO 6425 standard, a series of tests designed to ensure resistance to at least 100 meters, though many will offer even greater resistance.
Case and band material must be corrosion resistant, so stainless steel, titanium, silicone and rubber are often used.
Bands are typically longer than usual in order to fit over bulky dive equipment.
While sapphire is often the desired watch crystal material, divers may prefer hardened mineral glass.
Even though it scratches more easily than sapphire, it is more resistant to breakage, which can be catastrophic when deep underwater.
The defining characteristic of the dive watch is the uni-directional bezel.
A good dive bezel will only rotate counter-clockwise. This enables to the diver to set the index to the minute hand at the beginning of the dive and easily see how long he has been under.
If the uni-directional bezel is inadvertently rotated, it will show greater time underwater rather than less. By erring on the side of caution the diver can avoid exceeding his available air or providing insufficient decompression time.
The Iconic Original Rolex Submariner Dive Watch
You can’t talk about dive watches without talking about the Rolex Submariner.
I couldn’t even write the introduction to this article without bringing it up.
Nearly every other dive watch has copied at least some aspect of the Submariner’s design.
It’s the quintessential dive watch.
An authentic one will set you back almost $7,000 and you’ll have to get used to being asked “Is it a real Rolex?”. The Submariner is probably the most copied watch in existence.
Strangely enough, even a knock-off Rolex can still be a pretty high quality watch.
But if you want the real thing, make sure you buy from an official dealer.
The Other Bond Watch
The modern cinematic James Bond hasn’t lost touch with his diving roots either. In the Daniel Craig era, Bond favors the Omega Seamaster Pro.
With its in-house automatic movement and high-end refinements such as sapphire crystal, two-tone stainless steel band and distinctive scalloped bezel, the Seamaster looks great and has the performance to match.
Navy SEALs, What the Professionals Wear
A group of world class, top-tier operators like the Navy SEALs are going to demand only the best from their equipment.
Their dive skills are what distinguish the SEALs from their brother special operations forces and so they, like Bond are known for their taste in watches.
Luminox has had a longstanding relationship with the SEALs starting with their 3001 Original Navy SEAL Dive Watch.
The line has since expanded to include several models in the $150-$200 price range.
The watches are tough polyurethane cases with hardened mineral crystals, Swiss quartz movement and tritium gas illumination.
Most watches use phosphorescent illumination, which requires it to be charged in bright light before it works.
Seiko Dive Watch
Seiko’s dive watches provide a number of desirable features at a very attractive price.
The Seiko SKX173 uses a Japanese automatic movement and uses nearly unbreakable Hardlex mineral crystal.
The stainless case and polyurethane band are durable and corrosion resistant. The watch provides 200m of depth resistance and comes in under $200.
Suunto Dive Watch
Suunto refers to their watches as “wrist-top computers” and there is no more apt description for the range of features that they provide.
The Suunto Core features barometer, depth measurement, altimeter, compass and oh yeah, it also tells time.
Suuntos are another popular watch among spec-ops forces who might have to parachute or dive to a location and then navigate overland to an objective.
Marathon Dive Watch
Marathon is best known for the SAR line of dive watches, so named because they were designed for use by the Canadian Air Force’s Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs).
It looks a bit like a Submariner on steroids, and Marathon is fond of drawing the comparison, as they advertise on their site “A Rolex is a jewel, a Marathon is a tool”.
It uses a Swiss Automatic movement, features tritium illumination and is just about bulletproof.
Adding One to Your Collection
As you can see, dive watches run the gamut from ultra high-end to exceptionally rugged. Recognize the place in your wardrobe you want the watch to fit and choose the right watch within your budget.
Whether you’re a diver or just an admirer of the style and heritage there’s a dive watch to suit you.
Coming up next in the series, we’ll be taking a look at racing watches.