Best Dive Watches For Underwater Explorers

Worn by many iconic actors, explorers, and adventurers, the dive watch is one of the most popular and iconic watch types out there.

What is a Diving Watch?

For everyone ranging from the most passionate watch collector to the absolute watch newbie, dive watches are a very popular field of watches. But why is that you ask? It’s mainly because people like the aesthetic of a rugged tool that has a simple yet somehow classic look. They want to know that their watch will still tell them the time accurately in the very unlikely case of them being submerged 300 meters under the water. Also, since the trend leans towards more and more casual attire, dive watches are currently booming. And I totally get that, I am too a huge fan of the typical dive watch. Just the thought of all those tiny gears and springs, working flawlessly, while being under the relentless pressure of the ocean, fascinates me. A lot.

But it’s not just the aesthetics and the toughness that determined the success of the dive watch concept. There is also this reputation of coolness and badassery, that is associated with dive watches. I mean just think of James Bond’s Submariner’s and Seamaster’s or Steve McQueen’s Rolex 5513. And all of that made the dive watch to what it is today. So, whether you enjoy wearing your diver behind a desk or plan to do some actual underwater exploration with it, this article will feature the best dive watches, you can buy today and what to look for when buying one.

What to look for in a Dive Watch

Legibility is key when it comes to diving watches. When you’re deep under the surface with little to no daylight, you just don’t have time to fiddle around on your watch – you need to know in an instant, how much time you have left underwater. Therefore, it’s also very important that the watch has a good luminous coating.

Also, be aware of the depth rating of the respective watch. Usually, dive watches which are just rated as “waterproof” are not suitable for real diving or immersion in water. Dive watches with a water resistance of 100 meters are suitable only for snorkeling and diving at very minimal depths. And if you are looking for a watch that you actually can take with you when going diving, choose a watch which has a water resistance of 200 to 300 meters or even higher. Other than that, there is only one more important thing you have to keep in mind. Buy a watch that you like and have fun with it! But now, enough with all the talking, let’s dive (haha…) straight into, what I think, are 5 of the best dives watches out there.

Longines Legend Diver

Image credits: Longines

We start the list off with the Longines Legend Diver. A watch that immediately caught my eye and never left my mind ever since. The brand Longines was founded in 1832 (!), in a small Swiss town with the sounding name Saint-Imier. Ever since then, the almost 190-year-old company is known for manufacturing high-quality swiss watches. And while in present times, they are not regarded as prestigious as Rolex or Patek, Longines actually had times in which they were one of the most prestigious watch manufacturers in whole Switzerland.

The heritage of the Longines Legend Diver dates back to 1937, where Longines first started to experiment with waterproof watches. The ongoing development and research finally culminated in the launch of its first real diving watch in 1958. And if you are familiar with the dive watch history, you know that in the 60s, the Super-Compressor cases were the hottest stuff when it came to diving watches. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Longines also went down this road and developed the iconic twin-crowned cases. Fast forward to the past year, where Longines took a part of their rich history and turned it into the Longines Legend Diver.

The watch features the same super compressor case as the 1960s, but Longines enhanced the design to adhere to modern standards. The Longines Legend Diver has a black PVD coated, stainless steel case with a diameter of 42mm, which is complemented by a black dial, polished silver-plated hands, and a well-placed date window. The blacked-out case houses the automatic in-house L888 caliber, which features a date functionality and offers a power reserve of 72 hours. The iconic diver is worn on a black rubber strap, which complements the blacked-out case perfectly. Thanks to its design, rubber strap, and water resistance of up to 300 meters, it is perfect for the avid underwater explorer.

Overall, Longines did a great job. Taking their iconic dive watch from the 1960s and upgrading it with a very cool-looking black case and a nice movement, makes this a real winner for me. Compared to other dive watches with similar specs and looks, the price of around $2,600 is very reasonable. So, if you are in the market for a dive watch for under $3,000, this is a very nice choice.

Specifications: Price: $2,600, Case Size: 42mm, Thickness: 12.7mm, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic in-house L888 movement, Power Reserve: 72 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire 

Tudor Pelagos

Image credits: Tudor

Continuing with the Tudor Pelagos. With their new Black Bay Chronos and new Black Bay 58’s, Tudor received a lot of hype and praise from the watch community. And rightly so, I must add. Tudor really brought their A-game in the last few years. But with all the hype surrounding the Chronos and BB58’s, there is one watch that is just not receiving enough attention. And you guessed it, it’s the Tudor Pelagos.

Remember when I talked about dive watches having this rugged-tool appeal? Well, the Tudor Pelagos is a perfect example of that. This watch was designed and intended to be used as a tool. It’s simple as that. The case is made from an ultra-light and durable titanium-steel case, which measures 42mm in diameter, 14.45mm in height, and 50mm from lug to lug. The Pelagos has a distinctive Helium escape valve at 9 o’clock, which enables the watch to withstand extreme water pressures of up to 500 meters (1640ft) below the surface. The matte black unidirectional bezel is made completely from titanium, removing even more weight off the watch, and making it more comfortable to wear. To keep in line with the typical diver style, the dial of the watch is kept to a bare minimum, to ensure top-notch legibility when you are submerged underwater. Speaking of legibility, all the diving relevant parts of the dial, are coated in luminescent material, enabling you to tell the time even if there is no daylight present. Equipped with a COSC-certified, automatic Manufacture Calibre MT5612, the Tudor Pelagos provides 70 hours of power reserve.

In my opinion, this watch is a great choice for a wide range of enthusiasts. Especially for those that are after a watch like the Rolex Sea-Dweller or the Rolex Submariner, which are just very hard to get. But I have to tell you, that if you have slimmer wrists or just don’t enjoy larger watches, be very careful. This isn’t a dress watch. Not even close. This is primarily made to be used as a tool and not as an elegantly sized accessory. But let’s assume you know that already and are looking for a more casual piece, which you can wear when sitting on your balcony as well as when you are deeply submerged under tons of water. Then this watch is for you.

Specifications: Price: $4,300, Case Size: 42mm, Thickness: 14.3mm, Lug-to-Lug: 50mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Water Resistance: 500m, Movement: Automatic COSC-certified Manufacture MT5612 movement, Power Reserve: 70 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire

Rolex Submariner

Image credits: Rolex

The next watch on this list needs no introduction. Even if you don’t really care about watches, you probably already heard of the Rolex Submariner. And that’s no surprise. Ever since its introduction in 1954, the Rolex Submariner is one of the most iconic and well-known watches in the whole history of watches. Being the first-ever dive watch to receive a water resistance certificate of 100 meters, Rolex quickly gained respect among enthusiasts and connoisseurs, which ultimately led to their present success. But the coolness factor wasn’t just due to the water resistance and the clean looks. The watch was also worn by countless iconic actors like Sean Connery or Steve McQueen. Both added tremendously to the popularity of the watch.

Since the Rolex Submariner was one of the watches that made the dive watch and its design so popular, I think it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that the Submariner adheres perfectly to the typical diver aesthetic. The Oystersteel case is complemented by a unidirectional rotatable bezel which features a cerachrom insert in black ceramic. And believe me, this is one of the best parts of the watch. The whole bezel with the shiny black ceramic is absolutely stunning, which even gets better if you turn the unidirectional bezel and hear the satisfying click sound it makes. The thing about the Submariner is, that every part of the watch just fits so well into the overall look and feel. And this is especially noticeable when you look at how the bezel and the case fit in with the highly legible chromalight dial. Inside the Oyster case beats the automatic Manufacture 3230 caliber, which, of course, is made by Rolex in-house. Besides that, the watch also has a water resistance of 300 meters, making it capable of real-world diving.

So, a very cool watch, clean looks, and very nice specs. Seems nice. But let’s talk about the elephant in the room – availability. Most of you know, that it is extremely hard to get any Rolex steel sports model at a retail price. And unfortunately, the Rolex Submariner is also part of that. And that is something that understandably throws off most enthusiasts from getting a Rolex for themselves. And I get it, the watch at retail will set you back $8,100, but if you decide to buy one on the grey markets, you will have to pay $12,000 depending on model, year of production, and condition, and this is just absurd. I won’t start discussing the whole matter of who is to blame, the AD’s or Rolex (cough, AD’s cough), this is a whole topic for itself and a little bit too complex. Let’s assume you want a dive watch and are willing to pay around $8,000, but you are not able to get a Submariner from an AD, what should you do? Well, as cool as the Rolex Submariner is, there are a ton of other cool diving watches out there, which will scratch your diving-watch itch as well. Take for example our next pick, the Omega Seamaster 300 Co-Axial.

Specifications: Price: $8,100, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 12.4mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47.6mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic Manufacture 3230 movement, Power Reserve: 70 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire

Omega Seamaster 300

Image credits: Omega

Curtain up for our next watch on the list. The Omega Seamaster 300M. Similar to the Rolex Submariner, the Omega Seamaster has this reputation of being an icon and embodiment of the diver’s spirit. And as with the Submariner, this is well deserved. First introduced by Omega in 1957, the Seamaster 300 was designed especially for divers and professionals who worked underwater. Fast forward to today and more than 60 years after its initial release, the Seamaster 300 is still going strong and still is one of Omegas flagship timepieces.

The modernized version of the Omega Seamaster 300 features a 41mm stainless steel case, which has an open caseback, through which you can catch a glimpse at the automatic Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8912 movement. I will be honest here, in my opinion, the decoration and looks of the movement are quite underwhelming. But I think that’s rather up to personal preference, so please take a look at it on Omega’s website, to make up your own mind. But let’s not get biased here, apart from the movement, the watch looks stunning. The sand-blasted black dial features rhodium-plated hands and carved indexes, both of which are coated with “vintage” Super-LumiNova. Going against the widespread “hate” of the faux patina; I like it. And I stand by it. Maybe you want to have the stability of having a modern movement and the look of a more aged piece. Nothing bad with that, in my opinion. Anyway, the dial and the iconic hands get perfectly complemented by the polished ceramic bezel ring, which combined with the 300 meters of water resistance, make this a very nice piece to take with you when going diving.

I really love this watch. Maybe it’s because Daniel Craig alias James Bond wore a version of it in Spectre, or just because it’s a great-looking piece from a great brand. I guess we will never know…

Specifications: Price: $6,800, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 14.65mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8912 movement, Power Reserve: 60 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms No Rad

Image credits: Blancpain

Moving on the godfather of all dive watches. For some even the holy grail of all diving-related pieces. The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. Born in 1953, it combined a few remarkable features that made it a pioneer in diving watches. Basically, it’s the predecessor of the highly praised Submariners and Seamaster’s. The Fifty Fathoms was the brainchild of Jean-Jacques Fiechter, then CEO of Blancpain and his successor Marc A. Hayek. Both of them shared the passion for diving in their spare time, so, with the idea of Fiechter in mind, Hayek set out to create a watch that could accompany him on his future diving trips. And that’s how the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was born.

The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms comes in many different variants. Today I’m going to show you the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms ‘No Rad’, which basically is a tribute to the original Fifty Fathoms No Rad watch. Which back in the 1960s, was produced for the German Armed Forces – or “Bundeswehr” – how we say it in German. This watch equipped the “Kampfschwimmer”, an elite German diving commando unit, until the early 1970s. Fast-forwarding to the 15th of March 2021, when Blancpain introduced the newest version of the Fifty Fathoms No Rad. It’s noteworthy that in 2010, Blancpain released another tribute to the original “No Radiations” watch – with the same dial layout – only in a larger 45mm case. The 45mm version was released in a limited run of 500 pieces and has become quite collectible. But back to the newest model with the more modest-sized case.

The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms No Rad has a stainless-steel case with a diameter of 42mm, which is complemented by a stunning black dial, a well-placed date window, and the iconic No Rad Logo just above the 6 o’clock position. The polished case houses the automatic in-house 1151 caliber, which offers an impressive power reserve of around 100 hours. The iconic diver is worn on a black rubber strap, which complements the case perfectly. The watch is water-resistant up to 300 meters (984ft), making it perfectly capable of accompanying you on your next diving trip.

The modern Blancpain Fifty Fathoms No Rad is one of my holy grail watches when it comes to the dive category. The watch just is the whole package. It’s basically the first-ever real dive watch, it has an iconic design and it’s modestly sized, which cannot be said about other Fifty Fathoms watches. All of this, in my eyes, make the price tag of around $14,100, worth it.

Specifications: Price: $14,100, Case Size: 40.3mm, Thickness: 13mm, Lug-to-Lug: 45mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic in-house 1151 movement, Power Reserve: 100 Hours, Crystal: Sapphire


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