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Timeless - Classic and Cool Dive Watches

watch collection 1000 1

 

Neil Hope & Mark 'Crowley' Russell round up some of the most desirable dive watches on the market…

It’s not that long ago that a dive watch was an essential part of a diver’s equipment. Prior to the advent of affordable dive computers, the ability to measure dive time and calculate no-decompression limits, as mandated by dive tables, was vital for safe diving.

The first waterproof timepiece was manufactured by Rolex in 1926, worn by endurance swimming champion Mercedes Gleitze during her crossing of the English Channel. The first dive watch to feature the rotating bezel was Blancpain’s ‘Fifty Fathoms’ released in 1954 and used by Jacques Cousteau. In the same year, Rolex produced the Submariner, later popularised in the 1962 James Bond film Dr No.

The saturation of the market with inexpensive, multi-faceted dive computers has, for many divers, rendered the practical necessity of an underwater watch mostly redundant. There are exceptions. While recreational diving has reached a point where the teaching of dive tables has become an optional extra alongside computer-based training, technical divers will often carry two computers, hand-written slates and a robust analogue timepiece as backup.

For most of us, modern dive watches are more about form than function. And those cool forms come in a wide range of prices. Some can exceed the cost of a full set of dive gear, and are probably more about making a statement about the wearer in terms of wealth and status rather than anything relevent to diving prowess.

However, most dive watches do not require a second mortgage to acquire, and even if the practical purpose of an underwater timepiece is not as necessary as it used to be, wearing one does indeed make a statement about the wearer - it says: 'I'm a diver.'

DEPTH RATING

Chief among the considerations is the rating for ‘water-resistance’, and 200m (or 20 bar/ata) is the minimum, as dictated by ISO standards for scuba diving watches.

People might ask why a rating of 50m is not enough if they never dive deeper than 30, but the key is in the term ‘water-resistant’. The watch in question may survive a short dunking to 50m but is not designed to withstand high pressure for sustained periods of time, nor the other stresses (such as jumping off a dive boat) that it might incur.

A rating of 100m means it will handle snorkelling and duck-diving; 50m is okay for surface swimming; anything less might survive a light drizzle but shouldn’t be worn in a thunderstorm.

UNI-DIRECTIONAL BEZEL

The rotating bezel is the outer ring of the watch, usually numbered from 0 to 60, allowing the measurement of elapsed dive time using the minute hand of the watch by rotating the bezel to the starting time of your dive. The unidirectional aspect ensures that if the bezel should be accidentally moved, it can only ever shorten the dive and therefore keep the diver within planned limits. They are not mandatory but certainly recommended for the practical use of the watch to measure dive time.

STRAP

There are different options for watch straps, most commonly a corrosion-resistant stainless-steel bracelet, or a rubber strap and buckle, which some divers will prefer as it allows for easier adjustment for different types of exposure suit and the associated compression at depth. Leather straps are not recommended for diving.

GENDER issues

Many of the available dive watches are not gender-specific. They’re just ‘dive watches’ and there is no men’s or women’s version. Some manufacturers have models for both, but others put all their dive watches into their ‘men’s collections’, presumably unaware that – pun absolutely intended – time has moved on.

OTHER FEATURES:

Some watches have backlights, but almost all have luminous dials for diving in darkness. Some high-end timepieces use tiny gas tubes filled with tritium, an isotope of hydrogen (H3 in shorthand), which emits light without being charged by prior illumination.

Helium release valves are a feature of many dive watches, especially those with deeper depth ratings. Helium is an inert, 'noble' gas (such as Neon, Argon, Xenon, etc.) but Helium molecules are so tiny they can work themselves into a watch through even the tightest of seals. Manual or automatic helium-release valves allow the gas to escape during decompression.

Some watches have separate dials (usually three) on the main face of the watch that can be used to measure time independently of the main hands, and can function as timers and stopwatches with more accuracy. Some watches have depth-sensors, which might come in handy as a backup.

Others have a ‘calendar’ function. If you need to know the current date when you’re diving then you have your priorities all wrong.

ANALOGUE OR DIGITAL?

Scuba diving watches are analogue. Open discussion should be encouraged and applauded in a free and fair society, but some things are sacrosanct – scuba diving
watches are analogue. End of discussion.

 


Citizen Promaster Professional Diver 

1 CITIZEN h promaster professional diver dive watches

The light-powered ‘Eco-Drive’ technology means that the classic-looking Promaster requires no access to the back for battery changing. The silver-tone stainless steel case with anti-reflective coated mineral glass has a matching dark blue face, polyurethane strap and one-way rotating elapsed-time bezel. Large luminous hands and hour markers plus a date window. Depth rated to 200m. The jet-black Royal Marine Commando is rated to 300m.

Coolness: **** Functionality: ****

The Promaster’s classic lines and solar charging make for a great-looking timepiece.

Price: £299 (bracelet) £249 (strap), Royal Marines Commando limited edition (£499) 
www.citizenwatch.com 


Luminox Scott Cassell 3059.SET

2 luminox scott cassel h 3059.SET dive watches

Designed in conjunction with undersea explorer Scott Cassell this striking timepiece is manufactured from carbon reinforced PC with a hardened mineral glass, double-gasket crown and has a rubber/silicone strap. Luminox’s ‘Night Vision Tubes’ – in ice blue and green - provide a constant source of light for 25 years on the hands, hours and also at the 60-minute mark on the one-way bezel. Rated to 200m.

Coolness **** Functionality **** 

Chunky and colourful – it screams ‘diver’ the moment you enter the room.

Price: £399
www.luminox.co.uk


Reactor Poseidon Titanium LE

3 REACTOR TITANIUM LE h poseidon dive watches

This individually numbered special edition, forged from solid titanium has a 24-jewel Japanese mechanical automatic movement and 42-hour power reserve. Depth tested to 1,000m, features include dual rotating bezels, a choice of titanium bracelet or rubber strap and a patented Never Dark technology to provide optimal illumination to the hands and digits under all lighting conditions.

Coolness *** Functionality ****

The LE’s industrial appearance looks like it means business!

Price £880 
www.reactorwatch.com


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Oris Aquis Hammerhead Limited Edition 

Oris Hammerheadn jpeg

 

 

Based on the Oris Aquis collection, a percentage of each Hammerhead sold will go to the non-profit Pelagios Kakunjá shark conservation program. The case is stainless steel with a unidirectional bezel and polished sapphire crystal, embossed with a hammerhead shark logo. Oris uses its own automatic-winding mechanism, powered by the movement of the wearer’s arm, for a fully-mechanical watch. Superluminova coatings over the grey face keep the display visible. Available with a stainless-steel bracelet with folding clasp and extension, the Hammerhead is rated to 500m.

Coolness **** Functionality *****

Looks like a dress watch – but has all the functions for the most adventurous of divers and it helps a good cause.

Price £2,020 
www.oris.ch


Tissot SeaStar 1000 Automatic Chronograph

5 Tissot seastar 1000 - opt automatic chronograph dive watches

Available in four styles/colours, including an automatic model, this stainless steel case, Swiss quartz movement chronograph is water resistant to 300m. The hands and markings utilise Superluminova for easy reading at night or in poor lighting conditions and also features a ceramic unidirectional bezel and a stainless steel bracelet with an extension. The battery-powered chronograph features additional split-timing counters, and the watches of the Swiss-made collection all contain a helium valve to depressurise the casing on ascents from deep dives. 

Coolness *** Functionality ****

At home in the office or out on the dive boat.

Price £460 
www.tissot.ch


 Tag Heuer Aquaracer

WAY101B.BA0746 2017 3 USE

Tag Heuer’s Aquaracer collection is one of the largest collections of dive watches available on today’s market, with 104 models currently listed on their website, 50 of which are in the women’s category. The model pictured (BA0746) is available with a black face and either a black or red aluminium bezel, or blue face with blue bezel, enclosed in a steel case with sapphire crystal. This particular model is battery powered and features a steel bracelet with safety push buttons and a diving extension. Others are automatic, self-winding watches or come with a rubber strap. With a few exceptions, all are rated to 300m.

Coolness **** Functionality ****

Black and silver – the classic combination.

Price £1,350 
www.tagheuer.co.uk


Ball Engineer Master II Skindiver II

DM3108A PCJ BK 

The latest evolution of the 1962 Ball Skindiver timepiece, the Engineer Master II Skindiver II revisits the vintage design of the original, with a classic black face and stainless-steel, anti-reflective, sapphire crystal case. The simple design is intended to ensure the most important information is immediately available to the diver, with tritium-illuminated dials that require no natural light for visibility, and an automatic helium-release valve. Stainless- steel bracelet and rubber strap included as standard. Shock resistant to 5,000G and water resistant to 500m.

Coolness **** Functionality *****

Impressive appearance with functions to match.

Price £2,260 
www.ballwatch.com


Bulova Precisionist Chrongraph

96G175
US manufacturer Bulova claims to have the most precise timepieces available, with a history involving partnerships with NASA to develop a watch capable of measuring in 1/1000 of a second. The Precisionist Chronograph has a fixed bezel but an additional chronometer on the face, available in blue, silver and black, and contained in a stainless steel case with a curved sapphire crystal, luminous hands and markers. A stainless- steel bracelet and safety locking clasp complete the design, rated to 300m.

Coolness *** Functionality ****

A mean machine for those who like all the bells and whistles. 

Price: £699 
www.bulova.com


 Chris Benz 1000M Shark Project Edition

CB 1000H SP S KB B 

German specialist Chris Benz makes watches for scuba diving. Some of the models may have other functions, but they can all go diving. The Deep collection features six timepieces plus the 1000M Shark Project Edition, bundled together with an interactive booklet raising awareness of the plight of sharks in our oceans. The near-indestructible dive watch is built with solid marine-grade stainless-steel casing, helium escape valve, sapphire crystal and unidirectional bezel with a black dial with luminous markings. A choice of blue or black durable rubber straps with a printed decompression chart, or a stainless steel bracelet with dive extension and lock, is available. The Shark Project edition comes with a unique logo and case engraving, all rated to a depth of 1,000m.

Coolness **** Functionality ****

Smart-looking dial with a modern design and shark conservation in mind.

Price €375 (strap) €425 (steel bracelet)
www.chrisbenz.de


Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600 

10 CHRIS WARD C60 TRID t christopher trident pro 600 dive watches

Re-engineered and upgraded, the Trident C60 has a 316L marine-grade stainless steel case, anti-reflective sapphire crystal and Swiss self-winding movement with 38-hour power reserve. Water resistant to 600m, features include an attractive black wave pattern design, date window and a zirconia ceramic unidirectional bezel. Hands, indices and the bezel’s marker utilise the latest development of Superluminiova for increased luminosity.

Coolness *** Functionality ****

Elegant, suitable for a wedding – even the underwater variety.

Price £710 (orange stiched webbing), £730 (rubber strap), £795 (bracelet)
www.christopherward.co.uk


Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 

12 OMEGA SEAMASTER DIV opt diver dive watches

With its lacquered black or blue dial and matching polished ceramic diving bezel, the Diver 300M has a date window at the three o’clock position and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. Powered by a self-winding co-axial escapement movement with a 48-hour power reserve, the watch is water-resistant to 300m and also benefits from a helium escape valve.

Coolness **** Functionality *****

Another classic-looking watch, courtesy of the current Bond’s timepiece manufacturer.

Price £3,500, 
www.omegawatches.com


Raymond Weil Tango 300

 

RW tango tango300n

The Tango 300 family of watches from Raymond Weil comes in several different versions: a steel case with a genuine rubber strap and a black dial, oir the steel-on-steel bracelet version with blue, black or grey faces and folding clasp with a double-push security system. An additional three 'chronograph' models are also available. Luminous hands and indexes are present on the non-rotating bezel (model pictured, other models have a unidirectional rotating bezel), with quartz movement and a sapphire crystal present in the stainless-steel case, which is water resistant to 300m

Coolness **** Functionality ****

Multi-function watches in a range of stylish options

£950 (strap) £1095 (bracelet)
www.raymond-weil.com


Rolex Sea-Dweller 

Sea Dweller 126600 PK13GGGGG
First introduced in 1967 as a step-up from the original Submariner model, Rolex released the latest version of its Sea-Dweller in 2017. Featuring a 904L steel Oyster casing with sapphire crystal and a unidirectional rotating bezel with ceramic inserts and numerals coated in platinum, the Sea Dweller comes with a satin-finished stainless-steel bracelet with Rolex’s Guidelock extension system. The timepiece is self-winding, with a power reserve of around 70 hours, and the ‘Chromalight’ display emits a long-lasting blue glow for visibility in low light conditions. An automatic helium escape valve is an aid to the deepest and longest of dives, with the watch rated to a maximum depth of 1,220m.

Coolness ***** Functionality ****

The classic, it’s the ultimate statement.

Price £8,350
www.rolex.com


Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique

13 BLANCPAIN FIFTY FAT opt fathoms automatique dive watches 

 

 

Complementing its 1930s original look, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique retains its classic appearance with a black face, luminous hands and indices with the addition of a date window between the four and five o’clock marks. The steel case is depth-rated to 300m and the self-winding mechanism has a power reserve of 120 hours.

Coolness **** Functionality ****

If it was good enough for Costeau in The Silent World...

Price £10,080 
www.blancpain.com


Seiko Marinemaster Professional 1000M Diver’s 

SBDX014G seiko marinemaster professional 1000m diver dive watches

Celebrating 50 years since Seiko’s first diver’s watch, the titanium Marinemaster Pro 1000m follows in its predecessor’s footsteps utilising a two-layer case construction. Effectively impermeable to helium, the watch can be used safely for saturation diving. Automatic winding with a reserve of 50 hours. Lumibrite hands and markers, a ceramic outer shell to enhance shock resistance plus an extra-strength silicone strap for security.

Coolness **** Functionality ****

Uncluttered design and killer colour combo with tough looks too.

Price £2,750
www.seiko.co.uk

 

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