Beneath The Surface: The Best Dive Watches For Men
These dive watches combine rugged style with technical prowess.
Look. You needn’t be planning an expedition to the Mariana Trench to covet a dive watch. In a time when suggestion of wearing a watch is all too often met with a blasé “oh, I don’t need one, I have my phone for that,” there’s a certain allure to a piece of mechanical engineering that can go where our often-inescapable everyday devices cannot.
From the Rolex Submariner to the Omega Seamaster, dive watches continue to hold appeal for land dwellers, in no small part thanks to their clean, legible dials; sturdy construction that can withstand a knock or two; and place in pop culture (hello, 007). Plus, there’s a certain sense of surety that accompanies the knowledge that, should you be unceremoniously pushed into a pool at a summer gathering, your wearables won’t be irrevocably damaged.
Whether you’re an actual diver or the closest you’ll get to oceanic exploration is a splash or two at the kiddie pool, these are the best dive watches to buy in 2023.
Let’s not bury the lede. Often cited as the reference point for all modern dive watches, the Rolex Submariner has been a certified hit since its inception in 1953. While it’s undergone several tweaks since it was first released 70 years ago, the contemporary iteration remains (relatively) aesthetically faithful to the original; fitted with a unidirectional bezel and retaining the same clean dial layout. Housed in a 41mm stainless steel case (though the Submariner Date is also available in precious metals), it’s equipped with the calibre 3230 and boasts 300m water resistance and a 70 hour power reserve.
From $12,850; rolex.com
Blancpain Fifty-Fathoms Tech Gombessa
Another seminal timepiece released in 1953, the Blancpain Fifty-Fathoms was the first to offer a unidirectional bezel with a diving scale to track time underwater. While the first modern dive watch has received several makeovers since its initial release, the Blancpain Fifty-Fathoms Tech Gombessa is one for the serious divers. Catering to the needs of contemporary divers, the Tech Gombessa is able to measure immersion times of up to three hours. The case is crafted from grade 23 titanium to ensure lightness despite its 47mm proportions, while the glossy ‘absolute’ black dial features legible luminescent monobloc orange hour indexes. Like the Rolex Submariner, the Blancpain Fifty-Fathoms Tech Gombessa is water resistant to 300m.
Panerai Submersible Quarantaquattro
For a timepiece recognisable 300 metres under, the Panerai Submersible Quarantaquattro is the way to go. With its signature cushion case and oversized crown guard, the 44mm stainless steel dive watch is unmistakably Panerai. Water resistant to 300m, it’s powered by the automatic P.900 calibre and has a power reserve of 72 hours.
Grand Seiko SLGA015 Evolution 9 Diver’s
Equipped with Grand Seiko’s signature Spring Drive technology, the Grand Seiko SLGA015 Evolution 9 Diver’s is depth resistant to 200m and boasts a generous five day power reserve. The unidirectional bezel is crafted from scratch-resistant ceramic, with the 43.8mm case composed of lightweight titanium. The deep black dial features a patterned surface, recalling the powerful currents of the oceans that surround Japan.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver
The ever-covetable, instantly recognisable sports watch takes a dive. In keeping with the heritage of the line, the octagonal bezel of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver is fitted with exposed screws (while being able to move unidirectionally) while the tapisserie dial swaps the usual understated stick indexes for blocky luminescent ones. Oversized screwed down crowns are crafted from black ceramic, complementing the 42mm stainless steel case. Presented on a blue rubber strap, its equipped with the Audemars Piguet quick-change system.
Approx. $41,800; audemarspiguet.com
Breitling Superocean Automatic 42
A contemporary take on its heritage diver of the same name, the Breitling Superocean Automatic 42 places legibility at its forefront, with its dial bearing chunky luminescent indexes and squared-off hands. Water resistant to 300m, it’s available in a plethora of colours, case materials, and case sizes, including this 42mm bronze iteration (pictured) which develops a beautiful patina over time—if actually used as a dive watch.
From $6990; breitling.com
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M
Omega recently celebrated 75 years of the Seamaster collection, and holds the world record for undertaking the deepest dive in history (10,935m). For those after a daily diver, the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M is the ideal timepiece; launched in 1993, it quickly became known as the ‘James Bond watch’ thanks to being sported by both Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig throughout the illustrious franchise. Water resistant to 300m, the 42mm stainless steel case features a black or blue ceramic dial, encircled by a colour-matched unidirectional bezel.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date
A refined take on the humble dive watch, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Date features a blue lacquered dial with a sunray-brushed centre. Oversized Arabic numerals and coffin-shaped indexes receive a luminescent coating, as do the skeletonised hands. Water resistant to 200m, the in-house movement provides a power reserve of 70 hours.
IWC Aquatimer IW328803
While best known for its pilot’s watches, IWC’s dive watches are not to be overlooked. First released in 1967, the Aquatimer line as we know it today was the result of a collaboration between IWC and Porsche Design in 1983. Water resistant to 300m with a power reserve of 120 hours, the IWC Aquatimer IW328803 retains some of the key design codes of the Porsche-era Aquatimer, while adapting it to suit contemporary tastes. Unlike most modern dive watches, the IWC Aquatimer IW328803 features a unique internal/external rotating bezel with a bevelled edge for ease of use underwater. The 42mm stainless steel case is accompanied by a matching bracelet, with IWC’s quick-change system making it easy to sub in a black rubber strap.
Baume & Mercier Riviera Azur 300m
Now in its 50th year, Baume & Mercier’s iconic sporty timepiece gets a dive-ready upgrade. The Baume & Mercier Riviera Azur 300m sees the model’s signature dodecagonal bezel able to move unidirectionally and fitted with knurled inserts for ease of grip. The translucent smokey blue sapphire dial houses sleek stick indexes, with the hands sized up to improve legibility. The wearable 42mm case is presented on a blue rubber strap or matching steel bracelet.
Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton
For those desirous of making a statement underwater, the Ulysse Nardin Diver X Skeleton is the watch to wear. Water resistant to 200m, the 44mm titanium case plays host to an openworked dial—a rarity when it comes to dive watches—with the namesake ‘X’ splashed across it it black and azure blue. The unidirectional rotating bezel is composed of carbonium (a lightweight recycled composite material) and adorned with a subtle swirled pattern.
Approx. $108,500; ulysse-nardin.com
Glashütte Original SeaQ Chronograph
A quintessentially Glashütte Original take on the dive watch, the SeaQ Chronograph looks anything but utilitarian. Depth resistant to 300m, the 43.2mm stainless steel case features a handcrafted intense blue dial, complemented by a colour-matched ceramic inlay in the unidirectional rotating bezel. The German manufacture’s first dive watch to feature a flyback chronograph function, the bicompax layout showcases small seconds and a 30-minute counter. Arabic numerals, applied markers, and the hour and minute hands receive a luminescent coating, allowing them to be read under all lighting conditions.
Bremont Supermarine Type 300
Laden with vintage design details, the Bremont Supermarine Type 300 responds to the desire for professional dive watches in slightly smaller case sizes. Featuring Bremont’s unique Trip-Tick (three-piece) case construction, the 40mm stainless steel timepiece doesn’t compromise on function. Its soft black metal dial is encircled by a scratch-resistant colour-matched ceramic bezel, with creamy indexes and Arabic numerals adding to the vintage aesthetic. Water resistant to 300m and with a power reserve of 38 hours, it’s presented on a stainless steel bracelet.
Carl F. Bucherer Pavrati ScubaTec
A relative newcomer to the dive watch category, the Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec impresses with its 500m depth resistance and aggressively masculine aesthetic. Equipped with a helium escape value, it’s able to withstand high pressure environments, while its 44.6mm stainless steel case exudes rugged style. The ceramic bezel insert features a two-tone blue-and-black colour palette, which is reflected in the rubber strap it’s presented on (also available with a matching stainless steel bracelet).
Tag Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300
Optimal durability meets Tag Heuer’s sleek design language in the Aquaracer Professional 300. Designed to suit the needs of professional divers, the Aquaracer collection was launched in 2004 and represents the unity of technical capability and elegant style. While refined enough to pair with a suit, it’s most at home underwater; depth resistant to 300m, the 43mm stainless steel timepiece is fitted with an ergonomic stainless steel bracelet and has a 38-hour power reserve.
What is a dive watch?
Advancements in contemporary watchmaking mean many timepieces can now be used underwater. However, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) stipulates that a dive watch must have a minimum depth rating of 100 metres, a unidirectional bezel with markings at least every five minutes, and a dial visible in complete darkness (as well as an indication in darkness that the watch is running—typically achieved by a running seconds hand with a luminous tip). The ISO 6425 also specifies that dive watches must be anti-magnetic and resistant, in addition to being resistant to corrosion in seawater.
What are the deepest dive watches?
While most people will never dive further than 50 metres underwater, manufactures are continually pushing the boundaries when it comes to depth rating. Currently, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge holds the record for the highest depth rating at 11,000m. It’s followed by the Omega Planet Ocean Ultra Deep which is certified to 6000m and the Rolex Deepsea, water resistant to 3900m.
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