Inspired by some of the world’s greatest explorers, deep below the waves is where the dive watch thrives. Once a mere tool for timekeeping, though vital, the dive watch has since evolved to showcase some of the greatest technical capability and innovation in watchmaking. Think, durable materials, luminous dials, depth sensors, and pressure-defying features. The elements read like gadgets for a superhero, and indeed the dive watch bears a flair for this. A sense of adventure, an air of discovery, and the very cool conviction of being able to tell time 1000 metres beneath the ocean surface.
From wrist to wet suit, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite dive watches, combining impressive technology with aesthetic design. Whether you like to scuba dive, snorkel, or lounge away on a yacht on your next island vacation, these watches are reaching new heights in dive watch conception, and new depths for divers alike.
A watch inspired by famous scientist Charles Darwin, the special edition IWC Aquatimer Chronograph “Expedition Charles Darwin” bears a non-corrosive bronze case, much like the expedition vessels of that era. Water resistant to 300 meters, the rubber-coated push buttons and strap provide extra durability, and the patented luminescent dial coating glows even in the deepest of waters. Featuring a flyback function and rotating bezel with SafeDive system, it’s a watch designed for true divers on a mission — and as the bronze naturally becomes darker and evolves with the times, also makes for a great investment for the ages.
A reliable choice even at 1200 metres beneath the ocean’s surface, the OMEGA Seamaster Ploprof was developed with help from the legendary French explorer of the seas, Jacques Costeau. In its latest edition, the anti-magnetic titanium on titanium watch is OMEGA’s most water-resistant watch yet, with a screwed-in crown, specialty helium escape valve, bi-directional rotating bezel, and a shark-proof (yes, shark-proof) bracelet strap. A watch for a true adventurer, the case back is entirely transparent, and even comes with a divers’ extension, allowing for easy adjustment to fit perfectly over a wetsuit. It’s a watch that won’t let you down — not even when great whites come scouring dangerously near.
No list of dive watches would be complete without the pioneer of the modern dive watch: Swiss luxury watchmaker Blancpain, who debuted their iconic Fifty Fathoms collection back in the 1950s. Part of the updated limited edition collection, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback comes with a beautiful oceanic blue dial and satin-brushed ceramic bezel, and is part of the brand’s Ocean Commitment series — a program committed to supporting underwater expeditions and the protection of marine life. Following this nautical theme, the strap is made of sail canvas, and features luminous liquid metal hands and hour markers to create a stylish splash from the past, with a beautiful cause.
Vibrantly reminiscent of colourful coral reefs, Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Offshore Diver reimagines the beloved Royal Oak design in refreshed form for the waves. Available in a strikingly bold array of colours, the limited edition watch comes with the signature ‘Mega Tapisserie’ dial, with a matching acid yellow crown, and a rubber strap. The 44mm stainless steel case boasts a glare-proof sapphire crystal and white gold applied hour markers, making it a watch that not only shines on land, but also in the depths of the sea.
Binding a natural force into its design, the Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech looks to the future with an innovative new material, whilst still drawing inspiration from the brand’s history for design. Lighter than ceramics or titanium, the use of carbotech gives the watch its powerful matte black appearance, bringing both aesthetic appeal and exceptional technical performance to a design that holds its roots in the 1940s Panerai watches created for the Italian Navy. Featuring a rubber strap and an anticlockwise rotating bezel, the watch is ideal for underwater roamers who require a reliable, durable timepiece to accompany them.
A square case may seem like an impossible feat for a dive watch due to the nature of its traditional rotating bezel, yet a quick glimpse at French watchmaker Bell & Ross’ new BR 03-92 Diver Blue is sure to change what you think. Masterfully ‘squaring the circle’, the luxury brand presents a watch that is both creative and original in design, combining new form with function. The 42mm satin-polished steel square case boasts a unidirectional rotating steel bezel with a 60-minute scale and blue anodised aluminium insert. Luminous hands colour the traditional blue-coloured dial, viewable through an anti-reflective sapphire crystal.
Water resistant up to an impressive 1001 metres, the Italian handcrafted U-Boat U-1001 47 has long been a popular choice with soldiers in special force units. Housed within a 47mm IPB steel case, the dial unveils a clear and bold design, for a watch that is sharp, uncomplicated, and deeply reminiscent of high tech aquatic equipment. Featuring a helium escape valve, it’s a watch for divers who are serious about their underwater explorations, and know that only those who dare to discover can uncover the ocean’s best-kept secrets.