7 of the best luxury dive watches you can buy today
Updated Wed 13th July 2022 by Craig Gibson
Looking for a classic luxury dive watch for your wrist?
Dive watches are popular for a good reason – they are sporty and versatile enough for any occasion, formal, casual or if you want to hit the beach. Unmistakably chunky, they include some of the iconic luxury watches released – including Rolex’s Submariner, OMEGA’s Seamaster Diver 300M and Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms to name a few.
Originally designed to survive the rigours of life underwater dive watches have come a long way, from purely functional tools watches to much in-demand fashion accessories that rarely, if ever, actually get wet. Who are we to judge, right! As long as people get joy out of their dive watch, that’s all that matters.
Is there a recognised standard dive watches must meet?
It’s no surprise that many of the toughest watches on the planet are diver watches, as they are designed to withstand extreme conditions – like being hundreds of metres underwater.
To be classed as a true dive watch they actually need to meet the ISO 6425 standard (International Organisation for Standardisation), with water resistance to at least 200m – though this is not a compulsory rating. It does however allow a watch to be labelled ‘Diver’s’ if it passed the test.
The testing regime is pretty hardcore, with a shock test that includes being wacked with a 3kg plastic hammer aganst the case and the crystal. Watches are also immersed in salt water for 24 hours to ensure they are not only watertight, but do not rust. The ISO test checks if the watch can handle 25% more depth pressure than advertised – so it is pressure tested to 250m if it has 200m on the dial. This is despite the fact that even if you do go scuba diving, you are unlikely to go much deeper than 40 metres.
Not sure if you are looking at a dive watch? If they have these features, it’s very likely a diver.
What features does a dive watch have?
Dive watches will have the following features:
- Water resistance, from 200m to 300m and more, using screw-down case backs/crown and o-rings to achieve a perfect seal.
- Easy to read dial, with large numerals and hands.
- Luminosity on markers, hands and bezel for better visibility in murky water.
- Unidirectional bezel with minute/5 minute markers to track time underwater.
- Durable strap made from stainless steel, titanium or rubber/silicone.
Now let’s get into the watches!
7 of the best luxury dive watches you can buy today
Some of the most popular, iconic and collectable luxury dive watches available in Australia today are the:
1. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms: The True Original
Blancpain was early to the game with its now iconic Fifty Fathoms, as the first professional dive watch released in 1953. This was before both Rolex’s Submariner (1954) and OMEGA’s Seamaster models. Current models are true to original design philosophy, which can only be described as classical – with the easy-to-read dial, chunky bezel and 5 day power reserve.
Make no mistake, at 45mm this is a large watch, so it needs the right wrist, but the curved lugs and ‘just right’ weighting make it an easy everyday wear.
2. Breitling Superocean Heritage: Great value and history
The Breitling Superocean Heritage is from a brand that has a serious heritage in sports watches. Consider that the Superocean debuted in 1957, just a few years after Rolex created the first waterproof watch. With this model you get the brand’s excellent automatic Calibre 20 movement, with a 70 hour power reserve in a very manageable 42 mm case size. Great value all things considered!
3. OMEGA Seamaster Diver 300M + Planet Ocean 600M: How deep?
Ok, we have two watches here for OMEGA, but so does Rolex! With its Seamaster range OMEGA has a unique history with 007 (Diver 300M) and deep sea exploration (Planet Ocean 600M). The Diver 300M is more affordable and has arguably, a more attractive ‘wave’ inspired dial – though is ‘only’ rated to 300 metres.
The Planet Ocean 600M is chunkier on the wrist with a case size of 45.5mm, and also has a helium escape valve. The Planet Ocean Seamaster 600M Titanium holds the record for depth reached underwater, after adventurer Victor Vescovo reached 10,934 m in a titanium submersible in the Eastern Pool of the Marianas Trench, the deepest place on the planet.
4. Panerai Luminor Submersible: Italian roots, Swiss engineering
With a history manufacturing watches for the Italian navy, you can’t ignore Panerai’s Luminor Submersible. There are a range of models, manufactured from different materials including stainless steel, titanium and Carbotech – with 42mm, 45mm and 47mm case sizes. The Luminor Submersible ref. PAM01024 is the entry-level model, and is water-resistant to 300m.
There are also ‘tougher’ models, like the Panerai Luminor Submersible “Mike Horn” Edition, which is a limited edition model manufactured from ECOTITANIUM™, and sporting a bracelet made from recycled plastic. This timepiece is rated to an impressive 300m.
5. Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner: All hail the legend!
Introduced in 1954, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner – or just the ‘Sub’ – is the world’s most famous diving watch, and quite possibly the most recognisable watch on the planet. Modern versions come in two references – 3135 (date) and 3130 (no date) – in 904L steel with a folding Oysterlock safety clasp with Rolex Glidelock extension system – for a perfect fit. There are a variety of different dial/face colours, including the much-in-demand ‘Hulk’ (green bezel and dial), and the ‘Kermit’ (black dial and green bezel) and two-tone models.
In terms of sizing, Rolex increased the case diameter from 40mm to 41mm in 2020. Vintage examples are extremely collectable and prices of all Submariner models are appreciating at a healthy rate.
6. Rolex Sea-Dweller + Rolex Deepsea: Toughest of the tough!
The Rolex Sea-Dweller is the ‘serious’ big brother to the Submariner, and the toughest watch in their range. With the Sea-Dweller you get a waterproof rating to a depth of 1,220 metres, compared to the Sub’s 300 metres. The Sea-Dweller is marketed as a serious explorer’s timepiece, and why James Cameron chose it for his solo trip to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on earth. Rolex honoured this achievement with the release of the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller, which comes in a ‘standard’ version with a black dial, and one with a graduated dark blue dial – the so-called ‘James Cameron’.
The Deepsea is also chunkier with a slightly larger 44mm case, and thicker crystal – which allows it to survive depth’s close to 4,000 metres.
7. Tudor Black Bay: Vintage charm and value for money
If you want Rolex quality and attention to detail for a lot less then you can’t beat dive watches from sister brand Tudor. Introduced in 2012, the Tudor Black Bay is inspired by the brand’s own vintage Submariner model, with a distinctly retro charm. The Black Bay Fifty-Eight is the most popular variety of the range, coming in 39mm, 41mm and 43mm cases – all with in-house chronometer movements.
You should also shortlist the Pelagos, which is actually more of a serious tool dive watch, with a 42mm titanium case and uses the same in-house 5612 chronometer as the Black Bay.
We have an extensive range new and pre-owned dive watches, with stock updated daily. Want to view one? It’s as easy as getting in touch to arrange a private appointment. We have showrooms in Melbourne and Sydney, where we can help you choose the right dive watch for you.