Your New Summer Go-Tos (AKA Dive Watches That Won’t Break The Bank)
Although they follow a relatively simple formula (legibility, water resistance, and the ability to measure elapsed time being key – more on that, here), dive watches are one of the most diverse and popular genres of watchmaking. The benefit of the category’s ubiquity means that there are more than enough quality dive watches available at all price points – so if you’re looking for a fun, new watch that won’t blow your budget, we’ve got you covered.
Just consider the Seiko Prospex “Monster” SRPD27. Seiko dive watches hold a special place in the collections of countless watch lovers thanks to their wearability and accessibility, and the “Monster” is one of the most famous. This beloved Seiko dive watch first breached the surface in the early 2000s, and it quickly developed a cult following due to its aggressive shark-tooth bezel and impressive technical specs. In 2019, Seiko updated its classic dive watch with a number of notable features, including a more streamlined and wearable case profile, a magnifying lens over the day/date aperture, and a new automatic movement. And the best part? It’s still priced under $500.
If you’re looking for something even more fun and approachable, try out the Timex Navi XL Quartz. While it doesn’t meet the requirements of a dive watch exactly, it carries over the aesthetic cues of some of Timex’s most memorable mid-century dive-style watches. The clean white dial and dark green bezel are offset by an attractive and slim gunmetal IP-coated case. The $129 price tag only brings it home.
If you’re after something a bit more unconventional this summer, the recently updated G-SHOCK Frogman collection might fit the bill. These two divers are the latest release in the function-rich Master of G collection, and they’re actually the first Frogman dive watches to feature a fully analog display. Unlike every other watch on this list, the Frogman is interesting in that although it is a fully ISO-certified dive watch, it does away with the unidirectional bezel – something that is perhaps the most emblematic of all dive watch features. G-SHOCK worked around this by developing a specialty “Dive Mode” for the watch that needs to be engaged prior to use. When Dive Mode is enabled, the hour and minute hands change position until the minute hand rests directly on top of the hour hand, and both are aligned at 12 o’clock. This new display functions visually as a single minute hand, which can then be easily used to track elapsed time underwater and during decompression stops. It’s an incredibly cool take on the classic conventions of a dive watch, and it’s a perfect tool watch for the long summer days.
Everyday Divers, For Summer And Beyond
If you’re looking for a sporty and stylish dive watch that will work just as well during the lazy days of summer as it does during the short, cold days of winter, one of these watches from Oris, Longines, or NORQAIN might just do the trick.
If you appreciate dive watches with a more contemporary design, the Aquis GMT Carysfort Reef Limited Edition is worth a look. Oris is well known for using its platform as a Swiss watchmaker to support various causes related to marine conservation, and this watch does just that by raising awareness for Florida’s Coral Restoration Foundation. With a triple time-zone display, 300 meters of water resistance, and your choice of a stainless steel bracelet or an orange rubber strap, the Aquis GMT Carysfort Reef Limited Edition is a versatile dive watch that will function beautifully whether on land, at sea, or in the air. On a similar note, the Oris Aquis Clean Ocean is also a limited edition of 2,000 pieces that supports the goal of ridding the ocean of plastic and features a unique caseback medallion made from PET plastic collected from the ocean.
Other dive watches in the HODINKEE Shop that feature unique contemporary-focused designs include the Longines Hydroconquest USA Exclusive, a black-PVD deep diver with 300 meters water resistance that is exclusive to the U.S. market, and NORQAIN’s Adventure Sport series. The Adventure Sport collection is one of the most diverse we carry, with over 15 variants in either time-and-date or chronograph format, along with a large selection of dial colors, case finishes, and strap options to choose from. The distinguishing feature of the line is the unique, weave-like texture on the dial that resembles herringbone and adds real visual depth to the watch’s look. While executed in the style of a dive watch, the Adventure Sport models offer a maximum depth rating of 100 meters, so these watches are firmly in the “desk diving” camp.
If you prefer the timeless aesthetics of vintage dive watches, then either a Longines Heritage Skin Diver or Oris Divers Sixty-Five is the direction to go in. The Longines Heritage Skin Diver reflects the brand’s very first dive watch, the original 1959 Skin Diver, and features the casual but capable dive watch design that followed the birth of recreational scuba diving. With a granular dial finish, a serrated bezel, and a classic shovel-shaped hour hand, the Heritage Skin Diver is a great option for everyday wear. It’s distinctive, full of character, and offers a winning nod to Longines’ rich history.
The Divers Sixty-Five, on the other hand, is a successful modern interpretation of a 1965 dive watch from Oris. We’re such a fan of the watch that we even created our own take on it with Oris last June. The Divers Sixty-Five recalls an era when dive watches were unequivocally cool, but it doesn’t lean on the “tool” aspect too much. These watches are simple and well-built, comfortable and capable – they’re just well-balanced all around. There are 13 different iterations of the Divers Sixty-Five available in the HODINKEE Shop today, ranging from dials in green, blue, and black, to other models that utilize materials like bronze in compelling ways. You can check them all out for yourself, right here.
Dive Like You Mean It: Professional-Grade, Luxury Dive Watches
Some of the most complete expressions of dive watch design today can be found in the collections of OMEGA and Blancpain. With the Seamaster and Fifty Fathoms lines, respectively, each brand can claim different landmarks in dive watch history, and each offers a number of sub-collections within these lines to appeal to anybody and everybody – all that’s left is picking your favorite.
For OMEGA, the Seamaster collection has been a highlight in recent years. With the redesign of the Seamaster Diver 300M family in 2018, OMEGA created what might be one of the best-value Swiss watches on the market. For $5,000 and change (under that benchmark in some rubber strap variations), you’re getting a legitimate dive watch tested to 300 meters and fitted with a true in-house movement that is a certified Master Chronometer. It’s good looking too, with a laser-engraved dial and bezel made of ceramic.
In addition to the Diver 300M, the Seamaster line also includes the Seamaster 300 and Planet Ocean families. The Seamaster 300 is OMEGA’s vintage-inspired dive watch, with a design that is an authentic interpretation of the very first dive watch to be a part of the Seamaster family, originally released in 1957. The Planet Ocean family, however, is completely modern, first released by OMEGA in 2005. Despite being born just 15 years ago, the Planet Ocean collection has left an indelible impact on OMEGA’s rich catalog of sport watches, and it’s nearly impossible to imagine the Seamaster line today without the Planet Ocean’s presence. The latest Planet Ocean added to the HODINKEE Shop commemorates OMEGA’s recently announced status as Official Timekeeper of the 36th America’s Cup, and it features a red, white, and blue design and a unique regatta countdown bezel.
While OMEGA has been releasing dive watches in the Seamaster line since 1957, its Swatch Group stablemate Blancpain is one of the few brands with an even longer history of dive watch creation, thanks to the release of the original Fifty Fathoms dive watch in 1953. Blancpain was one of the pioneers in developing what modern dive watches look like, and the Fifty Fathoms line continues today with more diverse offerings than ever before.
The contemporary Fifty Fathoms line is separated into two different families: the standard Fifty Fathoms and the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe. While the Fifty Fathoms – with its rounded, sapphire crystal bezel and curved lugs – has an imposing wrist presence that helped define the dive watch genre, the Bathyscaphe is its more accessible sibling, with a smaller size and more accessible price, both tied to the model’s historical roots of reaching the civilian, recreational dive market.
Blancpain has grown its entire Fifty Fathoms collection in various directions over the past decade, with releases in red gold and black ceramic complementing the well-known steel and titanium versions. There are even some more complicated variants, including chronographs (which feature the F385 caliber, one of our favorite modern, high-beat movements), big dates, and complete calendars. You can learn more about the history of the Fifty Fathoms and peruse out entire selection of Blancpain watches in this article.