The Best Dive Watches, According to Depth
Even if you never intend to wear a scuba mask in your life, there are a number of reasons to invest in the best dive watches: First, you can be assured that watches with water resistance have been created to withstand the elements and, therefore, built to last; and second, well, dive watches—they just plain look good.
Sporty, stylish, elegant, and enduring, they’re for the man who can go from the country club to the boardroom, and pair just as well with a wet suit as they do a business suit. Just think of Sean Connery as James Bond wearing a Rolex Submariner in Dr. No, and you’ll know what we mean.
The Best Dive Watches
Of course, other than aesthetics, there are practical functions to consider. Primarily, a dive watch is used to compute the amount of time you can spend on a dive underwater, a matter of life and death when you are breathing in the precious and limited supply of an oxygen tank. This is where a unidirectional rotating bezel comes in—turning it counter-clockwise is a handy tool that can help you calculate elapsed time. The hands and time markers should also be luminous and glow in the dark, easily visible at a glance when you are probing the depths of the ocean. Consider also that the strap should be long enough to fit over the bulk of a wetsuit, and that it is made out of materials that can handle wear and tear.
In order for a watch to be considered a true dive watch, it must be water-resistant to at least 100m. But we’re not going to stop there—depending on just how deep you want to go, here is a handy list of diver’s watches that you can take with you.
200m: Citizen Promaster Diver
Sturdy, hefty, and strong, Citizen offers a dive watch at a great introductory price point for those who want to dip a toe in the genre. The mineral (as opposed to sapphire) crystal keeps it well within the range of affordability, the polyurethane band adds a touch of sporty and sleek, and the no-nonsense combo of black dial and stainless steel is just as handsomely classic as can be.
An added bonus is Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology, meaning this watch is powered by any source of light and will never need a change of battery. That also means its water-resistant properties will neither be compromised nor unsealed. If you’re interested in a little bit of variety, it’s also available in cool dark blue.
300m: Tag Heuer Aquaracer
If we had you at “dark blue,” check out the Tag Heuer Aquaracer. The Swiss watch brand has a little bit of history with water-resistant watches, as it patented the first water-resistant case in 1895. It also takes pride in putting its watches through the wringer—a series of 160 water-resistance tests that cover the gamut of high humidity to pressure cookers to full-blown immersion—to guarantee they won’t quit on you just when you need them most.
This is another great entry-level model into the dive watch world, with features like a steel screw-down crown and case back. The sapphire anti-reflective crystal also ensures you won’t be blinded by the glare of the sun once you come up to the surface for air.
600m: Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Master Chronometer
Just as Omega takes pride in creating a watch that could go to the moon, the brand also has a tradition of making watches built for exploring the sea. After all, it released the first commercially available diver’s watch, the Omega Marine.
No list of the best men’s diving watches would be complete without the inclusion of the Omega Seamaster. The line traces its origins back to 1957 and was specifically designed for divers and those who make their living underwater. Need proof? Look no further than the likes of Michael Phelps and Jacques Cousteau, both men who have built their legacies around water and both owners of a Seamaster.
The Co-Axial Master Chronometer in blue and stainless steel is a sexy combo that represents refinement and masculinity. If you ever get bored, you can swap out the metal bracelet for a leather, polyester, or striped polyamide strap, changing the look and feel of it entirely.
3,900m: Rolex Deepsea
How about a watch that can go where most people physically can’t? That is the specialty of the Rolex Deepsea. Launched in 2008, it’s engineered to be waterproof to extreme and honestly ridiculous depths, and has been put to the test—its predecessor, the Deep Sea Special, was attached to the body of the bathyscaphe, piloted by US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh and Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard, when it explored the deepest point in the ocean, the Challenger Deep, located in the Mariana Trench. (Spoiler alert: It survived.)
In 2012, “King of the World” James Cameron attempted to recreate the feat by descending into the Mariana Trench in the deepest ever solo dive because, well, why wouldn’t he? He even took the historic 1960 Deep Sea Special into the cockpit with him as his own form of tribute and once again, it held its own.
In 2014, Rolex released the blue-black Deepsea with a D-Blue Dial to commemorate Cameron’s historic achievement. The dial also comes in basic black, if you prefer. Both are outfitted with a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel for added shine, something we imagine may come in handy when you’re in that deep.
Bear in mind that you don’t really need to be a hardcore diver in order to enjoy the best dive watch—but by wearing it, you can look like one. You can also rest easy in the knowledge that if it was made to withstand the ocean’s depths, a little sweat or rain won’t hurt it.