Dive into a curated selection of pieces from the most popular watch style at an approachable price point.
In 1953, Blancpain, Rolex, and Zodiac introduced the first watches purpose-built for diving. These were tool watches meant to be used in the very new hobby of SCUBA diving, a term that was only a year older than the watches themselves.
Early dive watches didn’t have the water resistance we expect today. Blancpain called its watch the Fifty Fathoms and 50 fathoms is only 91.44 meters, a far cry from today’s typical 200 to 300 meters of water resistance. Dive watches took off, becoming a staple of James Bond, and a common accessory to army troops that could get a Rolex Submariner down at the PX. They were built tough and didn’t need to be removed when swimming, sailing, or playing in the water.
Omega Seamaster 300M James Bond 2541.80.00
If you grew up watching Pierce Brosnan playing James Bond, or played GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64, then this watch is your childhood. The first Omega to grace Bond’s wrist was this 2541.80.00 Seamaster 300M. Launched just a few years before the 1995 GoldenEye movie, the 300M was Omega’s first step in coming back to its old form. It was a new dive watch, with an overly built bracelet, skeleton hands, wave dial, and a blue bezel. This was years before color dials and bezels were the norm, and the combination was enough to start a three-decades-long relationship with the British spy. Every generation of 300M since has built upon the foundation that this watch laid down. Not only is this a piece of history both horological and cinematic, it is also a damn fine watch.
Breitling SuperOcean Heritage II Chronograph M13313
Breitling’s heritage is built upon its pilot’s watches like the Navitimer and Chronomat. Seeing as it invented the modern chronograph layout on wristwatches, with a focus on tool watches that meet the needs of pilots, it makes sense that this is what the brand is known for. But do not forget that Breitling has been making dive watches since 1957. In fact, in 1957 it introduced the SuperOcean in a standard time-only model, and in a chronograph version that also had 200m of water resistance. This modern SuperOcean continues this legacy with 200m of water resistance, a uni-directional diving bezel, and a chronograph on top of it all. The DLC-coated case gives a nice sleek black look and works well with the darker blue bezel. If using the watch for diving, the large lumed hands will make timing an easy task.
Tudor Heritage Black Bay Fifty-Eight Blue 79030
This is one of the most popular dive watches to be launched in the past five years. The Black Bay Fifty-Eight slimmed down the proportions of the original Heritage Black Bay to create a 39mm case that can fit about any wrist. With an aluminum bezel insert, snowflake hands, and a large crown, nothing is lost when moving to this smaller size. The movement inside is still the MT5402 Tudor movement that provides 70 hours of power reserve. In this writer’s humble opinion, the only thing that could make this watch better is if they brought back the old Tudor rose logo.
TAG Heuer Aquaracer WAY201S
The Aquaracer is often unfairly forgotten in the conversation around dive watches. It ticks all of the boxes you would expect with 300m water resistance, dive bezel, and good build quality. The biggest selling point for this watch is to talk to someone who owns one. They will often go on and on about how much they love it, how well it has treated them, and how people should be talking about it more. I have yet to talk to someone who wasn’t happy to have it on their wrist. The angular bezel makes turning it a breeze, and the applied markers have enough lume to make underwater reading just as easy. Green dive watches have been growing in popularity over the past few years with nearly every major brand carrying one now. Do not overlook TAG Heuer’s entry into the green dive watch field.
Grand Seiko Sport Spring Drive Diver SBGA229
So I should start off by admitting that this one goes over the $5,000 threshold I set for myself (by just a little); however, there is a $150 off sale on pre-owned going on this week so that brings this SBGA229 back below the margin with $50 to spare. For that price, you get a movement that merges the accuracy of quartz with the artistry of mechanical movements. The power reserve indicator that usually comes paired with the spring drive on the front of the dial works well here. Oftentimes the power reserve stands out more than necessary, but on this watch it keeps a similar black to the rest of the dial, allowing it to blend in. The deep notches on the bezel are easy to grip when needing to turn for timing. Grand Seiko’s legendary polishing can be seen on the watch, with mirror polishing on the sides giving a nice contrast to the brushed top of the lugs.
Dive into the Crown and Caliber for all of your watch related needs.
Get More Articles Like This in Your Inbox