The term “waterproof” is thrown around quite a lot when people talk about watches, despite the fact that no luxury watch is actually “waterproof.” Really, there are just varying degrees of water resistance. And although it sounds a little pedantic, with the “waterproof” Rolex Deepsea capable of withstanding greater depth than a human can endure, it’s not truly waterproof; it’s simply rated to a very high degree of water resistance. The term “waterproof” was banned in the 60s because it misled watch buyers into believing it was possible to have a watch completely impervious to water.
The fact is, you need a different degree of water resistance for snorkelling than, say, jet skiing. This is because of the different ways that water interacts with the watch. With snorkelling it’s constantly submerged and moves steadily, whereas with high-speed jet skiing, water impacts the watch pretty frequently, but at much higher velocity.
If you’re looking at luxury “waterproof” watches, you need to have this basic waterproof/water-resistant knowledge internalised. Is a Rolex waterproof? No, but a Rolex is water resistant (the first water resistant watch, in fact). To help you make the best choice, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top water-resistant dive watches on the market today.
OMEGA Planet Ocean 220.127.116.11.01.001
The OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean is a stylish, high-performance precision dive watch. Water resistant to a depth of 600m/2000ft and boasting a highly durable sapphire crystal, ceramic bezel, stainless steel bracelet, and black dial, the Seamaster Planet Ocean is certainly a solid contender. OMEGA first released the Seamaster in 1948. Since then, it’s been a firm favourite among celebrities and sportsmen alike.
IWC Aquatimer IW371933
Boasting an association with famous French marine explorer, conservationist, and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau, the IWC Aquatimer has a firm grounding in maritime history. The Aquatimer features a high-quality rubber bracelet, stainless steel bezel, and a black dial, and makes use of more modern—potentially life-saving—features, such as the depth gauge dial. Water resistant to a depth of 120m/400ft, the Aquatimer is a hardy Swiss watch that utilizes a 41mm case and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
With an undeniably impressive 3900m/12,800ft depth range, the modern Rolex Sea-Dweller is without a doubt one the sturdiest and most reliably-functional dive watches on the market today. Is there such thing as a waterproof Rolex? No, but at that 3900m depth rating, the Sea-Dweller comes pretty damn close with its 44mm case size, scratch-proof ceramic bezel, and stainless steel construction. The Rolex Sea-Dweller has been a market dominator since its original release in 1967, and while it’s not a small investment, it is a solid one.
Rolex Submariner 16610
Released in 1953, the Rolex Submariner is one of the most widely-recognised luxury watches produced by the most widely recognised luxury watch brand. The Submariner has become almost a byword in the watch world for water and corrosion resistant divers. As the first “Bond watch” to be featured on-screen, the Submariner is arguably the classic dive watch and a true high-water mark in the history of luxury diving timepieces. The Submariner features a stainless steel bracelet, stainless steel bezel, and black dial. It’s water resistant to a depth of 300m/1000ft and utilizes a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
Panerai Luminor Submersible PAM 024
Panerai combines minimalist Italian design with Swiss precision engineering and watch manufacturing to create the Luminor. The Panerai Luminor Submersible makes inspired use of a stainless steel bezel, a black dial, and a rubber bracelet, which it couples with an automatic movement, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. All of this is combined in a water-resistant 44mm case. This luxury diving watch is water resistant to a depth of 300m/1000ft, making it ideal for a lot of water-based activities and sports.
Breitling Superocean 44 A17391
Despite being one of the cheapest luxury diving watches on this list, the Breitling Superocean is water resistant to an astonishing 1000m/3300ft. Sporting a utilitarian, primarily stainless steel construction in its bracelet and bezel, and a stark black dial, the Superocean does exactly what it says it will. With a 44mm case size, the Breitling Superocean is a lot of dive watch for the money. As diving watches go, the Superocean probably bears the best blend of value, history, and functionality available.
Oris Pro Diver Titanium Chronograph 674.7630.7154
The Oris Pro Diver Titanium Chronograph is another low-price, high-value diving watch. Pushing the 1000m/3300ft limits, the Oris Pro Diver features a 51mm titanium case, titanium bezel, and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal combined with the stark, high-visibility black dial. Oris’ watches are the height of style and cool, endorsed by a range of sportsmen, the Pro Diver has a decorated history that guarantees it’ll never let you down.
As with most things, research is key when it comes to finding a “waterproof” luxury watch. The perfect dive watch for you depends on what kind of diving or water-based activities you’re doing. There’s such a wide range of fantastic watches in the category, you’re really spoiled for choice. Just make sure to compare prices and specs, and remember; no luxury watches are truly waterproof—just water resistant!
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