It’s no secret that the dive watch is one of those classic pieces every magnificent bastard should own. Its versatility and ruggedness make it the go-to watch in anyone’s wardrobe, and it is these very virtues that make it an enduring symbol of timelessness.
The development of modern diving is inseparable from the development of modern dive watches, and diving presents a unique challenge for watchmakers. Divers need to be able to record how long they’ve been underwater – and they need a watch that’s strong enough to withstand the high pressures the depths inflict on a timepiece.
Dive watches typically feature high water resistance ratings – typically over 200m – as well as dive-specific features such as timing bezels, helium release valves and a generous amount of luminescence (‘lume’).
Of course, dive watches have long since transcended their aquatic origins and are simply one of the most popular categories of watches. Most dive watch owners never dive with their watches – but it’s good to know that you could if you wanted to, right?
When you say “dive watch”, you might find that the first timepieces that come to mind might be the Rolex Submariner or the OMEGA Seamaster, but today, we are going to show you some fine-ass diving watches that may have slipped through your radar, and are definitely worth a second glance.
In this best dive watches article…
Longines Legend Diver
A faithful interpretation of a dive watch originally produced by Longines in the 1960s, the Longines Legend Diver is a re-edition that is accurate even to the size of the case. With a 42mm case diameter, the watch pays tribute to both past and present with a vintage-style dial and forward-thinking sizing.
The most distinctive feature of the watch is its double crown – one to operate the time and another to operate the internal rotating ‘compressor’ bezel to time dives. This internal bezel has the advantage of preventing accidental changes to the dive time, as the bezel is located underneath the crystal.
The Legend Diver is available in a wide variety of colours and strap options but we’re particularly big fans of this beige example. The subtle fumé dial and hardy textile strap make this seem like an old-school adventurer’s timepiece.
Retail Price: AU$3,625
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox
Jaeger-LeCoultre is perhaps best known for its stylish dress watches, such as the classic Reverso or the Master Control, but the storied Swiss manufacture also makes a cracking diver’s watch: the handsome Polaris, which is one of the most underrated diver’s watches on the market.
The Polaris is available in a wide range of case materials and complications, but for our money, the most unique is the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox with its mechanical alarm.
The 2022 Polaris Mariner Memovox features a new peripheral gong designed to allow for a transparent sapphire case-back while retaining the signature ‘school bell’ sound that lends such charm to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s alarm watches – the chiming still audible even deep underwater. The deep blue dial of the watch is especially tasteful, and befitting of the brand’s stylish character.
Retail Price: AU$27,900
Rado Captain Cook Bronze
The Rado Captain Cook was one of the first modern dive watches and in 2022, it’s having somewhat of a resurgence thanks to its cool retro design.
This take on the Captain Cook is novel for two reasons. Firstly, it’s crafted from bronze. Bronze is an interesting choice of material for a dive watch as bronze quickly develops a patina, especially when exposed to saltwater. The idea goes that every bronze watch will patinate differently, meaning your bronze watch is entirely unique. Bronze is also a material that is commonly associated with ocean-going, which makes it particularly appropriate for a dive watch.
Secondly, this Rado Captain Cook Bronze features a burgundy dial and bezel. Red isn’t a very common colour for watches but when combined with bronze we think it looks particularly cool. One thing’s for sure – this is a dive watch that’ll stand out from the pack.
Retail Price: AU$4,150
Seiko Prospex ‘Arnie’ PADI
Seiko makes a wide variety of capable dive watches at many different price points, but we reckon it’s pretty hard to go past the iconic Seiko Prospex ‘Arnie’ – as worn prominently by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character Dutch in the famous 1987 action film Predator, hence the nickname.
The ‘Arnie’ is a hybrid quartz watch with analog and digital time displays (which you can use for a dual-time readout), a chronograph function, an alarm, and a calendar. Unlike the watch Schwarzenegger wore, this modern version contains a solar-powered movement. How good’s not changing batteries?
It’s also endorsed by PADI, the world’s leading scuba diving training organization, so you know it’s legit. With the Arnie, you’re getting a hell of a lot of watch for the money (we’re not joking – it’s almost 48mm in diameter…)
Retail Price: AU$580
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa
Here’s another chunky, extremely capable dive watch – although this one is a very different beast. Blancpain invented the world’s first modern dive watch, the Fifty Fathoms back in the 50s, and remain at the forefront of mechanical dive watch technology. Case in point: the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa.
The Tech Gombessa has a rather unique complication: it has a three-hour hand: that is, a hand that completes one full rotation of the dial in three hours, with a bezel that features markers to match. It’s designed to be able to accurately time the longest tech dives on the planet – and is tough enough to stand up to those sorts of conditions, too.
Featuring a 47mm titanium case with a helium release valve, a ‘lug-less’ strap design, a 5-day power reserve and 300m of water resistance, this is a very luxurious, very intense tool watch.
Retail Price: AU$38,900
The Rolex Submariner might be the world’s most famous dive watch but Rolex’s sister brand Tudor also makes some exceptional pieces. At the top of their range sits the Tudor Pelagos: a handsome yet technical dive watch that’s very different from any Rolex ever made.
The Pelago’s main feature is that it’s made out of titanium. Rolex has famously never released a titanium watch, so that’s an immediate point of differentiation. It’s also water-resistant to 500m (more than most dive watches and 200m more than a Submariner) and boasts a bracelet extension system, which allows the Pelagos to be easily slipped over a wetsuit, for example.
Other dive-focused features include a helium release valve at 9 o’clock, a hefty 70-hour power reserve and a date window sans cyclops lens for added sleekness.
Retail Price: AU$6,450
Panerai Submersible QuarantaQuattro Bianco
Panerai is a brand synonymous with dive watches – indeed, it’s basically all they make. The Submersible is their most utilitarian and functional dive watch thanks to its uni-directional rotating bezel with metallic appliques filled with white Super-LumiNova – an indispensable feature for a diving instrument.
It also features Panerai’s locking crown mechanism – a signature of the brand – where a lever-actuated lock integrated into the large semi-circular crown guard keeps the crown from rotating (and therefore compromising the watch’s water-resistance or changing the time).
As the name implies, the Submersible QuarantaQuattro Bianco has a case diameter of 44mm: a real ‘Goldilocks’ size that’s characteristically Panerai (i.e. chunky) without being obnoxiously large. As the name also implies, this one has a white dial. We reckon it’s the pick of the litter.
Retail Price: AU$13,800
TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver
To round off our list, we thought we’d share a proper deep-sea watch. The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 1000 Superdiver is a no-compromise beast that goes above and beyond most dive watches.
The Superdiver is easily differentiated from other Aquaracers thanks to its 1,000m water resistance, its clever dynamic crown guard, contrasting chapter ring and its chunkier, arrow-tipped hour hand, just to name a few features. It’s ISO 6425:2018 certified, too, which means it’s suitable for saturation diving. You know. If you ever wanted to.
Despite all this – and its 45mm case size – it’s actually a deceptively wearable watch. Many hardcore dive watches are unwieldy things, but you could actually get away with wearing the Superdiver casually.
Retail Price: AU$9,650