The Top Contenders
As an add-on to illustrate my recent “Guide to…Dive Watches” article I wanted to mention a few all-time modern classics that incorporate at least some of the features I’ve mentioned in the guide. All the watches in this list are available presently, but have been in production in some guise or other for long enough to become diving institutions.
The Hardcore – CX Swiss Military 20,000ft
Diving is an “extreme” sport, in the sense that there are risks inherent in every dive we make. It also means that the equipment we use must be “extreme” – accurate, reliable and robust. This CX Swiss Military 20,000 ft watch raises the bar for tough and robust really, really high. It is designed to withstand the water pressures at 6,000 m (or 20,000ft), and shocks equivalent to being shot at close range from a Winchester rifle! This watch is a Challenger tank that tells the time, and it looks like one too. From the front it is an attractive, masculine watch, but tilt it on its side and you are confronted with a watch that is only a few feet shorter than its namesake. There is no doubting this watch is a working tool; it will do anything you can do, and keep doing it long after you’ve stopped!
An Attractive Timepiece From the Front Becomes a Behemoth From the Side – But It’s Definitely Hardcore!
The Budget Underdog – Casio G-Shock
Going straight from one butt ugly watch to another…the Casio G-Shock line has been going for nearly thirty years and has always pursued serious toughness and loud design. They are cheap (around a hundred times cheaper than the most expensive watch on this list), sturdy, feature crammed, reliable, and iconic. Most G-Shocks have an atomic clock signal sent to them hourly which means they are always on perfect time. Most of them also have a solar panel on them which massively extends their battery life, making them a viable option over a kinetic watch. G-Shocks don’t have the same credibility as most of the other watches on this list, but they take hold their own in almost every other area.
The G-Shock Is Ugly, But Surprisingly Competent
The Super Deep – Bell and Ross Hydromax 11,100 m
Moving from the two super loud “look at me” watches to the most understated watch on this list, but the one with the biggest right to brag. The Hydromax is oil filled which, as discussed in the guide, means that it has no airspace to compensate for. This allows this watch to be depth rated to 11,100 meters, which is more than deep enough for any aquatic excursion being as the deepest water in the whole world is 10,971 m as found in the Mariana Trench. It’s fairly unlikely that anyone will be diving to that depth anytime soon, but it’s more a testament to the astonishing design that it can survive such punishing depths.
The Hydromax Is Unassuming, Refined And Clear
The Big Spender – Rolex Oyster Sea Dweller
This might be the most expensive watch on this list, but it is also the watch with the longest and most populated legacy. The Sea Dweller has been diving for over forty years and has the most prestigious credentials on this list. There was a prototype of the Sea Dweller attached the outside of the Trieste manned submersible which remains the deepest voyage into the depths of our ocean even achieved by man. When the sub and its crew emerged from their record breaking dive, the Sea Dweller was found to be in perfect working order. A tough watch, worn by gentlemen.
The Sea Dweller Is One of the Pinnacles of Dive Engineering
The Classic Chronometer – Breitling Superocean
This watch is about as close to a “simple” dive watch as you can get. It is pricey, but not cripplingly so. It’s modern in design (I am very partial to the “Abyss Red” model), but not likely to fall out of fashion soon. It’s robust and well made, but not oversized or over engineered to make it so. It goes deep (1500 m), but not garishly loud or uncouth about it. It has a credible legacy of performance watches, but isn’t resting on its laurels. I think this is one of those perfectly capable, very respectable watches that is just right, I’d be proud to wear one on my wrist.
Pick A Colour, They All Look Good
The People’s Choice – Omega Seamaster
Look on any scuba forum, when somebody mentions dive watches there is always a mad rush to post about how much they love their Omega Seamaster. The comments usually mention that; “it just works”, “it looks great” and “it’s my working watch”. These comments are always corroborated by a thousand other posters making the same assertions. Omega Seamasters are excellent watches that serve the dive industry well. It can’t do anything that any of the other watches on this list can’t do, but what it does do, it does well for a heck of a number of people, making it one of the most popular dive watches on the market.
A Familiar Sight On Any Dive Boat
The Hard Worker – Luminox Deep Dive Automatic 1500
Secretly this is my favourite watch on the list, it’s just so effortlessly hardcore. Luminox are commissioned by the Navy Seals to make watches for them that are made to survive combat. It has one of the most attractive dials I’ve ever witnessed on a watch and it looks just fantastic at night because of the multi coloured Luminox light technology. It has a very slick looking crown cover to protect it from knocks during use. It comes with an incorporated helium release valve and is depth rated to 500 meters, making it a legitimate option for saturation divers. It’s not anymore competent than other watch on the list, but it looks the part and is a great watch for night dives, or murky waters.
As Bright As Any Dive Torch, And Just As Tough
The Technical Watch – Suunto D9
I almost didn’t put this watch on the list being as it’s not really a dive watch, but a fully fledged dive computer. The only reason that I chose to include this hybrid on the list is because I think it is likely that this will become a large part of the future of dive watches and dive computers, soon you will struggle to decide what belongs to which category.
This dive computer a la watch is a little different from other small dive computers being as it was designed with an emphasis on miniaturisation and on chic styling. For a digital watch it looks surprisingly sleek and accomplished. It manages to pull off the pauper to prince act especially well when bought with the all-titanium bracelet that adds an extra layer of golf clubhouse elegance to an otherwise very hard working dive computer. It is a fully fledged trimix deco computer with a proper digital compass and wireless air transmitter integration. Effectively you could do a fully fledged 200m tec dive with this in the afternoon and wear it to dinner in the evening. Quite something for a device that used to only be able to tell the time!
The D9 Is A Respectable Digital Watch, Who Would Have Thought It?
Your Comments Are Welcome
I’d especially like to hear from any of you who currently own and dive with one or more of these watches. I’d also like to hear from some of the more novice watch appreciators out there. Either way, please feel free to leave a comment or question below.