Who needs a dive-watch? If you have a dive-computer you can probably get by quite happily under water without one, and you might well have opted for a wristwatch-style computer anyway, but the fact remains that most scuba divers have a soft spot for good-looking underwater timepieces.
There are many on the market, and to be worthy of the description they must have at the very least a 150m but more usually 200m (diver) water-resistance rating (100m is for splashing in the shallows, and for perspective the latest Rolex has an 11,000m rating!).
Also read: Rescue diver’s Bond-style Rolex fetches £40k
It should also have a unidirectional rotating bezel, a luminous face with easily read markers often preferred to numerals, and a tough, scratch-resistant case.
The price is something else and varies massively, but a classic watch can be an investment, as owners of early Rolexes and other classic makes have found to their advantage. We round up a bevy of the latest offerings to emerge, starting with a pair designed to stir if not shake…
- 1 Omega Seamaster Diver 300M James Bond 60th Anniversary
- 2 Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge
- 3 SDC Ocean Rider
- 4 Reservoir Hydrosphere Cenote
- 5 Spinnaker Spence 300 Automatic & Hass X MCS
- 6 Raymond Weil Freelancer Diver Geneva Limited Edition
- 7 Seiko Prospex Save the Ocean Special Edition
- 8 Tudor Pelagos 39
- 9 Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 300
- 10 Redwood Tactical V2
- 11 Squale 1521 Classic COSC Certified
- 12 Ultramarine Beluga
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M James Bond 60th Anniversary
Scuba has always played a big part in the James Bond movies, and Omega recently unveiled two new Seamasters to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the cinematic secret agent.
The Swiss watchmaker has a soft spot for 1995’s GoldenEye because it marked the first time Bond (Pierce Brosnan) wore an Omega. In the first movie, Dr No, Sean Connery had sported a Rolex Submariner. Daniel Craig was a brand ambassador – we have yet to find out what his reincarnation will choose to wear.
The Seamaster 300 was issued to military divers around the world from 1957. The special version of today’s 300m-rated self-winding watch has a 42 x 14.3mm stainless-steel case with a blue oxalic anodised aluminium dial with laser-engraved waves, and a commemorative 60 replacing the diving scale’s traditional inverted triangle.
The movement is the Co-axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8806, which has a 55-hour power reserve. The watch has a domed, scratch‑resistant sapphire crystal, helium escape valve, screw-in crown and unidirectional rotating bezel with a diving scale filled with white Super-LumiNova.
The transparent caseback reveals a moiré-pattern “animation” of the 007 opening sequence with Bond in silhouette and a spinning gun barrel. The stainless-steel mesh-style bracelet reflects Bond’s wrist-wear in No Time To Die and it all comes in a blue wooden box with secret push-button at a price of £7,100.
If you really want to push the dive-boat out there is a Gold Edition in white-gold alloy (Canopus Gold), bowing to Bond-creator Ian Fleming’s Jamaican home with a bezel stuffed with diamonds in 10 shades of green and yellow and a gold bracelet. It has a grey silicon dial and 8807 movement. This is diver jewellery, so expect to pay (gulp) around £137,000. Omega
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea Challenge
Inspired by the experimental watch that 10 years ago was strapped to the exterior of James Cameron’s submersible on his 11km solo descent to the Mariana Trench and survived the trip, this is significant as the first production watch to have a “maximum” ocean-depth rating.
This development comes after nearly 100 years, because Oyster cases date back to 1926. In 1953 Rolex released the 100m-rated Submariner, 1967’s Sea-Dweller was rated to 610m, and the 2008 Deepsea to 3,900m.
This distinctive new 50 x 23mm timepiece is made of lightweight grade 5 RLX titanium alloy and employs the Ring Lock pressure-resistance system, with a helium escape valve. The scratch-resistant domed sapphire crystal has been slimmed down to 9.5mm.
The Triplock crown has three sealed zones, and the unidirectional bezel has a 60min scale over a black Cerachrom insert filled with platinum. The black matte dial has white-gold indices and hands filled with Chromalight.
At the heart of the Oyster case is a 31-jewel Caliber 3230 self-winding movement. Power reserve is around 70 hours, and precision an impressive –2 /+2 seconds per day. The titanium bracelet has a Glidelock clasp and Fliplock fold-out links. This collector’s item is priced at £21,850. Rolex
SDC Ocean Rider
“We challenge the status quo by creating luxury dive watches and combining upcycled materials,” says UK brand SDC, which hit the scene only in 2020 when launched by scuba diver Sean Clements. “At the same time we are committed to reducing waste and protecting the oceans we love.”
To be clear, it is the straps that are upcycled. The Ocean Rider range comes with a stainless-steel 42 x 14.3mm case with black ceramic bezel and a choice of dials in Ocean Blue, Great White, Black Tip or Silky Grey colourways under a flat scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
The hour and minute hands as well as the unidirectional bezel are treated with Super-LumiNova and the seconds hand is varnished red for enhanced visibility. Water-resistance is 300m.
The watch is powered by an automatic Japanese Seiko NH35 movement and has an exhibition caseback so that you can appreciate the mechanism. The SDC strap is made from upcycled wetsuit material stitched into silicone rubber and packing materials are all biodegradable / recyclable. Ocean Rider watches come less expensive than many at £425. SDC
Reservoir Hydrosphere Cenote
Reservoir was the brainchild of French banker François Moreau in 2015, and its Swiss-made watches are unusual in that they are inspired by precision measuring instruments such as counters and manometers. In the case of the new Hydrosphere Cenote it is scuba divers’ pressure gauges that influenced this concept in watches, using a single hand to count the minutes.
The 250m water-resistant watch has a 45mm-diameter bronze case, a green dial intended to evoke water-filled Mexican caverns, a magnified “jumping-hour” window and a unidirectional ceramic bezel with double scale for reading dive-stop times. It is powered by a Caliber RSV-240 movement with automatic winding. Power reserve is 56 hours.
The watch has a screw-down crown, anti-reflective sapphire crystal, stainless-steel screwed back, helium valve and power indicator. A green NATO strap and additional black rubber strap are both provided. The price is £4,400. Reservoir
Spinnaker Spence 300 Automatic & Hass X MCS
At under 11mm, Hong Kong brand Spinnaker reckons the Spence 300 Automatic is the thinnest diving watch around – the 300, of course, refers to its water-resistance.
The 40mm-diameter Spence might be relatively wafer-thin but it has “broad arrow” hands and indices, all treated with Super-LumiNova. The 24-jewel Japanese Miyota 9039 automatic movement is said to deliver more than 42 hours of power.
The case is stainless-steel with a screw-lock crown and aluminium-plated bezel. Dials come in a choice of black, blue, brown, green or red, and the sapphire crystal has an anti-reflective coating. A solid 20mm bracelet is provided along with a hand-stitched leather strap for added versatility. The fold-over buckle has a safety lock with push-button.
Spinnaker also brought out its Hass X MCS limited-edition watch this year, with 500 units in each of its Grey Turquoise and Blue Fade colourways, with at least 5% of sales of each unit going towards funding the work of the UK’s Marine Conservation Society.
Named after Austrian diving pioneer Hans Hass, this watch is also 300m-rated and has a stainless-steel case and dual-register bezel. The lens is scratch-resistant sapphire and the indices and hands treated with Super-LumiNova. There is a battery-free Japanese TMI NH16 automatic movement and the choice of a stainless-steel bracelet or arPet nylon Nato strap made from recycled discarded plastics.
The Spinnaker Spence 300 costs £500 and the Hass X MCS £375. Spinnaker
Raymond Weil Freelancer Diver Geneva Limited Edition
Raymond Weil started his company in Switzerland in 1976 and this year the brand came up with this 310m-rated watch to reflect the maximum depth of Lake Geneva – the edition is also limited to 310 units. The blue gradient dial represents the various depths of the lake and a drop-shaped aperture reveals the date.
There is a 26-jewel Calibre RW4200 automatic movement and the power reserve is 38 hours. The 42.5 x 13.7mm stainless-steel case has a unidirectional black ceramic bezel and screw-down crown. Anti-glare is applied to both sides of the sapphire crystal and hands and indices are treated with Super-LumiNova. Power reserve is 56 hours
The stainless-steel bracelet has a folding clasp and double-push security system, and the watch costs £1,795. Raymond Weil
Seiko Prospex Save the Ocean Special Edition
Seiko forged a reputation for diver watches in the 1960s and 1970s on chilly expeditions to both Poles. This year it came up with its Prospex (Professional Specification) Save the Ocean Special Edition collection of modern re-interpretations of three of these watches, with dials intended to evoke the deep blue to white shades and textures of glacial ice.
The 1965 watch delivered 150m water resistance and was used in the Antarctic – the reinterpretation has a dark blue dial, 40.5 x 13.2mm stainless-steel case and, like all of these new watches, is 200m-rated.
The 1968 model was Seiko’s first 300m-rated watch and had a 10-beat automatic movement, and the reinvention has a light-blue dial and darker blue bezel, with a 42 x 12.5mm case. The 1970 150m-rated diver’s watch proved its worth in the Arctic, as reflected in the glacial white dial. The case of its descendant measures 42.7 x 13.2mm.
Apart from those case sizes, the new watches all feature a 24-jewel Caliber 6R35 movement, are automatic with manual winding, offer precision of +25 to -15 seconds per day and have a power reserve of around 70 hours.
There is a stop second-hand function, date display, sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating and LumiBrite on the hands, indices and bezel. The stainless-steel bracelet has a three-fold clasp with secure lock and push-button release with extender.
Seiko Prospex is said to support marine-conservation activities through a “Save the Ocean” initiative to preserve and protect the ocean for future generations and give back to the diving community. The ’60s-based Special Edition watches are priced at £1,110 and the 1970s model £1,200. Seiko
Tudor Pelagos 39
The Tudor brand was created by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf in 1926 and its various Pelagos models are designed for “highly specialised and relatively niche professional dives”. Waterproof to 200m, the mechanical Pelagos 39 comes with five black and blue colour variations and employs grade 2 titanium for the 39 x 12mm case and bracelet.
The dial is black and the bezel titanium with black ceramic insert. Luminescent ceramic hour markers are used with hallmark “Snowflake” hands treated with Super-LumiNova. The self-winding mechanical movement is Manufacture Calibre MT5400, with a silicon hairspring and “weekend-proof” 70hr power reserve. Daily variation is a mere -2/+4sec.
The bracelet has a T-fit clasp with rapid length adjustment and a 25mm diver’s extension for wearing over a wetsuit. A black rubber strap that can be extended by up to 110mm is part of the package, which is priced at £3,500. Tudor
Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 300
This new model is based on what an independent user forum suggested when asked to describe the perfect dive watch, says the manufacturer. Like Christopher Ward’s existing Pro 600, the stainless-steel case comes in 38, 40 and 42mm diameters but is thinner at 11-11.5mm.
Dial colours are white, black, blue or green. As a result of the diver feedback luminosity has been boosted, the hour markers are bigger and the date window has been repositioned.
The exhibition caseback reveals the Sellita SW200-1 movement within, and has no effect on the watch’s 300m water-resistance rating (contrary to popular belief, says the company). Power reserve is 38 hours. The bezel has both a rotating outer section with coloured ceramic insert, and a fixed steel inner ring with gradients all the way around.
Prices of C60 Trident Pro 300 models range from £695 to £850. Christopher Ward, which designs its watches in the UK and manufactures them in Switzerland, has sold direct to the customer since 2005 and claims to have been the world’s first luxury watch brand to do so. Christopher Ward
Redwood Tactical V2
The Redwood brothers started their brand in Canada in 2015 and now carry out all the watch assembly there. Their range of 200m-rated divers’ watches aims to evoke the spirit of the early 1950s, when French commando divers engaged in underwater intelligence, sabotage, demolition and combat operations and used something along these lines to tell the time.
No watch had been specifically designed for underwater combat at that time, says Redwood, until Blancpain came up with its 60S Mil-Spec.
The 40mm case of the Tactical V2 is stainless steel, but it’s also available with a black PVD coating if you require full-on stealth on your dives. The crown and caseback are screwed down and the flat sapphire crystal said to be highly scratch-resistant.
The stripped-back dial features large indices, pencil-shaped hour and minute hands and a bright red seconds hand. The unidirectional bezel has an aluminium insert and Super-LumiNova pigment. White-dial automatic versions feature a fully luminescent dial.
The automatic Miyota 82S0 movement is complemented by an Epson VS17 solar option, which gives the watch a slimmer 11.2mm profile compared to the automatic’s 12.2mm. The strap is nylon or leather or rubber and the watch comes in a heritage-inspired pouch.
Styles are Black, White, Stealth, Frogman and Mil-Spec, and prices start at £160. Redwood
Squale 1521 Classic COSC Certified
The 1521 was designed some 40 years ago by Squale founder Charles von Buren, and the company says it is considered to “meet the most demanding needs of professional drivers”.
The Swiss watchmaker says that the latest model in the range is the first to have its chronometer movement accorded the highest accolade possible from the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute in terms of accuracy and precision (two distinct but very exact measures in watch-making).
The 500m water-resistant timepiece has an automatic Sellita SW 200-1 movement, screw-in crown (at 4 o’clock) and caseback, and a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment. The 316L steel case is 42mm across and 12.5mm thick. The dial has been redesigned with indices fully applied rather than printed, and the aluminium bezel has SuperLuminova markers
Accessories include a waterproof case; two additional straps, one in Italian leather and the other in NATO fabric; a velvet clutch bag; a Squale certificate of authenticity; and a COSC certificate, all for 1,317 euros (around £1,134). Squale
Ultramarine watches are made in Switzerland for a company set up by Frenchman Lionel Bruneau only in 2018. Although he was offering no diver’s watch initially, he pledged to donate 10% of net profits to marine-conservation charities.
Now comes the Beluga, the brand’s first stab at a diver’s watch, in three standard versions: the 1111 has a black dial and bezel, the 1212 a marine-blue dial and bezel and the 1311 an ice-blue dial and black bezel.
There is also an SSH1 limited-edition version made in partnership with Sea Shepherd France and carrying its distinctive skull, crook and trident logo. There will be only 100 SSH1s, with 800 euros from the price of each unit going to the organisation – all the Ultramarine Beluga models are priced at 3,900 euros (around £3,360).
These white-whale tributes promise 300m water resistance. The stainless-steel case measures 40 x 13.5mm and there is automatic and manual winding, Super-LumiNova for visibility and an anti-reflective sapphire crystal lens. The 27-jewel Kenissi Manufacture 5402 movement has a 70hr power reserve.
Standard Belugas come with a choice of rubber or leather strap – or a recycled NATO strap in the case of the SSH1 – with stainless-steel buckle. Ultramarine
Disappointed to not see the Scurfa D1 on this list of watches. A watch designed by a commercial diver. Extremely practical and stunning value for money!