Dive-watch manufacturers are forever seeking inspiration from the past, either by combining retro looks with modern technology, paying tribute to diving personalities of the past or both. 2023 has already brought a spate of new releases for those scuba divers who, while they might rely on a computer under water, still enjoy the style of a traditional watch.
How many 150m-plus water-resistant timepieces are sported by non-divers, we don’t know.
The new Spinnaker Dumas GMT Automatic dive-watch range pays tribute to diving pioneer Frederic Dumas. The 300m depth-rated unit features an independent GMT dual-time hand that reads off a secondary time zone, with the external unidirectional 24-hour bezel allowing for an additional third time zone to be read at a glance. This function is enabled by a Seiko TMI NH34 GMT Japanese automatic movement.
The Dumas has an octagonal 44 x 15mm case, and the bezel is balanced by weighted hour and minute “plongeur”-style hands, with round indices coated in Super-LumiNova to boost visibility in low light conditions. The bracelet is accompanied by a rubber strap to complement each of the four colourways: harbour grey, navy/black, dark turquoise and cobalt/crimson.
Dumas, who worked with Cousteau and Gagnan, pioneered many diving techniques still practised today. A champion competitive swimmer and a freediver as a young man, he became the first diver to test the Aqua-lung, and made a significant contribution to marine archaeology. The Dumas GMT Automatic is priced at £534.
Another new Spinnaker dive-watch features dials based on the semi-precious stones lapis lazuli and tiger eye. The Hull Commander Automatic Lapidary Limited Edition range has 250 units available in each colourway.
These 300m-rated watches have 42 x 15mm stainless steel cases with scratch-resistant sapphire lenses, unidirectional bezels and TMI NH35 automatic movements. The stainless-steel bracelet is complemented by a vulcanised rubber strap and the watches are priced at £520 and, like the Dumas GMT watches, are available direct from the manufacturer.
It’s a Seiko movement that powers the Spinnaker dive-watches, and the manufacturer itself has three new additions to its Prospex PADI collection of diver watches, continuing its collaboration with the training agency. The units are produced in official colours featuring the PADI logo, with proceeds going to support of the PADI Ocean Cleanup campaign.
The 200m-rated models feature a deep blue dial design with a light-blue minute hand and scale featured on the bezel. The Seiko Prospex ‘Great Blue’ Sumo Scuba PADI Special Edition operates on Seiko’s in-house mechanical 6R35 calibre movement, with 70hr power reserve. It is made of hard-coated stainless steel with sapphire glass, features a date display and has a new diver buckle design on the bracelet.
The other two versions, the names of which substitute Turtle and Samurai for Sumo, operate on Seiko’s 4R36 and 4R35 calibre movements repectively, featuring a 40hr power reserve. All three Prospex PADI additions will be available to buy in July, priced from £550 to £1,100.
DOXA is a Swiss watchmaker dating back to 1889 and it has a new watch dedicated to US novelist, diver and underwater explorer Clive Cussler. The DOXA SUB 300T Clive Cussler Edition, created with son Dirk Cussler, has a distinctive dial illustrated with a vintage compass and employs an aged steel effect on the case and “beads of rice” bracelet.
Water-resistance is 1,200m. The stainless-steel case measures 42mm and is 14mm high, there is a flat sapphire crystal, unidirectional rotating bezel and also a helium-release valve. The 26-jewel Swiss mechanical automatic movement gives a 38hr power reserve.
Each timepiece is engraved with its unique number on the side of the bezel and commemorates the author’s 15 July, 1931 birthday in red on the dial. While waiting for his first publishing deal Cussler had worked in a dive-shop and received an orange-dial DOXA SUB 300T as a gift.
He always used the watch on his dives but also in his novels, portraying it as worn by leading man Dirk Pitt of the National Underwater & Marine Agency – originally a fictitious body but subsequently brought to reality by the writer to help him pursue his wreck-finding passion. A percentage of sales from the watch will be donated to NUMA.
DOXA’s original SUB 300T came out in 1967. The latest iteration costs 2,690 euros. A beige NATO strap is supplied with the bracelet, but an FKM black rubber strap is an optional extra at 490 euros.
Some divers favour digital watches and the extremely red and chunky Casio G-Shock Frogman GW8230NT-4ER is yet another retro design, nodding to the Frogman DW-8200 model the manufacturer produced 30 years ago but directly echoing a later edition of 2000.
Priced at £519, the watch uses a bio-based resin for its bezel and band to reduce environmental impact and is solar-powered. The Frogman 30th anniversary logo is engraved on the back of the titanium case and appears on the display when the Super LED illumination is turned on.
The 200m shock-proof watch is said to be accurate to within 15 seconds a month and has all the functions to be expected on a digital watch but including dive-time, surface intervals, tide graph and dive log.
The 300m-rated Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Diver first appeared in 2013 but was then discontinued – according to the Swiss marque, it has now redeveloped it with input from freediver Lidija Lijić because of popular demand. It comes in three versions, in a 42mm case in stainless steel or bronze.
The faceted hands and hours are lined with Super-LumiNova, the original dial has been redesigned to make the indices stand out better and there is an extra crown at 2 o’clock for adjusting the internal rotating bezel, with its count-up scale for measuring elapsed time.
An automatic ML115 movement is used; the nylon, rubber or leather straps have stainless-steel pin-buckles and the watches are priced at 2,100 euros.
US watchmaker Hamilton, founded in 1892 and now part of the Swatch Group, came up with the world’s first electric watch in 1957 and the LED digital in 1970. It released its watches for naval frogman to the public in 1951, when they featured in a movie called The Frogmen, and has now produced its 300m Khaki Navy Frogman Automatic in a compact 41mm x 13mm case, the standard version being a big 46mm.
The watch has a bezel featuring raised numerals and indices, and the screw-down crown is protected by a bridge-shaped guard. The black or khaki green dial has touches of Super-LumiNova and orange accents on the minute and second hands to make them stand out, and the sapphire crystal has an anti-reflective coating
The watch is powered by a H-10 automatic movement with an 80hr power reserve and a Nivachron balance spring to help resist shocks, temperature variations and magnetic fields. The watch comes with a stainless-steel bracelet or waved rubber strap, and the price is £1,120.