As dive watches go, the Rolex Submariner is arguably the greatest. Introduced in 1953, the Submariner was the first dive watch with a water resistance of 100 m. Since then it has been in uninterrupted production, and though today’s Submariner looks almost identical to the 1953 original, it has been radically upgraded and improved. The modern Submariner is water resistant to 300m, and features a scratch resistant ceramic bezel insert, as well as a sophisticated movement featuring a paramagnetic oscillator spring.
Longines Legend Diver
A remake of a 1960s Longines wristwatch featuring twin crowns – one to rotate the dive bezel under the crystal – the Legend Diver is reminiscent of a glorious but bygone era of dive watches. It’s actually representative of a genre of vintage dive watches known as Super Compressors, named after the type of waterproof case. Manufactured until the early 1970s, the Super Compressor case was used by a plethora of famous names in watchmaking, including Blancpain, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Longines. Several variants were made, but the most well known is the twin crown type that has been revived with the Legend Diver.
IWC Porsche Design Ocean 2000
Still unrivalled in its blend of form and function, the Ocean 2000 was made by IWC but designed by Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, the legendary car designer responsible for the Porsche 911. Made of titanium and introduced in 1981, it was rated to 2000 m, a record at the time. And its reputation as a dive watch was sealed when the German navy selected the Ocean 2000 as the timekeeper for its divers, including the elite minesweeper units that were issued a special, non-magnetic version of the watch.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms made its debut in 1953, just when scuba diving was gaining traction. Over the next two decades the Fifty Fathoms was used by the most accomplished professionals in the world of diving, including the French, German and American navies. In 2007 the Fifty Fathoms was reintroduced, with a look faithful to the original, but with all the amenities of a modern luxury watch, including a scratch-resistant sapphire bezel and in-house movement.
The only wristwatch made of the same steel alloy used for German navy submarines, the Sinn U1 is the quintessential dive watch from the German watchmaker known for its no-nonsense timepieces. Especially resistant to corrosion and appreciably heavier than ordinary steel, the submariner steel case is rated to 1000 m – a feat certified by DNV GL, a testing and certification agency that usually tests ships, oil rigs and wind turbines.
Developed by Italian instrument maker Panerai for elite divers of the Italian navy, the Panerai dive watch originated in the mid-1930s, slowly evolving until it acquired the signature crown locking mechanism in 1950, creating the Luminor. Its key feature was a lever over the crown that secured it in place, ensuring the gaskets were watertight. While the Luminor case is completely different from any other dive watch, its unusual yet functional aesthetic makes it instantly recognisable. Though the Luminor was only revived in 1993, its distinctive aesthetics have made it a classic with fans as diverse as Ralph Lauren and Sylvester Stallone.
Omega Seamaster Ploprof
Short for plongeur professionnel, or “professional diver”, the Ploprof was a remarkable technical achievement when it made it to market in 1970. Developed together with underwater pioneer Jacques Cousteau and commerical diving specialist COMEX, the Ploprof was created for the saturation divers of COMEX, highly trained professionals who descended to unprecedent depths, primarily for the offshore oil industry. Rated to 600 m, the Ploprof was constructed to be impervious to helium penetrating the enormous, oblong case characterised by an orange button that unlocked the rotating bezel. But the Ploprof was complex enough to be prohibitively expensive, meaning they never caught on. Fortunately Omega has reissued the Ploprof, combining the signature case with its Co-Axial movement as well as a sapphire bezel insert.
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