8 of the best dive watches

8 of the best dive watches

Jamie Weiss

There’s a case to be made that dive watches represent the most popular genre in watchmaking. Not only are many of the most iconic timepieces of all time dive watches, but their inherent practicality makes them perfect daily wearers – even for those who barely take their watches for a dip in the pool, let alone for a serious dive. Whether you’re a desk diver, frogman or simply a fan of a nice timepiece, we’ve tackled the extremely difficult task of shortlisting some of the best dive watches on the market for your reading pleasure.

Rolex Submariner

zach sub

This list is presented in no particular order, but if you had to pick the #1 slot, it would have to be the Rolex Submariner. There’s really no debate, even if you think it’s boring and overpriced. The fact is that nearly everyone on the face of the planet can recognise one, even if they know nothing about watches, and that’s something that can’t be replicated – and it has the strongest claim of any watch in being the first commercially available dive watch. On top of its cultural status, its accurate performance as a chronometer is renowned, and every design variation among the references has become iconic in its own way. The Rolex Submariner is an absolute titan, whose popularity has made dive watches the global phenomenon they are today. Price: A$14,650 (ref. 124060).

Omega Seamaster Professional Diver 300M

Seamaster Professional Diver 300M

The yin to the Submariner’s yang, there’s lots of different versions of the Omega Seamaster but the Diver 300M is one of the most famous. Rising to prominence on the wrist of Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond, the Omega Seamaster Professional Diver 300M is another example of a watch with extraordinary fame and technical excellence. Having evolved significantly from the eccentricity of the mid-‘90s, the recent versions of the Seamaster Diver 300M still capture a suaveness alongside rugged capability. The modern laser-cut ceramic wave dial is contemporary without being alienating, and the Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 8800 is a movement you’ll be proud to stare at through the sapphire caseback. It might not have the same hype power as the Sub, but its one major advantage is that you can actually buy them at retail. What a concept. Price: A$9,850 (on bracelet).

Seiko SKX/Seiko 5 Sports

seiko skx007 3

Seiko’s dive watches have been favoured by professionals since the 1960s, but it’s the SKX of the late ‘90s that eventually had the biggest impact on watch culture. Providing affordable access to a 200-metre water resistance rating not only allowed its popularity to flourish among divers and casual wearers alike, but it also allowed people to do things that they wouldn’t dare attempt with luxury Swiss watches. Modifying them by swapping around compatible components was made possible by Seiko’s streamlined production and huge variation of references, and eventually third parties began to manufacture custom parts specifically for watch modding. It’s that idea of personalisation that has evolved into the Seiko 5 Sports range after the discontinuation of the SKX, and, barring the 100-metre water resistance, it’s as iconic as ever. Price: A$550 (ref. SRPD55K on bracelet).

Doxa SUB 300T

DOXA Sub 300T Orange 1329

The first consumer-grade dive watch to feature a helium release valve and developed with the input of legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, the Doxa SUB 300T is an underrated dive watch legend. Featuring a distinct cushion case and available in a range of eye-catching dial colours (with none more eye-catching or famous than its Professional orange dial option), the modern incarnation of the SUB 300T is actually water-resistant to an impressive 1,200 metres, rather than 300 metres as the name may imply. Price: A$2,990 (Professional, beads of rice bracelet), available from the Time+Tide Shop.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 42mm on wrist

Thrown into the limelight thanks to its collaboration with Swatch last year, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is one of the world’s first dive watches and remains a compelling timepiece to this day. Slightly more luxurious than the watch that pipped it to the post to be the world’s first commercially available dive watch, the Rolex Submariner, modern Fifty Fathoms references boast robust power reserves, movements with elevated finishing and winning vintage aesthetics – whether that’s the 90s-esque militaria vibe of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe or the ’50s look of the Fifty Fathoms Automatique – the Fifty Fathoms is rightfully iconic. Price: A$29,300 (42mm, ref. 5010-12B30-B64B).

Tudor Black Bay 58

Tudor Black Bay 58 2 845x550@2x

Although some could argue the Tudor Black Bay 58 is too closely related to the Rolex Submariner, it has had a significant and lasting impact in its own right. Founded as Rolex’s more budget-conscious relative, Tudor has grown substantially in the last two decades with releases that focus on the heritage period of the ‘50s and ‘60s. The Black Bay range was already fairly popular, but the Black Bay 58 created an absolute craze when people discovered its ergonomic dimensions. Released in 2018, it marked a time when watch enthusiasts began to pay attention to things like lug-to-lug length as a measure of wearability, and that has affected watch designs across the board. Plus, its vintage stylings and COSC-certified movement make it a fantastic watch in any regard. Price A$5,910 (on bracelet).

Zenith Defy Revival A3648

zenith defy revival a3648 wrist

Zenith is a brand more commonly associated with pilot’s watches and high-tech high-beat chronographs, but it’s a brand that’s also been known to make a dive watch or two. An aquatic take on the brand’s legendary Defy model, the Zenith Defy Revival A3648 is the series’ first purpose-built diver, with an impressive 600m of water resistance. It’s a stunningly accurate recreation of the vintage A3648 reference, with a period-appropriate 37mm case – few watches on the market combine such slim proportions with such water resistance. The orange and black colour scheme oozes vintage vibrancy, especially with the sapphire bezel insert. Price: A$11,900.

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf

zodiac super sea wolf compression

Last but not least we have the Super Sea Wolf from Zodiac, another Swiss brand with a rich legacy in dive watches. The original Sea Wolf was released in the ’50s – right around the same time as the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and Rolex Submariner came out – yet has always stood out thanks to its affordability, as well as Zodiac’s willingness to be playful with colours. The modern Super Sea Wolf continues that stylish tradition, with a range of colourful bezel and dial options, combined with robust tool watch constructions and extremely legible designs. Price: A$2,699 (ref. ZO9269), available from the Time+Tide Shop.