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By Kristen Shirley | March 15 2019
Whether you’re diving into the ocean or just like a sporty look, one thing’s for sure: Deep dive watches usually spend more time on land than under the sea.
After conquering the technical requirements for diving, watchmakers added useful land-based complications like flyback chronographs and calendars, and made them more attractive for everyday wear with decorated and guilloché dials.
Here, we round up our favorites, from a watch that will take you 2.5 miles below the earth’s surface (you’ll be dead, but your watch will still work), to a mechanical watch with chiming alarms and a sturdy everyday dive watch.
A historic dive watch, the original Superocean debuted in 1957. In a recent edition, Breitling partnered with surfer Kelly Slater to introduce a first for the brand: a strap made with Econyl yarn from Outerknown (co-founded by Slater himself), which repurposes fishing nets (a large ocean polluter) and recycles them into yarn. The watch is a COSC-certified chronometer with 60-second, 30-minute and 12-hour counters; it also shows the day and date. The black DLC-coated stainless-steel case contrasts nicely with the ocean-blue dial. For legibility underwater, the triangle at 12 o’clock on the bezel has a Super- Luminova-coated dot (the hour and minute hands are coated as well).
Contact: Breitling in New York, +1 855 999 1884, breitling.com
In celebration of its first dive watch’s 50th anniversary, IWC included a perpetual calendar, flyback chronograph and Ceratanium, a world-first material combining the best aspects of titanium (lightness and durability) with ceramic (hard and scratch-resistant). The perpetual calendar uses apertures to display the day and month, with a subdial at 6 o’clock for leap years. At 12 o’clock, there’s a combined totalizer with hour and minute counters. Rather than a unidirectional bezel, it uses a proprietary SafeDive system with rotating internal and external bezels. The internal bezel only moves when the external bezel is rotated in a counterclockwise direction, ensuring your dive time cannot accidentally be shortened.
Contact: IWC in New York, +1 212 355 7271, iwc.com
With roots in marine chronometers and deep associations with the sea (its symbol is an anchor), dive watches were a natural progression for Ulysse Nardin. Its newest dive watch, the Diver Chronometer, has a concave, inverted bezel for tracking your dive time. On the dial, there’s a power reserve at 12 o’clock, and date and small seconds at 6 o’clock. The caseback on the limited-edition Diver Great White has a motif of a great white shark stamped on it. Should you want an open caseback to admire the in-house movement, there’s a limited-edition Monaco Yacht Show watch, as well as classic blue and black versions.
Contact: Ulysse Nardin in New York, +1 212 257 4920, ulysse-nardin.com
An update of its iconic 1970 dive watch, the new Ploprof (short for plongeur professionnel, meaning “professional diver” in French), doubles its water resistance to 1200m from 600m, but keeps many of the unique technical features from the original timepiece. Its bezel is bidirectional, and it’s locked in place with a security pusher at 2 o’clock, which unusually places the screw-in crown at 9 o’clock (making it especially useful for lefties). At 4 o’clock, there’s a helium escape valve; it has a “sharkproof” bracelet, which is suitable for diving, and it comes with an additional rubber strap.
Contact: Omega in New York, +1 212 207 3333, omegawatches.com
As the first diving watch ever created, Fifty Fathoms is steeped in heritage. Naturally, it has all of the expected diving requirements, including many that Blancpain created, although its depth limit has increased to 300m from the original 50 fathoms (91m) in 1953. Last year, Blancpain added its first non-diving-related complication, an integrated annual calendar. Apertures show the day of the week, date and month in the new in-house automatic caliber, which is visible through an open caseback. The meteor-gray dial is offset by luminous hour markers, luminescent baton hands and a unidirectional bezel with ceramic insert and dive-scale markers.
Contact: Blancpain in New York, +1 212 396 1735, blancpain.com
One of the most elegant dive watches out there, Breguet’s Marine Royale 5847 is not just another pretty face. It boasts a handy and unusual alarm feature, so you can set the alarm before you dive into the water to remind you to check your air. The beautiful dial features hand-engraved guilloché, and the unidirectional bezel’s numbers are discreetly etched into 18K white gold. The automatic movement has a date window at 6 o’clock, power-reserve indicator at 10 o’clock and alarm window at 12 o’clock (so you know it is activated and you won’t risk it going off during a meeting).
Contact: Breguet in New York, +1 646 692 6469, breguet.com
Thanks to its work with the Royal Italian Navy in the 1900s, Panerai is synonymous with the ocean. Its latest dive watch is inspired by champion freediver Guillaume Néry. While most watches use blue or green luminescence, Panerai uses both: The crucial zero minute and the minute hand are blue, and the other markers are green. It has a flyback chronograph with a central second and minute hand (eliminating a minute counter increases legibility) and an hour counter at 3 o’clock. The caseback features Néry’s signature and the depth of his freediving record, a staggering 126m. With a 300m water resistance, this watch could certainly handle his next world record.
Contact: Panerai in New York, +1 212 223 1562, panerai.com
Deep sea, indeed. This watch is tested to 3,900m, and its dial boasts serious street cred; it was inspired by a custom watch James Cameron wore when he descended to the bottom of the deepest point in Earth’s ocean, the Mariana Trench. Specially made Deepsea watches were affixed to the exterior of his submersible, and they returned fully functioning from quite literally the bottom of the ocean. In 2018, Rolex updated the movement, which holds 14 patents, has a date window at 3 o’clock, Chromalight hour markers and hands with blue glow, and a helium safety valve.
Contact: Rolex in New York, +1 212 759 8278, rolex.com
This story originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Elite Traveler.