Over the last couple of years the diving watch genre has received an unprecedented amount of hype, driven by such icons as the Rolex Submariner, Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, and the Omega Seamaster Diver. They play an especially pivotal role for sporty oriented watch brands with their brawny shapes, unidirectional bezels, and enhanced water resistance capability. Here are 10 reasons, why a diver watch may be the perfect watch for you.
Originally, diver watches were designed to fulfil a purpose. It was to remind divers when they had to get back up to the water surface in a time when no diver computers existed. Ironically, the fact that divers’ watches weren’t considered particularly collectible in the past, makes them all the more collectible today. Since they were not exactly coveted from a collectibility standpoint, they were mostly used for the very purpose they were built for. The fact that most divers’ watches from the 1950s and 1960s have their own story to tell, makes the whole vintage diver watch genre all the more fascinating. However, their modern counterparts also carry on with the heritage of their forefathers genre. Based on the very same technical principles, they are the same kind of tool watches today as they were back then, when no diver computers existed.
Even today, water resistance is more of an issue than you might think. Even against the everyday elements like rain, the shower, or simply handwashing, not all watches labelled as water resistant can protect adequately. The reason is, that the indication such as 20 metres or 50 metres refers to laboratory conditions and doesn’t mean you can actually use the watch for underwater depths without causing damage. (In this post we explain how to interpret water resistance properly.) If you own a proper divers’ watch, however, water resistance should never be an issue irrespective of what humid situation you might encounter. Important: Divers’ watch or not, you might consider that the water resistance may decrease after some time or considerable wear and tear, which is why you should regularly check the water resistance of your watch.
A high water resistance usually means a higher overall robustness too. Divers’ watches don’t just look robust, they actually are. Even if you don’t use it for the purpose of diving, a high water resistance is evidence that the watch is robust and durable. Why? Because it is indicated in atm, a measurement for pressure. Even if a stable pressure under lab conditions is much different to abrupt hits, the average divers’ watch has a significantly higher resilience than the average dress watch and even most other sports watches.
When it comes to watches, the use of the word icon sometimes tends to be inflating. While you could say some watches are “iconised” by marketing agencies, this certainly doesn’t apply for the diver legends made by Rolex, Omega, Blancpain and Co. It is fair to say that the basic concept of a divers’ watch has remained true to itself for more than half a century. What has always looked the same is more likely to look the same in the future as well.
Arguably, no other watches age as beautifully as divers’ watches. There is a reason why even severely corroded Submariner dials justify higher prices than their clean counterparts. Of course not every brownish Submariner dial will increase in value. It’s important that the colour is at least remotely even and that moisture hasn’t worked its way through the dial. Also, the radium and tritium lume used until it was replaced by luminova develops a visibly darker shade after a while making vintage divers’ watches all the more fascinating. Even if the different materials for both the dial itself and the lume spots are used today, there is still a good chance that today’s divers’ watches will age beautifully.
If it’s about measuring time, you want to be independent 24/7. Divers’ watches are designed for the best readability under water possible. This enhances the readability overwater, too. Especially under poor light conditions diver watches are unmatched. Even at first glimpse you can read the time perfectly well, making you perfectly independent from light or electricity.
Most divers’ watches look great with nearly every outfit. Even if divers watches clearly are on the sportier side of the style spectrum, divers’ watches are more versatile than you might think. Especially examples with black dials can be worn together with more elegant outfits as well. For anything short of a black suit most diver models suit just fine. In fact, even black suits can be accompanied by some divers’ watches. Rolex’s claim that the Submariner is the only diver watch that should be worn with a black suit.
If you like the colour black a diver’s watch might be the right choice for you because a divers’ watch is the black watch. Instead, if you find old dress watches with black dials, more often than not, they are redials. Half a century ago watches generally had pale dials, as they were considered more elegant and overall aesthetic. Next to pilots’ watches, divers’ watches were the only watches that usually had black dials for reasons of better readability. As tastes have changed throughout time black dials are more sought-after today than they were 50 years ago. This is why redial jobs are very often done with black supplementary dials. Divers’ watches, however, have always been black and, as for the most part, they always will be.
With a diver’s’ watch you can easily stop the time by rotating the bezel to the position of the minute hand. If you would like to stop the time more accurately (up to the second or even up to the eighth of a second for most mechanical watches), then you simply wait until the minute hand reaches the running second hand on the dial after having set the bezel. Alternatively, you can do the same with the hour hand instead of minutes and/or seconds in order to measure longer periods of time that don’t have to be accurate to the minute. In this case the time that has passed will not be displayed on the bezel, however you will have to divide the number on the bezel by 5 or simply count the hours using the hour markers on the dial. On some divers’ watches the minute scale on the bezel is mirrored so that the bezel can be read like a countdown. In this case you will have to deduct your minute count from 60 when conducting a time measurement.
From a collectibility standpoint, vintage divers’ watches are the real deal. Probably no other watch genre has enjoyed as much of a collector’s buzz in recent years. Even if some Rolex Submariner References like 5508 “James Bond”, some early Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, or historic Panerai models have significantly increased their stock lately, their ceiling might not yet have arrived. Also their new counterparts have proven to maintain their value quite well.