Top dive watches like the Rolex Submariner, Officine Panerai Luminor 1950 Submersible, Breitling Superocean and the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms – timepieces used by real divers who choose nothing but the best – here are the specifications for each of these remarkable divers watches, information on the latest designs by these renowned watchmakers, plus suggestions for affordable options from other diver watch making companies.
1. Rolex Submariner – Luxury James Bond Diver Watches
Rolex has a series of dive watches, although the best known one is the Oyster Perpetual Submariner, which is the legendary James Bond watch we’ve all seen in the classic films. Yes it’s a real timepiece and not a prop. Although we may not think of Rolex as a company that makes waterproof sports products, in fact they are one of the pioneers, having started crafting waterproof items in the mid 1920’s, now offering one of the top scuba diving watches of all time. Why? Because aside from being a luxury brand by name, that reputation is based on quality.
For example, the Oyster watch is so painstakingly crafted and engineered that it requires more than 150 processes to get the timepiece from what is the oyster case (a solid block of steel, absolutely impenetrable by water because it’s a stainless steel vault), to being able to withstand the most intense underwater conditions a diver may face, even at a depth of 1000 feet (300 meters). The Submariner design is now available in several models, like the Submariner Date design, with chronometer capabilities, which means it keeps track of dates. There’s a blue sapphire design in white gold and stainless steel, a solid yellow gold variation, and a steel and gold model that offers both style and durability.
How much does a waterproof Rolex diving watch cost? It depends where you buy it, but it’s possible to order online for just over $15,000 through places like Melrose Jewelers, although Amazon retails the same Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date in 18k gold for over $20,000. The Rolex Submariner Stainless Steel classic that just has a little gold accenting is more affordable at just under $9,000 through Amazon.
But be careful when buying these items because the prices are vastly different for different models and through different dealers, For example the excellent quality stainless steel black dial Submariner, which is an authentic Rolex, can be found at Melrose Jewelers for a touch over $4,800, while that same piece is almost double elsewhere. But be sure to compare apples to apples, because the very similar looking stainless steel black dial Submariner that has 3 carats of channel set diamonds around the dial, is not the same price, but rather costs over $7,000.
There’s the same item as above only with baguette cut diamonds and that goes for over $9,000. Then there’s also the Oyster Precision Submariner Chronometer design that’s all stainless steel with no gems and costs close to $6,000 through Amazon retailers like Jomashop.
How To Choose A Luxury Scuba Diving Watch
First. Do you dive for recreation, as a hobby or a lifestyle? Do you need digital information to download to a computer later? Do you just want a dive watch because it reflects your adventurous and risk taking personality?
Here’s the scoop: If you seriously dive on a regular basis and need to know what the water temperature is, how your air pressure is holding up and also have precautionary alarms and safety warning features, then you might want to spend your money on something that does not have diamonds and gold, but computer interface ability. You will also want a timepiece that you don’t have to worry about while underwater in unusual environments where rocks, coral, sea creatures and unpredictable circumstances could cause a great deal of abuse to a luxury watch.
Remember, a real diver will likely use a wetsuit and may even have gloves and boots to cover exposed skin. The timepieces that are then most practical will be the sports models that strap over the wetsuits, may also have larger buttons to press instead of just a dial to view.
If you dive as recreation between boardroom meetings, golf games and yachting cocktail parties, then the luxury watches will be very functional for fun dives in Thailand and the Bahamas and maybe an excursion in Australia. They withstand a certain amount of abuse below water and can go very deep but do not offer guidance, warnings or computer interfacing.
For those who are serious divers and can afford it, many opt to have a luxury dive watch like a Rolex, Panerai or Breitling for sophistication, but also have specialized Navy Seal diving watches or rugged Swiss Heuer models as backups for their computer dive systems. Let’s continue with the top luxury brands before looking at the military watches and Navy Seal alternatives.
2. Officine Panerai Luminor 1950 Submersible
Be it for professional divers or for those who dive occasionally but want the best, the Officine Panerai Luminor 1950 Submersible Depth Gauge is considered one of the best precision timepieces for divers. These are not just pretty pieces of jewelry, but the instruments previously used by Italian Navy commandos. Combining features that previously required more instruments, the most recent versions of Luminor 1950 Submersible is a measuring and checking instrument for exact depth gauging, not just a watch. It is a chronometer, certified by the Swiss Federal Office for Metrology and has a depth gauging system that is professional, water-resistant to 120 meters, crafted from solid titanium and steel, with unidirectional rotating bezel, with positioning to calculate immersion times, and makes clicks at intervals of 1 minute. Inside, the piece has 21 jewels and required winding only once every 42 hours. The depth gauge is sectioned off into meters, for each meter, up to 120 meters, and the ability to memorize a maximum desired depth. This is activated when pressing the depth push button that is beside the 10 o’clock position and then following the yellow hand around the graduated scale. So there is no problem with the depth gauge, it is backed up by a lithium battery, and also has a warning when the 500 hours of charge are due to end.
Officine Panerai have several strap choices including very practical rubber and buckle designs, and they also have straps for wearing the watch over wetsuits. So attention conscious are they, that the watches even come with a small screwdriver to change straps.
What’s the cost? Luminor 1950 Submersible can range between about $7,500 and $9,000 depending where you shop. Online they are relatively difficult to find from an authorized dealer that can give a certificate of authenticity. In New York you can shop easily at their Boutique on Madison Avenue, and in Los Angeles, at 9490A Brighton Way, Beverly Hills. There are also boutiques in Geneve, Madrid, Florence and across Asia and the Middle East in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Macau, Shanghai and Beijing, as well as Dubai and Beirut.
3. Breitling Superocean
Breitling is well known in the dive world ever since they came out with their first waterproof dive models in the 1950’s. The Superocean Heritage is even better, made from solid steel, with power for about 40 hours and a choice of brushed steel link strap or the rubber Ocean Racer strap designs, these Swiss watches compete with Panerai and Rolex, for precision, and classic styling.
The stainless steel Breitling design called the Aeromarine Chrono Superocean features a domed blue, brown, silver or red face with iridescent hands, and day and date displays. It is relatively affordable considering the league in which they play, retailing for just over $3,000.
The problem with the most recent diver’s watch modifications by Breitling is that the color choices are only a small accent and many of the features that precision watch fans loved about the older versions are no longer present for example the bezel has been coated with rubber which takes away from the original class of the piece, and the pearlescent notches that were illuminated previously have disappeared. Some people believe that this newest Superocean release was a big mistake and a slide downward, and away from real dive watches, and in fact not recommending it for diving. However, since a vast majority of diver’s watches never get wet, aside from a splash in a pool, a rain shower or a bath, the actual dive features that have changed may be of less concern than the fact that it looks somewhat cheap, when in reality a Breitling dive watch is anything but cheap when it comes to price.
Military, Navy and Precision Swiss Army Watch Choices
For a much more affordable price, divers and diver “wanna bes” can have timepieces that offer functionality as well as the cool dive watch designs that can be worn as fashion or lifestyle statements. For example the Swiss Army Dive Master 500 comes in a cool design with a silver dial and also has a functional rubber strap for around $525. It offers quartz movement and a stainless steel case an unidirectional bezel as well as luminous hands and hour markers. It is waterproof to 1650 feet (500 meters) and is a Swiss analog device.
Within the same price range there are several models of Swiss Army creations that have slight differences like orange or blue faces, stainless steel chain or link bracelets instead of rubber ones and a few small details that may make a difference such as the size of the face and the visibility of the numbers on the dial.
Perhaps one of the funkiest designs is the one that comes in orange and the most classic ones are those that have are solid stainless steel and have bracelets instead of sports straps.
The authentic Navy SEAL divers watch designs are quite varied in style but are very affordable, priced around $220 to $240. One of the most popular series is the 3000 and is part of the collection that made the original Navy SEAL watches famous since they are in fact the ones supplied to the US Navy SEAL teams and have undergone the extreme tests required to meet the standards of official US Army and Navy specifications.
They have very strong cases that are reinforced with fiberglass and polyester. All offer Swiss quartz movement and unidirectional bezel that s easy to see due to the bright dot that is protected with a glass window. Some models have a yellow face that is easy to view and an illuminating system that glows without stopping for 25 years. Navy Seal scuba watches are also waterproof up to 660 feet (200meters) and have scratch proff rystals and Arnitel style straps with secure buckles made from stainless steel. These watches are intended to be used under severe conditions and to take abuse.
EVO has a Navy SEAL divers watch called the 6102 model that costs between $620 and $700 and offers some excellent features for real divers. The multi jewel design precise Swiss quartz movement inside a solid stainless steel case set on a link bracelet that’s PVD coated and is secured by a fold-over clasp. Also the unidirectional bezel is PVD plated. It can be used to depths of 660 feet (200 meters) and is constantly illuminated. The battery is said to last for 10 years, but also has an indicator to alert the wearer that it is about to end, however the illumination system, as with the other Navy designs, is guaranteed for 25 years. By the way, the company that makes the top Navy designs is called Luminox.
Citizen Dive Watch Specialties
When it comes to divers watch designs that are functional and computer friendly, used by divers who really need to keep track of their measurements after multiple divers, are using things like the Aqualand Eco-Drive, which is a dive computer and dive watch that offers useful features, durability and costs under $500, in fact is often just over $450 when on special. Although Citizen may not be a luxury timepiece, it is considered a very practical solution for quality scuba diving watches that make sense in the real world.
Here are some of the features you can expect:
All the Eco-Drive series are light-powered watch designs that do not runout. They are said to have a lifetime supply of energy that is stored by simply being in the light, therefore a battery is unnecessary. However, the light can be stored for about 180 days, that is assuming that it is inside a black box and recharging. Like most of the high-tech watches for divers these models are waterproof to 660 feet (200 meters) and offer depth display up to 300 feet. The design includes a case that is asymmetrical, very practical for divers who may have a lot of other instruments or equipment as well as a dive suite.
Some of the features that the Citizen watches offer for divers that other precision timepieces do not are such things as measuring the depth of a dive all through the duration of the dive and also has a memory to record up to twenty different dives. It can also be set with a maximum dive depth limit and will also show water temperature and compare to other dives for lowest temp. It has 2 time zones and a calendar with date and day display as well as travel. All this is attached to a sturdy rubber strap and comes with the Citizen 5 year warranty. It’s quite obvious why the Citizen dive watches are very popular for those who really spend their lives below the surface.
The fact of the matter is that if you’re a real diver these days, you will not be diving without a personal dive computer. A watch, as a time piece will be an extra or a backup. The best wrist computers are both, and offer a safe diving experience as well as a record of where you’ve been and where you’re going. Divers need to know depth, dive duration, air supply and even calculate absorption rates of nitrogen etc, and all this must be done underwater where visibility and optimum conditions may not exists. Therefore it is important that the dials are clear to see, that displays are illuminated, buttons easy to touch even if they have gloved hands. Anyone who is in the industry, such as a dive master or those who dive regularly will have dive computers. An automatic dive watch will be part of any system, such as the Citizen one just mentioned.
What About A Tag Watch?
Actually a Tag watch is a Heuer Tag creation with a long history of being precision Swiss timepieces that have evolved into being known simply as due to joining Techniques D’Avant-Garde who added features to their watch design that incorporated high end technology. The divers watch creations that are now famous are such things like the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Automatic chronograph watches that are used by genuine divers, usually as a backup to their other computer systems.
The features that make the Tag watch stand out are that they can function without batteries since they operate automatically based on the arm movements of the wearer. The crystal is also coated with an anti-reflective material and is also scratch resistant and the case is solid stainless steel. The chronograph features are that it has a series of 12 hour and a 30 minute subdial. The watches are waterproof to 300 meters (984 feet). Tag watches are not cheap, almost luxury items, since they retails for over $1,000.
What Else Is New In Mens Watch Design?
For more information on other mens timepieces, such as the top Croton Watches, and other Gents Watches for those in the UK please see related topics. We also have specific ideas for the rugged and versatile Diesel Watch designs, Skagen Watches and some great ideas for buying the newest Titanium Watches that are durable, masculine, stylishly rugged yet practical.