Like so many men’s items from gear to fashion, dive watches come courtesy of the military. In the mid-1930s, Rolex built one for the divers of the Royal Italian Navy. After World War II, scuba became a recreational activity, and the dive watch emerged as a pillar of the burgeoning sport-watch segment.
Omega’s Seamaster Professional Diver 300M, born in 1948, just redesigned the 300 collection, which debuted in 1993. Upsized to 42 millimeters, it includes six stainless steel models and eight two-tone (stainless and gold) models. ($4,750 for steel with rubber strap; $4,850 for steel/steel; $6,500 for gold/rubber; and $9,700 for steel/gold.) A limited edition of 2,500, made mostly of titanium with gold trim, pays tribute to the original with the bezel’s base and some band trim fashioned from tantalum ($13,000). The new conical helium-escape valve is endowed with a patented system that allows for underwater operation. The ceramic bezel has a diving scale in the brand’s Ceragold (gold-infused ceramic) or white enamel. Reshaped skeleton hands turn over polished ceramic dials that are laser engraved with the collection’s trademark wave pattern. The date window is at 6 o’clock, while the indexes are raised and filled with luminous Super-LumiNova.
This year, Ulysse Nardin took its Diver collection to extremes with a 300-piece Diver Deep Dive ($12,000) with water-resistance to 1,000 meters. The brawny, 46-mm titanium watch has a helium-release valve at 9 o’clock for deep dives and a removable titanium crown guard at 2 o’clock. The rubber strap expands to help adjust to swelling wrists during dives, and the notched bezel can be easily manipulated while wearing diving gloves.
For those who style while at great depths, Oris debuted a downsized 39.5-mm version of its classic Aquis Date ($1,800 on strap; $2,000 on metal bracelet) with all the requisite dive elements: water resistance to 30 bar (300 meters), a unidirectional rotating bezel for keeping track of dive times, and a high-contrast dial design with Super-LumiNova for legibility even in the murky depths. Of course, many dive watches barely make it off the beach, so the Aquis Date pairs equally as well with jeans as it does with neoprene.