Diver’s watch, a sub-set of a tool watch, was built for a purpose in the past. It was developed solely for the purpose of diving, to allow the divers to keep track of the time elapsed to ensure that they do not run out of oxygen while they are underwater.
Today, these diver’s watches take on a different purpose. Gone are the days where these watches were used for its intended purpose. Instead, most of the diver’s watches these days are more of a fashion statement than pretty much anything else. But that does not mean that watch manufacturers do not continuously improve their offerings, as some of the diver’s actually do use these watches when they are in the water.
However, for this week’s Throwback Sundays article, we are not focussing on the efficacy of these watches. Instead, we are purely looking at some of the high-end offerings that are available in the category currently. As usual, we have selected a wide range of diver’s watch – from the usual suspects to the more uncommon choices. What are some of the watches that have made the cut in this list? Let us find out!
It is difficult to talk about luxury diving watches without mentioning the Rolex Submariner.
First introduced in 1953, the Submariner is not just a timepiece – it is an icon. What makes it so special is the simple fact that it looks so timeless and beautiful, despite the passage of time. In addition, the movement – Calibre 3230 – is a solid workhorse as well. The self-winding movement boasts a power reserve of around 70 hours, and the latest iteration features Superlative Chronometer certification which ensures that the accuracy only deviates by +/- 2 seconds daily.
Priced at S$10,880, the updated 41mm Submariner is a great timepiece for any occasion. It is so versatile that it does not look out of place whether one is in business or casual attire. This is certainly a really nice timepiece to have in any watch collection, and in fact it is considered a quintessential timepiece by many collectors. You just cannot go wrong with this, and even more so with the latest 2020 version that comes with upgraded performance.
Omega Seamaster Professional
Hot on the heels of the Rolex Submariner is the Omega Seamaster, a diver’s watch that had risen to stardom thanks to its involvement in the past few sequels of the James Bond movie franchise.
For its 25th anniversary in 2018, Omega revamped the Seamaster collection with a series of new designs and movements for the popular timepiece. The overarching ones are the new ceramic bezel insert and the new laser-engraved wave motif that is a signature on the dial of most Seamaster Professionals. The latter, which is now more spaced out with a thicker cut, definitely makes the new iterations of the Seamaster much more sleeker.
The Seamasters are now equipped with the self-winding 8800-series Co-Axial Master Chronometer movements – which boasts both the METAS and Master Chronometer certifications. Finishing is also rather decent for a timepiece at this price point as well.
The base 42mm Seamaster Professional retails at S$7,150. This is a solid watch, and one that is highly popular with many collectors as well. It is also perfect for collectors who prefer a more modern look as well.
Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Diver SBGH257
When it comes to diver’s watches, the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36000 Diver SBGH257 is certainly one that is overlooked by many. Even in the broader Seiko family, where the likes of the Marinemasters and Prospexes seemed to gain more traction than the Grand Seiko brethren.
Seiko has a long history of producing diver’s watches. Beginning with the 62MAS, Seiko had produced a long list of sublime diver’s watches across different price points. The SBGH257 is the pinnacle of all – featuring a top-notch movement and solid engineering that allows the watch to have a water resistance of 600m. The 46.9mm watch is also cased in high intensity titanium, which is lightweight and twice as tough as regular titanium.
This Grand Seiko, with its top-class finishing and strong attention to detail, is priced at S$19,600. Admittedly, the price is a little difficult to swallow for people who do not appreciate the intricacies behind this watch. However, we do think that this is up there with some of the very best – and one that proves Grand Seiko is one of best in the business.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox
When it comes to diver’s watches, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Mariner Memovox is not an obvious choice that will immediately come to mind. After all, Jaeger-LeCoultre is not known to produce too many diver’s watches, especially since the retirement of the MAster Compressor collection.
The 42mm timepiece is a good looking watch, with a highly attractive lacquered blue fumé-like dial. But it is not just all looks and no substance. In fact, the Polaris Mariner Memovox has an additional alarm function, which is highly uncommon amongst its other competitors. It is a great touch, and it can be potentially useful in numerous scenarios too – all thanks to the self-winding Calibre 956 which is used on numerous JLC watches.
The Polaris Mariner Memovox comes with a price tag of S$25,900. This is a large premium over the Master Control Memovox. Despite the price difference for the diver’s watch, we reckon it is an excellent choice, especially for collectors who want a robust tool watch that is rather uncommon in the watch collecting scene.
Glashutte Original SeaQ
The Glahüstte Original SeaQ – from the “Spezialist” collection – is certainly interesting. While the brand is known for their well-made dress watches, this collection is a significant deviation from their usual offering.
The SeaQ is based on one of the many high-precision instrument watches that the brand (which, notably, is a collection of multiple brands before they came together in the 1990s as G.O.) had produced in the past. This piece is a faithful recreation of the Spezimatic Diver, in which little details such as the “25 Rubis” and “Shockproof” are included in the modern version as well. Also noteworthy is the use of faux patina for the luminescence of the watch.
It is hard to find fault with the 39.5mm watch. It is produced to the highest standard (it is both DIN and ISO tested), with finishing that is typical of the fine German watchmaker. The watch is available in three different strap options each (rubber, metal bracelet, and nylon mesh strap), and prices begin at S$14,000. This is a great piece, and one that is certainly different from the usual crowd.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
Next, we have the grand-daddy of the modern diver’s watch: Blancpain Fifty Fathom. While they were definitely not the first to make a timepiece that is capable of going underwater, Blancpain can pride itself on several important innovations. This includes the now widely-used unidirectional bezel, which is the hallmark of almost all diver’s watches.
The Fifty Fathoms “Nageurs de Combat”, pictured above, is one of the modern interpretations of the original timepiece. There are several nice touches for this timepiece, such as the domed sapphire crystal and the luminescence-filled unidirectional bezel. While the watch is only 40mm in diameter, its bulky looks make it appear larger than it is. But regardless, it is certainly an appealing watch.
Prices of the Fifty Fathom begins at S$20,100. While it is quite pricey as compared to some of its competitors, the Blancpain is certainly brimming with quality. For a luxury diving watch, it is certainly one of the best within the category.
There are actually quite a number of choices as we move up the price spectrum. Again, in terms of efficacy, we believe most of the diver’s watches are more than capable for most diving escapades. But when we are looking at the high-end segment, the provenance, design, and finishing certainly takes a more important role more than anything else.
Within our selections, there are certainly diver’s watches that are familiar with most collectors. However, we also do wish to highlight the more uncommon ones, which are in fact rather well-made and are certainly worth a consideration as well. The Grand Seiko and Jaeger-LeCoultre, for instance, are two great options which we think are highly overlooked but are definitely worth their salt.
So, what are your thoughts on our selection today? What are some of the high-end luxury diver’s watches that you own, and what are some of the watches that deserve a spot on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!
I have a 2010 submariner, one with ceramic bezel and 2020 sea dweller. Sea dweller is the proper diving watch. Submariner is the pretender.
The Glashutte Original Sea Q 39.5mm with a blue dial does not have any “faux patina” lume anywhere on it. The lume is white as can clearly be seen in the photograph being used. The Sea Q 39.5mm with a black dial and the Limited Edition version do have “faux patina” lume. None of the larger Sea Q Panodate 43mm watches have “faux patina” lume either. Glashutte Original reserved the use of this colour of lime for very specific watches.
You should list the grey market price of the Sub as that is the legitimate free market clearing price for it.
If we leave the Sub out due its chronic unavailability, I much rather go after the Pelagos or BB58.
Thanks for your comment Kei. But we will NOT have anything to do with the grey market, so will not publish or encourage engagement with them.
But your comment to go for something else is valid. Though Pelagos or BB58 is still in the Rolex stables. The idea of this article is to explore others as well. But of course, it is neither complete nor exhaustive. Just a starting point to begin exploring. Good luck!
Except for the Rolecx, just a bunch of overpriced rubbish fit for idiots with too much money and not much grey cells.Buy today, half the value gone tomorrow. Imagine a Seiko for close to $20000.
That’s not just any Seiko, it’s a Grand Seiko. Not that I m a fan of GS but if you look at their range of heigh end or luxury line of time pieces, they are good. Anyway, except for the Omega I don’t think any of the other watches mentioned here is worth the price tag but that’s only me.
Yeah its quite ironic that rolex produce sports diving watches but not prepare to sell them to anyone who can afford them… ADs will selectively sell them to their preferred customers. And we just wonder how did the grey dealers get their rolex watches from?
I wonder if there are as many divers as there are dive watches
As anyone remotely familiar with these watches know, goooooooood luuuuuuck finding the sub mariner. And if you do, add $3K- $5k over retail. No dealers have them, only the grey market. It’s absurd not to call out this glaring issue that’s been in place for 2+ years now.
Dude has no idea how a dive watch is supposed to function. If we used it to “ensure that we don’t run out of oxygen”, we’d either die of a seizure or drown. That’s not what dive watches are used for.
That’s what I thought. It’s air, too, oxygen is just a component.