Did you ever stop to think what style of watches are the most popular and why? Overall, it’s no secret that tool watches are the most popular category. They’re created for a specific, practical purpose, which makes them reliable, sturdy daily wearers for a wide array of situations and any kind of clothing. Within the group of tool watches, the diving watch is without a doubt the most popular, and has been for quite some time.
What is it that makes diving watches so popular? Well, first, it’s their style. There’s plenty of love for the dive aesthetic, with oversized hour markers and large hands that make the time easy to read. On top of that, the rotatable bezel and 60-minute diving scale on most dive watches are much-loved elements wearers love to play around with. Sure, not too many folks will ever go diving with these, but their sturdiness and water resistance equate to fantastic build quality, which helps make dive watches the much-loved daily wearers they are. Let’s dive in (pun intended) and look at the ten best dive watches currently available.
- Rolex Submariner
- Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
- Omega Seamaster Professional Diver 300M
- Panerai Luminor
- Oris Aquis
- Doxa Sub 300
- Tudor Black Bay 58
- Seiko Prospex SPB143
- Breitling Superocean
- Longines Legend Diver
1. Rolex Submariner
The Rolex Submariner was first produced in 1953, and officially introduced to the public in 1954. The Submariner set the standard when it comes to the way we look at the design of a dive watch. Its Oyster case with a screw-down crown and 100 meters (10 bar, 328 feet) of water resistance, a black rotatable dive bezel and 60-minute scale to mark dive times, a black dial with large luminous indices and luminous hands, so you could always read the time, and a stainless-steel bracelet all came together to create the watch’s iconic look.
In 1962 the Submariner ref. 6538 graced the wrist of Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No, and in 1969, Rolex introduced the first Submariner with a date window and the now-famous Cyclops lens. The Submariner design would evolve over the next decades, but only subtly. After all, why would you drastically change such an industry-standard aesthetic? The latest generation Submariner introduced a new 41-mm case and movement. What’s stayed the same, however, is that iconic design, which hearkens back to the first Submariners produced in 1953. Is there any wonder the Rolex Submariner remains the most popular dive watch of all time?
Also interesting: Waiting List for the Rolex Submariner: Wait or buy online?
2. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
While the Rolex Submariner might have defined the standard in dive watches, it actually wasn’t the first modern diver. That honor goes to the iconic Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Back in 1953, Blancpain introduced its Fifty Fathoms as the first modern professional diver. The watch was created after two French naval officers, Robert Maloubier and Claude Riffaud, made a list of must-have specs for a professional diving watch.
The results were a revolutionary watch with a rotating bezel, noctilucent five-minute graduations, and water resistance up to 91.45 meters, or 50 fathoms. Discontinued in the 1980s, the Fifty Fathoms made a glorious comeback in 2003, and has been part of the Blancpain catalog ever since. Today, the Fifty Fathoms is recognized as an industry icon.
3. Omega Seamaster Professional Diver 300M
Omega’s Seamaster Professional Diver 300M is also known as the “Bond watch” to many fans. Although the watch was first introduced in 1993, it wasn’t until it made an appearance on Pierce Brosnan’s wrist in the 1995 Bond film GoldenEye that it achieved its iconic status.
With its helium escape valve, characteristic 90s-style bezel, and impressive wave-pattern dial, the watch has been a hit for Omega ever since. The third generation released in 2012 no longer featured the wave pattern on its dial, but the pattern returned six years later on the current Seamaster 300M, in honor of the watch’s 25th anniversary. That’s when the timepiece also received a new in-house movement, ceramic bezel insert, and slightly larger case. Even with these updates, it was still very much the same Bond watch that got its big break in the nineties.
Want to find out more? Read here about The Top 5 Most Collectable Omega Seamaster References
4. Panerai Luminor
When it comes to Panerai, take your pick of either the Luminor or the Radiomir. Both represent the brand perfectly. Today we’re going with the classic Luminor and its iconic design. In the early 1900s, Panerai started producing watches and instruments for the Italian Navy, the Regia Marina, and supplying watches to the force’s combat divers.
The first Panerai Luminor with its now-iconic crown protector, the ref. 6152/1, was created in the early 1960s. This timepiece would inspire the Luminor that was first released to the public in 1993. And once Sylvester Stallone started wearing it in his movies, demand for this oversized diver simply took off. Today the watch with its unique case shape, sandwich dial, and oversized luminous markers is an instantly-recognizable industry icon.
5. Oris Aquis
The Swiss brand Oris has two very popular dive watches in its collection. The Hölstein edition draws on the Divers Sixty-Five’s retro charm for its inspiration. But it’s the brand’s Aquis that is the modern, capable dive watch that many watch fans love as a daily wearer. It comes in the standard sizes of 39.5, 41.5, and 43.5 mm, and a smaller 36.5-mm version in a variety of colors for the ladies. Be sure to also check out the standard Aquis Date version with the in-house Calibre 400, or a more affordable Sellita-powered variant.
Oris offers the Aquis in a number of models, including a GMT version, a Depth Gauge version, special artist limited editions, and the recently released Aquis Pro 4000M. The Aquis Date is an instantly-recognizable dive watch with excellent value for money, and one of the most recognizable modern dive watches around.
6. Doxa Sub 300
Speaking of readily recognizable industry icons, what would this Top 10 list be without the Doxa Sub 300? This watch features unmistakable looks, with its unique case shape, box-shaped crystal, and bright dial colors. The original Sub 300 dates back to 1966, and made a splash with its bright orange dial color and decompression dive table on its bezel.
It’s important to note that legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau and his crew on the Calypso wore the Doxa Sub 300 for years during their travels. For this reason, and many others, the Doxa design and its hardcore dive properties continue to make it a fan favorite. You can get the Sub 300 in a wide array of bright dial colors and matching rubber straps. It’s also available on an iconic beads-of-rice-style bracelet that only adds to its vintage charm. The Sub 300 is truly a stand-out timepiece among its horological peers.
7. Tudor Black Bay 58
Tudor manufacturers all kinds of different dive watches that could have made this list. So please, after you read this article, be sure to check out the entire collection of divers the brand offers. You won’t be disappointed. From the standard Black Bay to the Black Bay 54 and Black Bay 58, to the Pelagos, Pelagos FXD, and Pelagos 39, there’s truly an option for everyone.
But the one dive watch that really hit home with watch fans upon its release is the Black Bay 58. Its vintage-inspired design has a 39-mm case that is thinner than the regular Black Bay. After the initial black version, a Marine Nationale-inspired blue version was released, followed by silver, gold, and bronze versions. Interestingly, it’s the stainless steel version that has become the go-to Tudor dive watch that’s loved by so many fans.
Read more: Tudor Black Bay 58 vs. Tudor Black Bay 54
8. Seiko Prospex
Another brand that offers an incredible selection of dive watches is, of course, Seiko. With its Prospex line, Seiko has a series of dive watches that are often inspired by the brand’s 1960s and 70s classics, but feature updated designs and contemporary technology, making them great modern divers. One of the most popular among fans has to be the Seiko Prospex SPB143 that was inspired by the brand’s first dive watch, the 62MAS originally released in 1965.
For the modern version of this watch, Seiko updated the case size to 40.5 mm and equipped it with a new movement, while keeping the instantly-recognizable looks of the 62MAS and its skin diver-style case, large rectangular hour markers, and sword-style hands. Additionally, the watch is known by fans as being a true “strap monster,” meaning it looks good on a wide variety of straps.
9. Breitling Superocean
Another manufacturer that introduced its first dive watch in the 1950s is Breitling, who released the Superocean in 1957. The Superocean is still part of the brand’s catalog today. Even better, the Breitling has a modern version of that first watch, the Superocean ’57, that is part of their Superocean Heritage collection. Breitling’s regular Superocean collection offers a series of modern divers inspired by the brand’s reference 2005 Mk2 SuperOcean from the 1970s.
The modern version comes in 42, 44, and 46 mm for men, and a 36-mm women’s model. You can choose from a variety of dial colors and rubber straps, or a stainless steel bracelet. The current Superocean proves that the brand’s retro-inspired looks are as relevant as ever and make for very capable daily watches that fit a variety of styles and situations.
10. Longines Legend Diver
Number ten on this list is the classic Longines Legend Diver. This watch is a stand-out because it’s not constructed like your usual dive watch. Its design dates back to the brand’s Super Compressor from 1961, which featured a case using a sealing technique that actually became more watertight the deeper the watch went. Additionally, the watch had an internal rotating dive bezel underneath the acrylic crystal that could be operated with the second crown on the right side of the case.
This iconic case design is still the base of the current Longines Legend Diver, which also features the characteristic twin crown design. The Super Compressor case has been replaced by a conventional housing, while still rocking the same great looks. The watch is available in 36 and 42 mm, and comes with a variety of different dial colors and straps. If you want to keep it classic, get it on the mesh bracelet. Overall, the Longines Legend Diver shows that its looks are still unique, and why it’s such a fan favorite.
So that’s our Top 10 of the best dive watches currently on the market. Dive watches are the most popular category of watches, and there are plenty of more options out there to choose from than just the ones on our list. One thing’s certain: a dive watch will always look sharp on your wrist, anywhere and everywhere you want to wear one.