Written by Norman Burns
You’d think, from the number of models released every year, there’d be a diver on every corner. But the truth is, most of these watches are aimed squarely at the desk diver who wants something that’s rugged, sporty, packed full of functionality and is generally cool – even though they’re unlikely to dive deeper than the local pool or a bath at home.
Dive watches present a great opportunity for their makers to show off their engineering nous and claim bragging rights over competitors. Your watch can go 100 metres deep? Ours can go 400 metres! And so on and so on …
There are a couple of important caveats with dive watches. I’m referring to mainly mechanical or quartz ones, not the specialist dive computers that are sold mainly to scuba divers. The most crucial caveat, however, is that although a watch may be rated to perform perfectly well at, say, 100 metres deep, it is not necessarily going to be waterproof – or even water-resistant – if you wear it doing bombie after bombie in your backyard pool. That’s because water-rating testing is done under strict (and static) conditions.
Then there’s the matter of what constitutes a true dive watch …
According to the International Standards Organisation’s 6425 regulation, to be construed a dive watch, a timepiece must meet very specific parameters, which includes being waterproof to a minimum of 100 metres, having a uni-directional bezel with a 60-minute graduation and clearly defined markings for five-minute periods that are distinctly visible from 25 centimetres in darkness and more.
There are quite a few brands out that are over-engineered to the max, with models that the makers say will tick on without a care in depths of 1000 metres or more – way, way beyond what the human body can take (unless you are safely inside a submarine).
Watchmakers love to be able to boast that their product is the best in class and can handle the most extreme conditions imaginable. Even top-line luxury watchmakers have caught the dive watch bug over the past few decades, and I doubt the demand for them – even if their owners never dip even a single toe in the sea – will fade any time soon.
Besides, having a spare, tough wear-it-anytime-anywhere watch makes great sense if you want to keep your regular dress watch in pristine nick for formal or special occasions.
So, let’s take the plunge and look at some of 2020’s snazziest dive watches.