Depth Charge: Underwater watches that go below and beyond sports needs

By Neil Dolby
Jul 10, 2023

Diving the depths of the oceans requires skill and daring and the ability to assess the passing of time. Submerging with the right watch is crucial and the latest watertight instruments provide timely assurance and robust good looks for adventurers.

The Oyster Perpetual Submariner and Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date epitomise the historic link between Rolex and underwater exploration. Launched in 1953, the Submariner was the first diver’s wristwatch waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet). A version with a date function, the Submariner Date, followed 16 years later. Contemporary models can plunge securely to 300 metres.

The unidirectional rotatable bezel is equipped with a 60-minute graduated monobloc Cerachrom insert – in black, blue or green, depending on the version – that allows divers to monitor their time underwater. This patented insert is made of an extremely hard, virtually scratchproof ceramic whose colour is unaffected by ultraviolet rays. In addition, the high-tech ceramic is inert and cannot corrode.

Omega’s ocean story began with the Omega Marine in 1932, the world’s first diver’s watch available to civilians. Characterised by its double case design sealed with cork, the superb water resistance of that timepiece paved the way for the brand’s diving future.

To survive the toughest conditions, Omega created a Concept Ultra Deep watch in 2019 that included indestructible features, such as a case completely machined out of forged grade 5 titanium, robust ‘Manta lugs’ that provided an innovative way of securing the watch to its strap, and a sapphire face with a conical loadbearing design.

The release of the Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep collection last year allowed all underwater enthusiasts to feel like a professional aquanaut. Seven models, measuring 45.5mm in diameter and water-resistant to 6,000 metres (20,000 feet), are led by a bold version crafted in sand-blasted and forged grade 5 titanium.

Blancpain claims the honour of introducing the first modern dive watch 70 years ago. Revolutionising watchmaking, the Fifty Fathoms was conceived by passionate scuba diver Jean-Jacques Fiechter, then the brand’s CEO.

The 50th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms saw the arrival of a contemporary version, and 20 years later, the homage continues in a new model, the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa, with a high-tech instrument that makes it possible for the first time to measure up to three-hour immersion times. Designed to meet today’s technical diving requirements, the bezel boasts a three-hour scale that is linked to a special hand that completes one full turn in three hours.

The Panerai story is one of innovation in the service of creating tools for marine adventure. The newly released Submersible QuarantaQuattro is water resistant as far down as 300 metres, thanks to the patented crown-protecting device that is inextricably linked to the Italian watchmaker’s history. A unidirectional rotating bezel to measure submersion time and metallic appliques filled with white SuperLumiNova make the watch an indispensable diving instrument.

The first diving watch Bremont ever produced was the 43mm Supermarine 500, back in 2009. This robust timepiece met the criteria of brand co-founders Nick and Giles English – beautifully engineered, practical in design and also tied to its strong aviation heritage. A new entrant to the range is the Supermarine S501, which has drawn direct inspiration from the S301 released in 2017. The more vintage feel was a big differentiator within this series and it has proved incredibly popular. The thicker crystal case was critical to ensure the watch could still reach depths of 500 metres.

Swiss watchmaker Doxa developed the SUB 200 C-Graph II to fulfil the role of a tool watch on high-risk submersions such as cave dives. With a more contemporary diameter of 42mm and a reduced thickness of 15.85mm, it offers the same functionality and features as its larger 45mm sibling presented in 2020 and is also made of the highest quality 316L stainless steel.

Seiko has introduced a diver’s watch that commemorates five of the world’s highest peaks by Japanese adventurer Naomi Uemura. On the textured dial of the Prospex 1970 Diver’s The Naomi Uemura Limited Edition is an image of the contours of Mont Blanc, the first of Uemura’s climbs.