The 10 Best Diving Watches
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Scuba diving is one of the most relaxing activities on the planet. However, time may slip away from you when you are mesmerized by the stunning colors of all the fish and coral underwater. Make sure you enjoy your aquatic adventures safely with the help of one of these dive watches that can reliably track how long you spend beneath the waves and get you back to the surface on time. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 02, 2020:
This list deserved a minor overhaul to upgrade a few models, and to include others that were sadly left off its previous incarnation. It was important to us that we include a variety here, running the gamut from luxury models to entry-level quartz options, and even dive computers. Now, at the high-end there are some models whose prices are a bit steep, like the Rolex Submariner and the Blancpain 50 Fathoms, and the quality of their materials, design, and construction is hard to beat. Some of the other luxury models we included are a bit more affordable, however, even as they offer what are in some cases superior specs. Take the Omega Seamaster 300 in Ceramic, for example. It has a more durable case than the Rolex and a more recently designed movement that's actually visible through a transparent caseback, yet it's around half the price.
We wanted to include a few lesser known top brands here, as well, which is why we reached for the Squale Matic Atmos and the Bremont S2000 YELLOW/BR, the latter of which you'll find in our special honors. At this point, these brands might be smarter investments than some others, as they boast many of the same defining characteristics of the luxury market without costing you quite as much.
Among the less expensive models, we kept both the Seiko SKX007 and the Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster, the former of which is a favorite among the modding community. There are countless varieties of bezel, dial, and hand modifications you can find, and at such a low price compared to other models with its capabilities, you shouldn't feel too self-conscious about opening it up to mess around with its insides.
Bremont S2000 Yellow While this company is still relatively new to the Swiss luxury landscape, their reputation for building reliable tools for extreme environments is well-known, thanks in large part to their partnership with aircraft ejection seat manufacturer Martin Baker. This particular piece takes that spirit beneath the waves with a very legible display, bright yellow elapsed time markings on the bezel, and an outstanding 2,000 meters of water resistance. bremont.com
Grand Seiko Sport SBGA231 If you're looking for the most accurate automatic movement you can find, the spring drive system inside this model may be it. It's a completely mechanical device that's regulated by a quartz oscillator that gets its charge from a magnet mounted on the same rotor that winds the mainspring. The result is a timekeeper that's accurate to +/- one second per day. grand-seiko.com
Carl F. Bucherer Patravi Scubatec This offering comes from a particularly capable line or divers, and is notable both for the manta ray images on its dial and for the fact that a portion of the company's proceeds go to the Manta Trust, an organization devoted to the preservation of this important bit of marine life. The timepiece's bezel boasts large, easy-to-read numbers that make timing your descents and ascents much more precise than they'd be with a model solely concerned with aesthetics. carl-f-bucherer.com
Looking Good Wet
Warranties can only guard against so much, and you're at the mercy of a lot of individual company policies if you get water in your watch.
Water-resistance is a strange bit of technology. Warranties can only guard against so much, and you're at the mercy of a lot of individual company policies if you get water in your watch. For one thing, it's hard to prove whether you took it too deep, whether it was defective from the start, or whether something happened between your acquisition of the watch and its failure that caused it to become susceptible. You also might get a customer service representative on a bad day, and that could cost you a lot of money in out-of-warranty repairs.
Manufacturers have to account for any potential weak spot, and they do so with a combination of water-resistant coatings and gaskets made from rubber, Teflon, or similar materials. That means that the rear plate, front glass, and crown (the part you turn to set the time) all have to have water-resistance measures in place. If the watch has chronograph features, the buttons that operate those functions also need gaskets to keep water from finding its way into the timepiece.
In addition to providing you with an accurate readout of the time in wet and pressurized conditions, a diving watch makes a particular statement. Anyone who recognizes the style will read a number of implications into your personality. It says that you're the type of person who isn't afraid of diving into the depths (literally and metaphorically), someone who's ready for adventure at a moment's notice, and who knows a thing or two about men's fashion.
Even if you never strap an air tank to your back, the very suggestion of aquatic activity is enough to give a haute jolt to a pair of old jeans and a sweater, or to add just the right amount of boyish James Bond charm and sportiness to an elegant suit.
In order to become a Scuba diver, you need to undergo a certain amount of training and certification. It requires hours of lessons and time spent underwater, and it's totally worth it if you've never been. Diving watches are no exception to the rigorous standards set by the ocean herself, and by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
The one full dive computer on our list does not meet these specifications simply because they don't apply to digital apparatuses.
I don't want you to panic if you've gotten this far on our page and you've already fallen in love with one of the watches on our list, only to find out here that it doesn't meet ISO standards for scuba diving. Only about half of the watches on our list actually meet the criteria, and they aren't even necessarily the watches that you can take the deepest underwater.
In order for a watch to meet with ISO standard number 6425, which certifies it as an official diver's watch in the eyes of the international diving community, that watch has to meet a ton of very specific criteria. It must, among other things, have a unidirectional bezel, maintain readability at 25 centimeters in total darkness, resist the influence of a magnetic field of 4,800 A/m to the tune of no more than thirty seconds in either direction, stand up to the shock of a 3 kg hammer hitting it at 4.43 m/s, and keep all of its water resistance after spending 24 hours submerged in a 30g/l solution of sodium chloride to test it against the galvanic corrosion of seawater.
It's understandable that a company wouldn't want to invest any capital in all this testing if their primary demographic is looking for the style of a diving watch and not necessarily the full function. If you fall into this camp, then any of the watches on our list will suffice, so you can base your choice on personal style.
If you actually plan on taking one of these watches on a scuba diving expedition, look for the ISO's marker of genuine testing. Any of the watches on our list that say "DIVER'S" on the front in all caps are the ones you want. The one full dive computer on our list does not meet these specifications simply because they don't apply to digital apparatuses.
A Century Submerged
Until the 1920s, any watches produced with water-resistance were done so on a customer-by-customer basis, meaning that no companies were making them as a standard piece. Divers in hard hats and diving bells would often bring their pocket watches into the deep by suspending them within or affixing them to their helmets, allowing them to track their time spent underwater.
Since then, the race has been on among companies and the diving community to find the best watch for underwater adventures.
All that changed in 1926, when Rolex unveiled its Oyster series of water-resistant watches. When Mercedes Gleitze swam the English channel in 1927, she had an Oyster hanging around her neck. After the swim, it checked out, fully sealed and still operational.
Rolex and its sister company Tudor have since partnered with several famous dives and swims in an effort to reinforce the power of their brands, though it was Omega who produced the first industrially made, water-resistant watches for widespread distribution back in 1932. Since then, the race has been on among companies and the diving community to find the best watch for underwater adventures.