Best Diving Watches
Conquer the high seas and any other adventure, with these water-defying timepieces

February 5, 2013

Diving watches have a rich history in water warfare – worn by wave warriors like the US Navy SEALs, the British Royal Navy and the Italian Navy in the 1940s. These iconic pieces were created to withstand intense pressure and hard knocks – just like the rugged men that wore them. Their invincibility and testosterone-soaked looks were the main reason they became so popular among men (and not just the kind who strapped on tanks and donned wetsuits). Even though they can be a very expensive investment, the high build quality and smart design of most of the top diving watches mean they could easily outlive you. An most important signifier of a diving watch is the rotating bezel. It’s used to indicate how much time you have left underwater – you move it to coincide with how many minutes of air you have left in your SCUBA tank. It can only be turned counter-clockwise so that if it’s knocked accidentally while you’re exploring the sea, it’ll only show a reduced amount of time left, and not the other way around. If you’re actually going to be diving with your watch, then choose carefully. Water-resistant means it can handle a light splash – nothing more. If you are a regular swimmer, you’ll need at least a 100m water resistance, and if you’re a scuba diver, 200m should be your starting point. If the diving watch of your dreams has a rubber strap with raised rubber ridges near the lugs, they’re there for a reason, not for looks. Even if you fasten the watch tightly over your wetsuit sleeve on the surface, on the way down your suit will compress and the watch will loosen if not for those ridges, as they take up the slack and make sure your watch doesn’t take up residence in Davy Jones’s locker.

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1. Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean

Movement: Automatic mechanical, 60 hour power reserve.
Another water-bound classic, the Seamaster range was launched back in 1948, and has long been the choice of many sailors and divers. This formidable titanium watch has a 45.5mm wide case and can travel to 600m under water. R78 000,

2. Panerai Luminor 1950

Movement: Automatic mechanical, 36 hour power reserve.
Owing most of its heritage to the service of Italian Navy divers, this tough, sleek timepiece commands attention with it’s beautifully-crafted 44mm wide case; and boasts a superb inhouse movement and a 300m water resistance. R65 000,

3. Tag Heuer AquaRacer 500m Calibre 5 Automatic

Movement: Automatic mechanical, 38 hour power reserve.
Able to descend to up to 500m under water, this is a supremely capable diving watch that functions just as well in business meetings thanks to it’s simple but striking 43mm case and elegant silver-grey dial. R????,

Related: 4 Questions To Ask Before You Buy A Watch

4. Tudor Heritage Black Bay

Movement: Automatic mechanical, 38 hour power reserve.
Sharing genes with bigger brother Rolex, this lesser-known brand has a shining watch heritage, impeccable standards and a cult-like following. Inspired by the first diver’s watches made in 1954, this has a 41mm steel case, a 200m water resistance, a unique burgundy coloured bezel and their trademark “snowflake” hands. R26 020 (on vintage leather strap) or R28 670 (with steel bracelet),

5. Rolex Submariner

Movement: Automatic mechanical, 36 hour power reserve.
One of the most iconic diving watches, this has been on the wrist of many successful, powerful men throughout history and will be for many years to come. Stylish, functional (a 300m water resistance) and tough enough to survive anything you’ll encounter. R63 900,

Related: How To Buy A Second-Hand Watch

6. U Boat Classico U-1001

Movement: Automatic mechanical, 40 hour power reserve.
If you’re looking to make a statement, this huge 55mm wide titanium case is made to travel to 1001m under water (hence the name) but will also catch everyone’s attention. And it’s pretty unique – it’s a limited edition range (only 1001 units). R37 995,