The Great Debate: Should Stainless Steel Dive Watches Have Open Casebacks?

The Great Debate: Should Stainless Steel Dive Watches Have Open Casebacks?

Is a dive watch really a dive watch with a sapphire caseback? This debate has come up recently with Tudor unveiling its new Silver Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925. It features a crystal caseback, to the delight of some collectors and the horror of others. We thought we’d take this age-old debate up again. How do you feel about translucent casebacks, especially on tool watches? It’s likely you fall into one of two camps: Hell Yes or No Way in Hell. But whichever way you lean, put your preferences aside for a moment and consider both points of view.  

omega clear caseback

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On One Side: A well-finished movement doesn’t need to be displayed to be appreciated. 

A clear caseback compromises the integrity (and physical reality) of a tool watch, especially a dive watch. Since dive watches in particular are prized for their watertightness, it doesn’t make sense to outfit one with a sapphire caseback. You can’t see the display caseback when it’s on the wrist, so what’s the point? Exhibition casebacks are for embellished movements, not automatic movements with a giant rotor. Instead, they belong on dress watches to show well-finished movements explicitly designed for display. Clear casebacks are made for Geneva stripes, blued screws, sparkling countersinks and spéculaire steelwork, not workhorse movements in steel dive watches. 

closed case back on a rolex watch

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On the Other Side: A beautiful movement deserves to be seen. 

Mechanical watch wearers buy watches because of the movement. A clear caseback is an easy, subtle way to honor the history of engineering and technique that go into making a mechanical watch. Watches aren’t just wearable objects. Instead, they’re impressively built tools. Having an exhibition caseback remains the wearer of this reality. The same way that we marvel at a piece of art in a museum, we should be amazed by the tiny work of art we wear on our wrists daily. A clear caseback reminds us of that. Many watch manufacturers agree: there are a variety of options for exhibition dive watches, including the Omega Seamaster 300M, the Vacheron Overseas, and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris. If these respected watchmakers aren’t afraid to display the movement on these dive watches, we should embrace this option wholeheartedly. Clear casebacks aren’t just for hand-finished movements. Grand Seiko, Nomos, and Glashutte Original all have machine-finished movements that are aesthetically pleasing and perfect for displaying. 

tudor casebackImage source 

A Strap to Complement Any Caseback Style 

No matter which side you end up on, we can all agree that— displayed or not—Tudor and Rolex movements are a thing of beauty.  The exhibition caseback on the silver Black Bay Fifty-Eight and the gold BB58 18K just reminds us  of that fact. If you’re a diehard Tudor collector, refresh your collection today with the most highly-rated aftermarket Tudor rubber strap you can buy. We bring an exceptional eye for design and a commitment to using the most durable materials with high-end finishes. Try one today while you’re waiting for the latest Tudor news to drop. Which side are you on? Let us know in the comments!


By: Meghan Clark


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