Dive watches. I started my watch collecting journey owning an homage to a Rolex Submariner. I’m not ashamed of admitting this because I always loved the Sub aesthetic and history, I just couldn’t afford the real deal. I was also attracted by the story behind divers: who they were made for, how they were used, and what they can do. As I matured in my watch collecting journey, I realized that divers made for a perfect everyday watch thanks to having great specifications and good looks.
At least, there are certain divers that are iconic for these reasons. So in this article I wanted to look at two reasons why divers are popular with both enthusiasts (experts) and novices (those getting started into horology.)
They Are Versatile
It may not be obvious at first glance but dive watches are versatile timepieces. They might not all come across as being so in the looks department, but from a functional department, they are (which we will talk about below.) With that said, divers have become great everyday watches because there are certain designs that have become timeless and this for a good reason. When you think about the “why” of divers, you see the beginning of an explanation.
When the first professional divers were created in the 1950s for the French frogmen, they had to follow certain specifications. One of them was to be very legible. Frogmen had to be able to easily read time under water and in dark conditions. This is a very specific requirement that the French Navy had and which partially explains what makes divers versatile: they are highly legible and being able to tell time easily is sort of a basic requirement for any watch.
We all know the Rolex Submariner, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, and the Omega Seamster. All three watches are iconic divers because they each fulfill the basic functions of a dive watch, and because now they have become high-end (sometimes luxurious) pieces of horology. The first Submariner was anything but luxurious, and only James Bond had enough swag to pull it off on a NATO at a black tie event. However, now most people who wear a Submariner do so because it looks good.
What I’m saying is that a Submariner or Fifty Fathoms made in 2022 still operates like a typical diver—high levels of water resistance, great lume, dive-time bezel, legible dial—however their design has been refined and ornamented with precious materials. Even though they are highly functional tool watches, most people use them to tell time, and sometimes perhaps to dive or time a meeting.
In another word, dive watches are versatile because their design has become versatile for everyday situations and because they have become accepted as great everyday watches. (Before, only dressier timepieces could be seen as making the cut for an everyday piece.)
To make your diver even more versatile, you must equip it with the proper strap.
They are Robust
Well, yes, the other reason why divers have become popular and make for great everyday watches is because they have great specifications. What I’ve observed in the past few years is that more and more watch collectors and novices are looking into sports watches. They have become fashionable, true, however I sincerely believe (and maybe I’m being too optimistic here) that many people actually care about a dive watch’s capabilities.
So let’s look at a dive watch for what it is. First and foremost, it has great water resistance. At least 100 meters and often 200 or 300 meters of water resistance which means two things: first, anyone can safely take a shower, wash their hands, and swim without having to worry about water getting inside the case. Although 200 meters of water resistance, a screw-down crown and case-back is overkill for everyday use, it does provide peace of mind.
Second, it means a diver can be taken on vacation and operate equally well diving or hiking the Amazon forest. Great water resistance also means having shock protection, again a handy feature when traveling. It also means some kind of resistance to magnetism which is always a plus. Having a screw-down crown and case-back also means no dirt or dust will enter the case and potentially damage the movement.
Furthermore, divers come with a 60-minute dive-time bezel which gives the watch an extra feature that can be useful in many situations. Whether timing how long it takes you to commute to work, how long you have been on a call for, or how much time you have to wait before being reunited with the dinner you ordered online. I’ve found many uses for a dive-time bezel. Additionally, a diver has bright lume (in most cases) which makes reading time easier.
Although realistically you don’t need all of the aforementioned features and specifications on an everyday basis, it’s the fact that these types of watches come with all of these bells and whistles that have attracted a lot of people toward divers. In a nutshell: they are robust and versatile. So why not get one?Featured image: www.hodinkee.com