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Feature: 10 Awesome Dive Watches for 10 Budgets

You want dive watches? We’ve got ‘em—ten, in fact, for ten different budgets. So, if you’ve got a few hundred or a few hundred thousand to spend—or anything in between—step right this way.

Seiko 5 Sports SRPD71k1

It can be pretty disheartening looking at all those lovely expensive dive watches and realising that you can’t afford a single one of them. It must be how Jeff Bezos feels when he thinks about buying his own planet. Well, maybe you could help him realise that dream by purchasing a Seiko 5 on Amazon. Seiko has manufactured some of the cheapest dive watches on the market since it debuted its first in 1965, and it’s going to take a lot more than Brexit, COVID and World War Three to stop it.

At just £300, the Seiko 5 Sports collection offers a thoroughbred dive watch experience for less than five PS5 games—and not at the expense of quality either. You get an automatic 4R36 movement with 41 hours of power reserve, a 42.5mm steel case with Hardlex mineral glass crystal, 100m of water-resistance and a day/date display thrown in for good measure. Hardly the dreams of a billionaire, but for £300 it’s a bargain.

Oris Divers Sixty-Five 733 7707 40 65

From Japan to Switzerland, we take a 20-hour flight into the heart of watchmaking to find our next dive watch, the Oris Divers Sixty Five. Made by a brand older than Rolex, harking back to a diver first seen over half a century ago and packing such specs as a 40mm steel case, 100m of water-resistance and an automatic Swiss movement, it may cost almost five times as much as its Japanese cousin, but somehow that still feels like a good deal.

This particular edition gets an extra dose of sixties goodness, with a grey and blue dial design inspired by that original Oris diver, great, big inverted lume plots at the quarters giving it the futuristic vibe of that decade. You could easily imagine it on the wrist of Gordon Tracy as he pilots Thunderbird 4 deep beneath the briny waves. And, if £1,400 seems like too much of a leap from Seiko’s bargainous 5, you can find them pre-owned for closing in on half price.

Rado Hyperchrome Captain Cook R32500305

For more Swiss brands you’ve heard of but only really in the tax-free airport lounge, Rado swings into action with the Hyperchrome Captain Cook. That’s not Marvel’s next history-inspired cosmic superhero, but the name of a dive watch produced by Rado in the 1960s. Seems like we’re getting a theme going on here. The addition of the Hyperchrome name is a modern occurrence, referencing the addition of trick, scratch-resistant sapphire in the watch’s bezel, just like you’d get in a Rolex.

What stands out here, however, is the authentic 37mm case size. It may appear small by today’s standards, but nevertheless it offers an experience closer to the one the Post War generation would have enjoyed. And when I say authentic, I mean right down to the last detail, including the muted sunburst dial, printed markers and broadarrow hands—and even the little articulated logo that spins round and round. Whilst I somehow doubt explorer Captain James Cook, born 1728, died 1779, ever actually wore a Rado, it is at least a name that inspires you to take to the seas, discover new lands and shoot the locals.

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Blue M79030B-0001

No list of dive watches would be complete without the Tudor Black Bay, either in full size 41mm form or as we have it here in the smaller 39mm Black Bay 58. What is there to say about Tudor’s emblematic watch other than it’s a benign form-factor, packaged around an in-house movement, built to a high level of quality that’s safe to 200m and undercuts its competition. It’s not the most interesting or adventurous dive watch out there, or even on this list, but what it is, is safe.

I mean, when you think about the criteria for a dive watch, it’s perfect. Who wants hard to read or boutique weird when you’re about to entrust your life to one? Tudor—née Rolex, and still very much under Rolex’s control—does everything by the book and not a percentage point more. If you’re looking for a dependable watch that can do it all without breaking a sweat—or, at just under £3,000, the bank—look no further.

Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 A10370161C1A1

For a watchmaker known for its oversized cases and complex designs, the Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 is actually rather dainty. Don’t let the published 42mm size fool you; much of this comes from the large bezel overhang, and combined with a thickness under a centimetre and you’ll find yourself wearing a watch smaller than you expected—especially for Breitling.

For £3,750, it is disappointing when the Tudor has an in-house movement to slip back to bought-in, but what the Breitling lacks in mechanical prowess it makes up for in outright quality. The design—fifties inspired this time, as Breitling is keen to note in the name—takes Cadillac-esque elements and polishes them—literally and figuratively—to a very high degree, making this a dive watch very willing to be scrutinised. Well, except the depth rating, which is a piddly 100m.

Omega Seamaster Professional 300M 007 Edition

No list of dive watches would be complete without the Omega Seamaster, available in more forms than a doctor’s surgery leaflet. If the Tudor’s approach was do everything strait-laced and without any degree of creativity, Omega has taken an entirely different approach, sculpting its watch from metal rather than crudely hacking it. With more twisted surfaces than a Microsoft repair centre, this particular Seamaster, the Professional 300M, does everything in its power to let you know it is better than a Rolex Submariner, thank you very much.

This particular particular Seamaster 300M, like many before it, gets the James Bond treatment, although not in this case with bullet motifs and three-digit numbers. A titanium case and milspec visage take the base Seamaster 300M’s price from £4,550 to a rather alarming £8,230, so although it is quite the dish, you may as well save yourself a pile of dosh and go with the cheaper. Unless, of course, you’re a certain secret agent. Then you should probably just wear a G-Shock.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique 5008-1130-B52A

This is it. This is the one. Dive watches look like what they look like today because of this sucker. When approached by the French Navy to make a watch suitable for its elite divers, Blancpain made this, the Fifty Fathoms. I mean, I’m not sure how much creative license they had in the matter because from the sounds of it the French Navy were very specific, demanding such traits as the contrasting dial and rotating bezel that have become ubiquitous in the scene.

At £11,800, it’s the opposite of what I’d call cheap, but coming from one of the foremost watchmakers in the world, you know it’s going to be worth it. Just take a look at the calibre 1151, because the finish is closer to what you’d expect in a dress watch than a diver. You even get a little something extra on the dial. No, it’s not an emergency paracetamol—it’s a moisture indicator, requested by the French Navy to keep the watches in check.

Panerai Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso PAM01074

This puppy ticks a few boxes for our list of dive watches: first, it comes from one of the earliest manufacturers of dive watches in existence; and second, it’s made of one of the oldest materials ever used in diving—bronze. The manufacture is of course Panerai, and this is the £13,900 Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso. The Panerai design evolved from the 1935 Radiomir, with the Submersible a pint-sized snapshot of the 1950s “Egiziano” built for the Egyptian Navy, which added the nodular turning bezel. I say pint-sized, because although the Bronzo Blu Abisso is a not-inconsiderable 42mm, it’s nothing compared to the Egiziano’s sixty.

Rolex Submariner 126619LB

No list of dive watches would be complete without the—I’m getting déjà vu here—Rolex Submariner. Thought we’d skipped it, did you? Not a chance! Whilst a basic, non-date, steel Submariner will set you back £7,150, this white gold version—denoted by the blue bezel—ups the ante to £32,550. Whatever’s left to be said about the Submariner isn’t worth saying, save to say that there’s a high chance I wouldn’t be here talking about watches if it didn’t exist. And since the steel version is scarcer than a polite debate on the internet, may as well just go all in and splash out on precious metal.

Richard Mille RM 032

If thirty-something-thousand sounds like pocket change to you, then perhaps an eye-watering £150,000 might be more up your gated, tree-lined alley. You don’t just get a titanium case the size of a hockey puck for your outlay, because Richard Mille has seen fit to furnish the RM 032 with the calibre RMAC2, a flyback chronograph with an annual calendar that only needs to be corrected once per year.

Covered in more widgets than a space shuttle cockpit, the RM 032 is an exercise in engineering excess that would make Isambard Kingdom Brunel say, “Steady on.” The bezel has a dual-button push-lock system. The crown and chronograph have a twisting lock-down feature. The dial, which closely resembles C-3PO’s brain, has central minutes and seconds for the chronograph, plus a running indicator too. Back when it came out in 2017, it cost as much as a house. Now houses are so much more expensive, it could almost be considered a bargain.

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