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Everything you need to know about Diver’s Watches by Extropian

#dive watch
#dive watch brands
#dive watches
#automatic diver
#pro diver
#automatic diver watch
#water resistance
#automatic water resistance
#diving watches
Everything you need to know about Diver’s Watches by Extropian

Dive watches with their mix of sporty retro styling and high tech capabilities ooze effortless cool. But don’t worry if the thought of plunging deep into the ocean seems a little hard core. Today’s stylish dive watches look just as good when you’re lounging by the pool, with the added advantage that they’re not going to stop working if you suddenly decide to take a dip!

We’re going to take a deep dive into the world of dive watches, giving you all the info you need, combined with some super useful visual guides, to help you become an expert. Then, just because we’re nice, we’ll leave you with some of the best mid-range dive watch brands on the market right now! 

What makes a dive watch a dive watch?

Well, that’s kind of the key question isn’t it? The best guidelines come from the guys at the International Organization for Standardization. Their modern ISO 425 Standard has a number of key criteria, one of the main ones being that the watch has a minimum depth rating of 100 meters. It has to be able to cope with more than the deep end of your local swimming pool!

Other essential features that a dive watch simply must have in order to actually be a dive watch include an unidirectional bezel with markings at least every five minutes.


Venezianico Neireide 42

Venezianico Neireide 42

A dive watch is also going to need dial markers or  indices which can be seen in total darkness. To indicate that the watch is operating there will be a running second hand with a luminous tip. This is all made possible thanks to photoluminescent pigment!

Circula AquaSport II

Aqua Sport Diver Watch Grey Tropic 9

The watch must also be anti-magnetic, shock resistant and resistant to corrosion in sea water. Well, there’s not much point in having a diver’s watch if it’s going to fall to pieces in its intended environment is there?!

We know there are a few terms in there which are likely to have you scratching your head, so let’s go over them - and some other useful vocab while we’re at it.

Essential Dive Watch Vocab

Bezel (unidirectional): The bezel is one of the most essential elements of a dive watch as it could potentially save a diver’s life! And for such a key element it’s actually pretty simple.  Before a diver descends they will align the 12 o’clock bezel maker with the minute hand. This allows the elapsed time - up to 60 minutes -  to be read on the bezel - and explains why dive watches quite often  come with a particularly imposing minute hand! 

A clever unidirectional, ratcheting construction ensures that, should the bezel be accidentally moved, the time already spent underwater would be indicated as longer than in reality, giving  the diver a safety reserve for his ascent from the depths. Note that the bezel/minute hand combination doesn’t actually measure how much air remains in the air tank!

Gasket: The gasket is another simple, but essential element of a diver’s watch. It’s a soft rubber, or sometimes synthetic, ring positioned  inside a watch to create a watertight seal. This prevents any moisture from finding its way into the watch case and damaging the clockwork.

Helium escape valve: This little bit of equipment is generally only found on serious dive watches - those intended to be worn at deep depths or  by saturation divers. The breathing gas worn by these divers contains helium, which is so small it can work its way into a watch case. The valve allows the gas to escape once the diver has made his way back up to the surface. Without it there would be a danger that the helium buildup, and expansion at surface pressure, could blow off the crystal from the watch case!  

Radcliffe Tsunami

Capture D’écran 2022 11 17 À 15.47.25

Lume: This little term refers to the luminescent material applied to watch dials to make the hands and indices or numbers light up in the dark. Older dive watches used radioactive materials like radium and tritium. Thankfully today most divers can rely on  photoluminescent paints! 

Screw-down crown: This is, as the name very much suggests, a type of crown that can be screwed in until it is flush with the watch case. This creates a seal that prevents water  entering the watch through the crown tube.

Radcliffe Tsunami

Capture D’écran 2022 11 17 À 15.48.39

How waterproof is a dive watch?

I guess you’d think the answer to that would be ‘very!’ but it’s not quite that simple. Dive watches come with a water resistance rating stated as a depth (ATM or meters). This means that the watch has been tested in a laboratory to withstand static pressure at a stated depth for a very short period only. A watch with a 10ATM/ 100 meter rating (the minimum for a dive watch) is unlikely to take kindly to prolonged periods that far down!  

Waterproof ratings explained

10 ATM, 100m

Suitable for everyday use and swimming and snorkeling but NOT suitable for high board diving or sub-aqua diving.

20 ATM, 200m

Suitable for all high impact water sports and scuba diving at depths not requiring helium gas. 

20 - 50 ATM, 200 - 500m

Suitable for all high impact water sports, scuba diving and saturation diving.

100 ATM, 1000m

Suitable for deep sea diving.

Realistically speaking, most dive watches are designed to go far deeper than the average wearer is ever going to take them! Recreational swimming shouldn’t be a problem for any dive watch. However, you should try and avoid wearing your swanky dive watch in the bath, as the combination of warm water and humidity can cause its own problems! 

Do divers actually use dive watches?

Now that’s an interesting one! The reality is that the dive watch was long ago usurped by the modern digital dive computer. If they are worn, they’re probably used as a back up to a dive computer. Or, who knows, simply because the diver likes having a stylish timepiece strapped to their wrist!  Indeed, the reality is that most modern dive watches are worn as style pieces by ‘desk divers’.  And why wouldn’t they be with that enticing mix of retro cool and high tech functioning? And, of course, they can still be used for their intended purpose if required.

A history of the diver’s watch

The search for a water resistant watch began in the early 20th century. In 1926 Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf patented the legendary oyster case which featured a screwed-down crown and case back - ingenious little features which are still ubiquitous among dive watches today. The following year the Rolex Oyster, considered the first truly water resistant watch, made its glorious debut. 

Other watchmakers were hot on their heels. By the 1930s Panerai had developed its patented Radiomir luminescence and in 1936 revealed its Radiomir Prototype with its  huge 47mm case. It was soon adapted by divers in the Italian Royal Navy, no doubt impressed by its ability to be worn for long periods underwater. 

The modern watch as we know it didn’t appear until 1953. That memorable year saw Rolex, never a brand to rest on its laurels, launch the Submariner, while Blancpain debuted the Fifty Fathoms and Zodiac showed off their Sea Wolf.  They all had their own unique style but shared remarkably similar features - chunky, water resistant cases, legible lume-filled dials and rotating dive bezels that could calculate the amount of time spent underwater.

Although originally intended primarily as tools for military and commercial diving, recreational diving was to become an increasingly popular hobby in the decades to follow resulting in more and more dive watches appearing on the market. This was in small part thanks to Jacques Cousteau, the French naval officer and ocean explorer who spear-headed a love of underwater sports amongst the general public. Both Cousteau and super cool French director, Louis Malle, sported the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms in the award winning underwater movie, Le Monde du Silence, released in 1956.  The film doubtless aided the dive watch’s elevation to an icon of cool.

Although watch makers have continued to improve on the original formula, coming up with tougher cases, more substantial depth ratings and so on, today’s dive watches are still inspired by the classic 1950s style. 

Why Consider Owning a Dive Watch?

Dive watches with their mix of sporty retro styling and high tech capabilities ooze effortless cool. For many, owning a dive watch isn't about diving but about owning a piece of craftsmanship that can withstand extreme conditions. It speaks to the human spirit of exploration and adventure. Even if the deepest you go is the bottom of a swimming pool, the watch on your wrist is a testament to human engineering and resilience.

Moreover, dive watches are versatile. They're robust enough for outdoor adventures, sophisticated for business meetings, and casual for everyday wear. And as already stated, Today’s stylish dive watches look just as good when you’re lounging by the pool.

Finally, when considering a dive watch, price can vary significantly based on brand reputation, materials used - bronze, stainless steel or titanium- , and the intricacies of the movement.

Maintaining Your Dive Watch

No matter how advanced or rugged your dive watch is, maintaining it is crucial. Regular cleaning, especially after exposure to saltwater, will keep your watch looking fresh. If your watch has a leather strap, consider changing it before diving, as leather isn't suited to prolonged water exposure.

Moreover, get your dive watch serviced every 3-5 years, especially if you're using it for diving. Over time, gaskets can wear out, and water resistance can diminish.

In Conclusion

Dive watches, in essence, are more than mere timekeeping tools. They're a blend of engineering, history, and style. They tell a story of human perseverance, of our constant pursuit to explore the unknown depths of our planet. Whether you're an avid diver or a desk diver, these watches are symbols of adventure and exploration. And remember, they’re not going to stop working if you suddenly decide to take a dip!

Models you might like 

So now you know all there is to know about dive watches. Let’s take a look at some of the most stylish ones on the market right now!

Circula Aquasport II 

♥️ At Extropian, we love its retro 70s vibe.

Aqua Sport I Old&new

EZA Sealander Bronze

♥️Here at Extropian, we’re seriously crushing on the gorgeous green face of this one!

Img 3509

Venezianico Nereide 39mm

♥️It’s the bold, beautiful design that does it for us here.


Radcliffe Tsunami

♥️ It’s the high spec features and beautiful design that set Extropian’s heart fluttering here.

Capture D’écran 2022 11 25 À 15.03.50

Cover Image: Venezianico Neireide 42

Created the 2022-11-24

Modified the 2023-12-01

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