It was during the middle decades of the 20th century that the development of the Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) allowed for the free-swimming exploration of the undersea world. What was at first a purely military endeavour suddenly became a pastime for anyone brave enough to strap on a tank and fins. Out of this burgeoning new activity came a specialised instrument – the diving watch.
It’s hard to believe nowadays, when diving watches are commonly worn by people who will never leave terra firma, that at one time they were seen more as a piece of equipment than a fashion accessory. The watches were built for pure utility, meant to be strapped on a wrist opposite a depth gauge and styled with an almost brutal, instrument-like aesthetic. The diving watch was built out of a need for tracking time underwater and its development followed that of diving itself, from military roots to recreational sport to commercial undersea work. Along the way, it evolved from being merely a tool to a symbol of adventure, favoured for its ruggedness well beyond the knocks and extreme pressure of the sea. The diving watch’s evolution from primordial sea creature to modern accessory for land-based bipeds has seen some significant milestones along the way.