“What’s the best dive watch?”
I get that question a lot, since over the past decade I’ve had the opportunity to take well over two dozen different watches diving in almost every imaginable scenario—inside deep wrecks, with tiger sharks, breath-hold freediving and even under the ice. The fact is, it doesn’t take much to make a good dive watch. Even from the earliest days of this aquatic breed of timepiece, most watch companies got the formula right. And that’s because dive watches have a pretty simple design brief: track elapsed time accurately and legibly, while being sturdy enough to go underwater and endure some rough treatment. Even the first dive watches did that pretty well. So every one that has come since has just aimed to improve on those basic functions.
Some watches go too far. Locking bezels, exotic materials, and arcane complications have no place on a dive watch in my opinion. Abyssal depth ratings often only add bulk with no real world purpose. The simpler the watch, the less chance it can fail. So if it seems like I’m dodging the question of “the best dive watch,” I’m not. The fact is, there are dozens of great ones that will all work equally well for actual diving, from a $200 Seiko to a half-million dollar Richard Mille. But pressed to narrow the field a bit, I hereby present my short list of favorites, from watches I’ve had the opportunity to take into the depths.