The best dive watches for men (that aren’t the Rolex Yacht-Master 42)


2023 is a year full of milestone birthdays for history’s most iconic dive watches. Not only do the two OGs in the underwater watch category turn 70 – Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms narrowly pipped Rolex’s Submariner to market back in 1953 – but the other most significant name in submersible timepieces, Omega’s Seamaster, is celebrating its, er, 75th anniversary.

How does that work? Well, while Omega’s original Seamaster landed in 1948, employing a rubber gasket to keep the water out, it was, for all intents and purposes, a waterproof dress watch rather than a dive watch per se. Omega’s first bonafide deep-water watch, the Seamaster 300, arrived in 1957 – Blancpain, therefore, assumes bragging rights for coming up with the first modern (that is to say, post-SCUBA) dive watch.

Expect a slew of tributes to the Seamaster 300 to be released in four years’ time. Before then, these are the best dive watches of 2023 that aren’t the Rolex Yacht-Master 42 (i.e. dive watches you might actually be able to get your hands on)…

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa

A long-time patron of underwater conservation efforts, Blancpain has supported the Gombessa Expeditions in French Polynesia for the last ten years. In order to study the behaviour of great hammerhead sharks, divers must stay submerged for up to three hours – a period of time it was tricky to track on an analogue dive watch, until now. Step in Blancpain CEO, and keen scuba diver, Marc A. Hayek, who personally helped design the three-hour scale on the bezel of the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa – the first instance of such a scale being seen on a dive watch.


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Seiko Prospex ‘Marine Green’ GMT

The first modern dive watch to come out of Japan rolled off Seiko’s production lines in 1965. The watch was made at the behest of a diver from Hiroshima, who’d written to the company to express his frustration at not being able to find a watch that could function at depths greater than 300 metres. Ten years later, Seiko manufactured the first watch capable of functioning at depths of 600 metres, followed, in 1982, by the first diver’s watch to incorporate an alarm. This year’s Prospex ‘Marine Green’ GMT may not feature an inbuilt warning system, but it will tell you the time in a second time zone while running autonomously for 72 hours.


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Tudor Black Bay Burgundy

Tudor’s dive watch credentials run deep. The Rolex sister-brand came out with its own waterproof ‘Oyster’ watch in 1952 and a bonafide, deep-water dive watch, the Oyster Prince Submariner, in the same year that Rolex dropped its own Submariner. This year, Tudor upgraded that watch’s successor, the Black Bay, with a METAS-certified movement and has housed it in a slimmer, more ergonomic case. The burgundy bezel is a winner. So, too, is the new five-link stainless steel Jubilee-style bracelet.


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Omega Planet Ocean 600M

This year’s special-edition Omega Ploprof is good to a depth of 1,200 metres, almost double the distance of the deepest ever dive (legendary Greek-Frenchman Théo Mavrostomos descended to 701 metres in 1992, setting a record that remains unbroken). The Ploprof’s case also comes in at a whopping 55 x 45 mm. Much more sensible, then, to opt for the real-world-friendly Planet Ocean 600M. Sure, it’ll only do half the distance, but a 39.5mm case and PVD-coated blue gradient dial will draw attention for all the right reasons.


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Breitling Ironman 70.3 World Championship Endurance Pro

Some people, under their own volition, choose to take part in an event that involves a 1.2-mile swim followed by a 56-mile bike ride before a 13.1-mile run. For these masochists, Breitling has made a watch. The Ironman 70.3 World Championship Endurance Pro is machined from a proprietary material called Breitlight, a composite that is more than three times lighter than titanium and almost six times lighter than stainless steel. So, while your legs maybe be buckling and your lungs burning, at least you won’t have to worry about your watch weighing you down.


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Glashütte Original SeaQ

Things that the Germans do well: five-door family saloons, hilltop castles and sub-zero Christmas markets. To that list add elegant dive watches so natty they could function as your evening dress watch. This latest underwater piece from Glashütte Original sports a smouldering red-gold case against a synthetic grey strap. It shouldn’t work as well as it does. Gold-edged white numerals pop against a galvanic, sunray-finished black dial. It’s the first dive watch from the German watchmaker to display its inner, hand-finished workers through an exhibition caseback. Pure class.


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Read more: Harry Winston’s Ocean Collection turns 25 with two diamond watches

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