Do you know that feeling you get with the first warm spring breeze?
The city wakes up from its winter lethargy with new energy and widespread positiveness. The sky turns bright, the days get longer and the temperature rises. We are all still very far from holidays, but it is inevitable, for a second, to wander and dream about summer and the sea.
To me, that would recall sun, shades and above all, dive watches. Let’s have a look together at the most iconic models and some of my own favourite pieces.
Before your monthly dose of watches though, some brief information and history.
According to the definition, a diving watch is a watch designed for underwater diving that features a water resistance greater than 100Mt. The average resistance is usually around 200/300Mt, but there are watches that can go way deeper (for example, the Rolex DeepSea guarantees a depth of 3900Mt). The standards and features for dive watches are regulated by the International Organisation of Standardisation in the ISO 6425 standard. The quality demand is very high; in fact, the main manufacturing houses submit their models to dozens of tests in order to control the watches and their strength, pressure resistance and waterproof cases.
By the way, the first waterproof cases were built by Rolex in 1926 when the Swiss house patented the famous “Oyster” watch case that featured an hermetic seal. This was followed by Omega’s first dive watch intended for commercial distribution, the Omega “Marine,” introduced in 1932 and capable of withstanding a pressure up to 135Mt.
Another important moment in dive watches directly involved Italy. As a matter of fact, when in 1935 the Royal Italian Navy requested a luminous underwater watch for divers, Officine Panerai offered the “Radiomir”, a model that is still produced and has been reinvented up to modern days. The navy was a major target and inspiration for dive watches, such as Blancpain’s “Fifty Fathoms” that addressed marines from different countries, from the US to France.
The Basel Fair held in 1954 saw the introduction of the Rolex Submariner, a watch that quickly became a cult and a much appreciated tool for scuba divers. In 1965 Seiko introduced the first Japanese professional diver watch. In general, the Sixties saw the birth and the development of some “ultra water resistance watches” such as the Rolex Sea-Dweller 2000 (2000ft = 610Mt) and the Omega Seamaster Professional (600Mt).
The need for functionality quickly faded with time and new technologies, but for what concerns the design, many contemporary sports models owe more than a lot to the first diving watches.
Maybe the best known and most iconic watch of all time, the Rolex Submariner is a sport watch originally conceived and designed for diving. Now that it may have lost its original exclusivity and aim, many forget the innovations it originally presented. In 1954 was one of the first watches completely made for divers, displaying a dial of great legibility to be easily read under water, a waterproof case and a rotating crown functionally conceived for measuring the time in each pause for decompression.
It appeared in many James Bond movies, from Dr. No. to Licence to kill. From GoldenEye onwards, the character is seen wearing Omega watches.
Even if the classic model is black, here you can see the green one, nicknamed the Hulk.
Another iconic watch line from the worldwide known Swiss manufacture Omega. The line has been produced since 1948, it has a water resistance up to 1200Mt, luminescent hands and some models even feature an helium release valve. The historical dualism with Rolex sees the opposition of the Submariner and the Seamaster but also of the Daytona and the Speedmaster and the presence in the James Bond movies. Both manufactures have great heritage and beautiful diving models, choose your favourite!
Here you can see the Seamaster 300 Spectre, a limited edition dedicated to, you guessed it, James Bond.
Seiko “Turtle” (SRP777)
The Japanese house was founded in 1881, thus being the first watch manufacturer in Japan. Seiko is a Japanese word meaning “exquisite” or “success” that well describes the intentions and the final results the house achieved. It started off surrounded by an aura of skepticism compared to the big historical Swiss manufacturers but it quickly gained recognition through the production of great pieces both in terms of quality and price range.
My own favourite diving watch from Seiko is the so called “Turtle” SRP777. It is usually a good thing when a watch gets a nickname and this is a good example. The case has a vintage shape that recalls a turtle shell and the dial has a subdued but balanced look. Great legibility and functionality are among the best features of the watch.
Unimatic Modello Uno (U1-B)
Besides the big names in horology, there exists a parallel world of “micro” or “boutique” brands that produce pieces of great interest. This is the case of the small Italy-based company Unimatic. The company has been created by two industrial designers, Giovanni Moro and Simone Nunziato and produces limited series of sports watches.
Unimatic was born in 2015, thus being a young company that obtained attention for its minimalistic traits both for design and marketing approach. They offered two timepieces, the Model Uno (a dive watch) and Model Due (a field watch). Both models are unfortunatley (for us) sold out but Unimatic is certainly a young brand to keep an eye on.
All in all, new technologies and tools are now more handy when it strictly comes to scuba diving, but the historical diving watches will always remain a reference point for the models to come.