The dive watch is one of the most popular traditional watch styles among men. And it's easy to understand why. Beloved for their sturdy construction, pleasing heritage-inspired designs and inherent versatility, men's dive watches continue to endure as essential timepieces year after year, decade after decade. Scroll on for everything you need to know about dive watches, including our pick of the best men's dive watches to buy in 2023.
What is a dive watch?
To qualify as a dive watch, a watch must be able to withstand a minimum water-resistance of 10 atm (the equivalent of around 100 metres), but many dive watches can reach depths of 200-300 metres, and sometimes even more.
An important thing to note is that dive watches aren't actually tested in diving conditions. Rather, they are tested while stationary in a hyperbaric pressure chamber, so they don't account for any extra shifts of pressure that result from jumping into water or ascending from the depths of the sea. This is why an extra water resistance buffer exists – as you won't generally be descending any lower than 40 metres.
True contemporary diving watches are certified in accordance with the ISO 6425 professional dive watch standard. This means that – as well as withstanding a minimum depth of 100 metres – the dive watch should be equipped with a diving time indicator such as a rotating bezel or digital display, plus clearly distinguishable minute markings on the watch face. Other essential characteristics include adequate visibility at 25cm and magnetic, shock and chemical resistance.
Are dive watches waterproof?
Here's the thing: no watch is completely waterproof – even the most expensive luxury dive watches. This is why the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) prohibits the term "waterproof" and watches are only ever marketed as "water resistant". In saying this, well-constructed dive watches will certainly hold their own for activities like diving and recreational swimming. Just make sure not to wear yours in the bath, shower or spa, as excessive humidity can damage the watch.
How to wear a dive watch
The best men's dive watches are versatile in their looks, so can be worn in myriad contexts, with an array of wide-ranging ensembles. Don't let the name fool you: the wearing of a dive watch shouldn't be limited to the act of diving. In fact, the sporty yet sophisticated aesthetic of dive watches lends them effortlessly to everyday attire. Wear yours on the weekend with comfy drawstring trousers and leather trainers, or up the ante by teaming it with tailored trousers, a crisp tee and unstructured blazer for a fail-safe smart-casual look.
Best men's dive watches in 2023
NOMOS Glashütte Ahoi
The sleek and sporty Ahoi model from German watchmakers NOMOS Glashütte is the perfect timepiece for minimalist watch lovers. Its clean, summery dial will look just at home on the reefs as at the office. The automatic mechanical watch is made for every adventure, with water resistance up to 200 metres, a waterproof textile strap, protective crown guard and luminous indexes and hands that can be read even in the murkiest of waters.
BALTIC Watches Aquascaphe
BALTIC Watches' classic Aquascaphe is the Parisian brand's flagship timepiece. Water-resistant (up to 200 metres), scratch-resistant and shockproof, it's a hard-wearing tool watch that also happens to look the part. Inspired by vintage dive watches from the 1950s, the Aquascaphe boasts a double-domed sapphire glass that's virtually impossible to scratch, as well as a sapphire unidirectional bezel that enhances the classic look and offers a unique sense of depth.
Rolex's iconic Submariner is one of the best-known and most beloved men's dive watches of all time. It made its debut in 1953, but has gone through a series of evolutions over the decades. The latest iteration is waterproof to a depth of 300 metres. It's also larger than the original with a 41mm case, and boasts a new calibre 3230 automatic movement, with a power reserve of 70 hours. Key to its functionality is a virtually scratch-proof ceramic unidirectional rotatable bezel with engraved 60-minute graduation that allows divers to safely and accurately monitor diving time and compression stops.
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M
Omega's Seamaster Professional Diver 300M has been around since 1993 and just keeps getting better with each update. The current collection pays homage to Omega's ocean heritage while bringing it into the modern day with innovative technical features. The 42mm dive watch is made from stainless steel and features a blue ceramic bezel with a white enamel diving scale. A polished blue ceramic dial features laser-engraved waves, a date window and rhodium-plated skeleton hands filled with white Super-LumiNova.
Seiko Prospex Save The Ocean ‘Samurai’
This dive watch from Seiko is from the Japanese watchmaker's ‘Save The Ocean’ collection, with proceeds from each model donated to sea conservation organisations. The blue dial features subtle wave patterns and references the Great White Shark, with the second hand echoing a shark’s tail and a shark’s dorsal fin hidden near the 8 o’clock marker. This timepiece has been nicknamed the 'Samurai' for its angular shaped design that looks as though it were sliced by a Japanese Samurai sword.
Tag Heuer Aqua Racer Professional 300
Inspired by a historic Tag Heuer model from 1979, the Aqua Racer Professional 300 is a steel-cased 43mm diver that's ready for anything. Its bold orange dial represents the colour of safety at sea, which is intended to provide maximum contrast against the blue water. With water resistance up to 300 metres, a premium 'life-proof' steel bracelet and pressure-proof performance, it's made to stand the test of time.