The Evolution Of Complicated Diving Watches

Richard Mille RM 025 Tourbillon Chronograph Diver Watch 2015
The Richard Mille RM 025 Tourbillon Chronograph is one of the most complicated and expensive diving watches on the market

Water resistance and reliability are what it is all about with a diving watch. Anything that doesn’t contribute to this does not belong on such a watch. This is why the history of diving watches features mainly robust time-only watches. However, advances in technology make it now possible to achieve a water resistance that was unimaginable half a century ago. Also, the reliability of complications has been increased making it now possible to create diving watches the world has never seen before.

Rolex Submariner Reference 5513 Feature
The watch that many other divers watches took as an example: The Rolex Submariner

There is also another important development to take into account. While the first Blancpain Fifty Fathoms were sold in specialized diving stores, now it is in fashion to wear a diving watch even when you don’t dive at all. They have crossed over, and become part of the lifestyle of people. As so there are also people who like diving watches and complications and find a combination of the two irresistible.

Graham cleverly redesigned their Chronofighter into a diving version named Prodive
Graham cleverly redesigned their Chronofighter into a diving version named Prodive

One of the complications that one can most frequently find in a diving watch, other than a date function, is a chronograph. This can have an actual value to the diver, as it allows him/her to either time the complete dive, or measure the time spend at decompression stops.

This Breguet Marine features an alarm function which can be heard underwater
This Breguet Marine features an alarm function which can be heard underwater

The same can be said for watches that mechanically measure the current depth you are under water, and often also record the deepest you get. This complication is purpose built for divers, although few will solely rely on them when diving.

The Blancpain X-Fathoms can mechanically measure the depth you dive
The Blancpain X-Fathoms can mechanically measure the depth you dive

As most diving watches spend the vast majority of their time on dry land, there are now also many diving watches available that feature complications that are more useful there than underwater. Diving watches that feature perpetual calendars or alarm functions (which are audible under water!) are available, and even the coveted tourbillon has made its way into diving watches.

When lifestyle meets diving: This Ulysse Nardin Marine features a perpetual calendar and a gemstone set bezel yet is underneath it all still a very capable (but perhaps not very practical) diving watch
When lifestyle meets diving: This Ulysse Nardin Marine features a perpetual calendar and a gemstone set bezel yet is underneath it all still a very capable (but perhaps not very practical) diving watch

The mechanical diving watch as an instrument has also been surpassed by diving computers. In many cases, divers still wear a diving watch, but merely as a backup, or because they like it. As sad as this sound, it also means that, combined with the advances in technology, watchmakers now have unprecedented freedom to create the most extraordinary and complicated diving watches, wether they will ever see water or not.

Luxury Watch Trends 2016 - Baselworld SIHH Watch News

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