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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.