Dive watches are probably the most popular genre of watches.
Many people only collect dive watches and just about everyone has at least 1 in their collection.
These watches are usually tough and rugged and are great everyday watches.
For a watch manufacturer to call their watch a “dive watch”, they need to comply to the ISO 6425 standard for diving watches
The standards and features for diver’s watches are regulated by the International Organization for Standardization in the ISO 6425 standard. Besides water resistance standards to a minimum of 100 m depth rating ISO 6425 also provides minimum requirements for mechanical diver’s watches such as:
- The presence of a unidirectional bezel with markings at least every 5 minutes.
- The presence of clearly distinguishable minute markings on the watch face.
- Adequate readability/visibility at 25 cm (9.8 in) in total darkness.
- The presence of an indication that the watch is running in total darkness. This is usually indicated by a running second hand with a luminous tip or tail.
- Magnetic resistance. This is tested by 3 expositions to a direct current magnetic field of 4,800 A/m. The watch must keep its accuracy to ± 30 seconds/day as measured before the test despite the magnetic field.
- Shock resistance. This is tested by two shocks (one on the 9 o’clock side, and one to the crystal and perpendicular to the face). The shock is usually delivered by a hard plastic hammer mounted as a pendulum, so as to deliver a measured amount of energy, specifically, a 3 kg hammer with an impact velocity of 4.43 m/s. The change in rate allowed is ± 60 seconds/day.
- Chemical resistance. This is tested by immersion in a 30 g/l NaCl solution for 24 hours to test its rust resistance. This test water solution has a salinity comparable to normal seawater.
- Strap/band solidity. This is tested by applying a force of 200 N (45 lbf) to each spring bar (or attaching point) in opposite directions with no damage to the watch or attachment point.
- The presence of an End Of Life (EOL) indicator on battery powered watches.
Testing diving watches for ISO 6425 compliance is voluntary and involves costs, so not every manufacturer present their watches for certification according to this standard.
Here are my top 5 dive watches (In no particular order).
I left out obvious choices like the Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster, because they are too easy and almost everyone will choose them. I’d like to give exposure to other, lesser known watches
1. Seiko Turtle (SRP773, 775, 777, 779, SRPA21)
I have featured the turtles before on Ticktalk. I also own this watch and love it!
2. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms (released in 1953) was the first dive watch to feature a unidirectional rotating bezel.
3. Vostok Amphibia
The Russian made Vostok Amphibia is legendary because of it’s toughness and low price.
They can be found for under $100 and they are super strong and tough. There are many videos on Youtube of people throwing them off bridges, putting them in the washing machine, driving over them with their cars, etc. The watch still works fine, even after the harshest punishment.
4. Tudor Black Bay