Why Are Dive Watches Popular? Durability, Style, and Functionality

Do you often wonder why you see dive watches on people regardless of their clothing style? Or do you ever wonder why people tend to love dive watches? Well, the answer has many x’s to the equation.

Dive watches is some highly function timepieces, which can tell more than time. This is also one of the exact reasons they have become so popular.

Dive watches are popular because of their high durability and flexibility to fit most clothing styles. Furthermore, dive watches have an appeal to being active. Dive watches have been used in big movies such as James Bond for decades, making dive watches appeal to a broad audience.

You will see people in formal job positions like CEO, CFO, COO, or whatever C-title there is, with dive watches. However, dive watches is also spotted on carpenters, construction workers, or alike. The dive watch is very versatile and loved by many.

Some of the most popular dive watches like the Rolex Submariner or Omega Seamaster is not abnormal to see on someone’s wrist.

But what are they doing on people’s wrist that ain’t exercising professional diving?

Why Are Dive Watches Popular?

Here’s Why Dive Watches Are Popular

Dive watches are excellent everyday watches. You can beat them up, you can run them down, you can do more or less what you want with them, and they fit most clothing styles.

The reasons dive watches are popular is a combination of the listed below:

  • Versatile style
  • Hype, marketing, and branding
  • Durability
  • Appeal
  • Rotating bezel
  • Celebrity icons
  • Heritage

Dive watches are so popular due to the mix that I just listed. From the first glims of the eye, it might look ridiculous “celebrity icons.” What do celebrities have to do with dive watches? Well, read along, and I will tell you!

Versatile Style

Dive watches is a category of watches that offers a lot. The looks of a dive watch can be both very subtle but also very intrusive.

This versatile style gives the dive watch its big utility to be used in many different clothing styles.

Dive watches is best worn in formal business, business casual, and casual wear. However, dive watches should be avoided for black/white with a tie, since that style is too formal for dive watches.

Clothing styleDressDiveRacingPilot/AviatorField
Black/white tie
Formal business
Business casual
Casual wear
Clothing style vs. watch style (Source)

When looking at the all-time classic dive watch, the Rolex Submariner, the design is very subtle and sleek. The Rolex Submariner is the type of design that can be worn with formal business clothing.

Whereas one of the other all-time classics, the Omega Seamaster Professional, is a lot more sporty looking, is more suitable in a casual business style of clothing.

Vintage Omega Seamaster in formal business
Vintage Omega Seamaster in formal business

Nonetheless, both watches can be used in a business setting, even though they are dive watches—a type of watch made to be used on the bottom of the ocean.

However, there is also a limit to how intrusive the dive watches can look when worn in formal business clothing. A brand like Doxa is well-known to divers and less known for “desk divers.”

Doxa is actually making watches that are very colorful and fun to look at. Although that can be a good conversation starter, they might not fit in a formal business setting. Still, they might just work out in casual business clothing.

You should wear whatever watch you want anywhere at any time. There is no right and wrong here. This is just the typical “what fits the style” type of advice.

Durable

Durability is something that many weights highly when choosing between watches. There is nothing worse than having a watch that breaks under normal use. Dive watches are durable in both mechanical and quartz versions.

Dive watches are made for use in harsh environments that include regular shocks, challenging terrain, dirt, sand, magnetism, corrosive environments, and high-pressure levels. An ISO standard is also in place to standardize dive watches’ testing to ensure the watches can handle the tough environments.

Due to the nature of how dive watches are made, the design is very rugged. It often features security or safety functions that make dive watches more durable than other types of watches.

Many different brands have done different things to upgrade their watches to resist difficult environments where watches typically shouldn’t be worn.

Certina is an example who has made the “Double Security” or DS system. Although the DS system is not only applied in Certina’s dive watches, it also adds additional durability.

Certina DS system has made their watches 100 meters water-resistant, anti-magnetic, and shock-resistant.

Another great example is Omega, who has made their co-axial movements since 2008 with a silicon balance spring. This little smart trick of using silicon instead of metal has resulted in a movement that can resist up to 1.5 tesla (15,000 gauss).

Furthermore, it’s not uncommon that brands use upgraded shock-absorbent systems on heavy-duty watches or watches of a higher tier. Omega is a good example, again, with their Nivachoc anti-shock system.

The Diving Watch “Certificate”

The ISO 6425 is where engineering of quality control comes into the watch world. Although I should say that it’s far from all dive watches that come with the ISO 6425 certifications.

Secondly, I should also state there is no certification or registration of the watches that pass the ISO 6425 standard. It’s just a descriptive process of good practice for testing dive watches. According to the standard, watchmakers who test their watches put the “certificate” “DIVER’s X m” somewhere on the case of the watch or on the dial.

Certina Action Diver C032.407.11.041.00
Certina Action Diver

However, they can still be perfect dive watches. E.g., Rolex’s watches, such as the Submariner and deep-sea, which is both two big dive models, have never been claimed with the ISO 6425.

Other brands, such as Omega, have claimed to test against the ISO 6425 standard but never actually promoted themselves as “certified.”

Below is a long list of what is required to follow the ISO 6425 standard:

  • Reliability underwater is tested using water temperatures between 18 to 25 °C for 50 hours. Before and after the test, a condensation test is done.
  • The condensation test is conducted by heating up the watch to between 40 and 45 °C. A drop of water with a temperature of 18 to 25 °C. The watch can’t show any signs of condensation.
  • The claimed water resistance is tested with an overpressure of 125% for 10 minutes (e.g., a watch with 200 meters water resistance is tested to a pressure of 250 meters).
  • Resistance to thermal shock is tested using a 30 cm immersion into the water followed by a temperature change from 40 °C, 5 °C and 40 °C with 10 minutes intervals. Hence, 10 minutes at 40 °C, then 10 minutes at 5 °C, and lastly, 10 minutes at 40 °C again.

Hype, Marketing, and Branding

Branding, marketing, and the hype that comes with it is also a major influence on the popularity of diving watches.

Have you ever spotted a watch on the wrist of a professional athlete? If not, try to google something like “watches worn by athletes,” and you will be overwhelmed with the different watches athletes wear.

Audemars Piguet, Omega, IWC, Ricard Mills, Hublot, etc., are all seen on different athletes. Many of these brands have sponsorships. However, some don’t. This is also where a lot of the hype comes from.

There is a lot of talk about the “rapper” watches or watches that rappers tend to wear. E.g. some claim that Patek Phillipe’s current success is created by rappers flashing their watches as an exclusive item.

Just like when they flash with big bottles of vodka and champagne – all of a sudden, those brands of alcohol get popular too. This is also why some claim that the only reason Grey Goose and Dom Perignon is priced so high $$$.

This type of branding also happens within dive watches. For example, when James Cameron went to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, his submarine had a Rolex Deep Sea Challenger Experimental attached to the submarine’s exterior.

This was a way for Rolex to show that they can innovate. This has been done by other brands as well. For example, Omega did the exact same thing. Victor Vescovo went to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, where Omega made the “Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional.”

Appeal

Dive watches is a watch that matches most clothing styles, and it’s a subtle type of watch. Now more often than not, dive watches are sold on an active lifestyle such as diving.

However, many dive watches have become big icons, which has made the dive watch the type of watch that can be worn in almost any situation. This effect has made people in the middle to higher class purchase the iconic watches such as the Rolex Submariner.

The phycological effect of seeing a watch on someone else we can’t afford will often make us want to have it as well (Don’t deny it, we all want Jeff Bezos’ money).

However, dive watches are marketed as a product used when being active, explorative, and extreme. I mean, just look at these two commercials:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=iiwwiBbz6Ig
Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.O.X. Professional Diver
https://youtube.com/watch?v=UICXzUWrjUw
Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 Automatic

Therefore, dive watches is not only a fashion trend to fit the current clothing demands. It’s also to sell a lifestyle with the watch, regardless if you have the lifestyle or not.

I have an Omega Seamaster 300M Professional, which was produced between 1993 to 2006. I’m a so-called desk diver. Since I’m an operations engineer, my “real work” is mostly limited to computers and meeting.

However, on the weekends, I go hunting, which has some wear on a watch. Thick bushes, muddy terrains, and dense scrub is all a part of that lifestyle. So far, my watch hasn’t got a (serious) dent, and it keeps ticking perfectly on time. Besides, it’s my daily worn watch.

Rotating Bezel

The rotating bezel can have a purpose, also for people that don’t dive. The matter of fact is that 99% of people that buy dive watches will never use the watch as intended (saturation diving). However, the bezel can be used as an egg timer and more. The rotation bezel has many uses.

The rotating bezel on a dive watch is used to time the underwater for divers. However, for “desk divers,” the bezel can be used in everyday life, as egg timers, when the next meeting starts, time to take a bath, etc.

The versatility in the bezel on dive watches is very high. Although the actual diver will use their bezel to time how long they can be underwater, the desk diver can use the bezel for many other applications.

I often use the bezel to time when I’m going out/leaving home. I set the bezel 5 minutes before I’m supposed to leave to give me 5 “buffer” minutes, and I can keep track of how long I have to get ready.

However, you are only limited by your imagination. I once used the bezel to keep track of when the American stock market opened, in my time zone (Take that GMT watches).

Celebrity Icons

Now that we touched upon hype, marketing, and branding earlier, we might as well get into one of their biggest marketing/hype creating tools: Celebrities. Celebrities are a tool many different watch manufacturers have utilized to generate hype and market their products.

Watches, any type of watches actually, have been used in combination with celebrities. A big movie that got many watch nerds on the lookout was The Wolf of Wall Street.

Leonardo Decaprio was spotted wearing a Tag Heuer Professional 1000 series and a Tag Heuer 2000 Exclusive. Matthew McConaughey was spotted with a Rolex Datejust two-tone. Lastly, Jonah Hill was spotted wearing a Rolex Daytona with solid gold with a black dial.

One of the most famous celebrity icons from movies is the old school James Bond with Sean Connery. James Bond has been wearing a lot of different watches, among the biggest is:

  • Rolex Submariner Ref. 6538 from Dr. No
  • Rolex Submariner Ref. 16610 from License to kill
  • Omega Seamaster Professional 300M Ref. 2541.80, Ref. 2531.80, and Ref. 2220.80.00 from GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, Die Another Day, and Casino Royale.

The James Bond franchise is what has made the Omega Seamaster the super popular dive watch that it’s today. On the biggest European secondary market watch site, the 2 most popular dive watches is the Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster.

10 most popular watches on the biggest European secondary market place for watches
10 most popular watches on the biggest European secondary market place for watches

This just goes to show that marketing using celebrities can have a significant impact on the models. You could argue that Rolex and Omega is among the biggest brands. Therefore their watches would automatically be the most popular.

However, with the variety in watch brands of today, there are so many other watches at much lower prices, which essentially can do the same as the other popular models.

Nonetheless, there is a good reason why the film sets is selecting specific watches for their cast. Besides its appearance, no movie wants to be associated with brands of a bad reputation, which can create a win/win situation between good brands and filmmakers.

Heritage

Dive watches also get their popularity from the time of their invention. The first water-resistant watch as a very big deal since watches could only be made mechanical back in the day. And we all know what happens to metal that gets in contact with water.

However, there is a long period between the invention of the first water-resistant watch and the first dive watch.

There is a big commute in the watch industry about who “came first” to become the first dive watch in history. Omega made the Omega “Marine,” which looks like a JLC Reverso, which is put into a watertight shell. The Omega watch got introduced in 1932.

However, some will argue that the first-ever real dive watch was the Panerai Radiomir (which had a Rolex movement) because it was made in collaboration with Italy’s Special Navy Diving forces. The Panerai was introduced in 1936. However, just like with the Omega, they featured no rotating bezel. Therefore, divers could only see time underwater.

But then the “real” dive watches started to be introduced, which is also why many watch nerds will get into their bar talks.

Because Blancpain is the next in line. However, this time, compared to the previous “dive watches,” the watch actually had a rotating bezel that could only turn counterclockwise.

Furthermore, they had made it in collaboration with the French Navy. Blancpain released their dive watch, Fifty Fathoms, in 1953.

The year after, in 1954, Rolex displayed the first Rolex Submariner at Baselworld. Today the Submariner is such a big icon that people intuitively think that the Rolex Submariner was the first dive watch. However, it was actually “the last of the first.”

You could argue that the Omega was the first dive watch. Still, my argument would be that Blancpain came with the first actual dive watch due to the rotating bezel that can be used for real diving, and not just tell time while underwater.

But as you can see, the history of dive watches is rich, and many people have a love for the history of things.

Furthermore, dive watches is also seen as the first purpose-built tool watches.

Should I Buy a Dive Watch?

There are many reasons to buy a dive watch (see the 2500 words above), but ultimately it comes down to whether you like a particular watch or not. Dive watches is a useful tool watch for a lot of applications. I’m not kidding when I say that I have more use of a dive watch than a regular dress watch.

You should buy a dive watch if you are looking for a watch that: has high durability, fit various clothing styles, is waterproof, has a sporty look, and legible at any light conditions.

My personal advice will be to buy a dive watch if you are in the market for a watch. I had 3 dress watches before I got my first dive watch. However, the dive watch is the watch I have worn the most, with the least rotations of other watches.

Dive watch in its (almost) natural habitat
Dive watch in its (almost) natural habitat

The main benefits of buying a dive watch is honestly the 5 following:

  • Water resistance
  • Durable
  • Fit various fashion styles
  • Lume
  • Sporty style

There are other reasons that you should get dive watches. However, many of the arguments are also tied to brands. An example would be to get a Rolex Submariner because it’s a watch you can wear without losing its monetary value (hasn’t historically, at least).

However, such an argument relies on buying the brand Rolex and the model Submariner, not the Sea-Dweller or the Deepsea.

Water Resistance

A lot of watches are marketed as water-resistant. However, these watches might only be water-resistant to 3 to 5 ATM (30 to 50 meters) when it comes down to business.

Now, it’s very important to have in mind what type of watch you need. If you are active outdoors, you will need a different watch compared to an indoor book worm. This is on the assumption that your taste in watches doesn’t affect your choice.

Having an active or outdoor lifestyle, having a dive watch can be highly beneficial as they can withstand higher water pressures. Furthermore, the high-quality dive watches will also withstand condensation, which lower quality watches would fail.

Back to the discussion of what type of watch you need, dive watches are suited better for people with an active lifestyle. The water resistance sold with the watch is a rating of pressure and not a certain actual depth of water.

You are taking a pressure washer and point to a dress watch you will with guarantee, find water inside the watch. This might also happen with most dive watches depending on the water resistance rating.

But when a dive watch is rated for 300 meters of water resistance, the watch is actually rated to withstand 30 ATM/bar or pressure.

Durable

Another big benefit of purchasing a dive watch is the durability you often get with a dive watch. For bigger brands with respect to the actual use case of the dive watch, you will also get a watch with high durability.

Dive watches are made to handle both physical and thermal shocks. Dive watches are made to be used underwater, in both open and narrow environments. In narrow environments, there is a risk of knock the watch into rocks.

Therefore, brands that respect the intended use of the watch will have designed the watch with high durability for daily “abuse.”

Fit Various Fashion Styles

One of the biggest advantages of divers’ watches is a variety of styles. You can have any fashion style and still be rocking a diving watch. Dive watches are very well made in terms of their dials, hands, and case.

The case, dial, and hands in a dive watch is typically made following traditional or icon styles. Therefore, the dive watches’ styles will often be within fashion, even though the watch can seem bulky.

Nonetheless, dive watches are a fantastic addition to your wardrobe. Certainly a decision I haven’t regretted with my Omega Seamaster Professional 300M.

Lume

Should you be the type of guy to be outside when the dark has cast its shadow over the land where you live, then lume might be important for you.

It’s certainly nice when using a bicycle for the daily commute, and there is little to no light. With lume on the dial and hands, I can to see if I’m late or not.

One thing is for certain, when I occasionally wake up during the night, the lume on my dive watch is worth gold. I don’t have to turn on the sun of which is my phone to tell the time.

In vintage watches, the lume has degraded. Hence the lume will most likely only be highly legible for about 1-2 hours. However, the lume will be able to be readable through an 8-hour sleep session.

However, with modern watches’ technology, the lume can last for hours and be highly legible.

Sporty Style

One of the last advantages of dive watches is that although they work in almost any fashion style, they tend to have a sporty look.

A sporty look is nice for a daily worn watch that should be able to “dress to impress” but not be too fashionable that you can’t wear it while going to the station with the boys.

Jonas Henriksen

AllInWatches is founded by Jonas, who has a great interest in mechanical watches. All aspects of manual and automatic (mechanical) watches is a big interest and have been a passion since 2015, where the first automatic watch was purchased. Seeing the transparent case back and discovering the heritage of watchmaking piqued an interest in horology.

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