Article By: Logan Hannen
What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to dive in (holy bad puns, Batman) and take a look at exactly what makes a watch a “dive” watch.
So, a bit of background: contrary to popular belief, Rolex did not invent the first watch designed to be worn diving. However, the founder of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf, did invent the first watch case to be truly water resistant: the Oyster. In 1932, though, Omega released the first proper diver’s watch, the Omega Marine, making them the first company to commercially release and industrially produce such a watch. From there, we have the Panerai Radiomir, which came out in 1935 for use by the Italian Navy, followed in 1953 by both the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and the Rolex Submariner. For a more in-depth history of dive watches, check out this article by the Elite Diving Agency.
Now that we know how they came to be, let’s talk about what they are. As the name suggests, a diver’s watch is one that is built for the task of being submerged under some depth of water and surviving with totally normal functioning the entire time. There are a few different criteria it has to meet in order to acquire this title, and in the strictest sense, the watch must meet the ISO 6425 standards for being considered a dive watch. ISO, for reference, is the organization that offers certifications for just about everything, in super basic terms, and the 6425 standard is the one that governs water resistance for dive watches.
At a minimum, there are three major features that a dive watch must have. The first of these features is a screw down crown and caseback. This method of sealing the watch is the thing that helps to give it the water resistance rating we’ll talk about in a second, and I personally wouldn’t trust submerging a watch without them (of course, super-compressors don’t feature screw down crowns, but they’re another entity entirely). As for water resistance, at a minimum, a dive watch must have a water resistance rating of 200 meters, though obviously, the more the better. Lastly, and this is part of what makes it a tool watch built for divers, the watch should feature some kind of rotating timing bezel. The bezel is used to measure just how long the diver has been under water, which is incredibly important when it comes to keeping track of oxygen levels. It’s purely functional for divers, and not as much designed for everyone else’s benefit, but it’s still massively important.
If you want to know more about the ISO standards and the history of dive watches, check out this super in-depth article on Watch Time, which goes into way more detail than we could here.
That about does it for us. Now get diving, and remember, while you’re out playing with sharks, to keep it classy, watchfam.