Though the pursuit of creating water-proof watches started decades before, true divers didn’t show up until 1953. The Blancpain Fifty-Fathoms, Rolex Submariner and Zodiac Sea Wolf were all precursors to the divers we have today, both in engineering and design. Today, most dive watches ape the basic look of these early watches, but vintage divers — with their smaller case sizes and imperfect and aged dials — wear the look best. Dive watches from this era today have mostly outlived their lives as actual divers, their gaskets and seals worn and degraded, but they still make a hell of a style statement.
What we like: This is, according to Analog/Shift, an offshoot of the Alsta Nautoscaph made (sorta) famous by the film Jaws. The angular case has a very scant but of-the-era 36mm diameter, and the black dial is adorned with thick plots of luminescent paint. The bezel is adorned with faded numerals on a stainless steel background that are a little hard to read but are cool as hell, regardless.
From the seller: Case is in very good condition overall with moderate signs of use and wear. Dial is in very good condition with patina to the luminescent elements of the hour markers. Unsigned crown. Screw case back shows light tool marks and bears the Nautoscaph hallmark.
Zodiac Sea Wolf
What we like: Released alongside the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and Rolex Submariner in the early 1950s, the Zodiac Se Wolf was one of the first dive watches ever made. This ’60s version comes with a black dial and beautiful light gray “Bakelite” bezel insert, a relatively hard-to-find feature. At 35mm it’s incredibly compact, but back in the day, it was one of the most dependable divers on the market, making it a favorite in the US military.
From the seller: This is a very nice condition example, featuring a 35mm diameter case, gray bakelite elapsed time bezel, and very nice condition original glossy black dial with raised indexes. Fully serviced and detailed.
Omega Seamaster 300
What we like: Though the Seamaster name had been used years before, in 1957 Omega introduced the brand’s first true dive watch, the Seamaster 300. It’s a handsome design, boasting “twisted” lugs and a matte black dial and bezel, which have faded with tome along with the light beige lume.
From the seller: Case shows light wear from use. Hands have aged shades lighter and appear to be newer service units. The watch is running at COSC spec.