Let’s get one thing straight: extreme depth ratings of 1,000m and more on hardcore dive watches are far beyond what you’ll ever need for diving or anything else. What’s cool, however, is that regular people like you and I can actually buy and wear them — without any hardcore credentials. Standard dive watches are rated 200m to 300m, and 500m to 600m is considered above-and-beyond. At 1,000m water-resistant and more, the class of ultra-deep diving watches like those below are vaguely ridiculous — and kind of awesome.
“What’s the point, though,” you might ask, “if a human can’t even survive at the depths the watch on his wrist can?” This is a reasonable question.
Watch companies pursue these extreme depth ratings not because they need their watches to actually function in the Mariana Trench, but because they showcase what the brand is capable of — and because they represent general durability to consumers. These ratings indicate that a watch can take more abuse than you can ever subject it to, and this means peace of mind.
That said, watches’ depth ratings don’t always clearly indicate just how wet they can get. The watch industry typically rates dress watches at 30m and defines this as “splash-resistant” — in other words, “do not submerge.” The ratings the industry uses refer to pressure equivalent to the stated depths, but some brands do subject their watches to extreme and real-world tests.
Most people normally don’t even get near water as deep as the depths to which these watches are rated, and even most certified divers won’t go more than 40m beneath the waves. (The current record for the deepest a human has ever dived was set in 2014 at 332.35m by Ahmed Gabr, and on his wrist was a bulbous Charmex CX Swiss Military watch rated to 6,000m.)
When thinking about just how much to abuse your poor watch, or simply how to take care of it in daily life, water-resistance is important. However, you also want to consider materials, shock resistance, and other factors. All that said, the watches below are ridiculously water-resistant, and they’re tough as nails as well.
Ollech & Wajs C-1000
Good ol’ Ollech & Wajs belongs right on the top of this list for its 1,000m-rated dive watch released way back in 1964 and known as the Caribbean 1000. It was a notable watch at the time in part for its depth rating, and the recently re-enlivened Ollech & Wajs has brought it back in modern form. It remains pretty wearable at under 40mm compared to a lot of other, often rather chunky, ultra-deep-diving watches — and it looks particularly killer on its retro-styled beads-of-rice bracelet.
Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation
Though this development is sometimes overlooked, Zodiac introduced one of the first modern dive watches back in 1953, along with Rolex and Blancpain. Its Sea Wolf has since evolved into a collection, and the the Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation is a beast of a diver that recalls the brand’s midcentury aesthetics and has a water-resistance of 1,000m.
Mühle S.A.R. Rescue-Timer
The Mühle S.A.R. Rescue-Timer is the only watch on this list that, despite a water-resistance rating of 1,000m, wasn’t designed specifically for diving. In fact, it was made for the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service, with their special requirements in mind. In place of the rotating dive-timing bezel, for instance, you’ll find a rubber bumper meant to help it withstand knocks and any general abuse it might encounter in the line of duty. At 42mm wide, it’s also pretty wearable for the civilian, and it’s aesthetically functional and unique.
Seiko Marinemaster Professional
In the utterly funky “tuna can” case style shown here, the Seiko Marinemaster SBDX013 looks like a genuine piece of diving equipment more than a conventional wristwatch. However, the Marinemaster line has come in a range of forms, with some models looking a lot more like traditional dive watches, and with depth ratings ranging from a basic 200m right up to 1,000m. The example above is a more premium version with an automatic movement and a mix of materials including titanium, ceramic, steel and sapphire crystal. There are only a few watches currently produced with the Marinemaster name, but they represent well the brand’s long history of making serious, robust watches for diving and other professional needs.
Oris ProDiver GMT
Oris makes a range of modern Aquis dive watches suitable for recreational and professional use, as well as more specialized ones versions as one with a mechanical depth gauge. The brand’s ProDiver series shares design cues with the Aquis line but is rated to 1,000m — this beefy 49mm titanium version features a GMT function provided by the Sellita SW-220 movement.
Omega Seamaster PloProf 1200m
The Omega Seamaster PloProf (from the French term for “professional diver,” plongeur professionnel) is probably the weirdest-looking watch that can convincingly be called “iconic.” Introduced in 1970, it’s got an odd shape that’s wider (55mm) than it is tall (48mm) and incorporates a couple of unusual features: Its crown is situated on the lefthand side, protected by a protruding guard structure, and the right side of the case is dominated by a prominent pusher that locks and unlocks the bezel. With such a potentially unwieldy case, it helps that the newest models are manufactured in lightweight titanium.
Doxa SUB 1500T
Most people associate Doxa solely with dive watches, as this was the brand that pioneered the idea of a sporty, orange-dialed dive watch back in 1964. That watch was the SUB 300, which became the basic platform for Doxa’s entire range of divers today. Doxa watches stand out in the watch world not only for their history and their often colorful dials, but also for a distinctive bezel that incorporates a no-decompression limit table. One of their most serious watches is the 1500T, which is rated to an impressive 1,500m with a hefty 45mm case.
Sinn U2 EZM 5
German watchmaker Sinn specializes in tool watches with a no-nonsense vibe and engineering that doubles down on toughness. The Sinn U2 EZM 5 is a dive watch that offers the brand’s signature features, like its “tegimented” case-hardening treatment, extreme temperature resistance, and dehumidifying technology. In addition to its whopping 2,000m of water resistance, this model also offers a GMT complication (courtesy of the ETA 2893-2 automatic movement) and remains fairly wearable among comparable watches with a diameter of 44mm.
Zelos Abyss 3
Yes, you can get a 3,000m water-resistant dive watch for well under $1,000 — but probably only from the Singapore-based Zelos. With sapphire crystals, ceramic bezel inserts and Swiss Sellita automatic movements, many variants also have features rarely found at this price level, such as meteorite dials and bronze cases. Zelos offers serious depth ratings even for much higher-end watches, as well as objectively impressive value.
Rolex Deep Sea Sea Dweller
Rolex pioneered water-resistant watches and was long the king of deep-diving watches — until Omega recently one-upped them (see below). In 1960, Rolex sent its Deep Sea Special prototype watch with the Bathyscaphe Trieste vessel more than 10,900m to the deepest southern part of the Marianas Trench. About 50 years later, James Cameron took a prototype Sea Dweller back to around the same depth. The experimental watch that made that journey strapped to the vessel’s exterior was 51.4mm wide, 28.5mm thick, and 12,000m water-resistant. Much more wearable, however, is the one Cameron had strapped to his wrist, and there’s a commercially available version that’s only 44mm wide and water-resistant to a still-impressive 3,900m.
This obscure German brand is quietly making a rather badass dive watch, outdoing many of the big brands with respect to water resistance. The watch itself is also rather striking, with a unique design that UTS says obviates the need for a helium escape valve. Another notable feature is the 2 o’clock crown, which is used to lock the bezel. The brand makes the 45mm-wide, 17.5mm-thick steel case in-house, and the 6mm-thick sapphire crystal is also German-made.
Omega Ultra Deep Professional
This is the watch that currently holds the record for the deepest dive, and you can’t buy it. In 2019, the Omega Ultra Deep Professional was strapped to the exterior of a submersible vessel that touched down on the floor of the Mariana Trench (the deepest trench in the world), clocking a depth of 10,928m and beating Rolex’s previous record by just 12m. The watch’s rating is no less than an insane 15,000m, but despite its non-commercial intentions, it’s attractively designed and appears almost wearable at 52mm wide and 28mm thick, in titanium.
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