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These Dive Watches All Have a Special Feature

The Super Compressor was developed to increase water resistance. The design may have been superseded, but the look endures.

baltic aquascaphe dual crown compressor
Baltic

Everybody knows the typical dive watch look: a functional design, bold markers and, most of all, a prominent rotating bezel. Typified by watches like the Rolex Submariner, this formula comes in myriad variations and is so ubiquitous that you'd be forgiven for thinking that any other design wouldn't even qualify as a dive watch. You'd be mistaken, though.

In the 1960s, an interesting type of watch case was developed called a super compressor. The idea was that water pressure itself — the very thing that dive watches are built to withstand — would serve to tighten the watch's seals: the spring-loaded case back would compress as the underwater atmospheres increased.

A range of watch brands made this type of watch using the same cases. In addition to the nifty compressing case, these watches also had another very specific feature: a ring around the dial (an "inner bezel") lived under the crystal and could be rotated via a crown at 2 o'clock. Like the (outer) bezel of a typical dive watch, this was used by divers to time all sorts of important safety measures while diving.

The result was a unique look, with two crowns: one at 2 o'clock and another functioning as a normal crown (for winding and time setting) at 4 o'clock. The watches made in this style today are sometimes called "super compressor" even though they use the same method of achieving water resistance as other modern dive watches (rather than the spring-loaded, compressing case, which didn't turn out to be the most efficient solution).

Today, the super compressor-style watch offers some of the same appeal as more traditional dive watches, but often with a sleeker look. Most of all, it's a dive watch with some neat history, and it doesn't look like every other dive watch. (Though keep in mind that if you actually dive with your dive watch, operating an inner rotating crown underwater can prove a headache.) Here are some of the best modern examples you can buy.

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Dan Henry 1970 Automatic Diver
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Dan Henry

Collector Dan Henry started his own watch brand with the purpose of offering vintage watch styles and homages at very accessible prices. The 1970 Automatic Diver has the classic look of compressor divers from the era it's named for and is powered by a basic Seiko automatic movement. Available in several different color schemes, it appropriately comes on a Tropic-style rubber dive strap.

Diameter: 40mm or 44mm
Movement: Seiko NH35 automatic
Water Resistance: 200m
Price: $290

Marnaut Seascape
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Marnaut

Marnaut is a young, Kickstarter-funded watch company based in Croatia that's focused on dive watches. Their second product is the super compressor-inspired Seascape, and it features not only the solid specs expected of this type of watch but a reasonable price and the brand's signature dial: the radial dots are said to be based on a sea urchin.

Diameter: 40mm
Movement: Miyota 9015 automatic
Water Resistance: 200m
Price: $449+

Duality Chasm Black
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duality

Though most super compressor type dive watches tend to look to past decades, the Duality, from Los Angeles-based Nodus, has a thoroughly modern character. It comes on a steel bracelet and is also rated to a bit deeper than some others on this list, at 300m. 

Diameter: 40mm
Movement: Miyota 9015 automatic
Water Resistance: 300m
Price: $700

Baltic Aquascaphe Dual-Crown Compressor
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Baltic

Baltic did a really nice job with their rendering of the super compressor concept. Design lovers will appreciate its pared-back refinement, and others will like its handsome tool-watch appeal and perfect proportions. It's available in three variations: blue or black dials in steel or a black dial in a black PVD-coated case.

Diameter: 39mm
Movement: automatic
Water Resistance: 200m
Price: ~$775

Farer Endeavour Titanium
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Farer

Farer once again has an original take on a classic style with several variations of its super compressor-style watch. Each not only looks striking (we like it in its all-black DLC version) but also offers a lightweight titanium case, 300m water resistance and a Swiss automatic movement. All this makes it a pretty strong value proposition and a unique choice. 

Diameter: 41.5mm
Movement: Sellita SW200 automatic
Water Resistance: 300m
Price: $1,175

Christopher Ward C65 Super Compressor
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Christopher Ward

A steel bracelet and shimmering blue dial with sporty orange highlights give this dive watch a contemporary feel. The real noteworthy feature of the C65 Super Compressor, however, is that it actually offers the compressing case technology, which is almost unheard of today. 

Diameter: 41mm
Movement: Sellita SW200 automatic
Water Resistance: 150m
Price: $1,215

Alphina Seastrong
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Alpina

A bronze case is a popular alternative metal to traditional watch case materials, and its tendency to develop a patina over time is actually considered part of its appeal. Here, in the form of a super compressor and matched to a deep brown dial, the effect is striking and unique. It's powered by a Swiss automatic movement, and Alpina will offer a high level of fit and finish.

Diameter: 42mm
Movement: Sellita SW200 automatic
Water Resistance: 300m
Price: $1,795

Longines Legend Diver Bronze
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Longines

The Legend Diver actually resurrects a Longines watch from the brand's archives, but it now comes in a bunch of great looking variations including bronze and black PVD cases, as well as a 36mm version. The green dial and bronze case here are cool, but you can also get the classic steel-with-black-dial if you're after a more traditional look.  

Diameter: 42mm
Movement: ETA A31.L01 automatic
Water Resistance: 300m
Price: $3,000

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Automatic
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Jaeger-LeCoultre

JLC made super compressors ways back in the late 1960s. By including an in-house movement on its Polaris Automatic (visible through the back), the brand was able to keep the case nice and thin at 11.2mm. More versions in the collection are offered not only with other colors and strap options but with complications such as a chronograph, world time, date or an alarm.

Diameter: 41mm
Movement: Jaeger-LeCoultre 898/1 automatic
Water Resistance: 100m
Price: $8,000

The History of the Super Compressor
super compressor lead
GP

A quest for increased water resistance in the late 1960s led to an icon of the dive watch world.

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