Dive watches… not even a style or a category of watches anymore, but a proper market with its own codes, its icons, its contenders, its specifications and its aficionados. Needless to say that a well-built and nicely designed dive watch is almost a necessity for accessible or luxury watch brands, with only a minority not having its own take on the aquatic timepiece. And I’d go as far as saying that a dive watch is a must in every collection. With this in mind, we couldn’t make our lists of favourite 2020 watches without taking a look at diving-oriented models. From accessible to high-end, from all-time-classics to original takes, from modern to vintage-oriented, here are the 10 dive watches that we think stole the show in 2020.
Note: this list is based on our own preferences. Feel free to share your favourite dive watches introduced this year in the comment box at the end of this article.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition
Blancpain and the dive watch is a long love story. The brand was actually one of the pioneers of the genre back in 1953, with the Fifty Fathoms model, one of the watches that defined the category and was followed by many others after. With such a pedigree, it feels natural to see the brand still active in this field, with multiple robust watches in collection. One of them plays on original and unusual design cues, with a clear 1970s inspiration, the Bathyscaphe Day Date. Equipped with “funky” dial elements and a day-date display, this year it comes in a new sand-beige colour scheme, that the brand named “Desert Edition.” The rest is a superb execution, robust specifications, a nice in-house automatic movement with 5-day power reserve, all in a 43mm satin-brushed steel case.
Quick Facts: 43mm diameter – stainless steel case and bezel, brown ceramic insert – 300m water-resistant – calibre 1315 DD, automatic in-house – sand-coloured sail canvas strap – 5052-1146-E52A, limited to 500 pieces – CHF 11,900
Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec Black
The Patravi ScubaTec has always been one of our favourite luxury dive watches here, at MONOCHROME. Strong, powerful, with a design that stands out from the crown and with great execution, it has several arguments to compete in this packed market. This year, Carl F. Bucherer brings a very cool edition, all dressed in black and silver, the Patravi ScubaTec Black. The case, the strap and the dial are all done in this stealth colour, yet highlighted by well-positioned touches of silver on the bezel and dial – the latter still featuring a cool pattern. Inside the case is an automatic movement based on a reliable ETA ébauche but here certified chronometer by COSC. Just note that this a large watch at 44.6mm, but comfort is great and the lightweight titanium case is well designed.
Quick Facts: 44.6mm diameter – black DLC-coated titanium case and bezel, black ceramic and steel insert – 500m water-resistant – Calibre CFB 1950.1 (ETA-2824), automatic chronometer – rubber strap or rubber and PET textile strap, DLC-coated titanium folding clasp – 00.106126.96.36.199 – EUR 6,400
Certina DS PH200M Blue
Clearly one of the most attractive-looking dive watches of 2020… Certina has a long tradition of robust watches, incarnated by its proprietary DS concept (for Double Security) and the 2018 version of the Certina DS PH200M was already a very pleasant retro-styled dive watch. But the evolution for 2020, with its new blue colour scheme, its new rounded bezel, improved materials and upgraded movement, is simply spot-on. With its vintage design elements but modern proportions and execution, it has the charm and the performances. It now comes with a new, convex-shaped ceramic insert, some gild elements and an automatic Powermatic, with extended power reserve (80 hours) and anti-magnetic balance spring… all of that for less than 1,000 euros.
Quick Facts: 42.8mm diameter – stainless steel case and bezel, blue ceramic insert – 200m water-resistant – ETA Powermatic 80.611, automatic with 80h power reserve – grey-blue NATO fabric strap – C036.407.18.040.00 – CHF 880
Doxa SUB 300 Carbon Aqua Lung Sharkhunter
Doxa has always been among the most remarkable brands for dive watches. A sort of highly-focused, almost niche treasury that manufactured some of the greatest and most innovative diving instruments of the 1960s. The brand came back on the forefront only recently but now expands its collections with cool affordable models (the SUB 200) and with evolutions of its iconic piece, the SUB 300. One that really caught our attention was totally unexpected. Mostly vintage-inspired, the brand here mixes its classic case with ultra-modern materials and colours, resulting in the SUB 300 Carbon Aqua Lung Sharkhunter. And the result is the most striking, unique, boldest Dox’ ever. The carbon case and dial dive both a stealth look and a feather-light comfort. And inside is a classic COSC-certified ETA 2824.
Quick Facts: 42.50mm diameter – forged carbon case and bezel, with patented no-decompression dive table – 300m water-resistant – ETA 2824, automatic and COSC certified – black rubber strap and PVD-coated stainless steel clasp – limited edition of 300 pieces – 822.70.101AQL.20 – CHF 4,790
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition
The Seamaster Diver 300M is already a great, great watch – one that can easily compete with another icon of the industry. But with the 007 Edition, Omega stroke hard in terms of design, with super-cool military attire, a no-date display and a lightweight, instrumental-looking titanium case. The watch worn by 007 in the upcoming movie, it adds a lot of charm and vintage aura to a watch that often looks a bit too technical. Other than that, all the great features of the classic SM300 have been kept, including the solid case, the helium escape valve and the powerful, antimagnetic in-house automatic movement. It is available either on a striped NATO strap or (preferable) a mesh titanium bracelet. The most desirable version in the collection…
Quick Facts: 42mm diameter – grade 2 titanium case and bezel, matte tropical black aluminium insert – 300m water-resistant – Omega Calibre 8806, in-house and Master Chronometer – titanium mesh bracelet or striped fabric NATO strap – 188.8.131.52.01.001 – Non-limited edition – EUR 8,640 on titanium mesh
Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400
The Aquis Date is a classic for Oris, known for its robustness, its very pleasant quality of assembly, its modern and instrumental look and very decent price. This year, if the design doesn’t evolve, the mechanics inside are making a massive jump in perceived quality, as the brand unveiled its brand new Calibre 400 in this very watch. Presented as the “new standard”, its role is to become the mid-range movement for most collections, as a great alternative to ETA or Sellita ébauches. Powerful (5-day), pragmatic, antimagnetic with silicon for the anchor and escape wheel and expected to be reliable (since the brand gives a 10-year warranty and claims 10-year recommended service intervals), it brings the Aquis Date in a whole new category. And the price remains competitive.
Quick Facts: 43.5mm diameter – stainless steel case and bezel, blue ceramic insert – 300m water-resistant – Calibre 400, in-house automatic with 120h power reserve and antimagnetic properties – stainless steel bracelet with folding clasp – 01 400 7763 4135-07 8 24 09PEB – CHF 3,200
Rolex Submariner 41mm Ref. 124060
Or basically, all other stainless steel models in the 2020 Submariner collection – meaning the 126610LN and 126610LV too. I know, this is an obvious and conventional choice but, in all fairness, it is hard to talk about the best dive watches of 2020 without mentioning the new Submariner… probably the most discussed watch of the year. What has changed? Not much and everything at the same time. This is where Rolex is genius, by evolving without breaking the codes, by upgrading the specifications without chocking its fan base. The new Submariner is 100% a Submariner but with a different case, slightly larger (half a millimetre) but yet more nicely shaped, a new movement and a differently-proportioned bracelet. Some very small updates are visible on the dial, the bezel or the crown guard too. The quality is, as you’d expect, simply stunning and the design is well… that of a Submariner. But to us, this 2020 edition is better than the previous on many levels. If only it was easily available!
Quick Facts: 41mm diameter – Oystersteel case and bezel, black ceramic insert – 300m water-resistant – Calibre 3230, in-house automatic, Superlative Chronometer – Oystersteel bracelet with folding clasp – ref. 124060 – CHF 7,700
Seiko Prospex Diver 62MAS Interpretations
Even when doing vintage-inspired watches, Seiko always had a tendency to go big for its modern pieces… Even re-creations of the brand’s first-ever professional dive watch, the famous 62MAS, the SPB05x models, were large and relatively bulky. But this year, things have changed in Japan and Seiko is slowly moving back to more restrained diameters. Case in point, the very cool SPB14x collection, which brings back the attractive design of the 62MAS in modern attire, and now with a diameter of 40.5mm. Our favourite of the range is the SPB147J1 presented here, with its dark brown dial and gilt accents, which has an incredible charm. It is also a high-quality piece with sapphire crystal, nice metallic brushed bezel insert and a 70h power reserve automatic movement.
Quick Facts: 40.5mm diameter – stainless steel case with super-hard coating, bezel with metallic brushed insert – 200m water-resistant – calibre 6R35, in-house, automatic – silicone strap with steel pin buckle – SPB147J1 – EUR 1,050
Collaborations between watch brands and external designers or watch customizers are a growing thing in the industry. And what happens when TAG Heuer, the avant-garde brand known for its robust sports watches, meets Bamford Watch Department, the famous UK-based personalisation house, is this very cool, unusual take on the brand’s classic dive watch, the Aquaracer. Fully transformed with a sand-blasted grade 2 titanium case and bracelet, some cool 1970s orange elements and a dial that has a record-like (or radar-like, as you prefer) pattern, this Aquaracer Bamford looks unique, different and still retains all the necessary elements of robust dive watches. A bold move.
Quick Facts: 43mm diameter – grade 2 titanium case and bezel, sand-blasted – 300m water-resistant – Calibre 5 (base Sellita SW 200-1) – automatic – grade 2 titanium sand-blasted bracelet with folding clasp – WAY208F.BF0638, Limited to 1,500 pieces – CHF 3,800
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue
For the last watch of this list on the best dive watches of 2020, we select another one that might not innovate much, but that certainly demonstrates the ability of the Rolex group to develop superb aquatic watches. Launched a couple of years ago, the Black Bay Fifty-Eight is an even more vintage, smaller and slightly more accessible take on the watch that made the success of Tudor. With its 39mm case and thinner profile, it is a great all-rounder that can withstand some action. First available in black with gilt elements, the brand brings this year a blue edition that feels fresher, more modern, more technical. Inside is still a great manufacture, chronometer movement with long power reserve and antimagnetic properties.
Quick Facts: 39mm diameter – stainless steel case and bezel, blue anodized aluminium insert – 200m water-resistant – calibre MT5402, automatic manufacture, COSC certified – stainless steel riveted bracelet with folding clasp or blue soft-touch strap or blue fabric strap – M79030B – from CHF 3,200