Rolex Submariner, Omega Seamaster and Beyond: We Dive Into The Top 10 Greatest Water Watches of All Time


by John Wallis

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April 06. 2018 - by John Wallis

Which watch survives a dive into 20,000 Feet? Want to learn more about the Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea: the most water resistant luxurious diving watch? Read on as we explore some of the greatest water sport and diving watches that drove technological and aesthetic innovation and jump into our TOP TEN list.


Our Top 10 Best Selling Maritime Watches at a Glance

*** Scroll down to learn more about these watches in detail ***

1. Rolex Submariner: 114060

2. Omega Seamaster 300 M

3. TAG Heuer Aquaracer

4. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra

5. Rolex Oyster Perpetual: 114300

6. Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean

7. Breitling Avenger II Seawolf 

8. Breitling SuperOcean

9. Tudor Heritage Black Bay

10. Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea: 116660

But first, what does it actually mean for a watch to be waterproof? We hear about watches being water resistant; some watches being up to 100 meters resistant, and some beasts of the sea that go beyond 6000 m, such as the deepest diving mechanical watch ever made aka the impressive CX Swiss Military 20,000 Feet Diver Watch. Let’s take a closer look at what the numbers mean.

If your watches claim to be resistant up to 30 m or 3 bars, then it usually doesn’t mean you can take it with you for a swim. A bar corresponds to the pressure of one kilogram on a square centimetre surface when the force acts perpendicular to that surface. In reality, the water pressure varies according to your arm movement or jumps; therefore, a watch should be resistant upwards from 50 m for water activity.

Using modern manufacturing methods invented over the course of the twentieth century, a diving watch can withstand the pressure of being submerged - usually at least to 200 m. Be warned, the watch's water-resistance rating is an optimistic guess and wears down over time. Dive watches are almost never called "waterproof", because no watch is fully infallible. Be cautious and make sure to get yours regularly serviced if you use it often underwater.

Watches intended for water sports also tend to feature thick, rotating bezels that can be easily used while wearing gloves to time a dive. Other bonus features can be less useful - for example, the infamous helium escape valve has no practical use for most divers, but is considered a prestigious addition by many.

Here they are in detail: what are the top ten watches for diving, sailing, and seafaring to know about?

10. Rolex Sea-Dweller Deepsea

Speaking of helium escape valves, it was this legendary timepiece that introduced them back in 1967. Rolex has a longstanding reputation for leading the world in diving horology, and the Sea-Dweller, which it developed with undersea engineering company COMEX, is the most advanced and specialised of its tool watches. The current model boasts a mind-blowing 3,900 m water resistance - breaking the depth record in 2008 that was previously only beaten by the CX Swiss Military 20,000 Feet.

Shop the Rolex Sea-Dweller

9. Tudor Heritage Black Bay

The Tudor brand experienced a miraculous resurgence in recent years that was in large part led by the revamped Heritage collection in 2010, especially the Tudor Heritage Black Bay. It's a gorgeous timepiece, inspired by vintage models, that establishes its own image beyond any resemblance to the iconic Submariner. It was originally designed to fulfill all the criteria of a divers watch: precision, durability, and most importantly - being waterproof, whilst being more budget friendly.

Shop the Tudor Heritage Black Bay

8. Breitling SuperOcean

This famous Swiss firm may be known for its pilots watches, but the SuperOcean proves that it is more than a one-trick pony. These are consummate automatic dive watches with impressive credentials, first sold in 1957. They have since then surpassed their water resistance, starting from 200 m all the way to 1,500 m. The SuperOcean Heritage collection, unveiled last year, is a wonderful upgrade for this classic watch family.

Shop the Breitling SuperOcean

7. Breitling Avenger II Seawolf

Breitling's other popular diving collection is somewhat more "rugged", to use a common term. The Seawolf caters to larger, more durable watches, designed for the hardiest of adventures. With a ludicrous 3,000 m water resistance, these pieces are made to survive anything, and to look great while doing it. What is particularly intriguing is the non-slip grip and valve which has the purpose to balance pressure differences from the inside and outside of the watch. Additionally, the self-winding movement further ensures precision and accuracy.

Shop the Breitling Avenger II Seawolf

6. Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean

The first of the Omegas on this list, the Planet Ocean grew out of the success of the famed Seamaster series. Created in 2005, it modernised and renewed the recognisable design, adding style, energy and even bright colours. The distinctive design of the Seamaster has been slightly modernised with the Planet Ocean by adding special SuperLumiNova luminous pads to the hour indices and hands, among other things. Planet Ocean allows dives up to 600 m depth. After being adopted by James Bond, there was no more doubt that this is the true modern successor to an illustrious legacy.

Shop the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean

5. Rolex Oyster Perpetual

This is arguably the Rolex watch that started it all. Hans Wilsdorf, the founder, called his new watertight models "Oyster" in 1926, and "Perpetual" was added seven years later for the self-winding movements. The first to make water resistance widely accessible, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual is not technically a diving watch, but it still has a vital place in history. It also achieved world fame when the English swimmer Mercedes Gleitze crossed the English Channel in 1927 with a Rolex Oyster on her wrist. It's earned her a place in history and on this list.

Shop the Rolex Oyster Perpetual

4. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra

The elegant Aqua Terra was made as a dressier version of the Seamaster after the original models became increasingly sporty. Today, it remains a popular and very good looking timepiece that still maintains its technical specs as a watch to be used in and on the water, despite losing the rotating bezel. Although water resistant up to 150 m, this marine watch is more suitable for strolling along fashionable coastal towns than for diving or surfing.

Shop the Seamaster Aqua Terra

3. TAG Heuer Aquaracer

Constantly maturing and improving, the Aquaracer series emerged in 2004 as an evolution of the Heuer 2000 divers designed by Jack Heuer himself in the 1980s. These fine timepieces are well-suited not just to diving but to yachting and other adventures, and have also been very popular in the versions targeted at women.

Shop the TAG Heuer Aquaracer

2. Omega Seamaster 300 M

The original and still perhaps the greatest of Omega's phenomenal diving fleet, the 300 m was a huge step forward for diving watches when it came on the scene in 1957. Today, it is a true icon, and the modern versions showcase all the technological skills, finesse and attention to detail that you'd expect from one of the world's finest watch manufactures. 

Shop the Omega Seamaster 300 M

1. Rolex Submariner

How could we not finish with this, the legendary Rolex dive watch for the ages. The Submariner remains probably the most highly sought (and counterfeited!) watch in existence, and its timeless design can be instantly spotted even by those who know very little about watches. Stylish, well-built and effortlessly versatile, it really is a flawless timepiece, all whilst being water resistant up to 300 m!

Shop the Rolex Submariner
John Wallis

by John Wallis

Living and working in London, John has been writing about watches since graduating university. He got his start at SalonQP, London's finest watch show, where he was inspired by the breadth and creativity of the modern industry. His fascination with mechanical horology has only grown from there.

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