Man’s World

Top 10 unusual mechanical diving watches

Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver-W1606

A diving watch is a classic format, originally developed from 1950 to 1980 by Blancpain and diver Robert Maloubier. Its characteristics are a minimum of 100 metres water resistance (most are rated at 300 metres), unidirectional rotating bezel, visibility of hands and dial markings in the dark, hands that can easily be distinguished one from another, and a method of ensuring that the watch is running – usually simply the seconds hand, which is also coated with luminescent paint. Before the advent of dive computers, these characteristics were of fundamental importance for divers, so that the watch could be used for timing a dive and decompression stops. Today, dive watches are great all-round accessories, timepieces that you can wear in the rain, while sailing or swimming, without having to worry about keeping them dry. Here are ten of the more unusual mechanical diving watches currently available. They are in descending price order.

1. Ressence Type 5

Ressence was founded in 2010 in Antwerp, Belgium, by Benoît Mintiens, and its watches are unique, with a rounded, pebble-like appearance, and subdials that are in constant movement around the dial so that the watch is always different. The visual effect is extraordinary, and it offers an advantage with respect to all other diving watches, which have to be viewed straight on under water, because at other angles, refraction turns the watch glass into a mirror. The Type 5 does not suffer this problem: the indications can be seen at any angle. Water resistance 10 atm (about 100 metres), price 28,500 Swiss francs. The watch is available at the Brian & Barry Building di Milano, second floor, Jewels & Watches department. Further information at https://ressencewatches.com

Ressence Type 5

Ressence Type 5

2. Ulysse Nardin Diver Deep Dive

Very distinctive, very tough, with a large 46 mm titanium case, a crown protector, a helium escape valve at 9 o’clock, and a 1,000-metre water resistance. The dial is decorated with 15 hammerhead sharks, with another in red on the crown protector, and one on the caseback. The strap is self-regulating, so that it adapts to the increases in wrist diameter that may occur during diving. Inside is an in-house movement. Price €12,000. Further information at https://www.ulysse-nardin.com

Ulysse Nardin Diver Deep Dive

Ulysse Nardin Diver Deep Dive

3. Rolex Deepsea

From the start, water resistance has been a pivotal element in Rolex’s marketing, and it is the only company that uses the concept of ‘waterproofness’ rather than ‘water resistance.’ The new Rolex Deepsea, presented in 2018, is the latest version of their professional diver’s watch, a large timepiece, 44 mm in diameter, a lovely degradé dial, a helium escape valve, and waterproofness to a depth of 3,900 metres. Price €11,700. Further information at https://www.rolex.com

Rolex Deepsea

Rolex Deepsea

4. Calibre de Cartier Diver

Calibre de Cartier Diver is a lovely hybrid combining the brand’s hallmark Roman numerals with a lot of technical features, including a blue ceramic bezel, a water-resistant leather-rubber strap, and a crown finished with a faceted spinel. The watch has an in-house automatic movement housed in a case 42 mm in diameter and 11 mm thick – dimensions that make it a very wearable, distinctive, everyday watch. Price €7,750. Further information at https://www.cartier.com

Calibre de Cartier Diver

Calibre de Cartier Diver

5. Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Automatic

This watch has an internal rotating bezel controlled by the crown at 2 o’clock, a 100-metre water resistance rating, and a classic, period look, because its design is based on the brand’s 1968 Memovox Polaris. Its distinctive characteristics include interchangeable quick-release straps, the unusual numeral design, and an in-house mechanical movement. Prices from €6,850. Further information at https://www.jaeger-lecoultre.com

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Automatic

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Automatic

6. Grand Seiko Spring Drive Diver Sport SBGA229G

Grand Seiko watches are legendary for their detailing, with Zaratsu mirror-finish polish on the steel case, perfectly-faceted hands, and a unidirectional rotating bezel with a firm but silky feel during operation. The movement is a fascinating hybrid, with a mainspring and gear train, together with a generator that transforms mechanical energy into electricity powering a quartz crystal oscillator. This means no battery, exceptional precision, and a seconds hand with a continuous gliding movement. Water resistance 200 metres, price €6,200. Further information at http://www.grand-seiko.com/

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Diver Sport SBGA229G

Grand Seiko Spring Drive Diver Sport SBGA229G

7. Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver

The BR 03-92, available in black, blue and bronze versions, takes Bell & Ross’s classic square format – inspired by cockpit instruments – underwater, on a mechanical dive watch. It has some interesting features, such as the yellow hour hand, which underwater gradually disappears as light intensity fades, in order to give precedence to the minute hand, fundamental for the diver’s safety. This watch complies to the parameters of the ISO 6425 standard for diver’s watches. Price €3,300 for the black and blue versions, €3,800 for the bronze version. The watch is available at the Brian & Barry Building di Milano, second floor, Jewels & Watches department. Further information at https://www.bellross.com

Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver-W1606

Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver

8. Mühle-Glashütte Promare Go M1-42-32-NB

The Promare Go by German brand Mühle-Glashütte offers 300 metres water resistance, and features that make it more of a sports watch than a diving watch. The bezel is bi-directional, so that it can be used quickly and easily to time sailing trips, mountain hikes or cycle tours. The cleanly-designed dial has contemporary looks that match the sleekly-curvaceous case and waterproof leather/rubber strap with contrasting stitching. Price €2,150. Further information at https://www.muehle-glashuette.de

Mühle-Glashütte Promare Go M1-42-32-NB

Mühle-Glashütte Promare Go M1-42-32-NB

9. Longines Legend Diver L3.774.4.50.9

The Legend Diver is a new edition of a 1960s Longines model, with a domed watchglass, and an internal rotating bezel that is operated by a second crown. It has a classic, vintage appearance, and the design of the bezel enables it to be used to measure elapsed time with the minute hand. With a diameter of 42 mm, a stainless steel case and a 300-metre water resistance rating, this is a charming watch with unusual looks. €2,050. Further information at https://www.longines.com/

Longines Legend Diver L3.774.4.50.9

Longines Legend Diver L3.774.4.50.9

10. Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600

The C60 Trident Pro 600 reflects classic watch design, with some details that give it its own character, such as the distinctive hour hand, and versions that include this eye-catching piece with orange dial and black zirconia bezel. It is powered by the Sellita SW200-1 movement. Water resistance 60 atm, 600 metres, price €905. Further information at https://www.christopherward.eu

Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600

Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600

Henry Neuteboom