Top 16 Dive Watches In 2016: An Opinion – Part 1 Audemars Piguet + Rolex

Top 16 Dive Watches In 2016: An Opinion – Part 1 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver + Rolex Deepsea

What is a dive watch?

The dive watch is a type of watch that really encapsulates what it is to be a luxury watch. It’s simultaneously a functional piece of specialist equipment, needing to survive the punishing environment of being dragged down deep underwater, while still telling the time: but, they are typically built to extravagant specifications, being water resistant to 10 or even 100 times deeper than people will actually dive down to in reality. Few people will ever test these dive watches to their full capabilities!

This is part 1 of a series of 6 parts on diving watches of 2016. Parts onetwothreefourfive and six can be found from these links (coming soon).

The function of a dive watch is a simple one – to monitor how long a diver has been underwater, and more importantly, how long they have left with their limited oxygen supply. Or for the wearer to just look cool while wearing an extremely durable and reliable watch – which is more often the case.

US Navy 081207-N-9769P-029 Divers swim over a reef during a certification dive as part of the Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba (SUDS) program
This Photo is a U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jayme Pastoric [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In the horological world, the dive watch is in a paradoxical state where it is both a highly functional tool but is also absurdly specific in function that few people buy them to actually go diving with – for the purpose they were created for. And if they do go diving with one on then they are more often used as a redundancy for digital diving computers: with, the majority of people buying diving watches being ‘desk divers’, who have little intention of going diving with their watch on their wrist.

A dive watch is considered a luxury item today because of the tiny number of people who really need one, and the superlatively high-quality construction. Even professional divers have no great need for them because they will use electronic dive computers that are more accurate, reliable and give more information to the diver.

When buying a dive watch a person is buying something with a great promise of performance – they assure the buyer of unparalleled durability and are perhaps the most durable of all watch types. These watches are so incredibly expensive because of the huge amount of time that the movements, casing, strap, deployant clasp and diving extensions have spent in R & D to make the perfect, most durable, dive watch possible.

Why buy a dive watch?

The greater reason that people would buy a diving watch is because of the peace of mind that they give; that their robust construction makes dive watches the most reliable watch type to choice from. And makes them suited to a wide range of environments where toughness and reliability are desired.

They’re built to escape damage from water whether intentional or unintentional, they are designed to be tough enduring a beating, and are meant to just keep on running.

Things to consider when buying a diving watch for actual diving

  • Water Resistance – Will its seals keep increasing water pressure out of the watches internals?
  • Dial Legibility – How easy can the markings on the dial be read in subdued light?
  • Bezel – The most common way to time the duration spent under water is with a unidirectional bezel, though this is not always the case.
  • Strap Type – Some are more suitable than others for extended lengths submerged under water? Look for a rubber or a metal bracelet if it is your intention to go diving with the watch on, as leather just isn’t suitable for prolonged immersion under water (no matter what treatment it may have had applied to it).
  • Extra Features – Things such as a helium escape valve, depth gauge or a chronograph that functions at extreme depths can add value and set apart a dive watch from their competition.

And now in price descending order – The Top 16 Dive Watches Of 2016

1 – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver [15703st.oo.a002ca.01] RRP: £13,900 – £20,000


This watch retains many components that made the original Royal Oak so highly iconic; such as, the unique octagonal bezel with exposed screw heads, the maxi-tapisserie ‘waffle’ textured dial, minimalist dial markers and an integrated strap design.

As a dive watch, the Royal Oak Offshore Diver is highly capable being rated down to a depth of 300m underwater. Though few people would realistically take such an expensive watch so deep under water. Nodoutubly the generous depth rating reassures prospective buyers at the robustness of its construction. The integrated bezel used would appear to have been chosen for aesthetical reasons rather than practical ones – as they are seen as being too fiddly to adjust once underwater with gloves on by divers.

The Offshore Diver sits at a modest 42mm wide on the wrist and 13.5mm thick (with the solid case option selected). It includes a date function at the 3 o’clock marker.

The beating heart of this watch is the AP Caliber 3120, that beats at 21,600 v/h, constructed out of 278 parts, continuing 40 jewels and has an approximate power reserve of 60 hours.

The Royal Oak Offshore Diver is the most expensive dive watch on this list at a base price of a substantual £15,300 at the RRP set by Audemars Piguet, with our shop offering it a discounted price. There is a choice between a white or a black dial models, with either a solid or transparent case back, there is also a forged carbon option at around £20,000. (Prices correct at time of writing)

Buy this Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver [15703st.oo.a002ca.01] from our [Shop Here] at a discounted price.

Variations: Case Back: Solid or Transparent

Dial: Silver or Black

Case Material: Stainless Steel or Forged Carbon

All variations can be brought [Here] from our shop at a discounted price.

chronograph range is also available: ‘Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph 42mm’ RRP £22,600 [Buy Here].

2 – Rolex Deepsea [116660] RRP: £8,050-£8,250


The Rolex Deepsea [116660] is the gigantic big brother of the highly iconic submariner and has been made to survive down to the fiendishly deep depth of 3900m (12800ft) under water. This extreme water resistance rating is in itself highly impractical but is a demonstration of the expertness and talent of the watch makers at Rolex to make something so close to indestructible.

Rolex’s Deepsea is large by Rolex standards but only modest when compared to the other dive watches on this list at only 44mm wide and 17.7mm thick. Nonetheless, this is by no means a small watch with the combination of the casing size and the clasps generous dimensions containing a diving extension.

The large clasp includes Rolex’s patented Glidelock extension system that allows the metal bracelet to be adjusted in 1.8mm increments up to a total of 18mm without the need for any tools. An additional Fliplock extension link allows the clasp to be unfurled by an additional 26mm so the watch can be worn over a diving suit.

This Sub on steroids is water resistant to an extreme depth of 3900m, with the help of a 5mm thick domed sapphire crystal and titanium case back; which is roughly water resistant to 5 times the depth that the Burj Khalifa is tall (at 828m). To put this into an aquatic perspective, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors states that the limit for recreational diving is at only 40m – some 97 times short of the Deepsea’s depth limit.

Sitting on the side of the casing by the 9 o’clock is a recessed automatic helium escape valve, to allow the tiny molecules of helium to escape out of the watch during an accent in saturation diving.

The movement used is a 3135 self-winding calibre which is of course certified as a Superlative Chronometer, accurate to within -2/+2 seconds a day. It includes a power reserve of approximately 48 hours, is hacking and has an instantaneously changing date function.

This Deepsea Rolex [116660] has been constructed for divers with the help from divers. It features a utilitarian metal bracelet with enough capability to fit over a dive suit. Early models of the Sea Dweller were standard issue for the French company COMEX among their saturation divers in the late 60’s until the turn of the century when the company was sold.

You can buy the Rolex Deepsea [116660] from our shop [Here].

Variations: James Cameron, D-BLUE DIAL. RRP: £8,250 [Contact us here for any enquiries]

Continue: Part 2 Blancpain + Ulysse Nardin + Omega (coming soon)!

Kleine Bonaire-Underwater life(js)
Photo By Michal Strzelecki, Wojtek Strzelecki I Jerzy Strzelecki (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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