Diving Watches: From Sports Watches to Certified Icons
“This is my budget. What watch should I buy?” At one point or another, every watch nerd gets asked some variation of this question by their non-watch-loving friends. Depending on how well they know the friend (and how much they like them), they may be tempted to be dismissive. After all, no matter what they say, the person is probably going to buy a Rolex Submariner or Omega Speedmaster like everybody else, right?
There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Both models are solid and come with some serious street cred. But what if you’re not like the rest? What if you actually want your watch nerd friend to help you find a great watch you won’t see every other person wearing each time you go to dinner or the clubhouse? Well, we’ve got you covered with our list of five watches a watch nerd would (and did) suggest.
Released in 2018, the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight very much takes its inspiration from the past—from 1958, to be exact. That year, Tudor introduced their first diving watch, the reference 7924. Offered in a large (for the time) 39-mm case and water resistant to 200 m (656 ft), the reference 7924 is better known among collectors as the “Big Crown.”
You don’t have to look far to see the influence the Big Crown has had on the design of the new Black Bay Fifty-Eight. It features a 39-mm steel case with polished and satin finishes as well as an easy-to-read black dial adorned with gold accents applied to the hour markers and trademark snowflake hands. This style of dial is commonly referred to as a ‘gilt dial’ and was quite popular back in the 50s and 60s. Framing the dial is a unidirectional stainless steel bezel with 60-minute scale (also with gold-finishing) in matte black anodized aluminum.
Inside is Tudor’s new automatic in-house caliber MT5402, specially designed for Tudor’s midsize watches. This COSC-certified chronometer movement offers a time-only display and a 70-hour power reserve when fully wound. Water resistant to 200 m (656 ft), the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight is worn on your choice of a riveted steel bracelet with a polished and satin finish, a brown leather strap with folding clasp and safety catch, or black fabric strap with a gold-colored band with buckle.
Most people have probably at least heard of NOMOS, the slightly quirky German watch manufacturer that creates exceptionally refined timepieces. The brand occupies a sweet spot: It is mainstream enough that people generally know what it is when they see it but still sufficiently under-the-radar that you can feel like an insider when you wear one.
The brand’s Orion Neomatik 41 is the quintessential watch for everyday wear. Its polished steel case measures a sleek 40.5 mm x 9.35 mm and pairs well with any outfit. This is one of NOMOS’ larger models, but the brand has resisted the urge to fill up the additional dial space with superfluous complications. Instead, the Orion Neomatik 41 retains the minimalist style NOMOS is known and loved for. The galvanized, white silver-plated dial features gold stamped indices for the hours. Tempered blue hands display the hours and minutes, as well as the running seconds on the slightly recessed sub-dial above 6 o’clock. A date window appears at 3 o’clock.
Providing the power is the in-house DUW 6101 automatic movement. Measuring just 3.6mm thick, it offers a power reserve of 42 hours when fully wound.
In 2017, Omega created a huge amount of buzz when it unveiled the limited-edition Omega 1957 Trilogy collection. Omega released this collection in celebration of the 60th anniversaries of the Seamaster, Speedmaster, and Railmaster. While the trilogy drew most of the attention, the Omega Railmaster Master Chronometer Collection also quietly made its debut at Baselworld 2017. Even now, over a year later, people are still sleeping on this no-nonsense watch that offers a lot of bang for your buck.
Intended as an easy-to-read, highly functional wristwatch, the Omega Railmaster comes in a 40-mm stainless steel case. The whole thing is satin-brushed for that ultimate tool watch finish, and its design exudes a real industrial vibe. The steel dial has a vertical brushed pattern, and the chapter ring and pointed markers are both painted on. It has a bit of vintage feel to it but not too much. It’s just a genuinely cool watch without all the unnecessary bells and whistles.
That said, the movement is another story entirely. The caliber 8806 ticks away, hidden behind a closed case back. This in-house automatic movement features a Co-Axial escapement, a 55-hour power reserve, and silicon parts. It is Master Chronometer certified, resistant to magnetic fields up to 15,000 Gauss, and comes with a 4-year warranty.
Of all the watches on our list, the Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36,000 GMT is probably the nerdiest. It also happens to be the most functional and, arguably, the best executed. If you didn’t know already, Grand Seiko’s case construction and dial finishing are legendary, offering exceptional value for the money.
The 40 mm x 14 mm case of this stainless steel timepiece sits pleasantly on the wrist. While it may not draw too much attention to itself, it will reward those who go in for a closer look at the finer details. The real action is on the dial. Grand Seiko dials are renowned for their high-level of finishing, and this model is no exception. Of particular note are the baton-shaped hour markers, which are hand-finished. Honestly, we could talk about those hands for days. The local time is displayed centrally, with the additional GMT hand used to keep track of another time zone.
The Grand Seiko Hi-Beat 36,000 GMT is equipped with the caliber 9S86, an in-house movement that operates at 5hz (hence the ‘hi-beat’ moniker). This automatic movement offers approximately 55 hours of power reserve and is accurate to +5/–3 seconds per day.
The Drive de Cartier Extra Flat is arguably one of the coolest men’s watches to come from Cartier in quite some time. Its simple yet striking design oozes style and sophistication, much in the same way the original Cartier Tank did 100 years ago. Unsurprisingly, it’s proven to be a huge hit for Cartier, sought by serious watch lovers and fashionistas alike.
Cartier has always been known for its beautifully shaped cases, and the Drive de Cartier Extra Flat is a perfect example. Its design sits at the intersection of a square and a cushion and is entirely polished on its flat surfaces, with horizontal brushing on the thin case band and caseback. Perfectly proportioned, the case measures 38 mm long by 39 mm wide and just 6.6 mm high. This is possible thanks to the ultra-thin Cartier 430 MC movement inside, which is based very closely on the manual Piaget 430P (usually found in much more expensive watches).
Completing the look is a silvery-white dial with a subtle sunburst finish. All the typical Cartier details are present, from the large Roman numerals for the hour indices to the tempered steel hour and minute hands to the inner chapter ring for the minutes. The octagonal-shaped crown is set with Cartier’s signature sapphire cabochon.