5 Professional Diver’s Watches Surfacing At Baselworld 2018 From Rolex, Omega, Breitling, Seiko And Longines
Next to chronographs, diver’s watches rank among the most popular timepieces, offering intense functionality, maximum robustness, and a distinct design that can also complement personal styles on land.
Watchmakers have worked hard through the decades to build a reputation for watches as instruments: for almost 100 years, they have pulled out all the stops to continuously improve the diver’s watch. After grand complications, the diver’s watch category requires some of the largest investments in research and development.
Diver’s watches were to be found all over Baselworld 2018, and here I share my favorite newcomers from the immense selection on offer.
These five debutants delight with their unique styles and convincing technical features. No wonder, for each one of them was made by an expert in the category.
Rolex Deepsea D-Blue Dial: king of the ocean
Let’s kick off with Rolex, for almost a century a master in professional diver’s watches and one of the innovators of this watch type.
The story of the Oyster’s immensely successful marketing is widely known, but worth repeating: Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf, provided English swimmer Mercedes Gleitze with the first water- and dustproof wristwatch, which she wore as she attempted to swim across the English Channel for a second time following her first successful swim on October 7, 1927. Gleitze was the first person to swim the Straits of Gibraltar and the first British woman to swim the English channel.
Despite not achieving the second crossing due to the water’s extreme cold, both Gleitze and her fateful watch rose to instant fame. Being exposed to cold waters for ten hours, its case withstood the extremely hard test and successfully protected the movement from any moisture.
Wilsdorf was savvy enough to market this success with inventive advertising campaigns, making the Oyster the number one talked about timepiece of this era.
Rolex has been committed to the continuous development of the diver’s watch for almost a century. And the intense research by the crowned watch brand has resulted in cutting-edge, patented advancements such as the Triplock crown, the Ringlock system, and the helium valve.
These highly technical terms are music to the ears of diver’s watch fans in general and Rolex aficionados in particular.
The specific story of the Deepsea is rooted in more recent years, though: in 2012, filmmaker James Cameron completed a record dive to the deepest parts of the world’s ocean – the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean with an experimental Rolex diver’s watch that descended to the incredible depth of 10,908 meters.
The dive was part of the Deepsea Challenge, a scientific expedition undertaken by Cameron, the National Geographic Society, and Rolex to conduct deep-ocean research.
Now commemorating this milestone in ocean research, Rolex has equipped the new Deepsea, which is waterproof to 3,900 meters, with a “D-blue” dial that features a deep-blue to pitch-black gradient.
This unusual dial representing hues found in the deep ocean is surrounded by a unidirectional rotating bezel with a Cerachrom insert in black ceramic. Another of Rolex’s many patents, Cerachrom is made of an extremely hard and corrosion-resistant ceramic, and, according to Rolex, virtually scratchproof and unaffected by ultraviolet rays.
In true Rolex fashion, the Oyster case, whose lugs and case sides were subtly redesigned, sports a helium escape valve and the patented Ringlock System, which comprises a domed 5.5 millimeter-thick sapphire crystal, a high-performance nitrogen-alloyed stainless steel ring positioned inside the case band, and a case back in Oystersteel and grade 5 titanium.
The Triplock crown, equipped with three seals, screws down securely against the case, adding to the water resistance.
In addition to the refreshed design and a case in Rolex’s proprietary Oystersteel stainless steel alloy, the watch is powered by the new-generation Caliber 3235 introduced in 2015. The automatic movement with 70 hours of power reserve is outfitted with the Rolex-patented Chronergy escapement.
The slightly broader bracelet is equipped with an Oysterlock safety clasp and a double extension system that allows the watch to be worn over a diving suit up to 7 mm in thickness.
Using a toothed panel located under the clasp cover, its Glidelock system allows fine adjustment of the bracelet length in approximately two-millimeter increments up to around 20 mm, while the Fliplock extension link extends the Rolex Deepsea bracelet by 26 mm. Both extension systems and the clasp have been adjusted to fit the new proportions.
For more information, please visit www.rolex.com/watches/sea-dweller.
Quick Facts Rolex Deepsea D-Blue Dial
Case: 44 x 17.7 mm, stainless steel; 3,990 m water resistance
Movement: automatic manufacture Caliber 3235, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, power reserve approximately 70 hours, Chronergy escapement, Superlative Chronometer Certificate (C.O.S.C. + Rolex post-casing certification)
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds, date
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Master Chronometer: a classic with state-of-the-art features
The Seamaster Professional Diver 300M has numbered among the most popular professional diver’s watches since it was first introduced in 1993. Delighting fans all over the world, Omega presented a new generation of this beloved watch at Baselworld 2018.
The new collection features an impressive range of 14 models: six in stainless steel and eight combining stainless steel with gold. In addition, a limited edition of 2,500 pieces in titanium and tantalum is also available.
The cases of the refreshed edition boast a slightly larger (one millimeter) case diameter of 42 mm, which provides plenty of room for Master Chronometer Caliber 8800, which has earned a METAS certificate for precision. This movement catapults the collection into higher levels of accuracy, performance, and antimagnetic resistance.
The Seamaster Diver design has been subtly revised with an obvious love for detail. For example the diving bezel bearing a scale made either of the brand’s own Ceragold or white enamel is now crafted from ceramic. The dials, available in black, blue, or with a PVD-chrome coating, are likewise fabricated from scratch-resistant and long-lasting ceramic. As a tribute to the original design and the maritime theme, they are decorated with a wave pattern.
The dials’ indices are slightly elevated and coated with Super-LumiNova for maximum legibility, while the date window has been relocated to 6 o’clock. The skeletonized hands have been minimally modified as well.
The Seamaster Diver continues to feature a helium escape valve that now has a conical shape, for which Omega was granted a patent.
The models are delivered on a freshly designed five-link metal bracelet or a blue or black rubber strap, including diver’s extension and a patented folding clasp with safety latch.
For more information, please go to www.omegawatches.com/en-us/watches/baselworld-2018/seamaster-diver-300-m-collection.
Quick Facts Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Master Chronometer
Case: 42 x 13.56 mm, stainless steel, steel with Sedna or yellow gold, titanium with tantalum and Sedna gold; ceramic bezel and helium escape valve; 300 m water resistance
Movement: automatic manufacture Caliber 8800 with silicon balance spring and co-axial escapement, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, power reserve 55 hours, Master Chronometer METAS certificate
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date (except titanium/tantalum edition)
Price: $4,750 (stainless steel); $13,000 (titanium with tantalum and Sedna gold, limited to 2,500 pieces)
Remark: four-year warranty
Breitling Superocean Héritage II B20 Automatic 44: a classic with state-of-the-art features
Breitling, a name synonymous with aeronautics and professional pilot’s watches, draws on more than 60 years of experience with diver’s watches – a tradition that began when the brand launched the Superocean in 1957.
And it has been one of Breitling’s bestselling timepieces. No wonder, as the Superocean has successfully maintained its original classic dive look despite being updated with the latest technology through the decades.
And this year is no exception: among Breitling’s Baselworld 2018 offerings was a great collection of new Superocean Héritage II models – three-hand automatics and two chronographs – in freshly redesigned, bold 44 mm and 42 mm versions in stainless steel and two tone looks.
Already updated in 2017 to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the line, the Superocean Héritage received a new stainless steel bezel with ultra-hard ceramic inlay. With the elimination of the metal ring surrounding the minute circle, the bezel and dial seemed to seamlessly form a single piece, which lends elegance to its appearance.
The bezel remains up to date in a technical sense: its unidirectional 120-tooth system allows for highly accurate adjustment and smooth rotation.
The hands, triangular for the hours and lozenge-shaped for the minutes and the hour markers, retain the original character of the first Superocean, highlighting its successful retro style.
The Superocean Héritage II B20 Automatic 44 in stainless steel, available with either a black or a blue dial, is powered by Breitling’s Caliber B20. This automatic movement is based on Tudor Caliber MT5612 (see Tudor And Breitling: Two Sports Watch Manufacturers Unexpedctedly – But Not For The First Time – Sharing Movements In 2017). Its precision is certified by the C.O.S.C. institute, a standard at Breitling. Caliber B20 offers a lengthy 70-hour power reserve and ticks here underneath a solid case back.
For more information, please visit www.breitling.com/ch-en/watches/superocean/heritage.
Quick Facts Breitling Superocean Héritage II B20 Automatic 44
Case: 44 x 15.5 mm, stainless steel; water resistance 200 m
Movement: automatic Caliber B20 (based on Tudor Caliber MT5612), 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, power reserve 70 hours, C.O.S.C. certificate
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Price: $6,260 (two-tone/steel bracelet), $4,885 (steel/steel bracelet), $4,560 (steel, rubber strap)
Seiko 1968 Automatic Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition: history reloaded
Seiko, which introduced its very first diver’s watch in 1965, has begun paying tribute to some of its flagship models from the past with new editions that combine the original looks with the brand’s latest technical features. For a few more see Seiko Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Grand Seiko 9S Caliber With 4 New Models.
The technology updates and limited numbers make these reissues quite sought-after among the growing fans of the Japanese brand.
This year, a high-beat diver’s watch from 1968 is in the spotlight. When it was first introduced, it offered imposing pressure resistance to 30 bar, and so does the new Reference SLA025. Its large 44.8 mm stainless steel case treated with Seiko’s super-hard coating is designed as a one-piece construction.
It houses Caliber 8L55, a high-beat movement with a 55-hour power reserve able to resist magnetic fields up to 16,000 A/m in intensity.
This watch is produced in the Shizukuishi Watch Studio in Morioka, in the north of Japan. Its special Zaratsu polishing, which lends the lugs their sharpness, is executed by the studio’s skilled craftsmen.
Great attention is also paid to the markers on the dial that feature polished edges.
For more information, please visit www.seikowatches.com/global-en/news/20180322_6.
Quick Facts Seiko 1968 Automatic Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition
Case: 44.8 x 15.7 mm, stainless steel with super-hard coating; water resistance 300 m
Movement: automatic manufacture Caliber 8L55, 5 Hz/36,600 vph frequency, power reserve 55 hours, magnetic resistance 16,000 A/m
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Limitation: 1,500 pieces
Longines HydroConquest: a classic with state-of-the-art features
The Swiss brand with the winged hourglass in its logo draws upon its many years of experience in the discipline of sports watches to reboot a new generation of the HydroConquest.
Diving deep to 300 meters, the line combines high technical standards and distinctive elegance. And, with its fair price tag, it stands as a great entry piece to the luxury segment.
De rigeur for a real diver’s watch, the bezel can be rotated in only one direction. It is equipped with scratch-resistant ceramic inlay etched with pin-sharp numerals, also a standard in this field.
The notched ceramic bezel matches the color of the understated grey, black, or blue sunburst-finished dial, whose three bold numerals (12, 6, 9), indices, and hands are coated with Super-LumiNova for best readability.
The hand design here is new: the second hand bears a luminous dot near its tip for the first time, while the hour hand’s tip carries a diamond lozenge. This nicely complements the HydroConquest’s expressive appearance and improves its legibility even more.
Aside from the successful redesign, this automatic watch offers a host of technical features to make it interesting. Additional crown protection aids in ensuring the remarkable water resistance to 300 meters that is provided by the case with its screw-down.
Strap and bracelet options have also been updated: alongside the metal bracelet combining polished and satin-finished stainless steel elements, the watch is also available with a rubber strap colored to match the hue of the dial. Both feature diving extensions.
For more information, please go to www.longines.com/watches/hydroconquest.
Quick Facts Longines HydroConquest
Case: 41 or 43 mm x 11.9, stainless steel; water resistance 300
Movement: automatic Caliber L888.2 (base ETA A31.L01), 25,200 vph frequency, power reserve 64 hours
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Also published on Medium.