WIRED tested five mechanical Dip watches in various underwater Surroundings around the world, in the Galapagos Islands to the Caribbean Sea and the Great Lakes of North America.
The watches were worn around the outside of a diving-suit sleeve in temperatures ranging from 3°C to 28°C and depths up to 45 metres. They have been used as backup underside timers and, in two cases, depth instruments along with an electronic dive computer.
Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Sea-Dweller, a watch originally built for business sailors welding pipeline in the bottom of the North Sea.
The gas escape valve onto its own left-hand side is designed to relieve internal stress built up from the helium existing underwater.
While many of us will not ever have to test that feature, or the Sea-Dweller’s impressive 1,220 metres of water resistance, overkill is never a bad thing in a dive watch.
Its corrosion-resistant stainless steel case, scratch-proof ceramic bezel and chronometre-certified motion are a testament to why Rolex dive watches would be the standard bearer for your group.
On repeated wreck dives watches from the Straits of Mackinac, Michigan, the Sea-Dweller’s chunky bezel was simple to grip while wearing a pair of thick gloves. Its blue-hued Chromalight markers, meanwhile, glowed legibly even in murky conditions, and its own Glidelock clasp could be extended 20mm for wear over a diving suit.
It is the 60th anniversary of the Seamaster 300, and over the years the watch has been worn by everybody from Royal Navy sailors to James Bond.
This newest iteration, which harkens back to its oldest ancestor, has the top of Omega’s technical know-how.
The Master Co-axial movement that ticks inside is not just chronometre-accurate, but it’s also immune to the damaging effects of magnetism, thanks to some proprietary synthetic hairspring.
So confident is Omega of this motion’s art it presents it under a sapphire screen window rather than hiding it away under a protective iron cap. On the front, the rotating timing bezel is hewn from Omega watches Liquidmetal, which looks to be an ordinary alloy ring but is poured in place and almost scratch-proof.
In titanium, steel or gold, the Seamaster 300 Master Co-axial is proof that sea watches can evolve to match their environment.
Over the span of a week diving shipwrecks in Lake Superior, the Seamaster 300 was spot-on, regardless of the frigid water temperatures and magnetic environment of wrecked iron ore freighters.
The push-button extension built into the grip easily accommodated WIRED’s 5mm neoprene gloves, along with the bezel’s coin border was simple to grip with hands.
The Royal Oak Offshore oozes quality – from its beautifully brushed octagonal bezel that was developed to resemble a classic diving helmet, to the solid-gold, engraved winding rotor visible through the sapphire caseback.
These attributes almost distracted WIRED by the simple fact that the inner timing ring is hard to place and cannot be manipulated once submerged, or the chronograph just counts up to 30 minutes, typically about half of the span of a good Caribbean reef dive.
However, the odds are you will be wearing this one to impress while decompressing in the pub later anyhow.
As well as the wide range of tropical colours in which it’s available are sure to get seen, both underwater and topside. Using its bright-orange strap fitting the mood of the island, the Royal Oak Offshore Diver watches Chrono was an ideal selection for shallow-reef diving in Curaçao. The inner bezel, however is fairly ineffective as a timing device