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The best men's diving watches

Save your black tie watches and fine jewellery timepieces for superyacht soirees – below the waves something much more high-tech is required. Whether you’re embarking on your first scuba diving course or are a trained pro with a love of free-diving, a fine instrument is a must. But, before you purchase, what exactly makes a good diving watch?

There are certain basic functions all diving watches must possess. The first, and arguably most important, is good water resistance and while some brands offer resistance up to 1000 metres around 200 metres (or 20 ATM) should be plenty for most underwater adventures. A good quality dive watch will be ISO-6425 certified and feature a screw down crown, pushers and caseback for optimum water tightness. A unidirectional bezel - a safety feature to ensure you don't accidentally move it backwards and think you have more time underwater than you do - and luminous indices for easy readability in dark depths are also a must. Finally, corrosion resistant materials that won't be damaged by seawater should be used (ceramic, rubber, steel and titanium are all good) and an extendable bracelet, such as a NATO strap, so you can wear your watch over your wetsuit are also recommended. So now you know what you're looking for, here's our edit of the best diving watches to buy now...

Bremont S500

Bremont launched its flagship dive range, the Supermarine 500, in 2009 and this year a host of new models to the line. Launched in July 2018, the S500/BL is a direct evolution of the original S500 model and has retained the day date window and C3 lume indices. The 43mm stainless steel case is waterproof to 500 metres and features a soft inner anti-magnetic Faraday cage to protect the C.O.S.C certified chronometer movement. Mounted on a rubber strap, the caseback also features an engraving of the Supermarine S6B Schneider Trophy seaplane the range was named for.

Case: Stainless steel, 43mm
Strap: Rubber
Movement: Calibre BE-36AE automatic winding
Complications: Chronometer, seconds, date and day
Waterproof: 500 metres
Price: £3,295, bremont.com

IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Edition "Sharks"

First released in 1967, the IWC Aquatimer has been an icon of diving horology ever since. In December 2016 the Swiss fine watch brand unveiled a 500-piece limited edition watch in the Aquatimer Chronograph Edition "Sharks" each of which is engraved with a special hammerhead shark design on the caseback. Each timepiece also come with a Taschen Collector's Edition of photographer Michael Muller's coffee table bookSharks which aims to raise awareness of the plight facing sharks due to overfishing and highlights the work IWC and the Charles Darwin Foundation have been doing to prevent this.

Case: Stainless steel, 44mm
Strap: Rubber
Movement: Calibre 89365 automatic
Complications: Chronograph, date, stopwatch, flyback, small seconds
Water resistance: 300 metres
Limited edition: 500
Price: £9,950, iwc.com

Rolex Submariner Date

The legendary Submariner was unveiled at the Basel watch fair in 1954, just as the technology for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) was being perfected. With its simple black dial, luminous hands and hour markers, and rotating dive-time bezel, it is still regarded by many as the quintessential dive watch. This version, with its date window and unusual green dial, can be treasured for decades.

Case: Steel, 40mm
Strap: 904L steel
Movement: Calibre 3135 self-winding
Complications: Seconds, stop-seconds
Water resistance: 300 metres
Price: £6,950, rolex.com

Tudor Black Bay Bronze

Tudor, the more affordable sister brand of Rolex, has had great success with the retro Heritage Black Bay, launched in 2012. The latest model’s 43 millimetre bronze alloy case will take on a unique patina with age and contains Tudor’s new MT5601 automatic movement. Two straps are supplied: one of aged leather, the other a fabric strap better suited to underwater use.

Case: Bronze, 43mm
Strap: Aged leather
Movement: MT5601self-winding mechanical
Complications: Seconds
Water resistance: 200 metres
Price: £2,860, tudorwatch.com

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe

The Fifty Fathoms dive watch shot to fame when undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau wore one in his 1956 film The Silent World. Available in a number of variations, this classic model has a case and bezel made from grey “plasma” ceramic, a blue dial and luminous hands and hour markers. Try a nylon or sail canvas strap.

Case: Satin-brushed grey ceramic, 43mm
Strap: Sail canvas
Movement: Calibre 1315 self-winding
Complications: Seconds
Water resistance: 300 metres
Price: £9,370, blancpain.com

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph

Launched in 1972 as the world’s first steel-cased luxury sports watch, one of the Royal Oak’s latest variations is the Offshore Diver Chronograph, which comes in colours including yellow, tangerine and lime. There’s a rotating inner bezel and rubber straps that match their dials with certain pieces in the range launched as limited editions.

Case: Stainless steel, 42mm
Strap: Rubber
Movement: Calibre 3124/3841 self-winding
Complications: Chronograph, hours, minutes, small seconds
Water resistance: 300 metres
Price: £24,700, audemarspiguet.com

Panerai Luminor 1950 PCYC 3 Days Chrono Flyback

Panerai’s seafaring roots – it was a supplier to the Italian navy – extend to running the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, an international regatta series for vintage boats. This PCYC watch features a flyback function, enabling the chronograph to be stopped, re-set and started with a single push of the button.

Case: Steel, 44mm
Strap: Leather
Movement: Calibre P.9100 automatic
Complications: Small seconds, flyback chronograph, seconds reset
Water resistance: 100 metres
Price: £10,400, panerai.com

Omega Seamaster Ploprof 1200M Co-Axial Master Chronometer

First introduced in 1970, the Omega Seamaster Ploprof was immediately distinguished by its unusual screwed-in crown located at 9 o’clock and placed under a protective buffer. This positioning allowed freer wrist movement and stopped accidental setting changes that could be detrimental to serious divers. The Ploprof returned in 2016 with a titanium case and huge 1,200 metre water resistance while retaining all the features that made the original great.

Case: Titanium, 48mm
Strap: Titanium
Movement: Calibre Omega 8912 self-winding
Complications: Helium escape valve, chronometer
Water resistance: 1,200 metres
Price: £8,400, omegawatches.com

Breitling Superocean Chrono II Ocean Racer

Despite being famous for its pilot watches, Breitling has a rich history on the water that began with its SuperOcean dive models in 1957. That original look is available today in the Héritage line, but the Superocean II is a more modern, technical take on the theme that’s waterproof to an impressive 500m

Case: Steel, 42mm
Strap: Ocean racer (rubber)
Movement: Calibre Breitling 17
Complications: Date, 15-minute countdown
Water resistance: 500 metres
Price: £2,670, breitling.com

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