Summer Rewind: Our Favorite Dive Watches of 2023 (So Far)
One of the watch world’s most appealing types of watch, the dive watch has watchmakers rolling out new models and approaches year after year. And 2023 has been no exception. Here are some of our favorites so far.
Youthful exuberance, technicality, an easy always-appropriate style, and, oh yeah, the ability to provide critical functions under the water: These are the elements of dive watches that drive watchmakers to continuously improve their underwater offerings.
So far, in 2023, Watchonista has been seeing some interesting trends, including a renewed lean into the natural synergies between diving and environmental sustainability, smaller but fully legitimate dive watches, and partnerships with professional undersea exploration programs and icons.
In other words, dive watches are here to stay. So, let’s take a moment to gauge the depths of 2023’s undersea scene so far.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 2: Tech Gombessa
The Fifty Fathoms collection recently celebrated its 70th anniversary. And as a thoughtful addition to that celebration, Blancpain has also introduced the impressive Tech Gombessa, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the partnership between Blancpain and the undersea Gombessa project.
Co-developed by Blancpain President and CEO Mark Hayek and Gombessa Expeditions Founder Laurent Ballesta over the course of five years, the Tech Gombessa represents a new line in Blancpain’s dive watch collection. Specifically, it is the first dive watch with a purpose-designed system for measuring up to three-hour immersion times.
That might not sound like a big deal to the uninitiated, but it is. Moreover, it’s the improvements to the Tech Gombessa’s movement and bezel that make this innovation possible.
How? Well, unlike traditional diving bezels, this new timepiece carries a three-hour bezel scale. Plus, a special third hand on the dial slowly ticks off that specific interval in glowing white and green to keep it visually on your radar on a dive.
Of course, in every way, shape, and form, the new Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa stands out as a fully-capable, 30-bar rated dive watch. Not least of which because its 47mm Grade 23 titanium case, with a pro-quality helium release valve at 10 o’clock and screw-down crown with beefy protectors, shows off its “absolute black” dial against which the luminescent orange block appliques and cardinal Arabic numerals featuring a blue lume emission stand out beautifully.
But the design’s big moment comes with the unidirectional three-hour bezel mentioned above. That is gorgeously crafted with a black ceramic inlay, white markers, and layered with green lume. Moreover, with numbers for 30, 1:30, 2, and 2:30, the Tech Gombessa’s bezel leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that this isn’t your typical dive watch.
To check out more of our original imagery or to learn more, including pricing and availability, read our Timing is Everything: The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa’s Three-Hour Tour article from February.
The Citizen 37mm Promaster Dive
However, these are just the basic requirements of any dive watch; the 37mm Promaster Dive also features less obvious attractions, including a screw-down crown at 4 o’clock to improve wearability and comfort and an Eco-Drive movement, which means it is the environmentally conscious choice because you will never need to change the battery.
But why offer a model with a sub-40mm case size when Citizen’s Promaster Dive family was already by far the brand’s most popular line of watches, even though it includes no fewer than 40 models, only two of which have cases measuring under 44mm (and both are 41mm)?
For starters, its appealing mid-sized proportions make it a tool watch that wears its utility a little more lightly (in the most literal sense). Thus, women are the most obvious target demographic. However, the appeal of scaled-down watches – whether they have lots of bells and whistles or are time-only affairs – certainly isn’t a preference the female demographic monopolize.
Meanwhile, the trend toward timepieces that hit the style mark rather than act as status symbols is only building momentum. And it explains why the 37mm Promaster Dive is available in three colorways – blue, pink, and black – to accommodate wildly different sartorial dispositions.
In short, with its familiar styling – like a polyurethane bracelet and stainless-steel case – the 37mm Promaster Dive released in June 2023 measures significantly smaller than its predecessor without watering down (pardon the pun) any of the technical chops.
The DOXA SUB 300T Clive Cussler
The late Clive Cussler, author of over 85 adventure novels, like Raise the Titanic and Sahara (both of which became motion pictures), sold over 100 million books over his 55-year writing career. He was also an avid diver. So much so, in fact, that Cussler’s passion for diving and his fondness for DOXA gear often made their way onto the pages of his books.
Fun Fact: Cussler was also responsible for discovering scores of shipwrecks through his non-profit National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA).
Fortunately, the new DOXA SUB 300T Clive Cussler not only stays true to the watch brand’s recognized toughness and legitimate, technical tool watch chops, but it also blends in some apt, whimsical literary license to honor the author and diving history itself.
The handmade dial evokes the profile of a vintage compass; meanwhile, an aged steel appearance and patina have been applied to the case, bracelet, clasp, and pin buckle, resulting in a weathered watch fit for the wrist of an action hero. Moreover, engraved on the caseback are the names of shipwrecks and other significant NUMA artifacts and finds, and the author’s birthdate (July 5, 1931) is captured with the dates of 7, 15, and 31 presented in red in the 3 o’clock date window.
To check out more of our original imagery or to learn more, including pricing and availability, read our article called The DOXA Files: The SUB 300T Clive Cussler Promises Intrigue & Adventure from May.
The Panerai Submersible QuarantaQuattro eSteel
[Editor’s Note: Okay, so the Submersible QuarantaQuattro eSteel is technically from 2022, but when we celebrated World Ocean Day on June 8th, 2023, by publishing our listicle “Sea Change: Five Of The Best Eco-Friendly Dive Watches From Brands Doing Their Bit To Clean Up The Oceans,” we were reminded that the eSteel is an excellent representative of the watch industry’s wider ecological efforts.]
As part of a larger effort to reduce the ecological impact of the watch industry on the planet, Panerai has been bringing all its savoir-faire to exploring new, sustainable, yet still luxurious materials over the past few years. Case in point: Panerai’s extended collection of Submersible QuarantaQuattro eSteel timepieces.
Panerai is pretty synonymous with underwater exploration: Apart from its long association with the Italian frogman force Gamma, the brand has entered into a long-term partnership with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO to develop ocean literacy activities for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
Marking the debut of this sustainably-sourced case material in the Submersible line (and also the first time Panerai used a highly polished, glossy ceramic), these 44mm timepieces come in three colorful dial and bezel combinations: Verde Smeraldo, Grigio Roccia, and Blu Profondo.
And while this trio of watches has all of the diving bona fides that Panerai is known for (300m water resistance, easy-to-read luminous hour markers and dots, and a dependable P.900 caliber with a three-day power reserve), eSteel is not the only eco-friendly thing about the Submersible QuarantaQuattro eSteel: 53% of its total weight is made from recycled materials.
To check out more eco-friendly dive watches, including the Panerai Submersible QuarantaQuattro eSteel’s pricing and availability, read our Sea Change: Five Of The Best Eco-Friendly Dive Watches From Brands Doing Their Bit To Clean Up The Oceans article from June.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell & Pierre Vogel)