Last week we delved into the history of pilot watches, this week we are taking a look at the history of divers watches, one of the most popular types of watches in the market. The vast oceans of our planet have fascinated man kind for centuries. The oceans still hold many secrets today and there is so much of the ocean left to explore. The history of divers watches seems quite short when it is compared to the history of diving but as technology moves on mankind today are not only searching the vast corners of the ocean but searching for a device that will support their underwater endeavors.
The history of divers watches takes us back to the 1920’s where the first tests began on creating a water resistant watch. A question we are often asked is why aren’t watches ‘water proof’? Why are they ‘water resistant‘? If a watch is labelled water proof it would suggest that water wouldn’t be able to get into the watch under any circumstances, therefore the term water resistance is used instead.
The History of Divers Watches
It is still unclear which watch brand created the first divers watch as there several big names that have claimed to create the first. It seems that when we take a look into the history of divers watches we find that the first attempt at making a water proof watch was in the 17th century, however, this wasn’t a success. A later attempt was made in the 1920’s at creating a watch that could resist water however this was not the only issue the watch makers faced. There were also concerns about dust, magnetic fields, general wear and tear as well as shock.
1926 remains a key year in watch history when Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, played a large roll in the first creation of the divers watch. In this year he created a watch which was both ‘water proof’ and ‘dust proof’. This was due to a screw down crown, bezels and a case back that could also be screwed down, this was known as the Rolex Oyster.
A year after the watch was developed Hans Wilsdorf asked upcoming stenographer, Mercedes Gleitze, to wear the Rolex oyster whilst she attempted to become the first woman to swim the English channel. Although she was not successful the watch which she worn around her neck was still ticking after her quest. This watch marked a new development in the diving watch market and elements of it still remain in diving watches today.
The Evolution of Divers Watches
Although the first dust and water resistant watch had been created it had not been commercialised therefore it wasn’t available to the general public for sale. Omega SA were the first company to take on this challenge in 1932, the watches they created were the predecessors to their popular Seamaster collection we know and love today. The Omega Marine that they created was tested on Charles Beebe who was known as an explorer. He worn the Omega Marine on his wrist as he swam to a depth of 14 metres and the watch survived.
In 1935 the demand for divers watches reached the royal navy when they requested divers watches from Officine Panerai. They therefore created their own divers watch which is now considered the first military divers watch, worldwide as two years after it’s creation they began to mass produce the divers watch.
As we move through the century we reach the next milestone in the history of divers watches and it takes us back to Rolex. In 1953, Rolex created the first watch that was water resistant up to 100 metres called the Rolex Submariner. The depth of water resistance would later be increased to 200 metres then further to 300 metres. This watch reached the spotlight when it was featured in the James Bond movies at the time of its release, therefore making it a desired watch to the public and fans of James Bond.
Rolex’s watch adventures did not stop there and they met even more milestones in the 1960’s, just seven years after the Submariner. In this iconic year, oceanographer Jacques Piccard set out a mission to explore uncharted waters in the sea. They traveled down to some of the deepest parts in the sea, at depths of 11,000 metres with Rolex’s Deep Sea Special strapped to the outside of the bathyscaphe. They were pleased to find that the watch worked just as well at 11.000 metres as it did on the surface.
Moving on half a century later, Rolex makes history again except this time with James Cameron. In 2012, James Cameron began a solo mission to the Marina Trench where he reached a staggering 12,000 metres. He was not alone in his deep water dive he was accompanied by Rolex’s Deep Sea Challenge which was again strapped on the outside of the submarine. It was another success for James Cameron as well as Rolex as they both went down in history on that day.
Here is a clip of James Cameron’s adventure:
Diving Watches Today
Diving watches that are still well know today are models by Rolex, Omega, Oris and more. Since the creation of divers watches now they are are more accessible as it is not only the big time brands that are creating and selling divers watches. It is also apparent that many of the divers watches today are not worn by divers and one of the main primary functions of diver watches today is in fact it’s look.
Divers watches are still one of the most popular type of watch not only for their elite function but also for their elite style. Here are a selection of divers watches that we stock here at First Class Watches.
The timepiece is not only a watch suitable for professional divers with its water resistance being up to 500 metres, it is also perfect for those that like making an impression with their appearance. This divers watch, designed and created by Oris combines sleek and sophisticated colours with a bold and durable design. It is the dial of the watch that stands centre stage as it replicates a deep ocean blue surrounded with a black bezel and silver stainless steel strap.
It is a highly durable watch made out of a strong stainless steel and is protected by scratch resistant sapphire glass with anti reflective treatment. It will make a great companion for those that live a very active lifestyle, especially in open waters.
U-Boat are one of the newer brand we stock at First Class Watches and they certainly show off their own unique style and elite functions. This Classico Sommerso watch is created by U-Boat with the intention diving use, its functionalities including up to 300 metres water resistance, a security screw down crown as well as a strong stainless steel case and black leather strap. If the functions haven’t wowed you yet then the style might just change your mind.
This watch has a handsome black, silver and blue colour combination which is classy yet understated. It a watch that will catch the eye with its bold design and large size, supporting a wide variety of adventures, especially those that involve the far depths of the ocean.
If you are a watch collector and have a soft spot for divers watches then this limited edition model by Seiko might just catch your eye. This watch is not only uniquely designed, it also has impressive capabilities, such as it’s water resistance which can reach up to 1000 metres as well as magnetic resistance of 4800 A/m which makes it suitable for saturation diving. The reason Seiko designed and created this watch was to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their creation of the first worlds professional quartz divers watch. This model is also powered by quartz.
It is a watch that will stand out in a collection as well as on your wrist whether you choose to wear it for leisure activities or take into the depths of the deep blue.
So there you have it, a brief history of divers watches with some of the most important milestones not only for the history of diving watches and water resistance but also for diving itself. All of the watches in this post are currently in stock. If you have any questions then you can contact us through our website, via phone or you can visit our watch store based on the Kenilworth high street, Warwickshire.