Vintage-inspired diving watches are a satisfying blend of form and function. Their practical designs can be used to explore daring depths of water but they also boast plenty of character and charm when worn as a statement piece. If you’re just beginning your search of the best vintage-style dive watches on the market, you may be wondering which models offer the best features and wear the most comfortable on the wrist.
This guide highlights some of the most popular vintage diver watch designs that remain within reach in terms of affordability, making them great for first time investments. Vintage dive watches from the 50s are highly coveted today but due to their age may have lost some of their water-resistant qualities. Modern diver’s watches, however, still offer that desirable vintage charm and can be worn to their full potential, especially since many are equipped with ground-breaking technological features made from long-lasting high-grade materials. Let’s take a look at some of the best vintage-style diving watches along with the features that make them a popular choice for the modern diving enthusiast or collector.
The SRP 775 model from the Seiko Prospex collection was released in 2016 and added to the Japanese watchmaker’s already-renowned line of expertly developed dive watches. Despite being a relatively young watch, it nods to a vintage-inspired design. The rounded edges of its broad 45mm stainless steel case and recessed crown combine nicely with a fluted black unidirectional rotating bezel and a Hardlex crystal front. A stainless steel bracelet will enable you to wear this timepiece with sophisticated attire.
That’s if you aren’t already taking full advantage of its 200-meter water resistance by venturing underwater with it strapped firmly to the wrist. The Lumibrite finish on the hands and indexes maintain a highly legible display for referencing during light-limiting conditions or during the night. The automatic 4R36 Calibre provides a day and date feature as well as a stop seconds function.
Many big names in the watch industry have delved back into their history to recreate successful models from their past, just like Oris did with their Divers Sixty-Five line. It harkens back to a practical diving tool created over 50 years ago. The Oris Divers Sixty-Five watch ref 73377074064RS is almost identical to the original design. Its robust 42mm stainless steel case equipped with 100-meter water resistance may not enable you to explore the deepest parts of the ocean, but it more than makes up with it with an eye-catching vintage-inspired design. Its hefty black diving bezel seals onto a bubble-curved glass lens made from sapphire crystal.
This material will enable you to reference the time whenever you wish without having to deal with any undesirable glare from natural or artificial lighting. The Swiss Selita SW200 self-winding movement has been modified by Oris in-house to create an impeccable engine that lies at the heart of this vintage-style diving watch.
The Rado Captain Cook model is similar in design to the Oris Sixty-Five watch. The model ref R32500153 is a faithful reinterpretation of an original 1960’s Rado watch, so it still oozes that old-style charm and vintage character. Its sparing use of lume and modest 100-meter water-resistant capability is what makes this watch so appealing. It’s a realistic interpretation of what a vintage dive watch from the ’60s would have looked and performed like.
The Rado HyperChrome Captain Cook watch is tailored to the needs of the modem gent, however. Its sloping ceramic bezel with a domed sapphire glass lens grants a clear view into a dramatic black dial adorned with nostalgic dive hands. This popular vintage-inspired dive watch benefits from Rado’s EasyClip System, allowing you to transform the look of the timepiece on your wrist with a strap as opposed to a stainless steel bracelet if you wish.
If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative to the iconic Rolex Submariner – this Tudor Heritage Black Bay watch is the perfect option. Tudor uses many of the same materials and manufacturing methods utilized by Rolex since Tudor is, in fact, Rolex’s more affordable little brother. There are many similarities to be appreciated between the Rolex Submariner and the Tudor Heritage Black Bay, plus the latter embodies the true 1950’s style. The Tudor Heritage Black Bay watch ref M79230N-0008 incorporates over 60 years of diving watch heritage into its design. Its 200-meter water-resistant stainless steel case pays homage to a vintage diver watch aesthetic with the snowflake hand and oversized crown at 3 o’clock on the case.
A black anodized aluminum unidirectional rotating bezel will ensure that it can be turned one way only, to reduce remaining dive time as opposed to accidentally increase it whilst underwater. The steel winding crown has been engraved with the famous Tudor rose emblem upon its surface and is finished with a black anodized aluminum winding crown tube. Vintage character and the distinct look of the Black Bay watch are a match made in heaven.
The captivating style of the vintage diving watch is here to stay as Panerai prove with their 1950 3 Days model from the much loved Luminor collection. The watch brand is instantly associated with its active role in developing and patenting its luminous material. The Luminor watch, however, became an industry icon as soon as it was launched. It provided gentlemen with a distinctive sports watch that showcased a cushion-shaped case and a large crown protecting bridge to prevent water from leaking into the watch by firmly pressing the crown against the case. This feature made it perfectly suitable for diving. The Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days watch ref PAM00312 has a mid-range price tag. Its 44mm stainless steel case, equipped with 300-meter water resistance, is inspired by military aesthetics and a distinct 1950’s vintage vibe. The Calibre P.9000 is an in-house self-winding movement that, as the watch’s namesake suggests, provides you with an impressive 3-day power reserve.
The Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days watch ref PAM00312 has a mid-range price tag. Its 44mm stainless steel case, equipped with 300-meter water resistance, is inspired by military aesthetics and a distinct 1950’s vintage vibe. The Calibre P.9000 is an in-house self-winding movement that, as the watch’s namesake suggests, provides you with an impressive 3-day power reserve.