To someone who’s not all that interested in dive watches, many of them may look alike. But if you are into collecting dive watches, you’re always looking for another one to buy. In doing so, you have several options: you can go vintage, stick with the classics from established brands, or maybe even consider some of the many alternatives out there from start-up, re-launched, and boutique dive watch brands.
For those interested in the third option, we have put together a list of dive watches from lesser known brands (in alphabetical order) that we feel are worth checking out, covering a wide range of prices and specs.
1. Aegir Instruments
In 2007, Australian diver Todd Caldwell started to bring his vision of the perfect dive watch to life. The result is 42-mm in case diameter, water-resistant to 701 meters, and can be ordered with a rotating (CD-2) or fixed bezel (CD-1). A nice feature: the watch is powered by a Soprod A10 movement. Prices start at $1,600.
A legendary dive watch brand from the past returned in 2011, using the same case as the legendary “Bathyscaphe” model from the 1970s (but not its depth-meter functionality). There are 43-mm and 47-mm models available, both with up to 3,000 meters of water resistance, with different functions and movements, and there are even some new old stock (NOS) models available. Prices start at $990.
3. Germano & Walter
For the last 10 years, Pietro Germano and Alexander Walter have been offering vintage-inspired watches in small numbers out of Germany. The current model T~500 is available with either an ETA 2892 or a NOS 2472, and the bezel can be locked with a second crown at 4 o’clock. Prices start at 3,700 euros.
These two German brands (introduced in 2011 and 2013) from Clemens Helberg offer endless possibilities for personalization, and the Orca model even allows the owner to swap the case after the configuration (remember the Aquatique from Japy?). Prices start at 500 euros and the watches’ maximum water resistance is an impressive 6,000 meters.
In 2005, this Spanish AHCI member presented a rather unusual dive watch powered by a base caliber from ETA: The up-to-5,000 meter water-resistant Oceana doesn’t need a crown, since it is operated via its caseback. Prices start at 4,575 euros.
In 2011, this freshly launched Swiss watch brand started with the SM8 collection. All its dive watches are water-resistant to 200 meters and feature an internal bezel that can be operated after the slider is moved up or down. Movements for the single-pusher chrono, GMT, and three-hand models come from Concepto. Prices start at 11,9000 euros.
Since 2010, the legendary Italian dive watch brand has returned to its former glory and offers not only some of its traditional models (based on ETA movements), but is slowly expanding the collection with more complicated editions and specialties (e.g. using NOS parts). Prices start at 600 euros.
8. Tempus Computare
Launched in 2010, the Swiss brand tries to combine a rather unusual 47-mm chronograph model with a strong commitment to the protection of the ocean (as well as discovering new places to apply luminescent material). This resulted in a watch made for the Sea Shepherd organization. Both the Shark Watcher and Sea Shepherd models are based on a Valjoux 7750. Prices start at about 7,000 euros.
9. UTS München
Since 1999, this German company has offered some substantial dive watches with the brand’s signature lug design. Some models are equipped with bezel locking mechanisms and some are water resistant to 4,000 meters. Prices start at 2,500 euros. For WatchTime’s profile of the brand and its founder, click here.
10. Vintage VDB
As its name indicates, this brand, also from Germany, specializes in vintage-inspired dive watches that are also powered by vintage movements. Recently, the team behind VDB started to offer annual editions to meet the growing demand and considers a run of 80 watches a complete series. Prices start at 1,190 euros.
As with every list, chances are that your own favorite “alternative” dive watch brand is not on it. So please use the comments section to let us know which lesser-known brand ticks all of your boxes.
This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.