As we approach the end of 2019 and prepare for 2020 — surely destined to be another interesting year in the world of watches — we take a look back at some of the most noteworthy timepieces that came out this year, in various popular categories. Today, we look at some of the past year’s most significant dive watch releases.
Blancpain introduced several new and notable, historically inspired takes on its iconic Fifty Fathoms dive watch this year, but it was difficult for us to turn away from this luxuriously appointed, blue-and-gold version of the flagship Fifty Fathoms collection, which made its U.S. debut at our own WatchTime New York event in October. The 45-mm, 18k rose gold case, water-resistant to 300 meters, is the first made of precious metal to be used for a Fifty Fathoms watch, which made its groundbreaking debut way back to 1953. Also a first in the collection is blue ceramic dial, which boasts a shimmering cobalt hue for the sunburst-finish center and a more matte appearance for the surrounding chapter ring. The ratcheting unidirectional divers’ bezel has a scratch-proof domed insert made of sapphire. The hour markers and hands are coated with Super-LumiNova for easy legibility in low light or deep beneath the waves. Blancpain’s automatic manufacture Caliber 1315, a movement of proven sturdiness and a high level of chronometric performance, beats inside, behind a clear sapphire caseback. Its three series-coupled mainspring barrels provide an impressive power reserve of 120 hours, or five days, while guaranteeing a constant supply of energy. Click here for more details and images.
De Bethune, a small Swiss maison known more for high complications than tool watches, famously took its first stab at a dive watch with the DB28GS Grand Bleu. The very unconventional timepiece features De Bethune’s 27th in-house-produced movement, with a five-day power reserve and an in-house balance wheel made of titanium and white gold. The 44-mm case is made entirely in titanium and offers a water resistance rating of 105 meters. The newly designed lugs are medium sized with black zirconium inserts that reflect the middle side of the case. The unidirectional divers’ bezel — whose numbered scale is actually applied on the crystal above it to preserve the watch’s thinness — is the first one that has ever appeared on a De Bethune timepiece. Perhaps the most clever feature is the mechanical dynamo system that emits a blue-white light around four spots in the bezel without using any electronics or batteries. A pusher at 6 o’clock activates this dynamo via a small gear train, driven by the twin barrel, to provide the necessary energy for lighting up the watch. Once the five-day power reserve has dropped to a single day (indicated by a subtle display between 9 and 10 o’clock), this function will be blocked to conserve energy. More technical details on the DB28GS Grand Bleu can be found here.
Doxa celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2019 with the release of a modern version of its revolutionary SUB 200 T.Graph, which debuted in 1969 and added a chronograph function to the original, groundbreaking SUB 300 Professional model from 1967. Housed in a barrel-shaped, stainless steel case and powered by a vintage Valjoux 7734 movement, the Doxa SUB 200 T.Graph Limited Edition boasts a water resistance of 200 meters. Its bright orange dial — a Doxa brand hallmark — has a bicompax arrangement, with subdials at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, a date window at 6 o’clock, and black-painted, baton-shaped hands. These hands, along with the black-painted applied hour indices, are treated with a beige-colored “Light Old Radium” Super-LumiNova for legibility in the dark. Like its predecessor, the watch’s patented, unidirectional rotating bezel combines a dive scale (in minutes) with a no-decompression scale (in meters), enabling the owner to calculate dive times. The historical historical movement has been carefully preserved by Switzerland’s Jenny family, who have owned the Doxa brand since 1997. More details are available here.
In its first year not exhibiting at Baselworld, Glashütte Original added a new collection called “Spezialist,” inspired by Cold War-era German sports watches, inaugurating it with the SeaQ line of dive watches, whose flagship is the Spezialist SeaQ Panorama Date. Like the other new models in the collection, this one takes inspiration from the Spezimatic Type RP TS 200″, a watch developed in the 1960s and ’70s for hobbyist divers. At 43.2 mm in diameter, compared to 39.5 mm for the other new models,, the Panorama Date model also boasts the most robust water resistance, at 300 meters. The stainless steel case is topped by a unidirectional rotating divers’ bezel. The dial, in either sunburst black or sunburst blue, is covered by a curved sapphire crystal and hosts applied numerals and indices coated, like the distinctively shaped hands, with Super-LumiNova. At 4 o’clock is the watch’s signature complication, an outsized date display in a double window, an element that sets this model apart from its ancestors. Inside is the in-house automatic Caliber 39-13, which holds a lengthy 100-hour power reserve and includes a stop-seconds function. More details and photos can be found here.
Longines introduced a new version of the sporty HydroConquest in black ceramic livery. The watch’s entire 43-mm case is made from a high-tech ceramic whose chemical composition — ZrO2, aka zirconium oxide — is proudly indicated on the black dial. Despite the very dark, monochromatic look, the timepiece sports a variety of finishes for increased visual interest: matte on the dial, polished on the main case, round satin-brushed on the bezel, and a combo of matte and circular satin brushing on the caseback. The dial sports three big, legible Arabic numerals at 12, 9, and 6 o’clock; luminous coating on the indices and hands; and date window at 3 o’clock. Inside the 300-meter water resistant case is the self-winding L888.3 caliber, developed exclusively by ETA for Longines, with a user-friendly 64-hour power reserve. The black rubber strap completes the ensemble. More photos. details and price here.
Oris’s Ocean Project, an initiative “to clean, protect and restore the world’s oceans by supporting non-profit organizations,” kicked off with the launch of two timepieces with ocean conservation themes, the Great Barrier Reef Limited Edition III and Clean Ocean Limited Edition (you can read about their details here) and culminated with the launch of the Oris Blue Whale Limited Edition, a model only available as part of the three-watch “Ocean Trilogy” set and thus, the most exclusive of the three. Based on the brand’s Aquis model, the Blue Whale’s stainless steel case measures an ample 45.5 mm in diameter and is water-resistant to 500 meters. Its ratcheted unidirectional divers’ bezel, made of aqua blue ceramic, surrounds a gradient aqua blue dial that is notable for its 3-6-9 chronograph subdial arrangement — the first time this design has been used for an Aquis chronograph. Behind a solid caseback engraved with the namesake sea mammal (proceeds from the watch’s sales go to protecting endangered whales and dolphins) beats the Oris Caliber 771, based on the Sellita SW500-1. For more on the Ocean Trilogy and its very special, environmentally friendly packaging, click here.
Panerai’s high-profile relaunch of its Submersible series of robust, hyper-masculine dive watches as a collection of its own, separate from the parent Luminor family, at SIHH left us with a slew of impressive dive watches to narrow down for this list. Ultimately the nod goes to the Submersible Mike Horn Limited Edition, whose 47-mm-diameter, 300-meter water resistant case – including the patented bridge crown protector device, the rotating divers’ bezel, and the specially engraved caseback — is made of EcoTitanium, a material introduced into watchmaking by Panerai and which consists entirely of recycled titanium. Underwater legibility is guaranteed by copious amounts of green Super-LumiNova on the black dial, while the inscriptions “Panerai Submersible” and “Automatic 300m/1000ft) are not printed on the dial but silk-screened on the domed sapphire crystal. “Automatic,” of course, refers to the movement, Panerai’s self-winding manufacture Caliber P 9010, with a bidirectional rotor and a three-day power reserve. The strap, like the case, is eco-friendly, made of recycled PET materials. More details and photos can be found here.
Rolex added a touch of luxury to its most robust, purpose-driven divers’ watch, the Sea-Dweller, with the launch of this new model in Rolesor, aka a combination of Rolex “Oystersteel” and 18k yellow gold, at Baselworld 2019. the model represents the first use of yellow gold in the Sea-Dweller range. Other than the use of yellow gold on the rotating dive-scale bezel, the screw-down crown and the Oyster bracelet’s center links — the first time the precious metal has been used in the Sea-Dweller range — the other notable departure from recent models is the use of yellow-gold-colored text for the words “Sea-Dweller” — replacing the red text that referenced the original model from 1967. Designed as a tool watch for that era’s professional deep-sea divers, that watch included among its attributes Rolex’s patented helium escape valve, a feature also found on the new model. The 43-mm case has a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal over the black dial, with the familiar Cyclops lens over the 3 o’clock date window at 3 o’clock, and houses a Rolex in-house movement, Caliber 3235, whose technical bells and whistles include Rolex’s patented, magnetic-resistant Chronergy Escapement. Click here to delve more into the watch and its movement.
Tudor’s most discussed and debated new release of 2019 was the historically inspired Black Bay P01, which unearthed a prototype from 1967 designed as a tactical dive watch for the U.S. Navy. The original, code-named “Commando,” never saw serial production, as the Navy instead opted for another Tudor diver, the Ref. 7016, for its purposes. The modern watch that evolved from that long-shelved model (“P01” stands for “Prototype 1”) channels many unusual aspects of the original, which was designed as a cross between a diving watch and a sailing watch, notably the screw-down crown at 4 o’clock on the 42-mm steel case, and the hinged end-link with rotating bezel locking system, patented back in 1968. The modern watch borrows freely from the original design — which was actually for a removable bezel that the owner could remove to clean the watch — incorporating a stopping system for the bidirectional dive-scale bezel into a mobile link at 12 o’clock. The dial features the vintage-look “Snowflake” hands typical of the Black Bay series, and the movement inside is Tudor’s in-house, chronometer-certified Caliber MT5612, equipped with a 70-hour power reserve. You can read our report on the watch’s debut at Baselworld here.
Ulysse Nardin first became a supplier to the United States Navy in 1905, and the Swiss watchmaker renowned for its contributions to nautical timekeeping rediscovered that history in recent years. Last fall, the brand unveiled a new timepiece with a unique connection to the U.S. Navy’s most elite unit, the SEALS, and to a charitable organization founded by members of that community. “One More Wave” is a non-profit charitable organization established by a group of retired SEALS with a passion for surfing and a desire to help disabled veterans with “ocean therapy,” providing customized surfboards and surfing equipment for injured and traumatized vets. The Ulysse Nardin Diver Deep Dive “One More Wave” edition, whose sales support these efforts, is a new iteration of the Diver Deep Dive model with a 46-mm, angular-shaped case in black DLC-coated titanium and a rotating, 12-notched unidirectional bezel in the same material. Other useful diving features include the removable crown protector at 2 o’clock, the automatic, screw-on helium release valve at 9 o’clock, and the innovative rubber strap, which includes an expandable element that adjusts to changes in wrist sizes caused by the compression of neoprene diving suits. And of course, the case offers an extreme water resistance level of 1,000 meters. More on the watch, and the “One More Wave” organization, here.