Dive watches are among the most popular models available on the market. Virtually all brands, with only rare exceptions, have embraced the concept and now propose an alternative to the classics that are the Submariner or the Seamaster. There’s a good reason behind this popularity, as dive watches, even though not used for the initial purpose, are perfect for weekends or holidays, and are no-brainer choices when it comes to a robust sports watch. This year certainly wasn’t the most prolific in this field, yet we’ve some pretty cool introductions. As part of the “best of 2021” series and following our buying guide on the best chronographs of 2021, here’s our selection of our favourite dive watches launched this year.
Editor’s note: this list reflects the preferences of MONOCHROME’s editorial team and results from an internal vote. This list is, of course, non-exhaustive and remains subjective. If there are other dive watches launched in 2021 that made an impression on you, feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comment section.
Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad
It’s not really a surprise to see a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms in such a selection. This model remains after all one of the most emblematic and enduring dive watches ever created. Launched in 1953, it was one of the first ones on the market and it defined the genre. Part of the multiple editions launched over the years, some deserve greater attention, such as the vintage No-Rad model, a watch made for the “Kampfschwimmer”, the elite German frogman commando unit and defined by its “no radiations” logo on the dial. This year, the brand launched a new edition, the Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad, with a compact 40mm case and a 300m water-resistance. It is a modern re-interpretation and features a domed sapphire bezel with finely notched profile and a fully graduated 60-minute scale. Also, the dial has been revised with a more instrumental look – painted markers, slight patina – and features, of course, the iconic “No Radiations” logo. Under the sapphire caseback is the in-house Calibre 1151 with a 100h power reserve. This very cool watch was released as a limited edition of 500 pieces. All the details in our review here.
Quick Facts: 40.3mm polished steel case – unidirectional bezel in sapphire – 300m water-resistant – matte black dial with painted markers – Calibre 1151, in-house – automatic, 3Hz, 100h power reserve with 3 barrels – Tropic-like rubber strap – limited to 500 pieces – EUR 13,180
Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m NB6004
If you think about accessible but purpose-built watches made to dive into difficult environments, Citizen has to be on your list at a certain point. And the new Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m that has been released this year is certainly a watch that needs to be considered if you’re a serious diver. Following a tradition of ultra-robust models started in the early 1980s, this new watch might not be the most elegant, restrained or practical on a daily basis, but it certainly is a watch that can take a serious plunge and perform underwater – as attested by our resident diver-writer Derek in his field review. This chunky, 46mm diameter watch is made of proprietary Super Titanium with Duratect surface-hardening technology. It has a brutalist-looking design and a purpose-built tool feeling that truly makes it feel like a piece of diving gear, not like a luxury watch. Inside is the in-house calibre 9051, an automatic movement with reliable construction. And at less than 700 euros, it does the job it has been designed for truly well.
Quick facts: 46mm Super titanium case – partially shrouded unidirectional bezel with trapezoidal knurling – 200m water-resistant – black gradient dial with trapezoidal pattern – calibre 9051, in-house – automatic, 4Hz, 42h power reserve – black polyurethane strap with extension ripples – EUR 695
Doxa SUB 300 Carbon
The Doxa SUB 300 bears one of the most emblematic designs ever for a dive watch. This odd, rather unique watch first manufactured in the 1960s has since become an icon for dive watch lovers. Of course, you can go for the classic stainless steel version, at least if you’re looking for historical relevance and a more consensual style. But this year, the brand brought something cool, modern, bold and technical, with the new Doxa SUB 300 Carbon collection. The main update here concerns the material, as the design and the features are basically the same as the steel models… But the new forged carbon material drastically changes the look of this 42.5mm case and the feeling on the wrist (yes, it is really light). The signature no-decompression bezel is still present – of course – but now also made of carbon, with colourful accents. Water-resistance remains the same, at 300m, thanks to a titanium container for the movement. The dial, on the other hand, remains true to the original watch, with its larger markers and hands, and it’s now available in the 6 classic Doxa colours – Black Sharkhunter, Silver Searambler, Navy Caribbean, Yellow Divingstar and Turquoise Aquamarine. Inside is an ETA 2824 with COSC certification. And with a price below 4K, it’s not a bad option for a carbon fibre watch. More details in our hands-on article.
Quick facts: 42.5mm forged carbon case – undirectional no-decompression bezel in carbon – 300m water-resistant – matte dial available in 6 colours – Calibre ETA 2824, chronometer – automatic, 4Hz, 38h power reserve – rubber strap with folding clasp and micro-adjustment – CHF 3,790
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925
Dive watches are, most of the time, made of steel or titanium, for obvious resistance and budgetary reasons. But, as seen with the Doxa above, exotic materials can also be used. And this year, Tudor has decided to go off-the-beaten-track, with a version of the popular Black Bay Fifty-Eight made of… 925 sterling silver, a material that is virtually unseen anymore in watchmaking. As rather bold move from the brand, resulting in a watch that looks very familiar, but mostly ultra-cool. The entirely brushed case has a unique brilliance and colour, and the secret alloy will supposedly avoid tarnishing (to be confirmed…) It is paired with a taupe-coloured dial and strap, resulting in a soft, slightly “ghost” effect that makes for one of the best looking Tudor watches. Under the sapphire caseback (new to the BB58) is the well-known manufacture Calibre MT5400 with antimagnetic properties and extended power reserve. A very attractive model that might be more of a desk diver than a tool, but still has incredible charm. More details in our review here.
Quick facts: 39mm 925 sterling silver case – unidirectional bezel with taupe insert – 200m water-resistant – matte taupe dial with applied indexes – Calibre MT5400, manufacture – COSC-certified, automatic, 4Hz, 70h power reserve – dark brown grained leather strap or taupe-coloured fabric strap – EUR 4,050
Tudor Pelagos FXD
Yes, we know, we have two Tudors in the same selection… But let’s be honest, the brand has been very productive this year. The latest creation of Tudor revives a long-established partnership with the French Navy and also the very concept of the mil-spec watch… And just for that, the Pelagos FXD is something that deserves our attention. Starting with the brand’s deep dive watch as a base, the Marine Nationale has defined a set of specifications for a watch to suit its needs, and the result is this; a watch with surprising bias, such as a reduced WR but a slimmer case, a redesigned bi-directional bezel that is equipped with a countdown insert, a no-date display, and a case with captivating fixed lugs as it used to be in the past. All in all, the execution is perfect and the style is typical of instruments. And if the watch remains questionable for some, we can applaud some of the ideas and the return of a proper military-issued Tudor. More details in our in-depth article here.
Quick facts: 42mm titanium case – bi-directional beze with ceramic countdown bezel – 200m water-resistant – matte blue dial with applied markers – calibre MT5602, in-house – chronometer, automatic, 4Hz, 70h power reserve – one-piece blue fabric strap and one-piece blue rubber strap – CHF 3,700