We are in the season of grueling sailing races and magical deep dives, and it’s time to look at the most impressive dive watches of 2023, overlooked or newly released.
Every serious dive watch is an emotional, mental and physical challenge to the inherently frightening deep waters. Opening new horizons for underwater exploration, modern diving watches have been around for 70 years, but they have never been more popular as they have always appealed to a limited audience.
Diving is an area as dangerous as it is exciting, so there are many species, just like fish navigating the seas, and naturally different times are recommended for different needs. So much so that over time, even the category of professional diving watches was divided into different classes as we went deeper within itself.
As it is known, diving watches must be strong enough to withstand high pressure, waterproof and resistant to harsh conditions, they must also have a rotating bezel, be easily readable in an unlit environment and provide the same ease of use. Even among watches that meet these qualifications, there is a great competition from a technical point of view.
Note: Since some of the diving watches released this year were previously published in Saatolog, these beautiful watches were not included in this article so that they would not happen again.
Aquastar Model 60 Re-Edition
Although Aquastar is not a well-known brand, it is a Swiss brand that specializes in diving watches. Aquastar Model 60 Re-Edition, which is among the outstanding watches of 2023, is a homage to the Model 60, one of the oldest watches of the brand, as the name suggests. This watch has a historical story: The Aquastar Model 60 is one of the pioneering diving watches that accompanied the first explorers of the underwater world.
On January 23, 1960, US Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh and his deputy, Jacques Piccard, aboard the mini-submarine Trieste for the first time in history, descending to a record depth of 10,916 meters (but only 20 minutes on the bottom). It was such a challenge that this legendary journey was not repeated until 2012 (James Cameron). Rolex’s experimental Deep Sea Special was tethered to the outside of the submarine. In the sub, Piccard is known to have the Longines Chronograph 13ZN on his wrist, but for some reason the Aquastar Model 60 on Lieutenant Don Walsh’s wrist has always been overshadowed. Whereas the Aquastar Model 60 is one of the first tool watches, it features the brand’s first major patented innovation: a friction ring that prevents the bezel from turning accidentally. This simple addition later became a standard feature of diving watches.
Christopher Ward C60 Atoll 300
The C60 Atoll 300 model was launched as part of the Christopher Ward brand’s C60 Trident Pro 300 collection. Inspired by the coral islands of the Indian Ocean, famous for its sharks, the model has two different dial versions. One is Shark White, reminiscent of shark skin, and the other is Reef Blue, which refers to the clear waters of coral islands. While both dials offer a clean and clear reading in daylight, the indexes filled with Super-LumiNova® Grade X1 BL C1 and the hour-minute pair help the user in low light conditions.
Citizen Promaster Dive Unite Blue Edition LE
Every year, 8 June is celebrated as UN World Oceans Day. For the oceans it’s known for, plastic waste is becoming an increasingly big problem. Many watch companies cooperate with international foundations and institutions operating in the field of ocean cleaning and strive to raise awareness. Citizen, born in 1918, also announced the UNITE with BLUE collection on the same day to celebrate World Oceans Day this year. The most striking watch in the collection is the Promaster Dive Unite Blue Edition, which is limited to 7 thousand pieces. Combining the blue-green colors of the oceans, the dial colors are prepared in collaboration with Fujifilm, a renowned Japanese photography and imaging technology specialist. The feature of the structural color dial is that it is printed with non-pigmented ink that produces color using the light reflected from the surface of the microstructures in the ink layer. 100% recycled polycarbonate material is used to obtain pigment-free ink colors. Promaster Dive Unite Blue Edition is a very flashy, responsible and environmentally friendly watch. It uses light as a clean energy source and works for 6 months on a full charge. The strap is made of polyurethane made from recycled plant-based materials.
Certina DS-2 Turning Bezel Sea Turtle Conservancy Special Edition
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar calls some pocket watches “tortoise cubs” in his book The Time Regulation Institute. I think wristwatches look more like turtles. That’s why I have a special love for Certina, who chose the turtle figure as her symbol. Certina is a well-established company that has been producing durable and long-lasting watches since 1888.
The engraving of the durable and long-lasting turtle on the back of Certina watches has a different story: In the 1950s, engineer Philipp Kurth and his team experimented with designing a durable wristwatch. A few years later the first DS model appeared. DS stands for Double Security, and in this system it was resistant to impacts as the mechanism was securely suspended inside the safe. The case is also reinforced with a waterproof and dustproof architecture.
Finally, in 1959, the first DS watches appeared, which can withstand a drop of up to 6 meters and are waterproof to 200 meters. In the same year, the Sea Turtle Conservancy (Sea Turtle Conservation Society) was established, with which a long-term cooperation will be made in the future. The DS system was developed against current conditions, and in 1968 the DS-2 watches with a rotating bezel were announced. We consider it natural today, but since the movable bezel design was rare in those years, “Turning Bezel” was added to the model’s name. Nearly half a million DS and DS-2 watches have been sold since then.
Certina has been supporting the Sea Turtle Conservation Society for years and has been producing special models. Also in 2023, another special model has emerged for the Sea Turtle Conservancy, a non-profit that has been working for decades to protect sea turtles and their habitats. Two of the three DS-2 models announced this year are made of standard stainless steel, while the Sea Turtle Conservancy Special Edition has an extremely lightweight titanium case. The NATO-style strap is also made from recycled plastics collected from the oceans.
DELMA Shell Star Titanium 41mm Limited Edition
DELMA’s first professional diving watch, the Shell Star, was announced in 1975. The new Shell Star not only carries the brand’s valuable heritage dating back to 1924, but also continues its development with innovative materials such as titanium and its superior design. Weighing only 136 grams, the new Shell Star Titanium has a durable case with salty sea water, as well as a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel.
With its more compact design than in the past, Shell Star Titanium is an ideal watch for daily life as well as free diving and water sports. In recent years, when Delma is mentioned, I think of Blue Shark (especially the very cool Blue Shark III, released in 2021) models, but the light and agile Shell Star Titanium, which has been released in three new designs (blue, black, orange), is also a solid watch.
DOXA SUB 300T Clive Cussler
American author and aeronautical engineer Clive Cussler (1931-2020), whose books sold over 120 million copies, was also an explorer and diver. Enthusiasts know very well, that the most famous fictional character Dirk Pitt’s adventures, including 22 books, have been translated into Turkish, with a total of 50 works. Another feature of Dirk Pitt that interests us is that he carries a Doxa SUB 300T on his wrist. This year, Doxa announced the SUB 300T Clive Cussler watch, in memory of the author and the adventures of Dirk Pitt.
The SUB 300T Clive Cussler has features that will blow the minds of Cussler fans, especially with its handmade dial resembling an old compass and its case with an aged steel look. The SUB 300T is a unique watch that brings together the spirit of literature and watchmaking, pointing to the immersive nature of Clive Cussler’s adventure novels that instill a pleasure in reading.
Clive Cussler helped discover a large number of shipwrecks through the non-profit organization NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency), which he founded in 1979. The names of shipwrecks and historical artifacts discovered or explored by NUMA are engraved on the back of the case. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the watch will also be donated to NUMA.
Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman Automatic 41mm
The first Hamilton Frogman model was used during WWII by US Navy underwater exterminators, aka “frog men”, in harsh conditions. However, the Khaki Navy Frogman Automatic, which was introduced to civilians in 1951, went from being a military secret to becoming a very popular watch when it appeared in the movie “The Frogmen” at the same time.
The new Khaki Navy Frogman Automatic, on the other hand, appeals to the adventurous spirits of the 21st century with its robust and reliable structure, although it preserves the genetic codes of its predecessor and refers to its military origin. As you know, the history of modern diving watches begins in 1953, so the original model did not have a bezel, since the new model is a modern dive watch that takes its business seriously, it has a one-way bezel with embossed numbers and indices. The old model had a canteen-style screw-down crown, while the new one has a solid crown-shaped crown guard.
As a purposeful watch, the dial is extremely clean; nothing distracting or tiring, including the date window. The orange accents on the minute and seconds hands are not only functional, but also add character to the watch. The new Khaki Navy Frogman Automatic is available with a green or black dial and a choice of green, black rubber straps and steel bracelets.
Mido Ocean Star 200C Blue
The Ocean Star 200C is a very stylish watch for daily use as well as meeting all the requirements of a well-equipped diving watch that meets the minimum requirements. The dial has such a classic design that I can’t help saying that everything is in its place. The wavy matte dial of the Mido Ocean Star 200C Blue model is a calm and harmonious watch with blue tones on the bezel and rubber. The “200” in the name of the watch indicates the water resistance, and the “C” indicates that the bezel is ceramic. The starfish engraving on the back of the case announces that this model is a link in a chain between the previous and the next. (The first Ocean Star came out in 1944.)
Oris Aquis Date Caliber 400 Green 43.5mm
I think all colors suit Oris watches very well (think of the Candy collection), but green seems more like Oris to me. It is nice to see all the shades of green in Oris watches, especially I think that the gradient dial Aquis models are very cool with their play of light. Of course, Oris watches are not just about colours, but the technical success of talented engineers and detail-obsessed designers is evident and their breakthroughs in recent years are already appreciated.
Among the watches that joined the Aquis family in 2023, the most interesting one was the 43.5mm diameter model with a gradient green dial and green ceramic bezel. As a high-performance mechanical diving watch, the Aquis Date Caliber 400 has two historical lines of development behind it: the first draws on a legacy dating back to 1965, the beginning of Oris water watches, and the second is linked to the enhanced powerful Aquis collection introduced in 2011.
One of the most important features of the Oris Aquis Date Caliber 400 watch with a green dial is the Caliber 400 movement by Oris, which has high standards including a 5-day power reserve, which is not uncommon in such watches. The lollipop seconds hand is also a cute detail that softens the watch’s powerful stance.
Seiko Prospex Save the Ocean Limited Edition 1965 Modern Re-Interpretation (SLA065)
Seiko released the brand’s first dive watch, known as the 62MAS, in July 1965. The 62MAS was also Japan’s first true dive watch. Derived from the first two digits of the reference number (6217-8000) and the phrase “Seikomatic Self Dater”, the 62MAS quickly became a legend. It was given as professional support equipment to researchers of the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (JARE) at the end of the same year. When the first version was sold out in a short time, the improved version was released the following year. Interestingly, despite the emergence of new variants of the 62MAS with dozens of models, there was no new interpretation of the original model until 2017, when it was reborn with three models. This year, Seiko announced the Prospex Save the Ocean Limited Edition 1965 Modern Re-Interpretation (SLA065), a high-end diving watch inspired by the 62MAS, with a dial reminiscent of the sailors’ old navigation tool astrolabe, with a new size (41.3 mm), proportion and design innovations.
Such is the “1965 Modern Re-Interpretation” part of the watch’s name, and the phrase “Save the Ocean” explains the part of Seiko’s responsibility, which has supported ocean conservation and research initiatives for years. With its family, Seiko Prospex has long donated a portion of its income to various foundations and associations operating in the fields of ocean cleaning, natural life quality, and biology-archaeology. The stylized astrolabe detail on the dial of the Seiko Prospex SLA065 model references an underwater archaeological research project currently being carried out in an unnamed area in Greece.
All in all, the Seiko Prospex SLA065 is a high-end diving watch and at the pinnacle of all new interpretations of the original 1965 model. Featuring all the features of a classic diving watch, the SLA065 has a larger and thinner architecture than all previous models. The Seiko Prospex SLA065 also carries one of the best calibers in its class (the 8L35 derivative based on the Grand Seiko 9S55).
Synchron Military Poseidon Ice Diver
The Poseidon Ice Diver is one of the diving watches of 2023 that must be mentioned, but for those who think that it is a Doxa SUB 300T style watch as soon as they look at it, a small explanation is needed. Synchron Military is a brand reborn in 2021 and its owner (Rick Marei) previously worked at Doxa. Of course, Doxa is a well-established brand, but in the 1970s, there was a watch model called Doxa Army, owned by the Synchron company, and produced in very few numbers. Then comes the Quartz Crisis years.
In recent years, the designs of the 1970s have been renewed with a contemporary look and attract a lot of attention. Of course, it is not right to attribute this only to this situation, but the fact that the Synchron Military Poseidon Ice Diver, which was limited to a thousand units, was sold out in a month, is a good start for a company that has (re) announced its name in terms of the size of the interest shown.
As can be seen from the logo of the famous Swedish diving equipment manufacturer Poseidon Diving Systems in the lower right corner of the dial, the two companies have collaborated. The Poseidon Ice Diver is a watch tested at COLD DIVEX 2023, an event held by the Swedish Armed Forces in Boden, near the Arctic region, during the winter (temperature -30°C).
TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Gold
The most elegant and luxurious diving watch on the list, the Aquaracer Professional 200 Gold is actually part of a collection announced this year. There are also two more watches in the collection; one with a steel case, black dial and rose gold bezel, and the other with a steel case, blue dial and yellow gold bezel. The Aquaracer collection is inspired by the first Heuer diving watches introduced in 1978.
TUDOR Black Bay 54
The newest member of the Black Bay series, the TUDOR Black Bay 54, is the brand’s first diving watch, the Oyster Prince Submariner Ref. A watch inspired by the 7922. The Black Bay line is already based on Tudor’s early dive watches. Durability, precision, comfort and the Tudor-made (MT5400) movement are what make the Black Bay 54 watch valuable. From afar, this is a Tudor, with its famous snowflake hands, the Black Bay 54 is a true classic.
Ulysse Nardin Ocean Race Diver Chronograph 44mm LE
Ulysse Nardin launched the Ocean Race Diver Chronograph, limited to 100 pieces, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ocean Race sailing races held since 1973. The sandblasted black dial has three sub-dials with white and blue hands: 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, 12-hour counter and date display at 6 o’clock, and small seconds at 9 o’clock.
Meanwhile, Ocean Race 2022-23, one of the longest and most challenging team sports events in the world, which ended on July 1, 2023 in Genoa, Italy, was the first time in 50 years of racing history that a US team (a team called the 11th Hour) won the race.
Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Skeleton 6-15 Limited Edition
The most cheerful innovation of the year was the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Skeleton 6-15 (limited to 300 pieces), which caused surprise and controversy when it was released. I think making a skeleton diving watch and an innovative bezel that shows depth in vivid colors are acts of commendation. There are those who like it and there are those who don’t, but it seems that it will be sold out in a short time.
The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Skeleton 6-15 has features that will be remembered for years to come, such as the rainbow-colored bezel and skeleton dial, but due to these design choices, it seems to be a stand-alone watch, but it is not a blank watch but has a historical background: The first Sea Wolf was released in 1953. As I have already mentioned, the history of modern diving watches begins in 1953 with Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, Rolex Submariner and Zodiac Sea Wolf. (The Zodiac brand was also founded in 1882. Today it is part of the Fossil Group.)