Don’t You Forget About Me: 10 Contemporary Dive Watches for the Vintage Fatigued

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If there was one type of watch that has really dominated the watch world for the last few years, it’s been the vintage-inspired diver. This isn’t a revelatory statement. It’s about as obvious as saying the sky is blue. And don’t get me wrong, the team here at Worn & Wound, including myself, all love a good vintage-inspired diver. Whether a recreation of a design from a brand’s own archives, to a watch that just looks like it could have existed in the mid-twentieth century, these watches tend to ooze style and captivate collectors in a way that few other genres can. From Tudor Black Bay 58s to Lorier Neptunes and Baltic Aquascaphes, vintage-inspired divers are like catnip for watch enthusiasts.

But, what if you’re sick of it? What if you’re tired of every release playing off of collective nostalgia for a heyday of design that many of us, including yours truly, weren’t even alive to appreciate? What if you just want a gosh-darn, good-looking, modern-day dive watch? Something perhaps aware of the past (after all most dive watches owe some level of DNA to the iconic-divers of the aforementioned period) but contemporary in appearance, attitude, and execution. The watches below are not 38mm, they don’t have domed acrylic crystals, and that’s the point. These are dive watches of the now, with specs and looks to match.

Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600

When Christopher Ward added their C65 range of vintage-inspired divers they gave themselves the opportunity to fully modernize their C60 diver line, creating the best version yet in its third incarnation (reviewed here). With this in mind, they went for relatively neutral and balanced dials with gloss surfaces and applied, faceted, rectangular markers. Their bezels are also gloss, made of pristine ceramic, and feature fully-lumed markers, which is quite uncommon. The case is the star of the show, however, featuring their exceptionally well-finished “light-catcher” design. Available in 38, 40 or 42mm, all with 600m of water resistance, these relatively modest-looking watches don’t skimp on performance, which is all the more impressive considering their starting price of $795. Not ones to limit your options, you also have a choice of colors and straps, as well as GMT varieties, and titanium 1000m chronometer versions for a bit of a premium. Christopher Ward

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Stowa Prodiver

The Stowa Prodiver is not a new watch, as Brad Homes pointed out in his review, first arriving around 2005, but it remains available and unchanged in Stowa’s catalog. And for good reason, too. It’s a uniquely styled, rugged tool diver with a high water-resistance of 1000m, excellent build quality, and a price tag of around $1,200. Considering the specs, this watch is actually a bit of a steal. With a 42mm, blocky, faceted titanium case, an intense bezel layout with a technical appeal, and perhaps one of the most attractive diver-dials out there, the Stowa Prodiver is a lot of great things, none of which is vintage-inspired. Stowa

Farer Aqua Compressor Hecla

Ok, this watch is a bit on the edge, but with few internal-bezel options out there the Farer Hecla (reviewed here) made the cut. While certainly vintage-inspired, there is no direct correlation to any model or brand, and the use of vibrant colors, textures, and layers on the dial give it a modern presence. But what really sets the Hecla apart is the 41.5mm, 300m barrel case with true “compressor” construction, meaning the watch becomes more watertight as pressure increases. Though this detail actually speaks to the EPSA cases of the mid-twentieth century, the bezel-free barrel-design gives the Hecla a present-day sleekness, which is amplified on the accompanying fitted-lug rubber strap. The result on the wrist is an aerodynamic and ergonomic dive watch with a bold, presence and modern attitude. At $1,295 with a strap and a bracelet, the Hecla brings a decent amount of value to the table. Farer

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Ollech & Wajs C-1000

The recently revived Ollech & Wajs has been on a hot streak, releasing updated versions of timepieces from the cult brand’s archives. Unlike the trends, however, they don’t release 1:1 copies of these watches, but rather new and, you guessed it, modern interpretations of them. The C-1000, which was recently reviewed here, is an exceptional example of this. At 39.5mm with an impressive 1000m of water resistance, it’s a rare case of a high-water resistance diver that’s also easy to wear. While it shares this status with its vintage forefather, the sharp, aggressive dial and bezel designs, which are accented by acid green lume, would never be mistaken for vintage. Coming in around $1,650, the C-1000 is decently priced for a watch of its build quality. Ollech & Wajs

Mido Ocean Star Diver 600

The Ocean Star 600 is Mido’s entry for a contemporary professional diver. At 43.5mm it’s thoroughly in the modern camp in terms of scale, and has an aesthetic to match. Bold, wide numerals dominate the bezel for an aggressive stance. The dial then takes a simpler approach, featuring applied lume-filled markers in a symmetrical arrangement, and paddle hands. It’s clean, crisp, and appealing. Rated to 600m, as the name would suggest, this model also boasts an 80-hour power reserve, silicon escapement, chronometer rating, ceramic bezel insert, and a helium-escape valve, giving it a very robust set of specs far beyond anything typically found on a heritage diver. At $1,700 this watch comes at a bit of a premium for a Mido, but it’s also the top-of-their line. Mido

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Oris Aquis Date

The Oris Aquis line has quietly and resolutely maintained its status as a core modern dive watch for many years. Clean, technical, legible, in its simplest form with a date at six, it’s a purpose-driven tool watch with a mature style that makes it as welcome in the office as in the water. Never lured into vintage territory by the likes of warm lume tones, its crisp lines, glistening applied markers, and integrated metal or rubber bracelet keep it firmly planted in the now. Most recently released with a 41.5mm case, which will make it a comfortable medium size, the Oris Aquis Date is a solid modern aquatic companion. These start at $2,000, which is befitting Oris’ position as an entry-level luxury brand. Oris

Sinn U1

The Sinn U1 looks like it was created by someone who had never seen a dive watch before, and that’s exactly why it’s so awesome. It’s completely unique and exists outside of dive watch trends, making it not only modern, but timeless. It’s also a total beast of a tool dive watch. The bold, blocky dial is all about legibility, as are the signature “lego” hands that give the watch a distinct personality. The case is then pure purpose. It’s 44mm with 1000m of water resistance and made out of German submarine steel. It also features a Tegimented (hardened) steel bezel with their proprietary “captive” system that prevents it from popping off. As anyone who has ever handled a U1 can attest, it’s a tank of a watch. With a price tag of $2,060 the Sinn U1 is fairly priced considering it could probably beat up every other watch on this list. Sinn

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Tudor Pelagos

Before the Black Bay 58 was the Tudor du jour, the Pelagos reigned supreme (LHD version reviewed here). A 500 meter, 42mm, solid titanium diver with a matte ceramic bezel, HEV, and a clever expanding bracelet, it was and still is Tudor’s modern tool dive watch. Now, I know the design obviously speaks to the iconic “snowflake” Subs, but the execution here is all new. Solid white applied markers with blinding lume sit on top of a matte black surface, nestled into a deep, angled chapter ring. The signature block hands rendered in all white with black bases have a purposeful, and technical prowess. Though born from 50-year old DNA, the Pelagos is a modern design. After getting upgraded with their in-house MT5612 caliber, which features a 70-hour power reserve, silicon escapement, and chronometer-certification, it is also thoroughly modern on the inside. At $4,575, the Pelagos isn’t cheap, and it’s a bit overpriced compared to the Black Bay 58, but it’s also one heck of a watch. Tudor

Omega Seamaster Diver 300

Another diver born of a long family line, the current incarnation of the Omega Seamaster Diver is modern through and through. While the 42mm twisted lug case pulls from the past, it’s executed with a sharpness and level of finish that gives it a truly modern edge. The dial and bezel head more steeply into contemporary territory, both being made of ceramic. The bezel has wide, aggressive numerals, while the dial is textured with a deep cut wave-motif that makes the tall applied markers jump off the surface. But, once again, what lies within is most pointedly of today. The Omega Caliber 8800 features their co-axial escapement with a silicon hairspring and Master Chronometer status. In addition to being chronometer-certified and having gone through a battery of tests, the 8800 is resistant to magnetic fields reaching 15,000 gauss, which puts it into an anti-magnetic league of its own (for more details on this caliber, check out the movement section of our Omega Seamaster Aquaterra Railmaster review). While $4,900 on rubber is hardly inexpensive, it’s actually a good value for an Omega. Omega

Seiko Prospex LX SNR029

Unsurprisingly, the Seiko Prospex LX SNR029 has roots that go back to the ‘60s, yet is a thoroughly modern watch inside and out. Pulling from their 6159 heritage, which flows through the Marine Master 300s, the SNR029 has distinctive case lines that while tied to the past, have a bold, contemporary presence. Rendered here in 44.8 millimeters of titanium with a super-hard coating, it’s bold, and aggressive though tempered by the lightweight material. The dial and bezel similarly are modern and bold variations of this historic DNA. But, what truly sets the SNR029 apart is the Spring Drive Cal. 5R65 inside. Seiko’s proprietary movement technology, this impressive caliber that combines the best of mechanical and quartz is accurate to +/- 15 seconds a month, far surpassing chronometer standards. At $6,000, this isn’t your everyday dive watch, and while I do wish it boasted more than 300m of water resistance, not that it’s needed for practical use, it does have the status of the most accurate watch on this list. Seiko Prospex

Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
wornandwound zsw
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