Among the many great watch releases of 2020 there are 3 dive watches in particular that stand out as exemplary: the Tudor Black Bay 58 Blue, Sinn U50, and Seiko SPB149. Each is a standard bearer for the brand’s style and ethos, and each represents imminently wearable expressions of what a dive watch can be. They do so in a unique yet approachable style, and it just so happens that among the W&W staff are owners of all three. It’s only responsible, then, to gather all three for some snaps and impressions from their respective owners. Because, why not?
Handling each of these watches individually will conjure a wealth of adjectives from the watch reviewers repertoire. Words like “wearable”, “legible”, “sublime”, heck even “perfect” have all been used to describe these three. And rightfully so, they are great watches to be sure. However, handling them together, as a group, renders some new feelings, and places them in a context outside of the talking points you’d find in their reviews (which, for the record, you can read right here: Sinn U50, Tudor BB 58 Blue, Seiko SPB149).
Same, But Different
Broadly speaking, these are capable dive watches that represent the breadth of diversity in the genre. They feature automatic movements, rotating bezels, at least 200m depth ratings, and effective splashes of color. Each are 40mm in diameter and 47mm lug to lug, give or take depending on which. Bracelets are available for all three (though only one ever gets worn on it), and while they are all steel, they are unique in tone and texture.
The Sinn U50 stands apart from the others for its modern, brutal take on a dive watch, representing the German stylings of the brand in their most easily digestible form. It’s also the only one that doesn’t get an in-house movement. What it does offer is that unique Sinn aesthetic alongside their proprietary hardened steel (though just the bezel, in this case) and at just 11mm thick, it’s the thinnest of the bunch while offering the greatest depth resistance at 500 meters.
The Seiko and Tudor each represent a modern take on a heritage design from their brand. While neither immediately read as “vintage inspired” thanks to the lack of any faux aging, the overall design influence is clear. These are more traditionally handsome dive watches that form the established norms of the genre in the best possible way. They ride a fine line between practical and functional.
Prices range from just over $1,000 for the Seiko, about $2,300 for the Sinn, and $3,700 for the Tudor (on bracelet). That significant delta isn’t always readily apparent, but holding each while fitted to their bracelets and it’s clear the Tudor is the priciest of the bunch. It also gets the most impressive of the movements here and arguably has the most brand prestige represented on the dial. That said, the other two don’t feel far behind in either form or execution. One thing is clear, there’s no going wrong with either of these watches. To get more perspective on each, here’s a word from their owners.
Blake Buettner – Sinn U50
It’s been about 6 months since picking up the Sinn U50 and it’s been a welcome addition to my rotation ever since. I’ve always loved the design language Sinn has developed over the years, but it’s never been packaged in a manner conducive to my wrist or general style. That changed with the U50, of course, and I think this watch has been a gateway for many collectors with similar feelings. It’s effortless to wear thanks to the 47mm lug to lug and 11mm thickness, plus, changing straps is a ton of fun for how well it takes them.
Seeing the Sinn next to the Tudor and Seiko really puts it into the context of more traditional dive watches and it somehow feels even weirder than it already is. I see that as a good thing as I’ve already got traditional dive watches pretty well covered in my collection, but there’s no doubt the Seiko and Tudor present a compelling proposition. The dial of the Seiko is truly beautiful, with a complex blue dial shifting depending on the light. I also really love the look and feel of the bezel on the Seiko, it’s like Dude’s rug, tying everything together perfectly. Looking at the Black Bay 58, this is a watch I could wear everyday without a second thought. It’s that good.
In short, I’d welcome all three of these watches into my watchbox, and don’t doubt for a moment that each would get ample wrist time. I only hope we’re so lucky in 2021 with such strong dive watch releases.
Blake Malin – Tudor Black Bay 58 Blue
I picked up the Black Bay 58 Blue hoping it would slot into my collection as one of those staple pieces you go to over and over again. Because of the number of unique Worn & Wound limited editions that fill my collection these days, I’m feeling less inclined to hold on to “once in a while” watches. So far, I think the Black Bay 58 has filled that need. For all the reasons that Blake B shared above, the Black Bay 58 is supremely wearable, subtly stylish, and, even as the most expensive watch of the group discussed here, a fair amount of bang for your buck. And although I’m still on the fence as to whether I prefer the blue or the black, it’s undeniable that the Black Bay 58 is a damn near perfect daily driver.
Looking at the Black Bay 58 next to the Sinn U50 and Seiko SPB149, I can definitely see myself owning either of the other two watches at some point in the future, possibly in lieu of the 58. While I don’t think they’re stylistically interchangeable at all, they do all offer that everyday wearability I’m looking for. Of the Seiko and Sinn, I think I’m most drawn to the Sinn U50. I’ve long been curious about the Sinn U1 line, but at 44mm x 14.7mm, they are just way too big for my taste. I, like many of you, was excited to see Sinn size things down with the U50. Reading Blake B’s writeup above, I was pretty shocked to learn that the U50 had both the greatest depth rating and the thinnest case. That says a lot about Sinn’s capabilities and how much they deserve to be in the conversation with household brands like Seiko and Tudor.
Zach Weiss – Seiko SPB149
Sitting here with the three best dive watches of 2020 in front of me, I am once again struck by just how diverse this platform can be. The Black Bay 58 Blue is elegant and effortless. Truly a gentleman’s sport watch. The U50 is rugged and technical. Definitely the watch best for a real adventure. And the SPB149 drips with character, riding the line between funky and finesse. While the BB58 might ultimately be the most wearable, and the U50 undeniably the best for actually diving, the SPB149 still has my heart. It’s classic, but uncommon, combining vintage and modern elements with a subtle dial tonality that just keeps my gaze transfixed. While the chunkiest of the group, it still is an easy daily wear, one that fits seamlessly into my style of dress.
Lastly, it’s the most affordable of the group by a decent margin. And though it’s not a chronometer, nor rated to 500 meters, it still offers a compelling package of in-house mechanics, exceptional finishing, a solid history, and Seiko’s dia-shield coating, which should keep it shining just a little longer. While people continue to kvetch about Seiko’s increasing prices, I at no point have felt like the 149 wasn’t worth every cent I paid for it. My only question is, will 2021 present a watch that will unseat the 149? I somehow doubt it.