03/21/2024
 5 minutes

3 Diving Chronographs You May Have Missed

By Sebastian Swart
Blancpain-Fifty-Fathoms-Bathyscaphe-2-1

Overlooked Diving Chronographs

Diving watches have enjoyed wide popularity among watch fans for decades. That’s especially true of the well-known models by Rolex, Omega, and Blancpain that have been around since the 1950s – making those brands practically synonymous with diving watches. Their classic models with three hands and a diving bezel were once developed as indispensable tools for professional divers who used their functions during underwater excursions. Around the mid-1960s, manufacturers began thinking about adding a chronograph to diver’s watches – a combination that is still rather unusual today.

In the 1960s, chronographs were mostly used on racetracks to measure speed and distance. It is still unclear what purpose the function would serve underwater, where it would be very difficult to operate. Some people use it to time how long a fellow diver has been underwater. Nevertheless, diving chronographs have a charm of their own and attractive bi- or tricompax designs sweeten the deal. That’s why we’re presenting you here with three diving chronographs that probably weren’t on your radar.

Glashütte Original SeaQ Chronograph

Our first model is a sophisticated chronograph from Germany, the Glashütte SeaQ Chronograph. The traditional watchmakers from Germany’s Ore Mountains launched this model in 2022 as an addition to the three-hand watches of its SeaQ Collection. Its basic design references the charismatic aethetics of the Glashütte Original Spezimatic RP TS 200 from the 1960s. While the original watches served as robust tools, the SeaQ Chronograph is rather an object of luxury.

Groß, edel und exklusiv – Glashütte Original SeaQ Chronograph
Big, elegant, and exclusive – Glashütte Original SeaQ Chronograph

Inside this model ticks the exclusive manufacturer caliber 37-23 with a flyback function and panorama date. The balance wheel in this automatic movement oscillates at a standard 28,800 vibrations per hour (A/h), or 4 Hz. It has a power reserve of 70 hours when fully wound. A highlight is the skeletonized 21-karat gold rotor with the brand’s signature double G symbol. The movement also features a balance wheel with a silicon spring and blued and polished screws.

The movement is housed in a 43.2-mm stainless steel case with a height of just under 17 mm. The SeaQ Chronograph is thus far from lightweight and probably best suited for strong wrists. However, the lug width of 21 mm is relatively moderate for such a large diameter. Thanks to the screw-down crown and sapphire crystal case back and dial casing, the watch is water-resistant up to 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft). The bezel insert is made up of robust, scratch-resistant ceramic.

The watch’s dial design is very harmonious. The luminous line indices and Arabic numerals at 6 and 12 o’clock are the only markings on the blue dial. To help with legibility, the manufacturer added tiny indices to the subdials located at 3 and 9 o’clock. Much like its legendary forebear, the SeaQ Chronograph has a striking minute hand in the form of a large arrow, while its hour hand has an obelisk shape.

The Glashütte Original SeaQ Chronograph is available with a black rubber strap, gray synthetic strap, or a three-piece link stainless steel bracelet. You’ll find the watch on Chrono24 for around $14,000 with stainless steel bracelet.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback

Our second example comes from the preeminent diving watch pioneer Blancpain. Back in 1953 – one year before the launch of the Rolex Submariner – the Le Brassus-based brand introduced the legendary Fifty Fathoms, the first diving watch with a rotating bezel. Over the decades, Blancpain has massively expanded the Fifty Fathoms line. What started with a simple tool watch for the French navy turned into a huge collection of luxury wristwatches with all sorts of extra functions, including a chronograph.

Blancpain introduced the Bathyscaphe collection in 2013 on the occasion of Fifty Fathoms’s 60th birthday. The name Bathyscaphe comes from the submarine designed by Swiss marine researcher Auguste Piccard, who the line is dedicated to. For this article, we’ve selected the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback (ref. 5200 0153 NABA).

The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronographe is exceptional in a number of ways. Firstly, the case of this timepiece is made of black ceramic. That might not be remarkable in itself, but when combined with the green dial and the green ceramic bezel insert, the resulting color contrast is certainly unique. The case itself is 43.6 mm in diameter and 15.25 mm thick. This makes it, like the Glashütte Original SeaQ Chronograph, a model for larger wrists. The lug width of 23 mm confirms this.

Legendäre Blancpain Taucheruhr neu interpretiert – Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback
Fresh interpretation of a legendary Blancpain diving watch – Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback

Inside the watch ticks the Blancpain flyback in-house caliber F385. The balance frequency is noteworthy, at 5 Hz or 36,000 vibrations per hour (A/h). This makes the caliber a “high-beat” movement that comes with incredible precision. The power reserve is about average at 50 hours when fully wound. The movement is visible through a sapphire crystal see-through case back, and the watch is water-resistant to 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft).

The dial is well organized in terms of design. Small luminescent hour markers – lines at 3,6, 9, and 12 o’clock, and otherwise dots – indicate the time. The chronograph subdials are located at 3 and 9 o’clock, and small seconds sits at 6. The date located at 4:30 lends a sense of asymmetry to the dial as a whole, which will certainly appeal to some tastes more than others.

The watch comes with a black NATO strap and costs around $15,800. The model is also available in other dial colors and band combinations.

Oris Divers Sixty-Five Chronograph

Our last example is from the luxury watch manufacturer Oris. The Divers Sixty-Five collection has been in the Swiss manufacturer’s catalogue since 2015. It references the classic design of the brand’s diving watches from the mid-1960s – pure retro, in other words. In 2020 Oris started equipping some variants with a chronograph function. The most recent chronograph model is the Oris Divers Sixty-Five Chronograph with a black dial and aluminum bezel from late 2023. With a case measuring just 40 mm in diameter, this stainless steel watch is significantly slimmer than the Glashütte Original or the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Chronographe Flyback. Luckily, the price is also well below that of the competition, though you will have to do without a sophisticated in-house caliber.

The caliber Oris 771 beats at the heart of the Sixty-Five Chronograph. The movement is based on the tried-and-tested Sellita SW510. However, unlike the standard movement, the Oris 771 has the characteristic red Oris rotor. Unfortunately you won’t get the pleasure of seeing the rotor, as the case is finished with a stainless steel, slightly domed case back. It’s still nice to look at, with an engraved Oris logo.

Oris Divers Sixty-Five Chronograph, black dial, steel bracelet
No frills, classic look – Oris Divers Sixty-Five Chronograph

The position of the subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock is typical of this caliber. The bicompax style and the luminescent dot indexes give the watch a symmetrical and balanced appearance, and the absence of a date display contributes to this aesthetic. The watch has a power reserve of 48 hours when fully wound. At 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft), the watch has a fairly average water resistance, which is perfect for swimming and everyday use.

The Oris Divers Sixty-Five Chronograph is available with a three-piece link stainless steel bracelet or a black deerskin strap. You can find mint-condition models with a stainless steel bracelet for around $3,600 on Chrono24. That’s a bargain for a watch with a Sellita caliber, but note that it’s about $1,000 less than the Oris list price of $4,600. Either way, you’ll get an excellently crafted watch with an attractive aesthetic from one of the few remaining independent watch manufacturers.

That’s it for our list of three under-the-radar diving chronographs. Which is your favorite?


About the Author

Sebastian Swart

I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

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