What started as a batch of 1,200 watches made in 1941 for the German Luftwaffe has since become one of the most iconic watch designs in history. Today Fliegers are made by both household-name German brands and a set of potent up-and-comers, in both classic styling and with an artistic license, at bank-breaking prices and for only a couple hundred bucks. Here are our favorites.
The Best by Far from the Far East
When it comes to dive watches, many immediately think of iconic Swiss watches like the Rolex Submariner and the Blancpain Fifty-Fathoms. Of course, the story doesn’t stop here. In fact, there’s another country that can credibly lay claim to a long and storied history with the dive watch: Japan. If you need evidence of Japan’s dive watch prowess (or just a road map to buying yourself one), read on.
Most Japanese dive watches are the best suited for real-world use. Their simple movements have legendary durability, even if they aren’t the most accurate. Designs that forgo adornment in favor of readability and functionality win out over fancy locking bezels, helium release valves and shiny slim hands. Of course, their affordability makes them not only more accessible to divemasters that live on tip money, but also more bearable should they be lost of broken.
In short, if you want a real dive watch, look to Land of the Rising Sun. We recently did just that, procuring three of Japan’s best dive watches representing different brands, styles and price points for a real-world shootout below the waves in the Caribbean.
Jump in, the water's fine
You’ve been bequeathed plenty of hard-earned watch knowledge from Gear Patrol’s Timekeeping team. So, what’s taking you so long to get out there and buy your first real timepiece? A diving watch is a great way to start — a good one can toe the line between dress and active, suit and wetsuit, and they certainly follow the current large diameter trend. Before your wallet gets intimidated (some timepieces tend to do that), remember that you don’t have to take out a loan or hit the jackpot to get a great dive watch. Gear Patrol shows you seven great watches, all under $1,000 — many well under. Who knows, maybe strapping on a dive watch will get your dormant mojo going this summer and get your certified for the beautiful open water.