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.
Editor’s Note: The stockings are hung by the chimney with care…now what the hell are you gonna put in there? Ah, stocking stuffers — the little things, the extras, the last minute goodies, the fun gifts. They’re as enjoyable to give as they are to receive. Thing is, there’s an endless supply of stocking-size gifts…
Talk about shopping in advance
Oddly enough, the proliferation of electronic gadgetry, computer stuff and other digital goodies has made buying for the discerning sparkhead (we just coined that — please enjoy and proliferate at will) tougher. With this list, we aim to make the shopping a little simpler by covering suggestions for readers, photogs, movie buffs and gamers. Take a gander and start clicking; your techie giftee will thank you, probably with an email or holographic video message or something.
10 Top-Notch Watches that Won't Break the Bank
When building anything, one must begin with strong foundation. A watch collection is no different. While anyone, given the choice, would undoubtedly begin and end with only finest examples of haute horological hardware, we can’t all justify blowing junior’s college and post-grad funds on something small and shiny. A conservative budget should not dissuade wide-eyed complication connoisseurs however: there are many excellent mechanical options available for the budding collector. We’ve selected ten rock solid options, both vintage and new, that would proudly produce any one-percenter’s tan line. So get started. Junior will thank you — it’s his heirloom, anyhow.
Fifty, or Fifty-Five, Fathoms?
In our series Want This, Get This, we profile one wildly desirable, largely unattainable item and one similar item that costs far less. In fact, that’s exactly what watch modification, or “watch modding”, is all about. Now, given enough money, any watch can be modified. Just witness the huge market for blacking out and blinging out Rolexes. But there’s another subculture out there, one whose sweet spot isn’t a $25,000 watch, but rather a $50 to $250 watch — the ubiquitous Seiko dive watch. We examine the subculture and its major players.
Just Five Things
The Seiko 5 isn’t just one watch. Instead, hundreds of watches with numerous different designs, intended for different uses, have carried the emblematic shield logo with the 5 in the center. In fact, the watches have been signed several different ways — Seiko 5, Seiko 5 Sports, Seiko Sportsmatic 5, Seiko 5 Actus — with movements ranging from 17 to 25 jewels. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the original Sportsmatic 5, a watch that spawned affordable innovation and offspring galore.
Uncomplicated, for your wallet
Watches that simply tell time are a dime a dozen, and sometimes close to a dozen a dime. But start adding more functions and things can get complicated — and expensive. While we’re just starting to forgive the quartz watch for dealing a near death blow to our beloved mechanical timepieces, there’s no denying that when you want more bang for the buck, battery power is the way to go. You’ll pay dearly for dual time zones, flybacks, alarms and tide trackers on the mechanical side of the fence, but if you’re willing to put up with a tick-tick-tick seconds hand, we’ve found five watches that are happy to complicate your life for under (or around) five hundred dollars.
39 HOURS IN A DAY
The Seiko Astron ($2,115) is billed as a World’s First: a watch that recognizes all 39 current world time zones by tapping into the global network of GPS satellites for location and time. It also does so while remaining remarkably uncluttered. We break it down.
Mr. Gaffney's Gear
In the latest edition of Staff Favorites, we turn to one of Gear Patrol’s longest standing contributors, Mr. Jon Gaffney. The New England native was always a shoe in for the team thanks to his eye for craftsmanship, an obsession for photography and a hunger for physical challenge that at times made us question his sanity (in a loving, concerned way, of course). Luckily, he still knows how to properly relax, typically on a dock somewhere in Maine between waterskiing runs, which also happens to be his default answer to “where he’d rather be”. But you didn’t really need to read this to know any of these things. His favorites tell the story far more eloquently than we ever will.
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.
The few, the proud, the Packard
The seventh installment of our Staff Favorites series features Mr. Scott Packard. Scott is thoroughly defined by his 20 years of service as a Marine Corps infantry officer; you’ll see this clearly throughout his staff picks. But to imagine that this is his sole character trait is entirely foolish. He’s an excellent writer, enrapturing GP’s audience with Defense Journals and other articles packed full of ethos and well-studied logic. Scott’s also an active athlete (his favorite pastimes include bicycling, surfing, skiing and even, recently, motocross); a craft beer enthusiast who frequents many of the great tap rooms in his home of San Diego with his wife, who he says enjoys beer even more than he; a passionate cook; and a father and husband. He is, in short, the Most Interesting Man in the World’s older, wiser brother. We’re proud to have this experienced character on our staff. He’s proud of some awesome gear.
The primary goal in the manufacture of any watch is precision; there is scarcely a watchmaker, from Patek Philippe to Citizen, that would argue that fact. After all, the whole raison d’être of a watch is to tell the time — if it does that poorly, you might as well be wearing a charm bracelet….
A collectible in its own right
Seiko watches have a long and impressive history: the company produced their first watches in 1924 and have continuously produced wrist watches till this day. While often exempt from the conversation about fine timepieces that is typically reserved for German and Swiss pedigrees, Seiko takes quality very seriously. While they now produce some parts overseas…
This article is Volume 2 in our special Icons series for Timekeeping, written by our guru Jason Heaton. In case you missed it, be sure to catch our first Icons article, Volume 1: Super Compressor Dive Watch. 1970 was a year of great ups and downs for the mechanical chronograph. The vaunted Omega Speedmaster helped…
Complications? Yes. Complicated? Let's discuss.
The follow-up to our last Timekeeping feature (The Dive Watch, Deconstructed), Jason Heaton delves into the hallowed world of the Chronograph. There is no other type of watch that requires as much interaction from its wearer as the chronograph. Even at rest a chronograph dutifully waits, its sweep hand standing still, alert and vertical, inviting…
When it comes to Seiko, most of us have fond memories of the quartz watches we wore back in our high school — long before moving onto more expensive and complicated timepieces. Before making such a jump, we often start at more modest beginnings and as evident by their inclusion in our guide, Seiko is…
A man is what he carries
Editor’s Note: We’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about our EDC (everyday carry for the uninitiated); in large part because of one of our favorite Tumblers, EDC. If you’ve never been, head there if you want to kill an hour or two. While we already have our daily rigs sorted out reasonably well…
We feature a lot of watches and admittedly many of them cost a sizable amount. That isn’t about to change, but there are fine choices out there that don’t require nearly the same investment. Seiko is one of our favorite timepiece manufacturers (this author has two) – and the Sportura World Timer series is one…