Let’s be honest, how many of you actually wear your luxury diving watch while diving? If you were to ask 100 people with diving watches on their wrists, I’d wager very few would say they do. Long gone are the days when giants like Rolex, Blancpain, and Panerai sold their highly specialized tool watches to military forces for serious underwater use. Diving watches have since made their way into the mainstream thanks to their attractive, sporty designs. Stainless steel models from major manufacturers have proven especially popular, and many sell for many times their list prices on the open market.
Buy why would you wear a stainless steel diving watch when you could wear the same model in gold? After all, the precious metal is the ultimate symbol of wealth and power. At the most recent installment of Geneva Watch Days, gold was definitely trending. Of course, not everyone likes the flashy gold look, which probably explains why demand is generally lower, and prices more stable, for gold watches. Despite some skepticism about the eye-catching precious metal, gold has a seductive, undeniable appeal that suits many wrists and many varied occasions. You can pair a gold watch just as well with a well-tailored shirt as you can with a Hawaiian shirt and a tan.
We’ve put together a list of five diving watches currently on the market that are all available in gold. Any one of these watches would look great at your desk or under water.
Omega Seamaster 300: Sedna or yellow gold?
The Omega Seamaster 300 has played a central role in the Omega catalog since its inception in 1957. It all started with the ref. CK2913, and many of the original watch’s characteristic features remain intact to this day. The broad arrow hands, trapezoidal hour markers, and Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock have come to define the Seamaster 300. Omega offers a range of stainless steel versions of the model, as well as several two-tone stainless steel and gold variants.
However, the two solid gold versions definitely outshine the rest of the series. The Seamaster 300 ref. 126.96.36.199.01.001 features a 41-mm case and bracelet made of Omega’s own 18k rose gold alloy called Sedna gold. The ref. 188.8.131.52.01.002, in turn, is made of yellow gold. Both watches feature a contrasting black sandwich dial with hour markers featuring Super-LumiNova in a tone matching the gold case. The hour, minute, and second hands are all made of 18k gold, as is the diving scale on the ceramic bezel.
While some Seamaster 300 fans may desire a solid gold case back on these references, they both feature sapphire crystal instead, revealing the Co-Axial caliber 8401 at work inside. The movement is beautiful to behold with its golden balance bridge and rotor and Geneva stripes. Moreover, it features two barrels and offers a power reserve of 60 hours. Thanks to a silicon balance spring, the Co-Axial caliber is also resistant to magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss. Like all modern Seamaster 300s, the gold versions are also water-resistant to 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft).
Of course, all that gold and technology come at a price. The yellow gold version costs just under $27,000 on Chrono24, and its Sedna gold counterpart costs roughly $1,000 more. However, these prices are still below Omega’s official list price of $34,800.
Panerai Luminor Submersible Goldtech 42 mm
The Panerai Submersible Goldtech ref. PAM01164 is yet another gold diver that’s worth checking out. Goldtech is Panerai’s own gold alloy. It has an intense red tone due to it high copper content. Panerai also includes platinum in the mix, which supposedly helps prevent oxidation of the precious metal.
The Submersible line is still a relatively young addition to the Panerai catalog; it’s only been an independent collection since 2019. Although there are obvious similarities to the Luminor, the Submersible has a number of elements that make it stand out. These include a unidirectional bezel and dot hour markers in all but the 6 and 12 o’clock positions, where you’ll find baton indices instead.
With a diameter of “just” 42 mm, the Submersible is a pretty average size by Panerai standards. In typical Panerai fashion, the case is cushion-shaped and comes with the brand’s characteristic crown guard, which in this case is also made of gold. Unlike Rolex and Omega, Panerai doesn’t outfit their gold diver with a matching gold bracelet, instead opting for a black Panerai rubber strap.
The automatic caliber P.900 powers the watch and provides it with a 3-day power reserve. The P.900 is produced by movement manufacturer ValFleurier, which, like Panerai, is a member of the Richemont Group. You won’t be able to catch a glimpse of the caliber at work, however, as it is hidden behind a black titanium case back.
In 2020, Panerai got some negative press because they downgraded the movement without giving the industry a heads-up. They removed the stop seconds mechanism, which makes it much more difficult to set the watch to the exact second.
Panerai’s official list price is $28,500, but the market price on Chrono24 is closer to $24,000.
Rolex Submariner Date Ref. 126618LB
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a gold Submariner, so let’s take a closer look at the yellow gold Submariner Date ref. 126618LB with a blue dial.
The Submariner Date 126618LB (LB stands for Lunette Bleue) was released in 2020. Like its stainless steel contemporaries, the watch measures 41 mm in diameter, which is 1 mm larger than its predecessor, the Submariner Date 116618LB. Along with a slightly larger case, the timepiece also got a new bracelet with a 21-mm lug width, as opposed to the previous 20. While these updates are rather subtle, even a millimeter matters on the wrist.
Similar to the gold Omega Seamaster 300, the case and bracelet of the Sub Date are made of 18k gold. The royal blue dial has a shimmering sunburst finish, making the watch shine even brighter. There’s not much to say about the dial layout other than it’s what you’d expect from a Rolex Submariner Date. The dot indices are filled with Chromalight and set in yellow gold, and the date and its corresponding magnifying window are, as expected, at 3 o’clock. The characteristic Mercedes hands are made of yellow gold, in keeping with the case and bracelet. The blue bezel is made of Rolex’s Cerachrom ceramic. The 126618LB comes on the popular Oyster bracelet; on this variant, however, the middle links are polished.
The in-house caliber 3235 powers the watch. Like all Rolex calibers, this movement is chronometer certified. It also has a Chronergy escapement made from a nickel-phosphorus alloy that is resistant to magnetic fields.
The Rolex list price of $36,950 seems almost moderate compared to that of the Panerai
Submersible without a gold bracelet. However, if you look on the open market, you’ll be hard-pressed to find the Rolex for any less than $47,000 in new condition nowadays – that’s around $9,000 less than it cost at its peak in April 2022. The ref. 126618LN (Lunette Noire) is the watch’s sibling model with a black dial and bezel.
Tudor Black Bay 18K: Green Dial and Aluminum Bezel
Rolex relative Tudor now has nearly 100 years of its own history to look back on. The manufacturer has long been considered a cheaper alternative to the brand with the crown. In the past 10 years or so, however, Tudor has managed to step out of the shadow of its sibling, in large part thanks to the success of the Black Bay line of diving watches, which was first introduced in 2011. Initially, the model was only available in a 41-mm stainless steel variant. Its classic and simple 1950s diving watch design with dot indices, a burgundy bezel, and snowflake hands proved a popular combination with the general public. Following the introduction of several other 41-mm variants, Tudor released the Black Bay Fifty-Eight in 2018, a reduced 39-mm version of the watch that was much flatter than the original at just 12 mm thick.
In 2020, Tudor unveiled the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18K ref. M79018V-0001 with an 18k yellow gold case. While the gold Rolex Submariners are available with black or blue dials, Tudor opted for a dark green for the Fifty-Eight, which contrasts beautifully with the gold case. The bezel inlay features a matching hue and is made of aluminum, which remains the material of choice for many diving watch fans.
Tudor has been using in-house calibers in the Black Bay Fifty-Eight series since 2015. The Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18K is powered by the automatic, chronometer-certified caliber MT5400 with a power reserve of 70 hours.
The full set comes with two bands: a green fabric strap with gold stripes and a dark brown alligator leather strap. The former perfectly suits the timepiece, giving it a nice tool watch character despite its shining appearance.
While the official list price for the model is $16,825, you can find it on Chrono24 for closer to $14,000.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique
Luxury watchmaker Blancpain is one of the world’s oldest watch manufacturers. While the company’s origins date back to 1735, their diving watch history began in 1953. That is the year they released the Fifty Fathoms, which means the watch even predates the Rolex Submariner. The model was first designed for the French Navy, and its name is a reference to the watch’s original depth rating of 50 nautical fathoms, which corresponds to exactly 300 ft. That was quite an impressive achievement at the time. Modern Fifty Fathoms watches offer more than three times that water resistance, however, with a depth rating of 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft).
In the past few decades, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms has followed a similar path to that of the Rolex Submariner in that both have evolved from professional tool watches to luxurious accessories for “desk divers.” In its nearly 70 years of existence, Blancpain has released countless variants of the model, including the Fifty Fathoms Automatique ref. 5015A 3630 63B.
At 45 mm in diameter, this watch is by far the largest on this list. The 18k red gold case stands an impressive 15.5 mm tall, which is significantly larger than the Sub’s 12.5-mm height. With those dimensions, you had best have a strong wrist to confidently sport this timepiece.
The watch shares a lot of its looks with Fifty Fathoms variants from the 1960s; however, those watches weren’t quite so large. The glossy black dial features trapezoidal indices set in red gold as well as Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock. The large ceramic bezel is particularly striking with its diving scale made of Super-LumiNova.
The in-house caliber 1315 ticks away inside the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique and provides it with an impressive 120-hour power reserve. In addition to the traditional hour, minute, and second displays, the watch has a date at 4:30. The watch comes mounted on a brown leather strap with a rubber inner lining.
The red gold Fifty Fathoms Automatique has performed well financially up to this point. In October 2020, the variant cost around $22,000. Now, some two years later, the same watch will set you back more than $25,000.
That’s our list of five of the most exciting gold divers on the market today. So, which is your favorite?