06/10/2016
 4 minutes

Vintage Diving Watches

By Robert-Jan Broer
Tudor Submariner
Tudor Submariner

Vintage watches are hot. Aside from collecting specific brands, there is a lot of interest in vintage chronographs as well as vintage diver’s. In this article we’ll focus on the vintage divers out there that are worth giving a closer look for collecting purposes.

Water resistant watches are as common as cell phones with cameras these days, but that wasn’t always the case. The first waterproof watches were more or less “dust proof” rather than waterproof. Rolex came out with their water resistant Oyster case in 1926 and Omega followed in 1932 with their Omega Marine, one of the first wristwatches that could actually be used in the water. You probably also know the story about the Panerai watches used by the Italian Navy for underwater missions.

In the 1950s and 1960s, there was a huge market for water resistant watches. The Rolex Submariner, Omega Seamaster 300, and even Seiko’s 62MAS were all considered to be serious diving watches that had interesting depth rates (150 m and deeper). Make no mistake, watches that are labelled water resistant to 30 m, or even 50 m, should not be used in (or perhaps near) water. They are indeed “dust proof” and gaskets will make sure no moisture can enter the watch due to rain or hand washing, but you cannot use them in the pool, bathtub, or shower.

Without further ado, let’s have a look at some of the collectible vintage diving watches out there:

Longines Automatic Diver

Longines Diver
Longines Diver – View offers on Chrono24

 

This watch has become more famous due to a revived version from a few years ago, the Longines Legend Diver. The original version from the 1960s is a beautiful vintage diver’s watch sporting the Longines CAL19AS movement, a super compressor case, and two crowns (to set the time and operate the inner diving bezel) at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock.

These watches are hard to come by, but the hunt is part of the fun when collecting vintage watches.

Seiko 6105-8110

If you’re a moviegoer, you might have seen the Seiko 6105-8110 on Martin Sheen’s wrist in the film Apocalypse Now. It was produced between 1968 and 1977 when it was succeeded by the Seiko 6309. Water resistant to 150 m, it was a serious diver’s watch at the time. Although Seiko produced (and still produces) a high number of watches, this specific reference is quite popular and thus difficult to find in a good, wearable condition.

Rolex Submariner

Rolex Submariner
Rolex Submariner, Image: © Bert Buijsrogge

It is impossible to talk about vintage diving watches without mentioning Rolex Submariner watches. These vintage models have become so hyped and sought-after, that buying a Rolex Submariner from the 1950s, 1960s, and even the 1970s has become a very difficult task. Popular references like the 5512, 5513, and 1680 have been tampered with a lot in attempts to make them ‘original’ again.

Buy the seller, as they say, when looking for an authentic  vintage Rolex Submariner. The diving bezel, luminous hands (or at least formerly-luminous hands), and screw-down crown and case back make these watches the typical sports diver from that era; traits that have been copied by many other (Swiss) brands.

Omega Seamaster PloProf

The Seamaster PloProf was revived in 2009, but the original goes back to 1970. That first PloProf collection was actually developed in close cooperation with COMEX (yes, the company that went on to work with Rolex later on). The Seamaster PloProf had a monobloc case and a clever locking system for the diving bezel and crown. Available in a few variations, including a left-crown version, the Seamaster PloProf was never a very popular watch and only a few are around these days.

Today, you wouldn’t look ridiculous with a vintage Seamaster PloProf on your wrist, as its size isn’t an issue anymore. Make sure that the PloProf has the original dial and hands, and that the movement has been serviced periodically.

Tudor Submariner

 

This Tudor Submariner is close to the Rolex Submariner. No wonder, seeing as Tudor belongs to the Rolex company and used Rolex parts for these watches for a long time. The Tudor Submariner 94110 and 94010 are two examples of beautiful diving pieces. The case back even says Rolex and the crown is signed with the Rolex crown. The movement, however, is based on an ETA caliber.

Unlike today, Tudor did not initially develop and produce their own movements, as it did not fit the vision of founder Hans Wilsdorf that Tudor watches needed to be more affordable than Rolex timepieces.

Breitling Superocean

Breitling is famous for their navigation watches for pilots, but they also have a couple of beautiful diver’s watches as well. The Superocean, a model that is still in the current collection, goes way back. The vintage Superocean reference 2005 from 1965 combines diving with a chronograph and is a much sought-after timepiece. A chronograph (Venus 188 movement) in a diving watch might struck you as strange, but Breitling made this piece water resistant to 200 meters.


About the Author

Robert-Jan Broer

Robert-Jan, founder of Fratello Magazine, has been writing about watches since 2004. However, his passion for watches dates back much further. In fact, he sold his …

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