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History of the Diver's Watch

A tool watch is a watch that has a particular purpose. A tool watch does at least one thing more than just tell time.

Since mankind began underwater exploration, a watch has been his companion. Knowing the correct time is a matter of life or death, and the relevance of a robust and accurate timepiece cannot be underestimated.

A Diver’s watch was born out of necessity, making it the ultimate tool watch. The Enoksen philosophy is to merge great design with functionality, quality and affordability, giving you a range of highly credible watches with a purpose and at a price everyone can afford.

Our first watch, the Deep Dive is a tribute to underwater exploration and to the great pioneers who opened our eyes to the world beneath the sea.

Enoksen - Blog Post - History of the Diver's Watch - Enoksen Deep Dive image

With features like water resistance to 100 ATM (1,000 metres), helium escape valve, sapphire crystal, ceramic uni-directional bezel, automatic movement and two high-quality NATO straps, the Deep Dive has it all.

With its no-nonsense design and easy to read Luminova dial it will keep up with you, regardless if you are a deep-sea diver or if you just feel good about owning the best technology available.

To better understand how Deep Dive came about, it makes sense to take a look at what preceded it.

The innovation of modern underwater diving is often credited to one man; Jacques Cousteau. Working together with the engineer Émile Gagnan, who invented the Demand Regulator which significantly improved on existing underwater breathing technology. With the regulator fitted to a breathing apparatus, longer dives became possible.  This new invention allowed Cousteau and Gagnan to film and explore more easily underwater and paved the way for scuba diving as we know it today. Scuba is actually a reference to the device that Cousteau and Gagnan so brilliantly pioneered.

With longer dives now being possible, timing suddenly became a big issue. It was a matter of life and death to know when the air supply would run out. At this time watches for diving were still in its infancy. Rolex had introduced the Oyster case, which featured a hermetic seal as early as 1927.

In 1932 Omega introduced a rectangular watch called Marine, which featured a patented double sliding and removable case. Unlike the Rolex Oyster, the Marine achieved its water resistance from encapsulating the watch itself, and in doing so obtained the Swiss Laboratory for Horology’s certification that the watch was able to withstand 13.5 ATM of water pressure without any water intake. 13.5 ATM equates to 135m or 443ft.

By 1935 the Royal Italian Navy began to search for a water resistant and luminous watch for its divers. Panerai rose to the challenge and presented the navy with its brand new Radiomir model – a watch that interestingly enough was manufactured by Rolex.

World War II dampened the efforts to move the diver’s watch game forward but in 1953 Blancpain introduced its legendary Fifty Fathoms model and laid the foundation to the modern diver’s watch.

 

Indeed Jacques Cousteau and his team of divers were all equipped with Fifty Fathoms watches during the making of the underwater film "Le monde du silence", for which he won the Palme d'or at the Cannes film festival in 1956. Since then Fifty Fathoms has evolved and it is still a highly desirable and sought-after watch today.

A story about diver’s watches would not be complete without the mentioning of the most iconic watch of them all; The Rolex Submariner. Submariner is probably the most recognisable and desired watch in the world. Nothing spells adventure, class and robustness like a Submariner.

Introduced at the Basel Watch Fair in 1954 it became an instant classic and was elevated to further fame when James Bond made it his watch of choice in the first 10 of the world famous spy’s outings.  This was in a time before product placement and legend has it that Sean Connery borrowed the Submariner he is sporting in Dr. No from one of the producers. In other words, Rolex didn’t pay a penny for having their watches on the wrist of 007.

Another company that did have to pay for the privilege of kitting out the world’s best known secret agent is Omega. Omega launched its iconic Seamaster range in the 1950s and it was game on in the battle against Rolex.

During the 1960s and the 1970s the two companies exchanged blows and Omega launched its rather odd looking but highly efficient Proplof watch (Plongeur Professionnel) to meet the requirements of companies specializing in deep diving operations like the French Comex (Compagnie Maritime d'Expertises).

 

Rolex responded with the introduction of the Submariner Seadweller – a watch with a 610m/2000ft water resistance. A special version of the Seadweller, made for Comex is one of the most desirable pre-owned Rolex watches there is. Expect to pay from £50,000 and upwards if you can find one.

Today all the premium watch brands offer a wide range of diver’s watches. At Enoksen, we're proud to carry on the heritage of the Diver's watch, but for the new age. Quality, fashionable timepieces without the brand tax.