Here at Gnomon, tool watches are our staple food. Whether a sixties-themed Skin-diver from Seiko or one from Dievas that’s a hybrid with Teutonic appeals, this extensive genre has been our salvo since day one. The very essence of a functional timepiece lies within its durable and dependable aspects – allowing its wearer to be fascinated with a form of mechanical art and have a better sense of assurance for daily wear on the other. That’s truly special about watches that put functionality at the front. Unanimously, in a recent interview with the legendary collector John Goldberger, where he was asked what advice he would give for an aspiring collector who is about to start a collection. His answer was simply to “focus on tool watches…”
That leads me into this month’s Look-book. I’ll take this opportunity to re-explore five dive watches that, to me, befits the objective of why proper tool watches like these are as classic as ever. Well-rounded and purposely built with everlasting semblance. In fact, they seem to cater well for both young starter and dyed-in-the-wool collectors, at any one point of their hobby. And while we are that, I’ve kept these watches in one common theme (apart from the genre); they clad a sober black dial with minimal panache. As the saying goes, “black is the queen of colors,” and I couldn’t agree better within horology context.
This look-book is a succinct refresh on the redolent charm of classic dive watches – where many of us still are motivated to pick them up and wear them often. Through them, it proffers as a reminder of the phenoms and allures of a functional tool watch. Always in vogue, always will be. Therefore in all their glory, let’s check them out over below.
Steinhart Ocean One Black
Starting with an all-time classic from our site, it’s the longstanding dive watch model for Steinhart: the indelible Ocean One Black. It’s undoubtedly the uber dive watch from the brand. Verily encapsulating a diver’s watch’s design homogeneity, the Ocean diver is robustly built and vastly desirable – filled with purposeful elements that one could appreciate.
Started out as a 42mm sports watch, the Ocean diver can withstand 300m water-resistant and have since been good at that. So much so that later incarnations are merely another representation of it, with appropriate upgrades and slight refinements in its esoteric built and materials. Nothing else has evolved throughout two decades of production. Is it ever going to be boring? Never once did I felt this way with the mettle Ocean One Black.
Yes, it handles the depth of oceans since birth and the same way today. Besides, its matte black dial and bezel combination, set forth as one of the most versatile hues, establishing a sense of immortality. Altogether with its enduring case aesthetic, you get a dive watch that has underwent the passage of time with no intention of slowing down. And so, the notion of the Ocean one Black imbued these apparent reasons for its popularity until today.
Squale 30 ATMOS GMT Black Ceramica – 40mm
Now, the second one had opened my eyes wide and took functionality onto another level. It befits as a traveler’s piece while putting on a dinner coat for formality. And that is the Squale 30 Atmos GMT with its semi-annular bracelet. Known widely as a “jubilee” design metal band, it allows the dive watch to transverse through time, harkening the glamours of yesteryears. Each link is multi-finished, with the center-link polished, flanged by satin-brushed sections that once again contrasted back with the mirror-polished sides. Indeed, a nice additional touch of elegance elevates the watch from what might be a humdrum tool watch.
That said, the black bezel is done out of ceramic material, with a singular purpose of being highly scratch-proof while being unchanging over time. Paired that with a proper GMT function, this particular dive watch now served to be multi-functional – as a 300m dive watch that allows you to track two/three time-zones concurrently and apt as a formal watch when needed. I could say this might be a three-in-one watch for my collection, meticulously executed by Squale.
Squale 50 ATMOS Blackout
Let’s stick to the brand once more. The dive watchmaker produces some of the most iconic dive watch cases in the industry since its inception in the fifties. Entailed to include one of them, and that is their 50 ATMOS skin diver. And since we’re on the black theme here, I’d go all out to comprise one with the Blackout PVD version. The Squale skin-diver, along with the ones listed here, is a watch that you never get sick of wearing. It’s versatile due to its dimension, a beautiful throwback of its sixties original, while the case profile is gorgeous. On the technical? It’s robustly built with 500m water-resistant.
While you might know that my wife preferred the Onda Laguna version from the March look-book, I’d picked the full black-panther mode 50 ATMOS as it’s just another level of cool. And if the Opaco variants felt utilitarian, this PVD 50 Atmos ameliorates that with more slickness, coalescing its overall appeal. Don’t believe me, try one out, and if not, check out our reasons on why these full-black beauties avow panache and feel personalized in many ways. Wakanda Forever!
Orient Star Diver Black Pwr Rsv Ref. RK-AU0301B
I’ll leave Seiko out this round as I’d go with another great watchmaker from Japan, and that’s Orient Star. Living as the premium entity of Orient watches, the Japanese watchmaker packs refinement within their tool watch package. The Diver Black Power Reserve Ref. RK-AU0301B is incandescent as such. This 43mm dive watch is, to me, an under-the-radar gem. Often overshadowed by Seiko’s Prospex divers. From the quality to its execution, the Orient Star Diver Black can be ensconced on the same plane as Seiko’s Sumo and others’ likes.
What enticed me with this JDM piece is it excels with originality and is purposefully executed. From its fat capsule hour markers and semi-skeleton handset to the fan-shaped power reserve. Everything is well thought and laid out on the dial, without any signs of confusion and clutter-ness. Best yet, when nowadays Seiko is seemingly moving its pricing upwards, the Orient Star shines here as one value-packed dive watch with intriguing details.
Squale Sub-39 Black Arabic
I’ll kibosh this look-book, musing the ever-green styles of dive watches, with yet another Squale: the newest Sub-39 Black Arabic. I’d felt that this particular watch proffers the brand savoir-faire as what it was supposed to be – creating impeccable tool watches with innovative watchmaking – just like its brethren 50 Atmos. The revered, retro case profile evidently derives from their early archive and supplanted. The proportion is spot on here at 39mm, housing a unique crystal glass insert that reminisces those bakelite ones from yesteryears. With 300m water-resistant, Squale managed to keep the watch at 12mm thick after adding in its domed sapphire crystal that evokes depth to the dial.
Speaking of which, You might feel there’s nothing much going on for the dial, but the pedantic effort lies within these hour markers. This model is characterized by its white Arabic indices- an uncustomary execution by Squale but a successful one. Surprisingly, the Nascent of Arabic numerals is rare for Squale, and it works here in perfect harmony.
What really matters here is that Arabic numerals are generally left for dress or pilot models. Seldom would you find on traditional dive watches, as most of, if not all of their dive watches come on conventional shaped hour markers, like applied metallic stripes, round dots, or baton stripes. As a result, the Sub-39 Black Arabic is way more excellent than its peers, as it imbues the highly legible numerals (that’s why it implemented in pilot watches) within an impeccable dive watch case. Staunch and impressive, that’s what Squale watchmaking is all about.