I read a review recently concerning the shrinking diameter size of dive watches that started me thinking. Is it true luxury dive watches are getting smaller, and if that’s case, is it a universal shift in design or just confined to particular manufacturers?
I thought I`d take a look at some of my favorite dive watches to see if they have been shrinking over time, or whether they have taken a significant hit on their diameter in recent times.
There are a number choices that are pretty obvious when it comes to quality dive watches. The famous and iconic Rolex Submariner hits the top of the list followed closely by my personal favorites, the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean and Breitlings` Superocean. Then there are a some really interesting pieces like the Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Diver Extreme, Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms and the Panerai Luminor Submersible.
Now, that’s a pretty mixed bunch I`m sure you’ll agree?
So, let’s start from the top and work our way down the list and see what comes out in the wash, shall we?
All these brands have their very own flagship collections which are represented here in this list so whatever we discover we can`t really put it down to testing the water, but more a considered long-term direction.
First off, the Rolex Submariner first introduced 1953 with model number 6204 or 6205 depending on your opinion, was introduced with its classic design and 37.5mm case that`s been a staple for divers ever since. It`s also been a source of numerous copies and homages to this classic diver timepiece. So successful was the design it still flourishes today decades on, translating the original design cues into slightly different but recognizable variants like the Invicta Mako Pro Diver for example. By the 1960s the 5508 model came in 38mm or 40mm, but the most recent model 114060 is still produced as a 40mm case, so no change there.
Rolex Model 6204 and 114060
Invicta homage to Rolex Submariner
Omega boasts a wide-ranging collection of Seamaster models, the Seamaster Planet Ocean being their biggest design review since the Seamaster Professional back in 1993. Originally released in 2005 it offered two different size variations of 42mm and 45.5mm. Today, the new Planet Ocean 600M and 600M chronograph takes on the mantle of the Planet Ocean family and currently offers three case sizes of 39.5mm, 43.5mm models, as well as the 45.5mm.
So, it looks like Omega is giving an option or a nod to the smaller case size with a 39.5mm option, but the original 45.5mm and a 43.5mm option are in the vanguard of their collection and going as strong as ever. From the evidence I see before me, I’m not convinced Omega is changing direction towards a smaller cased watch either now, or in the future.
Originally launched in 1957 the Superocean has seen a long and auspicious service, its 42mm and 44mm watches gracing the wrists of the rich and famous such as Buzz Aldrin, Robert Duval, John Travolta, Tommy Lee Jones, I could go. So successful was the Superocean it wasn’t until 2015 Breitling decided to release their major update called SuperoceanII.
The SuperoceanII comes in 36mm 42mm and 44mm diameters, with a case in satin-brushed or polished steel and fitted with a black or blue dial matching the bezel and strap.
The Superocean Heritage, however, does something the other flavors don’t do. Although it comes in a 42mm case it is also available as a 46mm beast. So now we see the Superocean in all its variants is available in 36mm 42mm 44mm and 46mm.
Just like the Omega has done with their nod to a smaller case, Breitling has also made a smaller, less ostentatious offering, but this still doesn’t look like Breitlings` dive watches are getting smaller by any mark.
Maurice Lacroix Pontos
The first watch from Maurice Lacroix called the Pontos S Diver appeared in 2013, it was actually the first name of the now Pontos S Chronograph, sometimes just called the Pontos S, the forerunner of the S Diver Extreme.
So what’s the big woop? What makes the Extreme, the Extream? In a word “Powerlite” which is the name, they give to the exclusive super strong alloy they refer to as ‘Extreme’. This timepiece was originally built with a 43mm case, and we see the new ‘Extreme is still encased in a 43mm super tough case constructed using their unique ‘POWERLITE® alloy, composed of aluminum, magnesium, titanium, zirconium and ceramic.
Diver Extreme in 3 Ceramic colors
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
Interestingly the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was around before the Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster by a few years. Launched in 1953 in direct competition with the Rolex Submariner, it’s was first true dive watch to take a position of reverence among dive watch collectors that was second only to the Rolex’s Submariner.
Originally Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe was built in a 41mm in 1953, although it was also produced in smaller sizes of 35-38mm more in keeping the fashion of the time.
Jump ahead to 2013 the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe was revived and left original case size in favor of a 43mm
There is little doubt about which direction Blancpain is heading and it’s not down the road to smaller watches.
1936 the Royal Italian Navy chose the Officine Panerai Radiomir watch for its frogmen commandos. By the 940 the introduction of crown protection, sandwich dial, and Luminor to create luminosity, that Panerai took to give the watch its name. By 1950 the evolution from Radiomir to Liuminor was complete.
The Luminor Submersible 1950 was built in 47mm with a thick rotating dive bezel and a smaller 42mm version as the brand started following the trend.
Come 1993 Luminor Marina which was a variation of the Submersible was made available for the first time not restricted to military forces.
Since this time Panerai has become one of the most recognizable and highly appreciated Sports/Dive watches with their unmistakable design and intriguing history. The brand has successfully created a full range including advanced functions with the standard Luminor case is available in 40 and 44 mm versions, while the Luminor 1950 comes in 42, 44 and 47 mm.
So, if anything is true it is that Panerai is seeking to increase the size of their cases.
Well, it doesn’t really get much more conclusive than this does it? From the selected brands, most of which are respected dive watches manufacturers. With their rich histories of producing both classic design and top end quality, none of these examples can be seen as anything less than market leaders, and none of them are shrinking their cases.
It makes sense of course because let’s just stop for a second, and ask what we are using dive watches for. My standard Citizen dive watch is small and that’s fine, but given the choice of a larger case and dial, I’d have no hesitation in taking the larger and more visible one. It’s a no-brainer.
Well, I still think it was worth taking the time investigate the idea of shrinking cases, and now I am pretty sure it’s not the case, although I will keep my eyes open for other manufacturers opting for a smaller case.
What do you think? Have you ever looked at this subject and do you have anything to add? Don’t be shy, tell me what you think.
For more information about where to look for your favorite watch brand why not read my watch store reviews to get a better idea where to look?
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