Fratello’s Top 5 Cool Skin Divers That Are Available Today—Our Picks From Seiko, Aquastar, Zodiac, And More
Another Friday, another Top 5! After two movie-related lists, it’s time to return to watches—skin divers, to be precise. We have seen some tremendous modern skin-diver-inspired watches come out lately. With a history dating back to the 1950s, the skin divers are a style of watch with plenty of history. On top of that, their style is among the most recognizable in the watch industry. That’s why we picked a list of five modern skin divers that celebrate the classic style in contemporary fashion.
For today’s Top 5, we go back to the 1950s. It was when the first skin divers appeared along with the rise of the popularity of diving. There was something very utilitarian about watches that were created to be used during recreational diving. For the real job, you had professional dive watches. For recreational divers, a wide variety of skin divers were available that were instantly recognizable. The watches featured a slimmer and smaller case than the professional watches. As a result, the water resistance was less than that of professional divers. But the advantages were watches that were smaller, slimmer, and lightweight and therefore easy to wear. On top of that, they were still very capable of doing their job. Lastly, they were refined and stylish enough to feel appropriate out of the water too.
Finding modern skin divers
For this list, we have picked five dive watches that take their influence from famous skin divers from the past. Sometimes, they are a modern reinterpretation of a classic; sometimes, they take the style and make it their own. As Mike explained in his article about vintage skin divers, there are plenty of pre-owned and new options. The instantly recognizable cases and the often functional style of the dials are what tie them all. But the result is as stylish as any other sports watch category out there. So let’s not waste any more time and look at our five favorite available options.
Aquastar Model 60
It’s no secret; I’m a big fan of Aquastar. The quirky style of the brand’s Deepstar is right up my alley. While the dial design of the Deepstar line might be an acquired taste, the cases are instantly recognizable by their skin-diver aesthetic. But recently, the brand announced the modern remake of the brand’s first diver that does not feature the eccentric style dial of the Deepstar. As Mike explained, the Aquastar Model 60 was introduced in 1957 and was one of the first watches to use the skin diver case style. The new Model 60 comes with the familiar skin diver case that the brand uses for its Deepstar II.
The stainless steel case measures 37mm, is 11mm thick, has a 47mm lug-to-lug, and a lug spacing of 19mm. The watch is water resistant up to 200 meters and has a glossy black dial with a very straightforward design compared to the Deepstar models. The stainless steel bidirectional bezel also features a regular 60-minute diving scale instead of the Deepstar’s signature decompression bezel. Inside the case, Aquastar uses the La Joux-Perret G100, which operates at 28,800vph and features a 68-hour power reserve. You can choose between a NATO strap, a Tropic strap, or beads of rice bracelet. On the Tropic strap for the true skin diver look, the watch is €1,370. On the bracelet, it is €1,410, and on a NATO the price is €1,310.
Technically, the Airain Sous-Marine is not available yet. So you will have to excuse me for that technical non-compliance. However, you can pre-order the great Sous-Marine now and have your starting November 2023 when shipping starts. After focussing on the Airain Type 20, Airain’s CEO Tom van Wijlick is now working hard, making the Sous-Marine equally impressive. The watch revives the classic skin diver in modern execution. As I explained in the article that unveiled the prototypes, this collaborative effort has been over a year in the making. The results are very nice, in part thanks to a dedicated group of fans involved every step of the way.
The Airain Sous-Marine comes with a 37.5mm skin-diver-style case with a slightly wider 38.2mm bezel diameter. The case thickness is 10.45mm without the sapphire crystal, which is 2.92mm thick. The total thickness of the watch on the wrist is 12.77mm, with a lug-to-lug of 48.2mm and a 20mm lug spacing. The watch is water resistant up to 200 meters and comes with a black PVD-coated 120-click unidirectional bezel and a special Parmentier crown with a small winding crown and a large screw-on cap to cover it. The dial features oversized Arabic numerals and large hands. In a nice twist, Airain offers a version with a unique “DNA strand” seconds hand. Inside the case is the same La Joux-Perret G100 movement that powers the Aquastar. The Airain Sous-Marine is a very tempting offering that comes in multiple colors for a reasonable €1,600.
Seiko Prospex SJE093
As an homage to probably the most well-known skin diver, the Seiko Prospex SPB143 is hard to deny. What is there to be said about this modern reinterpretation of Seiko’s 62MAS from 1965 that hasn’t been said? While it is still a great option three years after its release, we decided to go for the recently introduced Seiko SJE093. Sure, it is another 62MAS homage, and yes, we understand that its price is pretty steep at €3,700. This is partially explained by the fact that there will only be 1,965 pieces available. But just look at it! The new SJE093 has a smaller 38mm skin diver case that is better than any of its larger predecessors. To be more specific, the case measures 38mm in diameter with a 46mm lug-to-lug, is 12.5mm thick, and is 200-meter water resistant.
Under the box-shaped sapphire crystal, you will find the beautiful gray sunburst with applied luminous indices that define the 62MAS style. It looks stylish and, thankfully, does not feature the Prospex logo despite being part of that collection. Seiko uses the new Seiko 6L37 inside the case, allowing for a smaller size. It operates at 28,800vph and comes with 45 hours of power reserve. With the classic proportions and the beautiful simple dial layout, this SJE093 feels like a spot-on homage to the brand’s 1965 classic. The watches will be available this month. However, I’ll be surprised if they are not all sold out right away, this stunner will surely fly off the shelves, as Daan already mentioned.
Where the original skin diver was intended as an affordable dive watch, Glashütte Original shows that it is also the perfect canvas for a luxury watch. The Glasshütte Original SeaQ collection first debuted in 2019 and has been one of the brand’s defining silhouettes ever since. The style of the watch is similar to the Airain Sous-Marine, which took the second spot in this list. But the German brand has injected the style with the necessary luxury pizzazz to make this a true luxury watch. My personal favorite of the collection was the limited edition SeaQ 1969 with oddball differences in lume color on the hands and dial. But the regular model “corrects” that and has been a popular watch for the brand modeled after the Glashütte Spezimatic Type RP TS 200 from 1969.
The SeaQ has a 39.5mm stainless steel case 12.15mm thick and water resistant up to 200 meters. The dial features wonderfully oversized Arabic numerals and a date complication at three o’clock. Glasshütte Original offers the watch with either a blue, green, or black dial. Additionally, there are also gold and gold & steel variants. But it goes without saying that the original style would be a stainless steel version with a black dial. Inside the case, the brand equips the watches with its in-house Caliber 39-11. This self-winding movement operates at 28,800vph and has a power reserve of 40 hours. You can pick from a rubber strap, synthetic strap, and a stainless steel bracelet. On the latter, it looks stunning, and at €11,000, this is not a cheap option. But it is a beautiful one.
Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 Skin Diver
For our last pick, we turned to another classic. Zodiac is another brand that produced skin divers back when recreational diving became massively popular. The brand’s Super Sea Wolf 53 Skin Diver takes after the original from the early fifties. It comes with a 39mm stainless steel case that is 12.7mm thick, has a lug-to-lug of 46.5mm, and is water resistant up to 200 meters. The dial design is slightly different from the other watches in this list with its four large markers. Call it even more retro, fitting the 1950s, where the other watches take inspiration from watches from the 1960s. In his lengthy review, Nacho praised the watch for its extremely genuine looks, despite the modern execution. Because the watch comes equipped with a matte black ceramic bezel insert and a modern orange-glowing lume.
Inside the case, Zodiac equips the watch with the automatic STP1-11. The movement is based on the ETA 2824-2/Sellita SW200-1, operates at 28,800vph, and has 44 hours of power reserve. Nacho experienced that the movement was reliable and accurate at +2 seconds per day in three positions on the Timepgrapher. Those are impressive numbers. The watch is $1,295 on a black rubber strap and $1,595 on a stainless steel bracelet. It will buy you a modern version of the watch that defined the style in the 1950s. And at a decent price too.
Final thoughts on the top skin diver options
There you have it—a small selection of skin divers that are currently available. As is always the case with lists like these, a wide variety of references could have been featured in this article. That’s why this list is the starting point of a more extensive discussion. What is your favorite skin diver currently available, and why? Let us know in the comments section below. We will see you next week for another Top 5 list of references for a different classic watch.