The Top 8 Awesome Desk-Diver Watches — Blancpain, Omega, Panerai, And More…
Desk diving is without a doubt the favorite pastime of many watch enthusiasts. The number of diving watches that will never be used for their intended purpose is enormous. And at Fratello, a majority of the team is also “guilty as charged”. Luckily we also have some people on the Fratello team that do take their diving watches into the water and test their true functionality. But for all of you that do not go diving this summer, we have made a list of the eight best desk diving watches that look great in the office. Additionally, they will make for a great watch summer watch. So let’s desk dive in!
The thing that has always surprised me the most when it comes to discussing watches is how some people will argue that the best watch is the one with the best specs. Objectively that might be true, but when it comes to making individual choices, objectivity is quickly outweighed by the subjectivity of emotions. And there is nothing more emotional than style. That’s why we decided to make this list about the most stylish diving watches that are a perfect fit for stylish desk diving in the office, during your summer holidays and — in case you get a little crazy — will be a handy diving tool. So let’s find the eight best available desk divers. Yes, I said “available”. You know what that means. So without further ado, here we go.
1. Unimatic Modello Uno
The people that know me, saw this one coming a mile away. In my opinion, Unimatic creates some of the best minimalist watches out there for an affordable price. The Milan-based brand has released a wide variety of different versions of their diving watch, the Modello Uno. A part of them was inspired by founders Giovanni Moro and Simone Nunziato’s quest for the perfect minimalist diver. As both men are industrial designers by trade, they explored the possibilities of changing the rules of design by taking away all decoration. After that, take away some more essential elements and come up with the perfect desk diver. The end results are often surprising while still feeling like a diving watch and keeping its diving watch capabilities with 300-meter water resistance.
Additionally, Unimatic has created some absolutely great collaborations with a variety of other brands. From more lifestyle and fashion-orientated brands to the more traditional watch platforms. The watches are powered by the Seiko NH35 movement that allows them to keep the prices between roughly €500–€700. Up until recently the brand only released limited production runs of their designs. But the latest news is that there is now a permanent collection that consists of one basic version of each of their four models. The Modello Uno Classic UC1 is their new “standard” model and it is available for €525 excluding taxes. It doesn’t get more stylish for that money.
2. Certina DS PH200M Blue
The Certina DS PH200M is one of my personal favorites and an overall Fratello favorite. This vintage-inspired diver is the perfect combination of incredible retro style with the best in modern-day specs. The watch features a 42.8mm case with a beautiful gloss dark blue dial and a rounded blue ceramic bezel. The bezel is slightly bigger than the case, making it easy to use and it also makes the watch wear smaller than its size would have you think as Balazs explained in his review. Additionally, the bezel features etched gold indices and a Super-LumiNova lume dot that combine to give the watch its vintage appeal. The dial backs that up with a mix of white and gold accents and sword-style hands.
Inside the largely brushed stainless steel case, you will find the Powermatic 80(.111) caliber with 80 hours of power reserve. It’s the Swatch group’s workhorse movement that is the perfect movement for this stylish diver. On top of that, the watch comes at a very affordable price of €895 on a NATO strap. If you prefer a mesh bracelet you pay €950. It makes the Certina DS PH200M probably the most charming sub €1,000 diver out there.
3. Aquastar Deepstar
I am often drawn towards designs that are defined by balance and symmetry. That’s not what I found with the Aquastar Deepstar, but it’s one of the watches that I love because of it. As Mike explained in his review, I was smitten with the watch the first time I laid eyes on it. The re-make of the 1960s Deepstar is bigger than the 1960s original at 40.5mm and with a substantial 50.5mm lug-to-lug. But it turned out to be the perfect size for my wrist. What makes this such a great chronograph diver is its incredible wrist presence. The contrast of the brushed skin diver style case with the polished bi-directional rotating no-deco bezel is really nice. The domed sapphire crystal gives it some proper vintage cred.
The true star is the black dial that has a huge white 30-minute sub-register at 3 o’clock and a funny little diamond-shaped hand at 9 o’clock to indicate the movement is running. Add the oversized hour markers at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock and the lume dots that seem scattered around the dial and you end up with something that shouldn’t make sense. But it absolutely does. Inside the case, we find an automatic LaJoux-Perret column-wheel bi-compax chronograph movement. A quality pick with 55 hours of power reserve and pushers that are a joy to operate. You have to witness the Aquastar Deepstar from up close to witness its beauty. It offers tons of style and charm with a great movement for €3,590, making it one of my favorite releases of last year.
4. Doxa Sub 300 Carbon
The coolest thing for me about the Sub 300 Carbon is that the initial Sub 300 design from the 1960s does not just stand the test of time perfectly, but executed with modern materials it proves that it’s cooler than most modern diving watches out there. As Balazs explained in his review, the watch is incredibly light because of its carbon case, making it a joy to wear. While he reviewed the Divingstar model that comes with a yellow dial and either yellow or a black rubber strap, you actually have the choice of a variety of ten different dial and strap options. My pick would be the Aquamarine with its Turquoise dial on a black strap or the black dial Sharkhunter. They both look very cool and show that the design is as stylish and relevant as ever.
Besides the lightweight execution in carbon, the Doxa Sub 300 Carbon also measures a friendly 42.5×45mm with a thickness of 13.4mm. It makes the watch suited for a variety of wrist sizes. The carbon case features a glass box sapphire and a pressure-resistant titanium casing to protect the movement. To power the Sub 300 Carbon, Doxa uses COSC-certified self-winding ETA or Sellita movements that operate at 28,800vph and have a 38-hour power reserve. At €3,790 the Sub 300 Carbon is a serious step up from the stainless steel Sub 300. But what you get in return is also a serious step up in terms of modern materials resulting in great wearability and stunning looks.
5. Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925
Tudor was able to surprise me greatly with their Black Bay Fifty-Eight this year. I was never a big fan of the initial black version of the BB58 with its retro vibe. Additionally, the times I tried it on a strap, the 39mm watch looked way too small on my wrist. My opinion changed drastically however when I had the pleasure of trying out last year’s BB58 Blue on a stainless steel bracelet. It showed it is a great size for my wrist and the blue version’s crisp looks showed that for me the vintage-inspired design doesn’t need any extra vintage treatment. This year, however, Tudor completely surprised most of us with a number of additions that show the incredible versatility of the BB58. The Black Bay Fifty-Eight 18K and Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze showed that the design works perfectly with a combination of different metals and clever color choices.
But the best out of them for me is without a doubt the Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925 with its silver case and taupe-colored dial and bezel. Lex wrote a very nice in-depth review of the watch in which he explains that from a practical standpoint, this release makes less sense as a hardcore diving watch. It will do the task perfectly when it comes to specs with 200 meters of water resistance and the trusted COSC-certified Tudor Caliber MT-5400. But a silver diving watch is not an obvious choice from a practical standpoint. But from an aesthetical point of view, it very much is. At €4,080 this offers the full package and that makes it the perfect desk diver.
6. Omega Seamaster 300M Diver Steel — Sedna gold
From the moment Omega’s new Seamaster 300M Diver collection was revealed at Baselworld 2018, this steel and Sedna gold version has stood out. Robert-Jan and I very quickly agreed that it is the perfect combination of style and function. Omega’s recently introduced the Seamaster 300 that would have been a perfect addition to this list as well. But this version of the 300M Diver proves an important point. Stylish diving watches do not always have to be retro-inspired timepieces. This steel and Sedna gold version of the Seamaster 300M Diver (ref. 184.108.40.206.01.002) watch is a modern diver in all its facets, from the specs to the movement to its design.
But where the stainless steel version is a very nice option, the Sedna gold bezel, crown, and helium escape valve, boost its stylistic appeal tremendously. It’s without a doubt the most versatile watch on this list. You can wear this with a suit and during a dive into the ocean. The 42mm case in combination with the black rubber strap makes sure that it sits perfectly on your wrist. If you turn the watch around, you will see Omega’s in-house produced automatic Caliber 8800 through the sapphire display case back. The Master Chronometer co-axial movement is anti-magnetic up to 15,000 gauss and has a power reserve of 55 hours. As Robert-Jan explained this is the perfect all-rounder and at €6,900 it is hard to beat.
7. Panerai Submersible Goldtech PAM01164
From the bi-color option of the Omega, it’s only a small step to a full gold option. The Panerai Submersible Goldtech (PAM01164) is the perfect option from Panerai for this list. Obviously, there is plenty to choose from when it comes to Panerai. Did you see the recently introduced left-handed 47mm Luminor “Destro” with its being dial? That is an absolute peach and I can’t wait to check that out from up close. Additionally, I have a soft spot for the Radiomir California and Radiomor S.L.C. But all of these models are 47mm and they are — once again — vintage-inspired. While the Submersible line definitely takes inspiration from its brothers, it is the brand’s modern line of diving watches.
On top of that, the Submersible Goldtech comes in a smaller 42mm size which makes it perfect for wearing in the office without people staring at that big watch on your wrist. Instead, they will catch a glimpse of that stylish 42mm Goldtech case, Panerai’s proprietary red gold alloy. The watch features a black dial and black ceramic bezel accented with red gold markers. Inside the red gold case, Panerai equipped the watch with the automatic Calibre P.900. As Rob explained in his review, it is a fine movement that operates as 28,800vph with a 3-day power reserve that is shared amongst brands within the Richemont Group. The PAM01164 brings a ton of style for €27,200 with an aesthetic that is hard to beat.
8. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms No Rad
The last watch on this list is the first one that kickstarted the category. On a search for stylish desk divers, this is the first watch to think of. The classic Blancpain Fifty Fathoms still has every bit of style that made the original Fifty Fathoms from 1953 such a great watch. Over the decades Blancpain produced a great number of different versions of the Fifty Fathoms. They showed the incredible strength of the design. Zooming in on the current collection, there are three versions that feature my preferred 40.5mm case. I much prefer that instead of the bigger 45mm case. Out of the three options, the Fifty Fathoms Barakuda has always been my favorite. But only a couple of months ago, Blancpain introduced the Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad that had me doubting.
This limited edition of only 500 pieces is a re-issue of the original Fifty Fathoms No Rad. It features the “No Radiations” logo that ensured the German Kampfschwimmers from the 1960s didn’t have to fear the effects of radioactive luminescent material that was often used for watches. It’s a quirky detail on an otherwise very stylish dial design that has great significance to Blancpain enthusiasts. Usually, I would not prefer this red and yellow logo on a dial but wearing the watch made me warm up to the watch quickly. The beautifully finished Calibre 1151 can be seen through the sapphire case back and is a joy to watch at work. The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms No Rad is a great reminder of the brand’s remarkable history. On top of that, it is proof the design of the first diving watch still offers a great deal of style for €13,290.
Final thoughts on desk divers
There you have it, our list of eight stylish desk divers for every budget. Obviously, there are hundreds of watches that could be on this list. By adding the twist of finding the best stylish desk divers we deliberately steered away from a focus on specs. But all eight of the picks are perfectly equipped to handle the task when needed. But we would like to hear from you what your favorite desk divers are that have great style. So let us know in the comments what your favorite desk diver is and which of the picks it should replace.