In a previous post, I pretty much pronounced T.O.D. on the dive watch (The Dive Watch: Dead Genre Walking?). Obviously, I was premature. OK, wrong. But a recent article at Fratello (The Top 8 Awesome Desk-Diver Watches — Blancpain, Omega, Panerai, And More…) got me thinking. First, when is Fratello going to capitalize OMEGA? Second, the term “desk-diver” is unfortunate (think muff). And lastly, what are the pro’s of wearing an expensive dive watch (EDW)? Here are my three ideas on the subject . . .
An Expensive Dive Watch Lets You Talk About Diving
People who dive – actual scuba divers – don’t use an expensive dive watch. They use a dive computer. A digital device that monitors their exact location and depth, the amount of air left in their tanks and advises them not to ascend too quickly, lest they suffer horrible pain and maybe even die an excruciating death from what’s generally called “the bends.” (a.k.a., decompression sickness or Caisson disease).
Have you ever seen anyone wearing a dive computer in public? I haven’t. Sure, G-SHOCKs paved the way for public displays of LARGE DIGITAL WATCHES. And there are big ass dive computers that look like digital watches (e.g., the Oceanic Geo 2.0 Air:Nitrox Computer Watch). But “proper” dive computers (e.g., the Mares Icon HD Air Integrated Hoseless Computer above) aren’t shirt cuff-compatible. You know, discreet.
That said, scuba divers like to talk about diving; a dive watch opens-up the conversation. I’m not saying that a non-scuba person will see a Rolex Submariner on someone’s wrist and say “nice watch, do you dive?” Although they might. (Caution! That’s a conversation that will outlive a non-diver’s interest by several hours.) But I am saying that if a scuba aficionado starts talking about diving, they’ll want to be wearing a dive watch.
We’re talking about a very small demographic – that’s shrinking. “In 2019, there were approximately 2.71 million participants in scuba diving in the U.S.,” statista.com reports, “down from 2.85 million the previous year.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, you can round down to zero the number of scuba divers as a percentage of dive watches sold per year. But IF you dive, a dive watch is a badge of honor. So there is that.
An EDW Makes An Excellent Timer
People love chronographs. You can use them to time stuff! No one does, of course.
Older folks – the people who can afford expensive chronos – can’t read the tiny subdials without a magnifying glass. All of us live in a world where Alexa, Siri and Hey Google give us a heads-up – including elapsed time and time remaining – for our most frequent precisely timed indoor event (boiling eggs). Yes but . . .
The dive watch’s rotating bezel is God’s gift to timing non-kitchen-related events. Rotate the little arrow at the top of the dial (a lemony snicket on the limited edition Ulysse Nardin “Lemon Shark” Diver 42 above) to your event’s start or end time and Bob’s your uncle.
OK, the indices marking the first (in practice last) 15/20 minutes on a “proper dive watch” – a throwback to avoiding underwater asphyxiation – can be difficult to discern. Expensive dive watches with a countdown rather count-up indices require mental adjustment. But twisting a bezel beats a digital timer; it gives you instant visual representation of both time elapsed and time remaining.
And who doesn’t love the ratcheting not-to-say-clanking sound of a dive watch bezel turning? The increasingly-singular mechanical sound cuts through our digital world of beeps and soft touch buttons with welcome clarity.
It may seem like a small thing, but the sonic feedback says “Stand back! I’m timing something!” A message that works especially well when you tell a car salesman “I’m giving you five minutes to give me your best price. Go!”
An EDW Enables Sprezzatura
For those of you who missed our man Klosoff’s excellent article Roberto Mancini’s Richard Mille, sprezzatura is the Italian term for “wearing an [outfit with] affected faux inattentiveness layered onto dandyism.”
Well, that’s Oscar’s entirely defensible take. According to Alfred “Fashionista” Tong at HoDinkee, sprezzatura means “the deliberate pairing of classical elements with something ultramodern.” Like an expensive dive watch with a Saville Row suit.
Is a dive watch ultramodern? No. Is wearing a dive watch with a suit or other dressy ensemble an example of sprezzatura? You betcha! If James Bond can pull it off . . .
Point of fact: you’re not James Bond (no one is, really). And die-hard (with a vengeance) horophiles will notice that Mr. Bond’s latest greyed-out, Milanese-braceleted OMEGA is a lot less dive watchy than his previous timepieces. But it still looks
dumb distinctive. If you want to stand out in a crowd, an expensive dive watch with black tie is the ne plus ultra of sprezzatura.
And there you have it: three most excellent reasons to buy an expensive dive watch. I’m sure there are more, but I can’t think of any and I’ve got to take a shower – the one place you should never wear a dive watch. If you wear one.