Are Dive Watches a Sound Investment?
As you visit Honolulu watch stores, you’re certain to find a bounty of dive watches in the luxury market. This is especially true of pre-owned options, which the region tends to gather more of due to our amazing watersport activities.
Even still, many people wonder if they’re worth the investment, as well as whether the pre-owned choices will continue live up to quality and performance expectations for many years to come.
On this page, we’ll explore how dive watches work, what to look for when shopping at Honolulu watch stores, and what you can expect from your investment should you purchase a luxury timepiece.
What Sets Diving Watches Apart
Keeping track of time is of the utmost importance for scuba divers, as well as free divers, because knowing time down to the second can be a matter of life or death. Diving watches are, first and foremost, designed to maintain their precision under extraordinary circumstances.
They also include features that can be beneficial under water, even at great depths, and tend to have a classic form that’s appreciated by divers and land-dwellers alike.
It probably goes without saying, but divers’ watches are highly water resistant. There are various standards which rate the water resistance of a timepiece, and the ratings start at pieces that can only handle rain or splashing and go all the way through those ideal for mixed-gas/ saturation diving at depths of 300+ meters.
In general, those who hope to wear their timepieces under water should look for the marking “ISO 6425.” This means the piece has undergone testing and it complies with the International Organization for Standardization’s guidelines and can withstand depths of at least 100 meters, so it will be ideal for most scuba divers.
During testing, watches are submerged for 50 hours and checked for to ensure they’re still in working order. An additional condensation check is performed after the timepiece has been heated to 113° for 20 minutes. Additional tests are run for watches that wish to be certified for depths of at least 200 meters.
Although many fine watches do undergo the testing to be distinguished as conforming with ISO 6425, it is not the end-all. Pieces created before 1996 will not have the marking, while some watchmakers prefer to perform their own testing.
Many timepieces designed for diving are encased in stainless steel due to its reliance. Titanium, gold, and ceramic composites are also used in high-quality watches.
These materials perform well with varying temperatures, can handle immense amounts of pressure, and are resistant to rust. Most watches, particularly those with the ISO 6425 marking, also have magnetic, shock, and saltwater resistance.
The bezel, or outer ring around the face of the watch, is one of the most distinctive marks. It enables divers to track the time in five-minute increments, so it’s easy to tell when to resurface.
From the watchmaker’s standpoint, these were introduced in the 1950s, and enabled them to add functionality without introducing complications. It’s also worth noting that a rotating bezel is required in order for watches to receive the ISO 6425 marking.
Because there is minimal lighting, and sometimes none at extreme depths, diving watches must have some type of marking which shows they’re still functional in total darkness.
Most satisfy this requirement by adding a luminous material to the tip of the second hand, while others make the hour markings and hand luminous as well.
Assessing the Cost of Dive Watches
Like any type of fine timepiece, there is a wide variance in the cost of diving watches. A few of the most popular styles are outlined below.
Omega Seamaster 300: $2,500- $9,000+ New
There are 18 different varieties, with most falling into the $6,000-$8,500 range when purchased new. Though many people prefer to hold onto their Seamasters, they can occasionally be found pre-owned at Honolulu watch stores in excellent condition for roughly 40-50% off the initial retail price.
The current Seamaster 300 is modeled after the brand’s iconic 1957 version, giving it more of a vintage feel with modern upgrades, such as more robust materials and additional features. It’s ideal for depths of up to 300 meters.
Rolex Sea-Dweller: $11,000- $12,000+ New
The Rolex Sea-Dweller 2,000 and the Sea-Dweller Deepsea 4,000 are most often what comes to mind when the Sea-Dweller name is dropped. Tested for depths of up to 2,000 feet (610 meters) and 4,000 feet (1,220 meters), the timepieces set new standards for expectations when it comes to diving watches.
These models are easily distinguished by their timeless look; a bold black face with a steel case and bracelet, as well as their integrated gas-relief valve. Rolex also offers a D-Blue Dial model, which is the Deepsea 4,000 uniquely faced in a brilliant blue, designed to honor James Cameron’s historic 1996 solo dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench; the deepest spot on earth.
Because Rolex is one of the finest watchmakers, if not the finest, their timepieces tend to hold their value better. The Deepsea model, which begins at $12,050 new, can sometimes be found in excellent condition at Honolulu watch stores for under $9,000 if pre-owned.
Rolex Submariner: $5,500- $13,500+ New
The Rolex Submariner could pass for a Sea-Dweller at a quick glance, as many models bear the same black face and steel case and bracelet. Other versions incorporate yellow and/or white gold into the designs, as well as have facings and bevels in green or blue.
The biggest difference between the Sea-Dweller and Submariner, however cannot be seen by the naked eye, as the Submariner is designed more for everyday divers, and will withstand depths of 1,000 feet, versus the 2,000 or 4,000 professional divers receive from the Sea-Dweller.
Additionally, a keen eye may note that the Submariner features a magnified date display. The Submariner also retains its value well, though it can be found for a few thousand dollars less at Honolulu watch stores if pre-owned.
Assessing the Investment Value of Dive Watches
There are certainly diving watches at every price point, with some retailing for as little as a few hundred dollars new. While these options can be particularly tempting for those worried about taking a $13,000+ luxury timepiece in the water, they also retain little value when they leave the shop.
Fine timepieces, such as those offered in Honolulu watch stores by makers such as Rolex, retain considerably more of their value. Although the brands have a certain je ne sais quoi about them, and are associated with high style, it’s not quite so much the brand name that commands top dollar, but rather the craftsmanship that goes into each piece that has given these brands their distinction.
It’s quite common for a vintage Rolex to remain in excellent condition for decades and be passed on from a father to son, even when the piece is selected for its underwater durability and is used as such.
Searching Honolulu Watch Stores for Diving Watches?
At Honza’s Watches, we carry only the finest luxury timepieces, including many of the styles outlined here. Moreover, each one is guaranteed to be authentic, carrying with it the quality each brand is known for. To see our current pre-owned offerings, browse the listings.