Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and take a look at just a few of the dive watches that have become icons over the years.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
French operative Captain Bob Maloubier, a WWII allied war hero, along with Lieutenant Claude Riffaud founded the French Combat Swimmers unit in 1952. While outfitting their frogmen, the two decided they would need a reliable dive watch. At the time, they could not find any that would suit their needs so they set out to design one. Captain Maloubier brought his designs to several watch manufacturers to produce his vision but he was turned down–until he contacted Blancpain watches. The CEO of Blancpain, Jean-Jacques Fiechter was an avid diver himself so he was happy to take on the project.
In 1953, Blancpain unveiled the Fifty Fathoms dive watch based on Captain Maloubier and Lieutenant Riffaud’s designs. The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms featured a rotating black timing bezel that could lock into place for divers to keep track of immersion times and a black dial with luminous hands and hour markers for optimal legibility in dark waters. The name ‘Fifty Fathoms’ references the water depth rating of the timepiece, which is equivalent to about 91 meters.
Rolex also introduced a dive watch model that same year in the form of the Submariner. While the Submariner was not the first modern dive watch to market, it was the first to boast a depth rating of 100 meters. The inaugural Rolex Submariner featured a steel case topped with a black rotating bezel, a black time-only dial with luminous indexes and hands, and a steel Oyster bracelet. Since then, Rolex has greatly expanded the Submariner Date collection to include different materials and colors while exclusively making the no-date Submariner model in steel and black.
In 1957 Omega decided it was time to produce a proper dive watch similar to the mil subs that had become popular with English and French divers. They released the Seamaster 300 along with the Speedmaster and the Railmaster. It should be noted that Omega had created waterproof watches prior to Seamaster 300, starting with the Omega Marine in 1932. The Seamaster 300 boasted a water resistance rating of 200 meters- not 300m like the name suggests.
The Omega dive watch reputation was bolstered in the early ‘60s as renowned oceanographer Jacques Cousteau’s team wore Omega Seamaster 300 watches during their 1963 Conshelf II experiments in the Red Sea. Like the Submariner, the Seamaster gained popularity as one of the watches sported by James Bond. Today the Seamaster 300, along with its racing-tachymeter counterpart the Speedy, has reached legendary status
Alsta Nautoscaph Superautomatic
Here we arrive at our pride and joy! The Original Alsta Nautoscaph Superautomatic was released in 1970 featuring a depth rating of 999 feet. Powered by the Valjoux 2452 Swiss movement, the Superautomatic was available in several variations with day/date window options.
The most famous Alsta of all time was the one found on the wrist of fictional Oceanographer Matt Hooper, played by Richard Dreyfuss in the blockbuster film JAWS. Hooper’s model featured a cyclops date window as well as a port-hole style bracelet, specifically a Mach 1 bracelet from Speidel – now known affectionately as a ‘Hooper Bracelet.’ As Alsta went dormant for forty years, these pieces are now extremely difficult to find and have become highly sought after collectors’ items.
Of course, we offer the re-released Alsta Nautoscaph Superautomatic, with all the history and charm of the original with modern technology and reliability (and yes – we made sure to use the Hooper bracelet!
Dive watches have continued to gain popularity and are one of the most commonly purchased and collected sport watch styles. The iconic watches from the ‘60s and ‘70s paved the way. Their popularity transcends generations and while many dive watch wearers are avid watermen and women, a large portion of these watches never touch saltwater – they’re worn for what they represent, not what they can do. These pieces represent the exploration of the unknown, cutting-edge technology, and pushing the boundaries of humankind.
We invite you to explore all of our sport watches here.
Also, if we missed your favorite diver from the past, comment below! Who knows -it could be the inspiration for our next model…
**“Rolex,” “Submariner,” “Sea-Dweller,” “Blancpain,” “Fifty Fathoms,” “Omega,” and “Seamaster’ ‘Speedmaster,’ and ‘Railmaster’ are all registered trademarks that are in no way affiliated or connected to Alsta.