15 BEST White Dial Dive Watches (Absolutely Mesmerizing!)
It seems that most watch enthusiasts point to Sean Connery wearing a Rolex Submariner with a white dinner jacket in Dr.No as the epitome of cool and a testament to the versatility of dive watches. While sartorial experts may argue, pop culture has deemed a dive watch one of the most versatile watches one could own.
Dive watches are built to withstand the pressure of going deep underwater, along with the associated potential hardships of being in an aquatic vessel before and after a dive. Because of this, they can surely handle the commute.
Their design origins are strictly utilitarian. The case must be durable, and the dial must be legible in all lighting situations. These priorities have lent their way to clean, purposeful designs that speak to a variety of people, regardless of their aquatic intentions.
With utility being the focus, color and whimsy fall by the wayside. A black dial with white, glowing indices makes sense, and Doxa’s experimentation with color resulted in Jacques-Yves Cousteau favoring their now-famous orange dial because of its increased legibility under water.
As the importance of mechanical dive watches fades with professional divers utilizing more modern technology, the design of dive watches is allowed to be freer. Today, we see various interpretations of dive watches that stray from their purposeful design, including white-dialed dive watches.
About Dive Watches
As mentioned, dive watches are built to be used underwater. The original purpose was to time the elapsed time of a dive. This was incredibly important, as it allowed a diver to time how much oxygen they had left in their tank. The rotating bezel was set to the start time, allowing for fast reading of how much time has passed.
Original dive watches had bezels that spun in both directions, which could add time to the dive, meaning the diver could run out of oxygen. Unidirectional ratcheting bezels made certain that they only moved in one direction, potentially shortening the dive instead of lengthening it.
With timing being a true life-or-death matter, increased water resistance and legibility were necessary. Most divers will never go to the depths that their watches are rated to. Except for certain situations such as saturation diving, having a 300m rated dive watch is more of an insurance policy than a necessity when diving.
Additionally, legibility, especially in low-light situations, is very important. As divers descend deeper into the water, sunlight decreases. If your watch floods with water and you cannot read what time you are supposed to go back up, its functionality is greatly diminished.
History of Dive Watches
Dust and moisture have been the bane of watchmakers since the mechanical watch came into being. Various methods of sealing the movement have come about, with some more successful than others. The most notable improvement came about in 1926, with Rolex introducing its first Oyster case.
With a screw-down crown and screw-in caseback, practical water resistance took a massive leap forward. Omega came out with the first purpose-built dive watch in 1932, the Omega Marine. While it looks nothing like the dive watches of today, the inner case slid into an outer case that, when clamped down, sealed the watch.
Additionally, it was one of the first watches to use a sapphire crystal. These developments allowed the watch to dive to the bottom of Lake Geneva, for a total of 73 meters. Pressure chamber testing later determined a total pressure rating of 135 meters.
In 1936, the Panerai Radiomir was first produced, introducing a large dial and luminous paint for nighttime and dark water legibility. Jumping to 1953, Rolex produced its first Deep Sea prototype, which survived a depth of 3150 meters in 1953, and then 10,916 meters in 1960, thanks to a large domed sapphire crystal.
While still not a dive watch by modern standards, it was another large improvement in water resistance technology. The world did not see what we recognize as a modern dive watch until 1953 with the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms.
The following year, Rolex released its Submariner, and 1957 saw the release of the Omega Seamaster. These watches all featured legible black dials, luminous markers and hands, screw-down crowns and case backs, and a rotating timing bezel. While designs have definitely been modernized, dive watches have largely stayed the same for the last 70 years.
Should You Buy A White Dial Dive Watch?
With legibility being a key part of dive watch design, it makes sense that most dive watches have dark dials with white or light-colored indices and hands. A white dial seems to be an act of defiance compared to the original purpose of these tool watches.
With mechanical dive watches having been largely replaced by dive computers, this frees mechanical dive watches up to be more fashion-oriented than their original intention. White-dialed dive watches are usually still highly legible on dry land during the day; it is dim lighting and shallow water where white dials are not as legible.
Even if white-dialed dive watches do not seem as immediately practical as their dark-dialed counterparts, some offer improved visibility with various dial and indices treatments. Others do focus on a bold look, as a mostly white watch will stand out on the wrist more than a dark dial. Because of the brighter look, they will appear more youthful, lending themselves to vibrant strap choices.
The Best White Dial Dive Watches
When the wave dial motif returned to the Seamster in 2018, enthusiasts were ecstatic. ETA movements were no longer used, and Omega introduced the Caliber 8800 to the Seamaster Professional. This METAS Master Chronometer certified movement features increased anti-magnetism rated to above 15,000 gauss.
It has a certified accuracy of -0/+6 seconds a day, ensuring a high level of practical accuracy for a mechanical watch. The 42mm wide stainless steel case is larger than prior generations, making the watch bolder on the wrist, with thicker lugs and case height and an updated thicker bracelet.
The white-dialed Seamaster Diver 300m features black outlined indices and hands, which aids in visibility, especially considering the white dial. The Omega Seamaster Professional Diver is no slouch. With 300 meters of water resistance and a helium release valve, it can handle saturation diving.
The variety of polished and brushed finishes on the case and bracelet though contribute to its versatility, allowing it to go from boardroom to board shorts if this matches your style. The white dial Omega Seamster Professional Diver retails for $5600 on the bracelet, which is a bargain considering the technology, finishing, and innovation included in this timepiece.
Blancpain was the first brand to develop what we would consider a modern dive watch in 1953, beating Rolex by one year. Their Fifty-Fathoms line is their flagship dive watch, taking inspiration from the original design from 1953.
The Fifty Fathoms uses an in-house caliber 1315, which is a fairly high-jeweled movement with 35 jewels and a 120-hour power reserve. While t he finishing may look spartan in photos, in real life, the movement decoration is quite detailed and done to a high level, with large beveled edges and detailed brushwork on the plates.
With its white dial, silver hands, and silver with white luminescent indices, legibility will be compromised some. However, with the white bezel covered with a sapphire insert, and white strap, this watch is more about making a statement than being a fully functional tool watch.
The bold looks do not detract from the watch’s durability, as it is rated to 300 meters of water resistance. Additionally, there is still enough lume on the dial and bezel to track the time during aquatic adventures.
This reference is no longer in the Blancpain catalog. However, searching and patience should allow for a good example to come up on the secondary market.
Panerai was responsible for developing one of the first aquatic-oriented watches. Their first model, the Radiomir, had a large dial with a luminescence that allowed it to be legible underwater and in low-light situations, a requirement of the Italian Navy in 1938.
The second model they introduced, the Luminor, increased the water resistance by including a crown-locking mechanism, which boldly sits on the right side of the case. In addition to the large crown mechanism, another hallmark of Panerai is its use of sandwich dials.
This multi-layer dial construction consists of the lower layer containing luminescent paint, and the upper dial has the numerals and indices cut out, allowing for them to glow in low-light environments.
While the monochromatic look of the white dial and grey indices may seem dull, leave it to Panerai to make it a bold-looking watch. The 44mm case is large, but Panerai watches have always been large, so it does come with the territory.
Should something smaller be necessary, Panerai does offer similar watches in smaller sizes. Inside the PAM01314 is the Panerai P.9010 calibre. The movement utilizes two mainspring barrels to achieve a 72-hour power reserve.
The watch is rated to 300 meters of water resistance, making it more than water ready. Famously, Panerai fans known as Paneristi have a thriving online community, sharing their watches and daring strap combinations. The Panerai PAM01314 retails for $8400.
The TAG Heuer Night Diver’s calling card is not just its white dial but the entirely lumed dial. The large 43mm black DLC coated steel case, black ceramic bezel, and textured white dial will make a statement on the wrist.
The dial has white lumed indices at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock and black indices for the remainder, with a date at 6 o’clock as well. The black indices on a white dial are very bold and striking. As mentioned, the entire dial is lumed, meaning the white dial glows green in the dark.
The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Night Diver should definitely be considered if low-light legibility is a top concern. The attached rubber strap includes a micro-adjust clasp, making for easy adjustments without tools. The movement inside is an ETA, or Sellita-based ebauche TAG Heuer refers to as their Calibre 5.
The black case and luminescent dial won’t be as flexible with wardrobes compared to other watches on this list, but making a statement seems to be the name of the game here.
Retailing at $3750, the TAG Heuer Night Diver does seem a bit expensive compared to similar dive watches, but few watches have such a bold, high-contrast look, especially from a well-known brand.
Longines was one of the first brands to bring heritage-inspired designs to their modern catalog. The brand first released the Legend Diver in 2007, but the 42mm size, while true to the original, wore quite large for many wrists.
The 36mm size was introduced in 2019 and is true to other super compressors style divers of the time. The Legend Diver 36 wears like a vintage watch, measuring only 11.9mm thick, which is quite impressive for a 300m dive watch. Because of the inner rotating bezel, the dial does appear a bit smaller than usual, but the long lugs ensure some presence on the wrist.
The dial on this model is a white Mother of Pearl, adding more of a jewelry element to the timepiece. Reading the dial under normal light should be easy, considering the numerals and indices are black. But, low-light situations will be difficult as there is minimal lume on the dial.
If emphasizing the jewelry element is desired, there is a mesh bracelet option as well. If the Mother of Pearl is a bit showy, there is also a beige version released in 2022. Recent updates to the model include a silicone balance and a 5-year warranty.
The Longines Legend Diver 36mm retails for $2,400 on the white strap and $2,500 on the Milanese-style bracelet.
Oris has become an enthusiast favorite in the last several years. Operating as an independent company, they have been relatively swift to react to enthusiast requests. Additionally, they have offered a relatively high value per dollar, with a solid case, dial, and bracelet finishing for the money.
The Aquis line is the brand’s modern dive watch collection. Offered on both bracelets and scented rubber straps, the integrated design of the lugs contributes to the bold look of the diver.
This white dial, ceramic bezel, and rubber strap version make this watch feel ready for summer adventures. While 36.5mm will seem like a great choice for smaller watch fans, these watches wear a bit smaller than their stated dimensions. Inside the 300-meter rated steel case is the Oris 733, which is based on the SW200-1.
The movement is customized with a red rotor, a signature of the brand. Should you be quite slight of wrist and looking for a stylish diver, the 36.5mm Oris Aquis Date is definitely a watch to consider. This model has been discontinued, but they continue to offer the Aquis in a variety of sizes and colors.
Doxa’s history has been deeply rooted in dive watches since the 1960s. The SUB300T was developed in association with Jacques Cousteau and was the source of the signature dual-scale bezel. The white-dialed SUB 200 is a less serious but still capable offering amongst Doxa’s timepieces.
It features a conventional 60-minute uni-directional bezel with 200 meters of water resistance and is available on a metal bracelet and color-matched rubber strap. The white dial features black indices surrounds, helping make the watch legible in a variety of environments.
The SUB 200 also keeps Doxa’s signature case design, which wears much smaller than the stated 42mm case diameter would suggest. Inside is an unspecified Swiss movement, with a 38-hour power reserve, 28,800 bph, and 26 jewels, suggesting it is likely a Sellita-based movement.
The Doxa SUB 200 is ready for summer adventures and will look great on a variety of wrists, given the unique but largely compatible case dimensions.
The Doxa SUB 200 retails for $990.
The Breitling Superocean Heritage has been a successful line for the brand. This 100-piece limited edition was released for the Greek market in 2022. Inside is the Breitling caliber B20, which is supplied by Tudor, based on their MT5612. The movement has a 70-hour power reserve and is chronometer-certified.
The vintage-inspired design, blue accents on the dial, and blue bezel should match a variety of attire and have a bold presence with its white dial and bold 44mm size. While the design is vintage-inspired, the modern movement and ceramic bezel are built to modern quality standards.
Given the limited edition nature of this reference, prices are currently dictated by the secondary market.
Zodiac Watches is a brand that is currently operated by the Fossil Group, which recently has seemed to work well for them. They have focused on releases inspired by vintage designs from the 1950s and 60s and modernizing them in terms of materials and proportions.
The Super Sea Wolf Compression Automatic seen here is 40mm wide, is rated to 200 meters of water resistance, and features a bright white dial with bright blue accents. To aid in legibility, the hours and seconds hands, along with the minute indices borders, are different shades of blue from the rest of the watch.
The dial is covered with a sapphire crystal, but the bezel insert is covered by a mineral bezel, meaning it will scratch fairly easily, but will not shatter as easily compared to sapphire or ceramic. Inside is Zodiac’s own STP 1-11 movement. Created as a replacement for the ETA 2824, so operational and size specifications are largely interchangeable.
The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Compression Automatic retails for $1595.
The Baltic Aquascaphe was the brand’s first dive watch. This French brand has taken the enthusiast community by storm by offering vintage-inspired designs while still making them very unique to the brand. Additionally, quality has been relatively high while keeping the prices very reasonable.
Having owned a Baltic timepiece, it is very close to buying a vintage watch, brand new today. The Aquascaphe features a 38mm stainless steel case (measuring 39mm at the sapphire bezel) with a sapphire crystal and is rated to 200 meters of water resistance. The movement inside is a Miyota 9039, which has been proven to be a reliable caliber.
With a modern movement and usable water resistance, the Baltic Aquascaphe will be more than capable of handling aquatic outings. Baltic also offers a variety of bracelet and strap options, including a white rubber strap and a flat-link style bracelet, allowing you to make the watch as bold or subdued as desired. Both also include quick-release spring bars, so swapping straps will be facile.
The Baltic Aquascaphe Classic in white retails for approx. $650.
This Seiko Modern Re-interpretation is considered a “Turtle” because of the similar case shape and 4 o’clock crown as seen on the original Seiko Turtles. In this instance, Seiko has created what may be the most wearable Turtle to date. The SPB313J1 measures 41mm wide, 46.9 mm lug to lug, and a svelte 12.3mm thick, making it the thinnest Seiko automatic diver to date.
The hardened 200-meter-rated stainless steel case houses Seiko’s 6R35 movement, which boasts a 70-hour power reserve. The white dial with black accents is covered by a sapphire crystal, with an anti-reflective coating on the inside, allowing for easy reading of the time. The four o’clock date is well done, as it is color matched to the dial, and Seiko’s unique number font appears well-matched to the rest of their designs.
The SPB313J1 retails for $1100.
Marathon is a Canadian brand that has built its reputation by supplying watches for military outfits. If legibility and durability are your top concerns while still being mechanical, this Marathon may be the best bet.
The GSAR series (Government Search and Rescue) consists of no-nonsense dive watches capable of handling the harshest environments. The stainless steel case is rated to 300 meters, and the sapphire crystal covers a dial lumed with tritium gas tubes, ensuring they will glow brightly in any situation.
The uni-directional bezel is large and has deep grooves, making turning the bezel with gloves easy. Inside, the Sellita SW-200 beats away inside, with Incablock shock absorbers.
Pictured here in 41mm, there are also 36mm and 46mm versions, so finding one that fits should be easy. The Marathon GSAR Arctic Edition 41mm starts at $1500 on a rubber strap.
Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600 White Dial
The Trident collection has been a mainstay for Christopher Ward. Since 2005, they have managed to evolve their timepieces to compete in terms of case and dial, finishing with some of the much bigger brands at a fraction of the price. A combination of business decisions and a direct-to-consumer model allow them to keep their prices relatively low and quality high.
This version of the Trident, the C60 Trident Pro 600, is one of their more robust models, featuring 600 meters of water resistance. The 42mm steel case features its “light-catcher design,” boasting a myriad of brushed and polished finishes.
The white dial is lumed with X1 GL C1 rated SuperLuminova, which is claimed to be some of the brightest available. The ceramic bezel is lumed as well. Inside, the movement powering the watch is a Sellita SW200-1. The 22mm wide bracelet features quick-release spring bars and also has a ratcheting micro-adjustment clasp, a premium feature more expensive brands often lack.
The Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600 retails for $1145.
Sinn’s reputation consists of building utility-driven tool watches, and the 104 is no different. Billed as a pilot’s watch instead of a diver, the 104 is still aquatic capable with 200 meters of water resistance. The watch is also low-pressure resistant, protecting the crystal from dislodging in low-pressure situations (such as an airplane cabin).
The gloss white dial has black outlined indices and hands, both of which are lumed. The bezel is a captive design, meaning the bezel is attached to the watch via screws while still maintaining the ability to turn it easily. Conventional bezels snap into place, allowing the potential for them to be knocked off. With a captive bezel design, the bezel is much more secure.
Sinn uses a Sellita SW220-1 in the 104, but the brand states inventory may vary due to the availability of movements. Previous iterations have used ETA movements, which is likely the cause of this statement. While technically focused, the back side of the 41mm case has a display case back, allowing for a view of the movement.
Prices for the Sinn 104 start at $1640 on a leather strap.
While Victorinox is more famous for its knives, they have also developed some capable watches over the years. The I.N.O.X. series was developed to be one of the most durable Swiss-made watches ever made. Boasting 130 endurance durability tests, these watches are made to withstand the worst that a watch owner could throw at them.
Seen here in titanium, the 45mm wide case is rated to 200 meters of water resistance, certified anti-magnetic, and is an ISO 6425 certified dive watch. Inside is a Ronda quartz caliber 715, which aids in durability and has a 10-year battery life. Adding some fun to the dial, the outer minute track fades between red, orange, and yellow.
If the large dial and lumed indices and hands were not enough to make the watch easy to read, Victorinox includes a protective bumper and removable magnifying glass for when underwater adventures could get very rough. When durability and looking good are your concerns, the Victorinox I.N.O.X. Professional Diver will have you covered.
The Victorinox I.N.O.X Professional Diver Titanium retails for $695.
Dive watches are rooted in functionality, as their purpose is a matter of life and death. As technology has progressed and better tools have been developed, analog dive watches have lost their utility. Still, the purpose-driven design attracts many watch enthusiasts, as having an overbuilt watch brings both peace of mind and romanticism to ownership.
Additionally, since function is less of a concern, designs are allowed the space to experiment with different colors. These watches are still fully capable of handling serious dive duty, but the bold white dials are more statement oriented than tool-focused. Regardless, they will all be faithful companions underwater and on dry land.
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