For those, like me, who are reasonably new into the world of luxury watches, divers can be an acquired taste. It can be easier to find things to like about a crisp and inconspicuous dress watch, or the timeless function of a chronograph. Even the most lauded and beloved dive watches – Tudor's Black Bay or Rolex's Submariner, for example – are chunky by design and wear large on the wrist: those big, brash bezels with their big, brash numbers, thick hands and cartoonish indices.
But I've found the more I consider their roots, the more it starts to click. After all, those aesthetic choices have each been informed by (and perfected over) decades of use by professional divers, and their form has very much followed their original function. Watch lovers looking to that chunky aesthetic for their weekend wearers likely outnumber those actually using them on dives by several factors, a testament to the fact they hit a mark that, quite simply, no other style of watch seems to.
With that said, if you're interested in a dive watch but aren't sure of shelling out four figures on one, a brand like Spinnaker – a proper value proposition that specialises pretty much entirely on divers – is a great place to start. The British brand currently makes eight collections of automatic watches, and with the priciest at £500 and many around half that, they're an objectively low-risk venture. The Fleuss line is what I was drawn to: inspired by the iconic engineer and diver Henry Fleuss (the inventor of the rebreather, no less), they're newly available in two new colourways, of which the Prussian Blue is my standout.
Comparisons to pretty much any other mechanical watch in its price bracket are likely to be very favourable indeed
If you're judging the quality of its movement and aesthetics against a Black Bay 58, the Fleuss is more than likely to come out second-best, but considering it's also a tenth of the price, that's really a non-starter anyway. Comparisons, meanwhile, to pretty much any other mechanical watch in its price bracket – save possibly something in the recent Seiko 5 Sports range – are likely to be very favourable indeed. Incidentally, Seiko makes the 24-jewel movement here, which pretty much means it can be relied upon to be hard-wearing and accurate, and just about justify that exhibition caseback.
At 43mm in diameter and 47mm lug-to-lug – and with a thick, waterproof burgundy leather strap – it's not inconspicuous, but equally this isn't a watch that'll only look at home over a wetsuit. There's a nice action to its unidirectional bezel, which is covered by curved glass, while slim, plongeur-style minute and hour hands feel like a nice fit, and the lance-shaped second hand is just enough intrigue while not departing too much from an otherwise functional aesthetic. The date window is nicely set, with good visibility, but the best thing about the dial is its mottled, grained texture, which – if you'll allow a bit of poetic licence – brings to mind the sight of the seafloor, or cold, wet stones. (Just me? Fair enough.)
Meanwhile, the lume is impressive even after a few minutes of sun, and should be easy enough to read even in the murk of British seawater, and a screw-down crown and the quality of materials used mean it'll cope up to a depth of 150m, so it's a genuine option for a novice diver as much as a weekend wearer. Throw in the price point and it's pretty much undeniably a great option for the first diver in your collection, whether you're using it to plumb the depths or just to wear to the pub. Consider me converted.