Returning visitors of Monochrome are certainly aware of our speciality: reviews of watches. We believe that reviews are essential in the process of buying a new watch, or any luxury item for that matter. Of course, we encourage you profoundly to test the watch yourself… however that will most likely be in the luxurious ‘ambiance’ of a retailer, and for a short (very short) period of time. In our reviews we share with you our long-term experience, since we test/wear review watches for a longer period. Testing a watch alone is good, however we’d like to give you even better advice. So recently we started with a comparative review, which included 3 watches with a same complication: the worldtimer. Here is another of these reviews – and today, we have 3 dive watches, all vintage-inspired and all reasonably priced: the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Blue, the Oris Divers Sixty Five and the Longines Legend Diver. Let’s see which offers the best quality / price / pleasure ratio.
These 3 watches are certainly considered as very cool timepieces by most of us, collectors. They are cool, first because they are dive / sports watches. Who doesn’t like good old and reliable dive watches, the perfect ally for your seaside weekends and summer holidays. Then, they are cool because they all are vintage-reissues of glorious historical models. They have some vintage design clues, while being modern watches, with modern diameters, modern materials and modern movements – and of course, all 3 are automatics (and thus, cool…) It allows you to enjoy a vintage look, to surf on the trend of vintage watches, without the inconveniences that actual vintage watches can come with. Finally, they are cool because they are reasonably priced – in the range of 1,800 Euros to 3,200 Euros, and thus accessible to a larger audience.
As said, all three watches share the same spirit. They are dive watches, with a mix of modern sportiness and vintage appearance, with a great quality of manufacturing, with out-sourced movements (even if this is about to change for the Tudor… we’ll get back on this later) and for reasonable prices. All three are legible, comfortable and can be used as sports watches – maybe not as proper tools but their specifications are more than enough for recreational use. All three are simple watches, displaying the time with 3 central hands and, for the Oris and the Longines, an additional date function.
As said, all three are inspired by existing vintage models. The Tudor Heritage Black Bay is heavily inspired on vintage Tudor Submariner watches, comprising mainly design elements of the iconic ref. 7922, mixed with elements (indexes, hands and the blue colour of the bezel) of the military ref. 94010 made for French Navy “Marine Nationale”. Therefore, this watch is very Submariner and very “Rolex Family” in the design. It has this “Sub feel”, mixed with cool elements, such as the snowflakes hands, the oversized and non-protected crown and the bevels on the lugs. And this is exactly why this watch is cool and successful; a classic with a twist.
The Oris is a faithful (visually at least) reinterpretation of a vintage dive watch made by Oris in 1965. It shares the exact same design, the same case (albeit larger), the same domed and glossy dial, the same domed crystal (now sapphire, and before in plexi) and the same rather unique indexes. It even comes on a super-comfy rubber strap mimicking the vintage tropic straps as used in the 1960’s. Then again, it is very cool.
Finally, the Longines luxury watch is inspired by a 1961 watch, the Diver Super Compressor 42mm. With this in mind, this Longines is in fact the most faithful reedition here. It keeps the same inner rotating bezel, the same twin-crown, the same diameter, the same indexes, the same hands, the same glossy dial, the same shape of the case… Everything is the same, except the date (and sadly, the Longines Legend Diver without date was discontinued very quickly after its launch.)
Thus, with this first quick look, it is quite difficult to make a point. These three dive watches are very close in terms of spirit – but not in terms of design of course. To differentiate them, let’s look at all elements in details.
As we’ve seen, the concept behind these 3 watches is very similar. However, in terms of design and shapes, they are very different. OK, all of them are based on a vintage and known shape. All are made in stainless steel and all are said to be dive watches. All are rather large, measuring between 40mm and 42mm. However, for the rest, nothing is similar. All have some good points, all have some faults.
The Tudor Heritage Black Bay is probably the most modern… even if this shape dates back to the 1950s. However, it’s a shape that is still (more or less) used by Rolex for the Submariner and thus, it is timeless and doesn’t feel vintage. The shape of the Black Bay is also modern because it is the bulkiest here. It has a 41mm diameter but the case itself is rather “monobloc”. It is large and visually quite thick. The watch isn’t thicker than the others but the casebands are straight, creating a impression of thickness. The steel case is very, very well executed. It is superbly adjusted, very sharp, very detailed. It is on the level of watches usually priced over 5,000 Euros. Polishings and brushings are clean. The case has a vintage appeal mainly because of the absence of crown protection and because of the bevels on the lugs. The oversized crown is screwed and practical (and the tube is made in anodized aluminum, matching the bezel). Finally, the bezel has very sharp clicks (60 to be precise) and feels solid as a rock. Overall, this is some very serious work. The perceived quality of the case is above all critics.
What does a watch need to be a diving instrument? (for more see our article here) – A good legibility (day and night), an efficient lume, a rotating bezel with 60-minute scale, a sufficient water resistance (in fact 100m is the minimum required), an indication that the movement is running (usually, a second hand) and it needs to be easy to use with gloves, under water.
Finally, the Longines Legend Diver benefits from a 300m water resistance, so to say the norm in the industry for dive watches. However, there issues with the dial and the easiness of use of this watch, compared to the diving vocation. The dial is glossy, and like the Oris, it can be difficult to read. Then, it is busy. Many tracks, long indexes, slim hands… not the best choice as a professional diving watch. Then, there’s the night-time legibility, which is very poor. The lume plots are small and hardly visible after 5 minutes. Then, the small second doesn’t feature luminous paint (no indication that the watch is running). Finally, the inner rotating bezel might be nice, it is not easy to use underwater. It requires to unscrew the crown at 2, to rotate this crown (which has no clicks) to the right position and to screw the crown again. It is typical from compressor watches, and if it is visually appealing, it is not a practical choice.
Here again, the Tudor over performs, because of it strong legibility, its easiness of use and its 200m water resistance. The Oris might lacks water resistance for some and the Longines proves to be more a vintage-designed watch than a modern diving tool.
The conclusion of such a comparative review is not simple, as there is always a part of myself, as a writer and above all, a watch collector, who tends to have a preference. Subjectivity apart, we’ve been looking at all the aspects of these 3 watches, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay, the Oris Divers Sixty Five and the Longines Legend Diver. One thing is sure: all three are great watches, with very cool design and, besides sharing a lot of similarities (same kind of movement, same vintage inspiration, same type of watch – diver – or same price range – approximately), they also are rather different. However, this comparative review also allowed us to see the pros and cons of each watch reviewed here, something that we summarised in this chart: