In diving circles, Jacques Cousteau is spoken about with the sort of reverence normally reserved for saints and deities, and for good reason. No other man has contributed quite as much to our exploration of the underwater world. Scientist and photographer, naval officer and conservationist, whatever Cousteau did, his life revolved around the ocean.
The same holds true for his watch collection. As synonymous as Cousteau was with diving, it makes sense that he would need a decent diving watch; more importantly to the watchmakers, he was one of the few guys capable of testing these watches to the extreme in their infancy in the 1950s.
In fact, in 1956’s The Silent World, one of the first underwater films ever produced, the man himself can be seen wearing a Rolex Submariner 6205. Unlike many a diver though, Cousteau didn’t stick to Rolex alone, especially as Blancpain and its Fifty Fathoms was also jumping headfirst into his territory.
He also added Doxa to his list of go-to divers, particularly the Doxa Sub 300. Not only was it on the wrists of his team filming The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, but Cousteau himself distributed the watch via his US Divers company and was influential in it – as well as the later helium escape valve-equipped Conquistador – becoming vintage classics. That takes some faith.
While it were a little late to the party, Omega also got in on the action and built a relationship with Cousteau during the 1963 Conshelf II experiments to try and develop a seafloor habitat for divers. It was a relationship that led directly to the Seamaster 1000m and Ploprof 600 – and to Omega’s impressive diving pedigree.
Between the Fifty Fathoms, Rolex Submariner, Doxa Sub 300 and the deepest diving offerings from OMEGA – not to mention the myriad watches they have inspired – we have a lot of serious diving timepieces to thank Cousteau for. Things could have been a lot different (and a lot less water resistant) without him.