It has been some time since we have had a Historical Horology post, so I would say we are long overdue. For whatever reason, I was just not running across a lot of interesting material about watches of the past. That is, until I came across a recent three-part series that dug into the watches that Cousteau and his Calypso team wore.
In the first part of the series, the crew at Monochrome dig into the history of the man himself, and his impact on diving. For instance, I was not aware that he was instrumental in the development of the Aqua Lung (hence that ad up there), or his impact on diving in general. For me, when I heard the name Cousteau, it just brought to mind his ecological exploration. This sort of background can be instrumental in understanding a fellow. At the end of this article, they run down an overview of the brands of watches he and his crew wore.
In part two, they start getting into specifics of the watches worn in the 1960s. These feature a roster of names that are quite familiar to us today (Rolex Submariner, Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, and so on) but also include a bunch of watches I was unfamiliar with, such as the Lip Nautic-Ski, which introduced what we know today as the supercompressor case.
Finally, in part three of the series, they cover the watches Cousteau and his team used in the 1970’s and 1980’s. As they note, these still are proper tool watches, but you also see the first inclusion of some more luxury-type watches as well. It’s from this era that we see things like the PLOPROF and Comex-labelled watches hitting the scene, as well as those Doxa watches with the bright orange dials.
All in all, this three-part series is a great (and fairly quick) read. While you may or may not care much about Cousteau, what he and his team wore certainly represents quite a broad swath of dive watches, and if you’re interested in vintage, these sort of overviews can certainly help inform you on your searches. Or perhaps you’re just interested in the history of the dive watch, and Cousteau certainly is a big part of that. Whatever the reason, this series is one that should not be missed.
All images courtesy of Monochrome and their noted sources