After you’ve logged in enough diving hours, bought most of the equipment that you need for recreational or intensive dives, is there anything left to be done? Divers of every stripe will want to avoid the physiological pitfalls that come with the territory. Decompression sickness is a major concern when you go diving.
Avoiding decompression sickness can only happen if you own the right tool for the job. Traditionally, luxury dive watches have had a storied relationship with diving. Over a period of time, dive computers have superseded the use of luxury dive watches. Still, there are specific reasons why the use of luxury dive watches continues to endure and thrive . A deeper look into the nature of a luxury dive watch will readily reveal that the watch is more than just an accoutrement.
At its core, luxury dive watches were originally designed to track the amount of time that’s elapsed during a dive. Dive watches can, quite literally, save your life. So why should you purchase a luxury dive watch over the more modern alternative that is the dive computer? One reason: style.
When you take yourself out of a purely functional perspective, some of the more subtle values of a luxury dive watch become apparent. Historically, a luxury dive watch is tied closely to its watchmaker. The design, thought, craftsmanship, and time that is poured into its creation are major reasons why several people are drawn to these instruments.
Beyond being just a functional tool, a luxury dive watch’s history makes it iconic. It isn’t unusual for these tools to be passed down from one generation to another. The luxury aspect of these watches lends itself readily to the practice of creating family heirlooms.
Even non-divers have found a use for these watches. The technique that goes into its construction makes the luxury dive watch the perfect general use sport watch. Basically, any sport that involves water is the bailiwick of a dive watch.
Things to Consider
You need to have a solid knowledge of the features that you need from a luxury dive watch before you make your purchase. There are 5 aspects that make for a perfect dive watch; these are Water Resistance, Watch Readability, the Bezel, Watch Movement, and finally, Style:
Some people have the misconception that a dive watch is practically waterproof. There is no such thing as a waterproof dive watch. Depending on its level of water resistance, some dive watches can only operate past a certain depth of water.
So how do you choose the perfect level of water resistance? It’s a question that easily evaporates when you take a comprehensive look at your dive history. In terms of diving depth, what’s your maximum threshold? Do not, in under any circumstances, take a dive watch to a depth that’s close to its level of water resistance. You always want to dive below the watch’s water resistance limit.
What’s your preferred form of diving? Are you a casual diver or do you intend to engage in hours of intensive diving? As a hard and fast rule, purchase a watch with a water resistance of 100 m (330 feet) if you’re a recreational diver or snorkeler, and 300 m (984 feet) if you’re a pro. What’s your history like in terms of diving depth? Measure that then look for a watch with a water resistance that exceeds the depth.
While shallow depths of water has enough ambient light to read a watch face off of, deeper depths do not. A quality that determines readability is the amount of complications that a watch has. A quick glance at the watch dial will give you a good idea of the number of elements that a watch features. The best option for divers would be to find fundamental indicators that get the job of reading done at a quick glance. Too many complications on the dial may cause confusion in the middle of a reading, costing a diver time, effort, and unnecessary anxiety. Find a watch dial with the core indicators that you need and move on.
Another rule for you to follow: purchase a watch with luminescent markers. Luminescent markers are built out of either Luminescent Paint or Tritium. The way these materials work differ:
- Needs initial light exposure before it glows.
- Not a good choice for divers who spend hours swimming in deep depths.
- Will require you to surface for light exposure or bring a waterproof flashlight for better viewing.
- Glows without light exposure.
- Great for divers who don’t want to deal with light exposure concerns.
- Material wears away over time.
While there will always be flukes in every line of watches. Still, the core of a watch’s durability can be measured by the way its watch casing is built. Look for a luxury dive watch that has a full seal at the back or one that’s secured with screws. Any other option is unreliable during long form dives.
Inspect the quality of the material before you purchase a watch. What’s the watch’s crystal grade? The quality of the watch’s lugs need to be as high as possible. Also, the availability of replacement watch straps will play a part in making your choice.
The watch’s bezel is, arguably, the most important watch component for a diver. A luxury dive watch’s bezel indicates how much time a diver spends on a dive. Choose a unidirectional rotating bezel since it’s a failsafe mechanism that prevents the bezel from accidentally rotating clockwise during a dive. Inadvertent clockwise rotations may trick a diver into thinking that less time has elapsed during a dive than it actually has. To cover all your bases, look for a watch with a lockable bezel.
Types of Movement
The movement of a watch is literally what makes it tick. The watch movement, or calibre, forms the nucleus of a watch’s ability to tell accurate time. Depending on its make, a watch can rely on two kinds of movement:
- This watch calibre runs on battery power.
- Quartz batteries need to be replaced periodically.
- This is a cheaper alternative to a mechanical watch calibre.
- The standard calibre for most luxury dive watches.
- Indicative of a watchmaker’s design philosophy and cumulative history.
- The most expensive kind of movement.
The last feature that a buyer needs to pay attention to is probably the most personal component: style. Depending on your preferences, one watch may be more desirable than the other. Smaller watch diameters and discreet cases look elegant and versatile making them attractive in and out of the water. Bigger diameters and cases have a more rugged and sporty profile. Know what you like, what you want to express, and make your decision from there.
Now that you’ve gone through all of the grunt work, it’s time to look at a few options that may appeal to your tastes. We’ve selected a number of watches perfect for diving and categorized them according to three pricing categories. As you’ll see, you don’t have to break the bank to imbue your dives with some sense of luxury.
Citizen Promaster Diver
The Citizen Promaster’s our first entry on this list for various reasons. Out of all of our choices, this is the least expensive option. The Promaster’s fashioned out of stainless steel and comes with a blue polyurethane strap.Watch readability won’t be a problem with this option. Its anti-reflective crystal eliminates distractions that may be caused by the glare of emitted by a light source. It’s markings are made out of tritium, eliminating the need for you to expose its face to light to facilitate easy readability.
Watch readability won’t be a problem with this option. Its anti-reflective crystal eliminates distractions that may be caused by the glare of emitted by a light source. It’s markings are made out of tritium, eliminating the need for you to expose its face to light to facilitate easy readability.
Its 42 mm strap makes it a choice that’s a decent size for varying wrist widths. Rounding all of this out is a water resistance level of 200 m (660 feet). For divers who are looking for a reliable dive watch that won’t break the bank, this is as good as it gets.
Timex Intelligent Quartz Depth Gauge
This one’s another low cost option. Timex, built this piece for divers who are looking for a practical alternative to some of the more costly dive watch offerings. The strength of this watch is rooted in its temperature reading functions. The watch’s movement is driven by analog quartz and the watch’s case measures 46 mm in diameter.
Still, there are a few trade offs with this option. Serious divers who are looking for a watch that can handle lengthy, deep dives won’t be so thrilled with this watch’s depth sensor. While this watch is resistant to a depth of up to 660 feet, its depth sensor doesn’t function in depths deeper than 60 m. This is an option reserved for recreational divers who aren’t heavily invested in deep sea diving.
VICTORINOX DIVE MASTER 500
The Victorinox Dive Master is a solid mid-level option as far as dive watches go. Aesthetically, its durable rubber strap and prominent dial markings give the Dive Master an impressive look that belies its price. Professional divers will appreciate its generous level of water resistance of 500 meters (1650 feet), unidirectional rotating bezel, and impressive value.
Like a lot of dive watches, its powered by a Swiss quartz movement. Watch readability won’t be an issue since its face features luminous markings and a protective, antireflective sapphire crystal. Overall, this option’s a watch that pro divers will fall for.
Seiko Prospex SRP775
The Seiko Prospex is one of the more versatile choices when it comes to dive watches. This watch’s heritage is closely bound to Seiko’s vintage diving option, the Seiko 6309. A 45mm stainless steel case and mineral crystal watch dial make it a watch that’s great for dives and casual, less sporty use.
A staple unidirectional bezel and Seiko’s classic corrugated strap makes this a pretty straightforward, bare bones dive watch that ages well over time. For users who are looking for a reliable companion in and out of dives, this is the clear universal favorite.
MARATHON JSAR JUMBO DIVER’S LGP WATCH
It doesn’t get more rugged than this option. The Marathon JSAR’s reputation rests on its history with the US military. This watch is certified US military spec equipment and is specifically designed for use during underwater search and rescue missions.
From a pure diving perspective, its 3mm thick scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, 300 meter water resistance level, MaraGlo technology, 3-Jewel quartz movement, and vulcanized rubber straps, make it a highly durable, easily readable option that dispels low visibility concerns that are common during intense diving excursions.
Divers who are looking for a watch that they can dress up might be put off by the JSAR’s severely sporty silhouette. This is really a watch thats built for people who are heavily invested in diving and other rugged, outdoor activities.
SEIKO PROSPEX MARINE MASTER
The Seiko Prospex Marine Master is affectionately referred to as the “Tuna” or “Tuna Can” within the watch industry. The origin of this watch’s moniker comes from its circular case that closely resembles, well, a tuna can. Aficionados steeped heavily in the culture of luxury watches are polarized into two camps. Some people love it while other people may find it too garish.
Still, divers will find the Marine Master to be highly desirable. This is, basically, a dream of a luxury dive watch. Powered by Seiko’s 7-Jewel quartz movement, the Marine Master keeps accurate time and its battery life comes with a 5 year rating. During a dive, the Marine Master’s stainless steel shroud is the perfect material to combat corrosion issues caused by salt exposure. A 300 meter water resistance rating and functionality features like a day and date display, a uni-directional diving bezel, and luminous markings treated with Lumibrite makes this watch the one of the most covetable options for hardcore divers with money to burn.
The worn aphorism “you get what you pay for” rings truest when you look at luxury dive watch options. It’s only inevitable for these tools to come with a steep price tag so knowing that in advance, gives you enough grounding to focus on a dive watch’s essential features.
A sole focus on style will not be enough for you to find the dive watch that you need. Water resistance, watch readability, the unidirectional bezel, and the kind of watch movement that you choose will be far more impactful on the quality of your dives than aesthetics ever will. Go in with a measured approach and bone up on your information. Don’t be afraid to take your time before you finalize your purchase. When you take on the right rhythm, your dives and the watch that you choose will perfectly come in sync.