Is there any kind of timepiece that screams “adventurer” more than a dive watch? These masterworks came about in conjunction with the rise of scuba diving, and, coincidently, the creation of fictional character James Bond, which gives them all an undeniable link. Not just any watch can be considered a dive watch, however, and if you’re in the market, you’re going to want superior quality.
Today, we’re going to look at what characteristics are typical of dive watches, what you should be looking for in a good one, and several examples of the best dive watches currently on the market.
Long story short, a dive watch is defined as one that is able to:
Withstand immersion to a depth of at least 100m and to satisfy requirements specified in ISO standard 6425
What are these standards? The ISO 6425 lays out several tests regarding reliability, condensation, resistance to external forces, shock resistance, water-tightness, etc. It also lays out requirements for low-light readability, magnetic resistance, salt resistance, and more.
Now, there are watches marketed as dive watches that don’t meet all the requirements set forth in the standards, because testing for all the ISO 6425 criteria is sometimes prohibitively expensive.
These watches still offer a fair deal of water resistance, but may not be up to the exacting standards set forth in the ISO, so you’ll want to take that into account when comparing options.
There are several factors you’ll want to consider, not least of which is water resistance. As mentioned, dive watches should be able to remain functional at depths of 100 meters. Breitling lists the following guide as a measure of watch suitability:
Water resistance isn’t the only thing you’ll need to consider, though. There are several additional factors that are essential to optimal usability:
This allows you to keep track of your time under the water. There are several bezel styles, but it is generally agreed that the counter-clockwise operation is most suitable for the large majority of divers. You can read more about bezels and their functioning here.
This will reduce the possibility of damaging the watch while submerged. Getting a watch with hardened glass and a stainless steel or titanium casing will further increase its durability.
Watches can utilize different methods to make themselves tick. Dive watches will usually be either quartz-operated or mechanically-operated. Quartz is cheaper, but mechanical is more of an enthusiast’s feature. You can read up on the differences here.
This will allow the watch to fit over your diving gear with ease. If possible, you should also look for a band that is made from silicone or rubber, as these materials are better suited to submersion.
So, what’s out there that you should keep on your radar? Here are a few choice picks you’d do well to look at.
The Luminox brand has a lengthy association with the SEALs, and this model, a quartz-movement, polyurethane dive watch, is highly sought after by divers of all stripes for its quality performance under the water.
It has a water resistance rating up to 200 meters, uni-directional bezel, and large Arabic numerals for easy reading. The watch also includes the Luminox “Self-Powered Illumination System,” which allows the components of the watch to glow without the need to charge via an external light source or for the wearer to push a button to engage the illumination effect.
Most users are well-pleased by the Luminox’s abilities, though, there are a few complaints about the watch band. Some wearers believe the rubber strap is slightly on the cheap side, and the high level of friction the material causes makes it difficult to secure into the loop. Thankfully, this can be counteracted by simply replacing the band with a better one.
The Seiko brand has been known for its excellence for over 100 years, and that tradition continues in the form of its SK173 Dive Watch. This model is water resistant to 200 meters, includes a hardlex dial window, uni-directional bevel, and synthetic watch band with an easy buckle closure.
Seiko included Lumibrite hands, markers, and bezel to this model, making it suitable for use in low-light conditions. By-and-large, SKX173 wearers believe the watch functions just as well as most higher-end models, despite being much more affordable in price.
This alloy watch is supremely durable, being composed of aluminum, titanium, magnesium, ceramic, and zirconium—which they have nicknamed “Powerlite.” It is much lighter than similarly sized watches, and water resistant to 200 meters, providing an ample level of depth for most divers.
The watch comes in several color variations, and luminescent coating makes for easy time telling in dark conditions. Feature-laden and plenty sturdy, most users remark that this watch is well suited for underwater uses and long-lasting to boot.
There are many variations of the Omega Seamaster, but you’ll find that most are well-regarded and plenty robust enough to take into the deep waters. They are water resistant to 300 meters, have automatic self-winding movement, durable construction to prevent scratches and damage, and the vaunted uni-directional bezel.
In addition to being superbly functional, they are also a joy to look at, being one of the most attractive diving watches on the market.
Often considered the king of luxury dive watches, the Rolex Submariner is a world-class timepiece with a storied history. It has influenced features of many other similar dive watches and remains a top choice to this day. The watch features a stainless-steel construction, uni-directional bezel, black dial, and luminescent hands/hour markers for underwater and low-light reading.
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