Over the past several years diving watches have grown in popularity all over the world. Famed for their rich history and maritime use, cherished for their elegance and beauty. Dive Watches made their debut in the 17th century. Crafted to help those brave souls who wished to explore the oceans depths. By the early 20th century these watches were industrially manufactured for commercial and military use. They gave divers information on their depth as well as time spent underwater. The best dive watches were used by explorers, the navy, and professional divers alike. Over the years they have seen significant upgrades including more accurate and reliable timekeeping and depth tracking. Furthermore they have had their features and aesthetics expanded and refined.
Today, while still used for maritime purposes, have become a popular fashion statement. A powerful statement which signifies elegance, class, and taste. Whether you’re a collector, a diver, or just gentleman of style, a dive watch is a great purchase.
Dive Watch Reviews
As interesting as the history can be, let’s get right into the reviews.
Practicality vs. Aesthetics
Before deciding on a the best dive watch you need to ask yourself, “will I be using this for diving or as a wardrobe piece?”. Your answer can be either or both. There are many great looking dive watches out there. Some relatively inexpensive and others would give people as wealthy as Bill Gates pause.
If you plan on using it purely as a fashion piece then you’re in luck. There are plenty of great looking watches that aren’t break the bank expensive. However, if you plan on using this watch for scuba diving, do not go too cheap. Never purchase a dive watch under $200 as it is much more likely to fail when you need it most. You know, when you’re 200m below sea level. The last thing you need is your equipment breaking down or even worse, giving you inaccurate information.
Analog or Digital?
The Best dive watches can come in either analog or digital. They are both extremely accurate and precise in both timekeeping and depth tracking. While their features are very similar, their design and aesthetics are quite different. For example,
studies have shown that analog watches help your mind understand the passing of time. It gives a visualization of how many minutes have passed and how many minutes are yet to go until the next hour. Furthermore the studies have presented evidence that analog helps you stay more focused and waste less time. Digital on the other hand is slightly more accurate with timekeeping.
Most people consider analog to be a more ‘pure’ version of a watch. With digital taking away some of the elegance and class that makes these watches so loved. However, at the end of the day, it’s solely personal choice. Neither one is significantly better in one way or the other.
What To Look For In The Best Dive Watches?
Price is always important when making a purchase. Even more so when this purchase could have an affect on your safety. So the question is, how low can you go? I recommend to never going under $200 when purchasing a dive watch. Not only is it much more likely to fail than its more pricey alternatives, they typically don’t look that great. They will scratch easily and the timekeeping will be off. Once you begin getting into the $200 plus category however, it becomes more difficult to find a poorly crafted watch.
Illumination or lume for short is what gives light to the watch numerals and hands. There are two varieties of watch illumination. SuperLuminova(SL) and tritium(H3), which is an isotope of hydrogen.
Superluminova is a based on strontium aluminate and then mixed with a resin binder. This substance is carefully painted on the numerals and hands within the watch. When exposed to the ultra-violet radiation from daylight, the electrons of SL are ‘charged’. This energy slowly releases over the next several hours. Giving off a bright and beautiful color that will help you see the time. However while the glow technically lasts for hours, it becomes impossible to discern with the naked eye after just ~45minutes. Most watches use SL as it is cheaper and in most cases more practical.
Tritium watches on the other hand glow less brightly yet will constantly glow. There is no charging or downtime which is why they are preferred for best diving watches. The H3 used in watches is a gas created specfically for that purpose. The downsides of using H3 is that the gas eventually runs it course. After about 20 years, the glow will have faded to the point of being hardly noticeable. Tritium is also typically more expensive than the alternative.
What you need to know is if you plan on diving or spending long hours in the dark go with tritium. If you don’t need your watch to glow for hours in the darkness, SuperLuminova will suffice.
Water Pressure Resistance
I want to begin by saying there is no such thing as ‘waterproof’. Everything is water resistant. As long as you follow the guidelines set by the manufacturer regarding safe depths and maintenance you should be in the clear. However too many times I have seen poorly maintained watches fail to work. The costumer always says the same thing “I didn’t do anything to it”. In most cases that is absolutely correct. Just because you don’t bang it against the wall or drop it in gasoline doesn’t mean you took care of it. Like anything else valuable, it needs to treated properly and taken care of.
Here is the most popular water resistance ratings. Keep in mind that 1m = ~3.28 ft.
|Water resistance rating||Suitability||Remarks|
|Water Resistant or 50 m||Suitable for swimming and fishing.||NOT suitable for diving.|
|Water Resistant 100 m||Suitable for recreational surfing, swimming, snorkeling, sailing and water sports.||NOT suitable for diving.|
|Water Resistant 200 m||Suitable for professional marine activity and serious surface water sports.||Suitable for skin diving only. NOT suitable for scuba diving.|
|Diver’s 100 m||Minimum ISO standard (ISO 6425) for scuba diving.||Diver’s 100 m and 150 m watches are generally old(er) watches.|
|Diver’s 200 m or 300 m||Suitable for scuba diving at depths NOT suitable for saturation diving.||Typical ratings for contemporary diver’s watches.|
|Diver’s 300+ m for mixed-gas diving||Suitable for saturation diving(helium enriched environment).||Watches designed for mixed-gas diving will have the DIVER’S WATCH L M FOR MIXED-GAS DIVING additional marking to point this out.|
Some watch brands prefer to rate their dive watches in terms of bars instead of meters. 1 bar = ~ 10m.
Dive Watch Brands
There are so many great brands out there. Some of them are very well known such as Rolex, Omega, Seiko, and Luminox. Just because the watch doesn’t come from a big name, doesn’t mean it’s no good. Let’s bread down the top brands.
We have to start with the most famous of them all. Known for their expert craftsmanship and landmark innovations. Rolex has continually pushed the boundaries of not only practicality, but also beauty. What began in 1905 as a humble watch company in London has expanded into a large company who create the most famous dive watches in the world.
In fact, they are the original creators of the water resistant watch. They pioneered the very first one. Rolex has even demonstrated that their dive watches could be taken to a depth of 3,900m or 12,800ft. If you’re looking the absolute best dive watch, then non-other than Rolex can provide.
Omega was founded in 1903 by Louis Brandt of Switzerland. They quickly distinguished themselves as front runners within the watch industry. So distinguished in fact, that Britain’s Royal Flying Corps choose them for its official timekeepers for their combat units. As did the American army in 1918. NASA also favored Omega and they became the first watch on the Moon. Also known most recently for being the official watch of James Bond.
You can’t go wrong with Omega, slightly less expensive than Rolex with just as much style. The only thing it lacks is the same name recognition.
Seiko is a very old brand that was established in Tokyo, Japan in 1881. They started out as a watch and jewelry shop. Eleven years later they began to produce clocks with the name Seikosha meaning, “House of exquisite Workmanship”. They blend Japanese technological innovation with European style and class.
The reason Seiko is so loved is that their prices are very fair. You get a premium watch without the premium price tag. Seiko dive watches are their most famous line of models.
Since its foundation in 1930, CITIZEN has promoted a multi-cultural mindset that fosters excellence and creativity. The very name of the brand conveys a deep respect toward craftsmanship and considered as familiar by citizens the world-over.
CITIZEN is a very well known for their line of eco-drive watches. Eco-drive watches generate power from any lightsource. This makes them very versatile. Overall they make very good dive watches that are very fairly priced.
What About Size
Size really comes down to personal preference. Typically a dive watch anywhere from 36mm to 42mm will look great on any wrist. Remember a 42mm watch is quite big and will catch the eye of others. It’s also easier to read a bigger watch.
Maintenance is unfortunately an often overlooked aspect of owning a dive watch. While less important if you own it purely for style, it is very important if you plan on using it for diving. Every time you dive you are taking a risk of mechanical failure. To minimize these risks you should have your diving watch pressure tested by a service facility every two years. Furthermore, it is strongly recommended that you rinse or place your watch in fresh water after use in saltwater. This will stifle corrosion from forming and keep the buttons in good working order.
Humans are by nature very lazy and typically seek the path of least resistance. Us divers have chosen a different path full of many cautionary tales. We cannot afford to be lazy. Before every dive you should inspect your watch and wrist band. This is doubly important if it has recently come into contact with a hard surface, strong magnets, or strong chemicals. They can interfere with your watches functioning or have damaged the watch enough so it will fail under pressure.
I know this is slightly off topic but I’d like to point out that many divers develop back problems. If you’re looking for more information on back pain issues please check out this website, endyourbackpain.org
I have covered a wide range of the best dive watches. The reviews are honest and not solely focusing on the bestselling or most expensive models. These are effective and provide a good value for your hard earned money. I personally have tried out and own many of them for their looks and practicality.
I hope you have found the dive watch reviews helpful in your search.