Everything you need to know about diver's watches

First published: 20-06-2017

Everything you need to know about diver's watches

Man in Diver Suit

Diver's watches are every bit as popular as a fashion statement as they are for swimming deep underwater. Like the bomber jacket, or the flat cap, the diver's watch has become fashionable for its outstanding performance and exceptional functionality.

If you're just starting out in diving, then it is worth getting to know the key features to look out for when choosing a diver's watch; there is a wide range and getting the right features and build quality is paramount.

Alternatively, you might have no intention of plunging yourself to great depths anytime soon but still fancy owning a top diver's watch. If you fall into this category, it's important you don't pay over the odds for features that you won't use.

Be aware of your bezel

One of the key features of any diver's watch is the bezel. Sitting proudly around the face of every diver's watch, the bezel helps divers measure how long they've been under water and gives the distinctive, oversized look.

The Seiko Prospex Divers Padi watch features a classic example of bezel styling on a dive watch, in striking blue.

Seiko Prospex Divers Padi Watch

Most diving watches feature a unidirectional (one-way) bezel, designed to allow the wearer to accurately time how long they have been underwater. Divers can rotate the bezel anti-clockwise so that its mark is aligned with the minute hand at the point of submersion.

The minute hand then tracks the time spent underwater against the bezel, and the diver can rest assured the bezel won't move clockwise and give the impression they have been underwater for less time than they actually have - a pretty important error when you have a limited air supply!

Stay illuminated

Visibility is another key consideration for divers and that is why dive watches tend to have large faces, chunky hands and bold, clear markings.

Luminescent hands and markings are also a common feature, intended to help divers use their watch in the murky depths or when exploring a shadowy shipwreck, but just as useful when you're checking the time in a bar or at a club!

Certina DS Action Precidrive watch

The Certina DS Action Precidrive watch features Super-LumiNova coating on its chunky hands, markings and bezel, making it an ideal watch for taking to the depths of the ocean or deep into the night.

Deal with pressure

The cases of dive watches must be able to withstand the pressure of swimming to depths of over 300 metres, which is as far beneath the waves as humans have managed to dive up to now without being in something like a submarine.

Many dive watches boast that they can cope with being submerged far deeper than 300 metres, with some claiming pressure resistance up to 1000m. While this might seem unnecessary given the limits of human endurance in the depths, the degree to which the very best diver watches are tested can provide reassurance about the general durability of your timepiece.

Victorinox Dive Master 500

The titanium body of the Victorinox Dive Master 500 can withstand journeys to depths of up to a quarter of a mile, with water resistance of 500 metres.

Braced for bumps

Robustness in a watch is fundamental to divers who might be swimming between rocks or through areas of coral, where any bump or knock to the device must be withstood without damage affecting the watch mechanism.

Nixon is renowned for creating robust watches and the 51-30 Chrono is a classic example of an oversized watch in a stainless steel case that can deal with all manner of knocks and scrapes.

Nixon 51-30 Chrono Watch

The best diver watches have an impenetrable assembly with no parts that can simply pop out or be easily removed. Look for stainless steel screws and seamless casing when assessing a watch's solidity. Titanium and stainless steel are popular dive watch materials due to their anti-rust properties, while sapphire crystal is resistant to scratches and thus is suitable for dive watch lens casing.


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