The best and standard way of tracking bottom time when scuba diving in the 70s and 80s was done by the help of dive watches. Most scuba divers today have these watches as a means of style and identification. Though most, if not all dive watches look attractive and stylish, they also serve as backup dive timers and ordinary watches.
Most people own them but very few use them. Both ladies and men alike consider this a fashion statement as well as a collectors’ item. Most match them with designer suits, but very few know what they are really meant for.
For starters, their name tells it all. They are characteristically waterproof, meaning they are meant for underwater activities such as water sports or most commonly, scuba diving deep into the ocean. Dive watches come in different shapes and brands.
The 10 Most Important Features to Look Out For In Any Dive Watch
There are a number of features that should be present to make a dive watch worthy of its name.
1. Must have a standard depth rating of at least 330 feet (100 meters), which is deeper than the ordinary depth of recreational scuba diving. Watches that have shallower depths in terms of their waterproof nature are not fit for scuba diving.
2. Dive watches should have a bezel that is unidirectional and is rotatable to the minute hand so as to directly read the elapsed time from the bezel. This is equivalent to the stopwatch function in digital watches as well as some analog watches. Elapsed time is displayed automatically in dive computer watches.
3. Some dive watches are actually multifunctional. These are referred to as dive computers’. They do not provide any information pertaining to the stop dive limit. Others have thermometers, depth gauges, dive log capabilities, electronic compasses and eventide predictors included.
4. Expandable bracelet or lengthy strap to hold and position your watch firmly in place on either your drysuit sleeve or wetsuit.
5. It should have a helium valve. This feature is useful mostly to the commercial divers who do deep saturation diving. They survive on breathing gas that has a helium content and live in habitats underwater. The minute helium molecules may probably find themselves into the watch case and damage the watch.
6. Titanium material always works best for any dive watch. Why? For one, it is resistant to corrosion and is way lighter compared to any other metal. Metal bracelets are a personal choice; just make sure it has an extension function.
7. It should be resistant to the sea water temperature, pressure, and most importantly, water. It is a diver’s companion; therefore it should be able to give a concise calculation of how long they should spend under water and their general oxygen intake. If, by any chance, these key functions do not work, purchase a different one as your life literally depends on it.
8. Should have illumination that makes it readable in dim light. A luminescent marker in a dive watch is highly recommended. It should have a simple readability in general, for you not to strain while underwater.
9. The casing should be well built. It should either be screwed securely or fully sealed at the back. There is a high chance of a water leak in case backs that pop in or have cracks and openings. Everything, including the lugs and crystal, should be of the highest quality.
10. The bezel, being the most important part in a dive watch, should be highly functional. Go for a bezel that is unidirectional to prevent backward rotation which can put your air supply at risk. It shouldn’t be so free that it can be changed by water currents. It should also be clearly readable.
History and Examples of Previous Dive Watches
Water resistant watches did not hit the stores just recently. Obviously, there has been a series of evolution since the late 19th century. Weak points that could sabotage the whole idea of being waterproof e.g. the crowns, backs, bezels etc. have been improved as technology evolved. These parts are vital in that, they could cause movements and dials to rust or act as an entry point for water and dust.
Innovations like the screwed bezels and backs came into existence at this time. The start of the 20th century saw the entrance of the wristwatch, which would prove to be very resourceful during the First World War.
In 1926, Rolex, one of the world’s most trusted brands, unveiled the Oyster’. Its movement was protected by a case that was sealed hermetically. This watch was first tested by Mercedes Gleitze, the first British female to swim across the channel, as requested by Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex.
With the Oyster around her neck, Gleitze made an amazing attempt to swim from France to England. As expected, there was zero penetration of moisture throughout her hours underwater, proving the oyster was a success.
Another type of watch that was common in the 19th century is the Frogman’. It had a unique design in that its crown had a protective cap that was joined to the case with a short, metallic chain. This kept water from penetrating into the watch through the crown.
This is another classic example of the watches that were invented for the sole purposes of military activities, both on land and in the sea. Created in 1943, these watches were made accessible to the Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs).
Since the 1950s, the Luminor watch of Italian origin had gained massive popularity due to its stunning design and modern look. Its name was derived from tritium-luminor, a self-luminous substance that had a higher preference to radium, so as to make the dials of the brand’s instruments more visible.
Bob Maloubier, a Captain in the 1950s, ordered for a unique design of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms’ so as to time each dive of the combat frogmen from France. This watch went on to become a standard which, to this day, features modern attributes like high resistance to water and a scale of sixty minutes etc, which have a characteristic connection to dive watches. It’s level of water resistance? Approximately 300 feet or 91.5 meters.
Common Questions Related To Dive Watches
Is a ‘WATERPROOF’ labeled watch suitable for diving?
Your manual should guide you on how to use such kind of a watch. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Most likely it’s not. You’ve probably walked in the rain, done the dishes or even taken a bath with your watch on and none of these has affected it in any way. Know this, however, most dive watches, as stated above, must have a depth rating of at least 300 feet. You may probably never dive this deep to test it, so while you have it, keep it as far away from water as you possibly can.
What is the purpose of the rotating bezel?
It is typically marked 60 minutes for the sole purpose of assisting divers in determining how long they’ve been underwater. The bezel is rotated to a point where the zero mark is aligned with the minute hand once you descend. This will make it easier for you to read your dive duration at any given time, without the need for time-consuming calculations. The bezel rotates in one direction. If it is moved accidentally, it will not extend your dive, but rather shorten it beyond, possibly, your limit of no-decompression. In short, be careful with it.
What is the difference between dive watches and sports watches?
Briefly, dive watches are meant for diving, while sports watches are meant for sports activities such as track racing are carried out on land. Clearly, not all of us are divers. We should, therefore, focus our attention on how dive watches are beneficial to average consumers. Shall we?
Dive watches are simply one-of-a-kind watches. They can function exceptionally well even when submerged deep in water. They are also capable of resisting a tremendous amount of pressure. The reason as to why so many individuals use dive watches as a sports watch is because they share various features in terms of their outward appearance and reliability. So long as it’s capable of withstanding pressure and currents of water, it can basically be used for sailing, surfing, kayaking or rafting.
Recommended Dive Watches
1. Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Chronograph
This watch is perfect for not only divers, but also anyone in particular who desires a dive watch for different sports. It has a rating of 600 meters which is more than enough for all amateur and professional divers alike.
2. Rolex Submariner
Without a doubt, Rolex has been known to come up with luxurious dive watches since time immemorial. The Rolex Submariner is no different. It has a proven track record that makes it a trusted and world-class timepiece for most scuba divers. This watch is tough as it is able to withstand the heaviest of currents and the highest of pressures. Suitable for divers and non-divers; amateurs and professionals.
3. Bremont Supermarine 2000
Pilots have trusted Bremont to come up with high-quality watches. This is understandable due to their long history in timepiece manufacture for those in the aviation sector. The deep sea diver will find this watch to be a splendid option. With 2000 meters as its depth rating, this watch is able to survive what you probably cannot. It has a simple layout, clear and exquisite, thus making it less complicated to read. This timepiece will in no way give you a headache the next time you’re underwater.
4. U-Boat 1001
U-Boat is a great company. It truly is. Its only downside in their timepieces is the bulkiness and lack of elegance that most people don’t find attractive. When they manufacture a dive watch, they understand the term attractive all too well. They craft it in such a way that resonates with the needs of any scuba diver out there. It has luminescent markers that are orange in color (way better than green or white by the way) and has 1001 meters as its depth rating. You, along with those in the Special Forces, are bound to love it!
5. Bell and Ross Hydromax
This watch is unique. Not like all these other aren’t, but it has a special kind of unique. I mean, where else can you find a watch with a special rating of 6000 meters? This, unfortunately, is quartz and not a mechanical watch. Positively, though, it is the ideal timepiece for divers who want to go really deep. It has a fluid known as Hydroid, which occupies the case. This is where the special kind of unique’ falls into play. Bell and Ross have explained that this liquid keeps it resistant to both pressure and water.
Basic Tips: How to Keep Your Dive Watch Fully Functional
1. Rinse it thoroughly in fresh water right after each dive. If you took a swim in a pool, rinse it to get rid of the chlorine.
2. Turn the bezel as you rinse it. This will be helpful in getting rid of any dirt, particles or grit that might have gotten stuck beneath the dial.
3. Keep the gaskets in check. Within the watch, there are rubber/plastic seals that keep the watch waterproof. There are high chances of deterioration of these gaskets. It is recommended to either change or inspect them every 18-36 months. The more you dive frequently, the more you should have the pressure of your watch tested.
4. Ensure the crown is tightly pushed down. Before you get into the water, make sure the crown is either pushed down or screwed. Once you get into the water, do not, under any circumstance, adjust the crown. This could lead to water leaking into your watch and accidents soon after.
5. Avoid exposing your watch to chemicals. Strong chemicals, aerosols, solvents etc. can either dry out or damage your watch.
6. Always check your watch for condensation. In case you notice this beneath the crystal, do not hesitate to take your watch to a professional.
Dive watches range from cheap to expensive, based on their quality. Go for the watch that is not only pocket-friendly, but also goes in line with how far down you can dive. There’s always the right diver watch for every diver. Be sure to maintain it using the tips listed above to avoid early breaking.