Are you a swimming enthusiast? Would you always like to go swimming or diving with a watch on? If yes, then you need a dive watch. Dive watches have numerous benefits to you as a diver, which we would see in this guide if you read through. We have simplified it enough for easy understanding.
What is a Dive Watch?
The dive watch is a timeless silhouette for men’s watches. Elegant, sleek, and functional, the diving watch has been around since the early 20th century – maybe even earlier.
There are set requirements to be able to call a timepiece a dive watch. If you have read our article on Swiss-made watches, you will be familiar with this idea of categorizing watches according to strict rules. So, what are the requirements for a dive watch?
- Dive watches must have a minimum water resistance of 100m
- Dive watches must function underwater
- They must be antimagnetic
- The main watch parts of a dive watch must be visible in the dark from 25cm away
- Dive watches must be saltwater resistant
- They must be shock-resistant
- Every dive watch must feature a measuring scale that is suitable for tracking time underwater
HISTORY OF THE DIVE WATCH
Diving has been a sport and science going back before the 1950s, but by the mid-20th century diving’s popularity was soaring. For this, divers needed specific tools. Enter, the dive watch. Long before there were computers, divers needed a reliable watch to wear as it could mean the difference between life and death. This device could help track how long a diver was underwater, help calculate decompression stops (to avoid the bends), and help the diver keep track of how much air was in the tank.
There are a few standout models in the early years of the dive watch. And, like many innovations in horology, it starts with Rolex. In 1926 Hans Wildorf, the founder of Rolex filed a patent for the Oyster. The Rolex Oyster with the screwed crown, case-back, and crown was the world’s first truly water and dust-resistant case. OMEGA also took a stab at this with the OMEGA Marine, a watch that could slide in and out of a waterproof casing and withstood a 70-meter submersion in Lake Geneva.
From there, in the 1930s, the Italian Navy commissions Panerai to begin the development of a water-resistant watch. This model evolved into the Radiomir and was water resistant to 30 meters. This was the turning point for dive watches. By the time the sport was at its height in the 1950’s Rolex debuted the Submariner while other brands such as Blancpain and Breitling hit the market with the Fifty Fathoms and the Superocean. Then in 1967, Rolex made its mark again with the Sea-Dweller, a deeper diving version of the Submariner.
Several of the early models of dive watches remain on the market, all with updated looks and technology. Watchmakers are constantly pushing innovation on dive watches, allowing us to explore deeper ocean depths than ever before.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A DIVE WATCH
There are a few specific characteristics that make a watch a dive watch or a scuba dive watch.
In order for a watch to be considered a dive watch, it must be water-resistant to at least 100 meters. However, more advanced watches will have a water resistance of at least 200 meters.
A dive watch must be legible underwater. Many contain luminosity for low or no-light conditions.
Dive watches come equipped with a rotating bezel that lets the wearer know how long they have been underwater. In some models, it will also show the diver’s depth.
Most dive watches have rubber or stainless steel straps. They are the most adaptable to seawater and can withstand pressure, direct sunlight, and humidity.
Helium Escape Valve
Not all dive watches come equipped with a helium escape valve. However, this feature allows professional divers operating at great depths for prolonged times to ensure their watch can release the trapped helium during resurfacing, protecting the watch.
How To Use A Dive Watch
It’s actually super simple!
First, you twist the bezel so that the minute hand and the zero marker are lined up.
This means the minute hand will continue to follow the scale on the bezel and therefore accurately display the time elapsed.
Benefits of A Dive Watch
Assured enhanced water resistance
It’s devastating when your watch gets damaged simply because it was rained on or fell into the water. Also, it could be that you forgot to take it off before you began to swim. To avoid such a loss as a result of water damage, it is important to have a water–resistant watch. Unfortunately, some watches that claim to be waterproof/ water resistant are actually not. Others are just slightly water resistant; they get damaged if submerged in deep waters.
On the other hand, a dive watch fits the ISO 6425 set of standards which requires it to have a minimum depth rating of 100 meters, among other requirements. The rating means that the watch is capable of resisting potential water damage if submerged up to the indicated depth in water.
If you are a scuba diver, a dive watch comes in handy as it’ll help you to conveniently and easily calculate your oxygen intake, as well as the amount of time you can spend underwater before you return to the surface.
Another plus for a dive watch is its sturdy construction which enables it to resist pressure without incurring possible related damages. From its look, you can easily tell that it is a robust piece. Better still, you’ll confirm its sturdiness when it falls on a hard surface, gets stepped on, or when accidentally hit by a heavy object/huge force as it remains functional, with all of its parts intact. Therefore, if you are tired of buying average dress watches which end up getting damaged in a few days or months, a dive watch will be the ultimate buy.
Easy readability in various conditions
It is nice knowing that you have a watch that you can count on to measure or see the time regardless of where you are, whether daytime or in the night’s darkness. A divers’ watch or dive watch is designed for the best readability in various conditions including underwater (even where water is murky or dark), in dark places on the earth’s surface (for instance in caves and inside large, unlit buildings), and unlit places at night.
Dive watches are also designed to withstand pressure and, more often than not, are made from stainless steel or rubber. This means the material is hard to break and requires little maintenance.
Reasons dive watches are popular is a combination of the listed below:
- Versatile style
- Hype, marketing, and branding
- Rotating bezel
- Celebrity icons
Dive Watch Buyers Guide
Go for 200 meters. There are a ton of watches rated to 200m water resistance. If you are going to take the watch diving there is really no need to look at anything water-resistant to less than 200 meters.
The bottom line is this, o-rings and gaskets are primarily responsible for keeping the water out of the watch. They degrade over time.
The crystal is the clear glass-looking piece over the dial and hands. It is one of the things keeping water out of the watch when you are diving.
There are generally two types of crystals found in dive watches, mineral crystal, and sapphire.
A mineral crystal is made of hardened tempered mineral glass. The reason for this is it is not as hard as sapphire. A mineral crystal is the less desirable of the two. On the Mohs hardness scale, a mineral crystal measures five.
A sapphire crystal is obviously the more desirable of the two. All watch crystals are synthetic sapphire, which is expensive to make because it is so hard. It is made into a cylinder and cut with diamond saws and then polished. On the Mohs scale it measures a nine, the only thing harder on the Mohs scale is a diamond.
Obviously, a sapphire crystal is going to be a lot harder to scratch or chip than a mineral crystal.
Luminous paint glows in the dark once it has been exposed to bright light. Luminous markers, hands, and perhaps even the bezel or bezel pip are standard on dive watches. You can generally see what parts of the watch have luminous paint or lume for short.
The easiest place for a watchmaker to skimp and cut down costs is by not applying very much lume. If you are in a jewelry store it’s generally pretty bright, so difficult to tell how much lume is on the watch.
Other than brightness, we also want to find out how much staying power the lume has. So when you shine a light on the watch, does the lume last for only a few minutes, or does it stay for hours?
Although some people only want an automatic movement, quartz movements work just fine. However, you do not really have to look for in a quartz movement though that it is a solar watch.
Screw Down Crown
Any legitimate dive watch you purchase is automatically going to have a screw-down crown. The crown is the part of the watch where you adjust the time, and wind an automatic watch. If you see someone trying to sell you a dive watch without a screw-down crown run away. It is a fake. All dive watches have screw-down crowns.
If the option to purchase a particular model of the watch comes with the option of a bracelet or strap I always choose the bracelet.
You need to think about how you are going to use the watch. If you are diving in warm water anything should be ok. If you are using a thick wetsuit or a drysuit you need a strap that has a lot of lengths. A bracelet with a divers extension may work ok for a 7mm wetsuit, but it’s probably not going to work for a dry suit.
When you actuate a bezel you want to be able to grip it relatively well. It should turn relatively easily with some pressure on it. If it is smooth to turn, but a little hard that may be ok. I have noticed most bezels do get a little easier with use. If you can barely turn it that’s probably one I would steer clear from.
Ideally, it would have 120 clicks, but lower-end watches might have 60 clicks, this isn’t a deal breaker for me. There should be little to no back play, and no wiggle on the bezel overall.
To conclude, Now you know what features make dive watches what they are and how to look for them. That said, there are thousands of dive watches in the market, so it is first vital to understand your needs to shorten that list. Once you do that, it is a matter of preference of which watch you like best in terms of looks, utility, and more!