How Do I Choose A Dive Watch?

Looking through a lot of diving watches, a series of questions must be going through your mind. “How do I choose a dive watch,” ‘how do I get the best dive watch for the money,” “are dive watches even worth it at all?” and more are normal questions that you should ask yourself.

While we cannot always answer ALL the questions on your mind, we can have a crack at them.

Looking at all the questions you have had about dive watches – and those you might not have asked yet – we have put this guide together for you.


Did You Know?

Dive watches (or water-resistant watches) used to be specially built as one-off units for explorers in the 19th century. Omega SA became the first company to create commercial-standard water-resistance watches which morphed into dive watches of today.


Should I Buy A Dive Watch?

Dive computers have come to change the market landscape for dive watches. However, a dive watch is still an important piece of machinery for core divers.

The dive watch gives you the time at a glance. It is simple enough to be worn every day and practical enough that it doesn’t mislead you when underwater. With luminous hands to boot, you never have to worry about extreme low light situations.

Even if for the fact that you might meet a kindred spirit who asks “are you also a diver?” just by looking at your watch, they are still worth it.


Factors to Consider When Choosing Dive Watches

The ISO 6425 standards provide the most important features to consider when choosing a dive watch. The standards don’t do an exhaustive job, though.

Combining what we know, what experienced divers look at and the provisions of the standards, we have the following:


Depth Rating

The ISO 6425 standards require that a watch be resistant to water up to 100m at least to be considered a dive watch. While that is the standard, we like to choose watches that start from 200m instead.

While that is our floor benchmark, it is not the ideal rating for all kinds of diving. For example, professional divers can manage to go to 200 meters and beyond underwater. Thus, they will need a diver’s watch that can handle that kind of depth.

As a rule, we recommend choosing a watch that gives more depth than you need. Thus, if you were diving to 200 meters, choose a watch that can stay fine till 300 meters or beyond. That eliminates errors and ensures your watch doesn’t get damaged in the process.


Chemical Resistance

Most diving is done from boats and in saltwater. If you have not considered it before, the chemicals in saltwater (and the salt itself) could damage your watch. If such a watch has not been treated against chemical damage, that is.

Thus, your diver’s watch should be certified safe against chemical attacks. The manufacturer should have checked this against common chemicals found in water bodies. Otherwise, they won’t be able to legally slap the ISO 6425 certification on that unit.


Operational Indicator

Things can go awry underwater when the diver does not know that their watch has stopped working.

There are a lot of reasons why your watch can quit working – and we talked about some of that in our watch service and repair guide. The situation can be better managed when the diver knows fast enough that their timepiece is down.

In that sense, your divers’ watch should have a running second hand or indicator. Should the watch become inoperational, you know ASAP and can get out of the water before you get into complicated timing situations.


Legibility

We don’t even have to mention this, but it is worth reiterating.

Going deep will reduce your visibility, so you want a watch that makes that reduction less obvious.

Some of the things to consider under legibility are:

  • The watch dials’ size
  • The luminosity of the dials
  • The watch size itself
  • Facial markings

Bezel

Well, not always a bezel, but a time preselecting device.

Thus, for analog dive watches, it is the bezel. Digital watches can use their display to preselect a time to reference another time.

The watch bezel can be used to set a mental timer to know how long to spend underwater. That is especially important for timing how long your dive has lasted, how much of your oxygen supply has been exhausted/ is left, and more.

Without it, you might be oblivious to these things and cause serious injury to yourself.


Price

The price factor is also an important consideration when choosing diver’s watches.

There are dive watches that sell for $200 or below. You can also get them in the $300 price range if you are looking for something extra without paying too much on top. That said, diver’s watches can also climb as high as the thousands of dollars as we have seen with the Rolexes and Omegas.

The ideal watch for you will be one that fits within your budget. You don’t have to break the bank to get the most out of a dive watch, as long as you know what the watch is for.


Who Makes the Best Dive Watch?

There are a series of brands that make great dive watches. Some of them are Rolex, Omega, Blancpain, Seiko, Rado, and Oris, among others. The choice of which brand makes the best dive watch will be dependent on the user.

No matter how unbiased we are in a watch review, our personal preferences will shine through. That is why we prefer to give our readers a series of choices from different manufacturers so that they can pick what best resonates with them.

If we were looking for the best dive watch when pricing is not a problem, we would go for the Omegas and Rolexes without thinking twice. When on a budget, though, we prefer to check out what Seiko has to offer. Seiko has been churning out different units of amazing dive watches at a bargain for a long time now, so options won’t be a problem there either.


What Watch Can Go the Deepest?

The Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller was the record holder for the deepest dive watch before the Swiss Military CX Diver Watch beat that record. The latter watch survived a dive to as much as 20,000 feet (which is about 6000 meters down to the ocean floor) and came out fine.

Note that this test was carried out in a lab chamber since there are no parts of the ocean that deep for the test to have held.

When it comes to real-life tests, though, the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Ultra Deep Professional comes to mind.

This wristwatch (three of its kind, actually) accompanied a submarine to the deepest parts of the ocean. The fact that one of the watches fell to the ocean floor and was still ticking two days after (when it was finally retrieved) bears testament to the engineering quality of the unit.

If you are looking to get one of those, though, we have some bad news:

Omega is yet to start making the watch commercially available. Since there are not many divers who would be going to such depths, the company might choose to only apply some elements of the watch’s engineering to future models.

Most saturation divers stay between 65m and 1000 meters. That is the range which we used to come up with one of our diving watches guides which listed a pick that goes as far as 1000m too – and it doesn’t even cost up to $350!


Will You Still Buy a Dive Watch?

This is not just a guide on how to choose a diving watch. We have also covered some other questions that will help you decide on picking one or not. With all that in mind, will you still be going for a diving watch at all?

No matter your answer to the above question, you will be personally correct. After all, you now have all the details you need to make a better-informed decision.