The Best Dive Watches: Buyer’s Guide

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Timepieces are an essential accessory we wear on a daily basis. It gives us the luxury of knowing the current time. But when it comes to scuba diving, timepieces like a dive watch, will not just allow you to know the current time, but it also allows you to determine your bottom time which is one of the essential parameters you need to monitor while underwater.

In this article we will show you:

  • The best dive watch: In depth
  • How to choose the best dive watch
  • The benefit of owning a dive watch

The Best Dive Watch: In Depth

1. Rolex Submariner

Depth Rating: 300 meters (1,000 feet)
Pros: high depth rating, superlative timepiece
Cons: No female version, high price tag, prone to replication

Considered as one of the best dive watch and preferred by most dive professionals, the Rolex Submariner is a swiss automatic wrist watch that features a 31-jewel calibre 3135 movement. The bezel insert is made from black cerachrom which is a hardened ceramic. This dive watch is very durable and highly resistant to scratch. All of its parts has a high anti-corrosion property that will not fade over time even if it is frequently exposed to direct sunlight. It has a 50-hour power reserve and guarantees you this wristwatch will work even if you place it in storage. Its name is derived from its oyster case lock down mechanism that closes like a submarine hatch. The Rolex Submariner comes in different design. The basic and the cheapest is the black-dial stainless steel while one of its top model is the Rolex Men's Submariner Automatic Blue Dial Oyster 18k Solid Gold.

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2. Omega Seamaster

Depth Rating: 600 meters (2,000 feet)
Pros: Optimal depth rating, width size designed for females
Cons: Large size, high price tag

Among the personalities who wore the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Chronograph are olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps and the famous fictional Secret Service Agent James Bond. This swiss made self-winding wrist watch combines style, quality and functionality. It features a scratch resistant sapphire crystal and a silicon balance spring, which in general, greatly improves its shock resistance capabilities and magnetism. The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Chronograph comes in the standard 45.5mm and 43.5mm watch size. But the good news, the same luxury watch can now be worn by females as the 37.5mm is now available in the market.

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3. Seiko Divers Automatic

Depth Rating: 200 meters (660 feet)
Pros: Optimal depth rating, low price tag, highly luminous
Cons: Rubber strap may leave markings on your skin

A main stay in the diving arena, every divers knows (and should know) this dive watch. This 42mm wristwatch has a deep blue dial that is enhanced by luminous hands. It has a silver-tone stainless steel case, a uni-directional bezel and a sturdy black rubber strap. 

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4. Tag Heuer Aquaracer

Depth Rating: 300 meters (1,000 feet)
Pros: High depth rating, has a ladies version, chronograph with 3 subdials
Cons: Heavy, small face monitor

The Tag Heuer Aquaracer is a sporty and durable dive watch made from a fine-brushed and polished stainless steel case. It features a black dial with a silver skeleton hands and index markers that are highly luminous when used in low-light environment. This wrist watch is a certified chronograph with three subdials that displays a 60 second monitor, 30 minute monitor and a 1/10th of a second monitor. The face is made from sapphire crystal that is scratch resistant. One feature that stands out in this dive watch is the rotating bezel which is embedded with studs that aids you in revolving it even if you are using a pair of dive gloves.

While the Tag Heuer Aquaracer has a case measurement of 43mm, it has a women’s counterpart – the Tag Heuer Women's WBD1312.BA0740 'Aquaracer' Stainless Steel Watch. With a case measuring only 32mm, this ladies dive watch has the same features from its men’s counterpart, except  that it does not have a chronometer and comes in different styles like the black dial, navy blue dial, and mother of pearl dial with diamond accents.

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5. Luminox Women’s Dive Watch

Depth Rating: 200 meters (660 feet)
Pros: Optimal depth rating, elegant look, highly luminous
Cons: Mid-range price tag, need to change the battery after fully drained (two years)

The Luminox Women’s Dive Watch is a swiss made dive watch that belongs to the Luminox Modern Mariner Series. It features a rigid black-colored stainless steel case and bracelet with a black dial that is accented with a grey-colored numbers and hands. The case measures 38mm and plated with black ion. This dive watch is perfect, not just for scuba diving, but also looks elegant in formal occasions.

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6. Seiko Prospex Solar Tuna

Depth Rating: 200 meters (660 feet)
Pros: Optimal depth rating, elegant look, highly luminous
Cons: Rubber strap may leave markings on your skin

The Prospex is a new age series of Seiko dive watch. While it has the same case and bezel as with a typical Seiko divers watch, its features are enhanced. This dive watch is solar powered and can be used either as a digital or analog watch. The case and bezel is further protected with a rubber protection.  

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7. Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster

Depth Rating: 200 meters (660 feet)
Pros: Optimal depth rating, sturdy, highly luminous
Cons: High temperature sensitive, rubber strap may leave markings on your skin

The Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster is a dive watch that sits comfortably on a large wrist person. While its features are very similar to a Seiko divers watch, you just need to aware that some of its components may not function on high temperature (above 60°C /140°F).

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What to Look for in a Dive Watch

A dive watch is not your typical day-to-day wristwatch. It has some features that allows you to wear it underwater and use it to measure certain diving parameters.

Depth Ratings: This is the most important feature of a dive watch, otherwise if it is not water resistant, then it is of no use underwater since it will be instantly flooded. All dive watch has a depth rating and this varies depending on the brand and model. For scuba diving standards, a dive watch must have at least 200 meter (660 feet) depth rating. But this does not mean that you are going that deep. It is just a standard set for dive watch to withstand the increasing pressure. In other words, the higher the depth rating, the better.

Display: On top of the refraction effect where everything you see underwater is 25% larger and nearer, your dive watch should have a large and visible display. It should have visible markings like the minute hand, hour hand and the hour mark. This allows you to determine time in just a single glance.

Luminous Markings: All markings within the monitor of your dive watch should be luminous. This feature is very important when you go night diving where a single strike from the beam of your torch allows the luminous markings of your dive watch to fully glow. And it is not just about night diving that you find the luminous feature important. For example: when you do deep diving and the condition coincides on a gloomy day. You can still visibly see your dive watch as the luminous markings will slightly glow on a low-light environment.

Rotating Bezel: This is the round revolving metal just outside the glass case of the monitor of your dive watch. Every dive watch should have a rotating bezel. The purpose of the rotating bezel is to mark your time the moment you start descending and read afterwards your elapsed time after the dive. Take note: the rotating bezel should only be unidirectional and not multi-directional to prevent accidental rotation. In this case, it is usually on a counter-clockwise direction.

Automatic or Battery Operated: All dive watch are powered either mechanically or with the use of a battery. Known as self-winding watch, automatic dive watch runs and operates in line with your body’s natural motion. In short, as long as you move, the watch will work. Battery operated dive watch offers more features than an automatic dive watch, but you need replace the battery when it is drained. This is the disadvantage of battery powered dive watch as changing the battery and opening the watch case might compromise its seal and may affect its water resistant capabilities.

Straps: Straps of popular dive watch either comes in rubber, stainless steel or high grade metal like titanium. While straps are just straps, your choice would depend on your preference. The first thing you will consider is skin compatibility where some are allergic to rubber and certain types of metal. Second is frequency of use where some of us choose rubber straps and only wear them during diving while some prefer the high-grade metals where they can wear it, not just in diving, but in the office and formal occasions.

The Benefits of Owning a Dive Watch

Unlike dive computers where you can rent them on a dive shop, you can seldom see a dive watch as a rental unit. If you are a scuba diver, you must have your own dive watch. Some may think this is not necessary as they can ask the time from their buddy, then this practice should be changed. While asking time from your buddy is doable, you have to remember that it is not all times that you descend altogether. You or your dive buddy may start descending first and the start of your dive time differs. And how do you ask for time if your buddy is far away from you underwater?

Having your own dive watch gives you the liberty to not just know the real time, but also know how long you are already underwater. This gives you the precious freedom of monitoring your time at a single glance and without relying on your dive buddy or the entire dive group.

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