Once upon a time, a dive watch was as vital to a diver’s list of gear as air tanks and a regulator. Times have changed, and with the advanced technology that most modern-day dive computers possess, many could argue that divers really don’t “need” a dive watch anymore. While it might be true that watches aren’t an absolute necessity anymore, we’d argue that they’re still a smart (and fashionable) choice for those serious about the sport. Here’s a closer look at why dive watches still make sense and a few things to consider before you purchase one.
First off, any sport that is inherently dangerous (like scuba diving, for instance) can benefit from the concept of redundancy. So, while your fancy dive computer can keep track of time, depth, air supply, etc., if it ever goes on the fritz while you’re on a dive, a good watch makes a great backup plan.
Generally speaking, dive watches are also built like tanks. That means you can beat the hell out of them and they should take the punishment without any issues. They’ll certainly hold up better than normal, “fashion” watches (or smartphones), so as far as timepieces go, you really can’t get anything better in terms of durability. A dive watch will also take more abuse than your average dive computer.
Dive watches have features that make them easy to read while under water. The faces and hands contrast so you can read the time in low-visibility conditions, but you don’t necessarily have to be underwater to appreciate that feature. Plus, traditional dive watches have a rotating bezel so you can track your dive times, but you can use the feature to track anything. You won’t exactly be the coolest guy in the gym if you’re timing and tracking your rests between reps with a dive computer.
As for selecting a dive watch, you pretty much use the same criteria that you would use to select any other watch. Price is an obvious factor, and dive watches tend to run higher than other types of watches. But remember, they’ll also last a LOT longer than normal watches. Another factor to consider is the size of the watch itself. Dive watches tend to be on the bigger size, so it’s really a matter of preference. Some are so large they’re downright ridiculous, but there are plenty of models that are still pretty modest, size-wise.
Ultimately, it’s up to your own preferences in terms of price, style, and features. One thing you don’t want to “settle” on is the waterproofing. You want something that can withstand pressures to at least 100 meters, and remember that “water resistant” is NOT a dive watch! You need something that’s built to take atmospheric pressure.