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A diving watch will help you monitor your dive time so that you can make an accurate calculation of the amount of nitrogen your body has absorbed when you also track the depth of your dive. Dive watches are available in a wide range of styles, complexities and price bands.
One style that is becoming popular again is the mechanical, quartz, analog type, originally popular at the end of the 70s and beginning of the 80s. They are simple to read and to operate, however, this is not necessarily reflected in the price tag – as while basic models start at under $100, a designer fashion model could set you back in excess of $20,000!
Diving watches traditionally are almost a sort of ‘club membership’ badge, identifying scuba divers with each other on social occasions not requiring wetsuit wear! It is the classic, retro-look, watch that seems to be most popular on these occasions.
For scuba diving, digital dive watches continue to be very popular because they are accurate, easy to use, compact, inexpensive, and water-resistant. Water-resistance in excess of 200 meters is considered essential for scuba diving and anything less, suitable only for snorkeling or swimming.
A newer type of dive watch is actually a dive computer made to be watch-sized. These effectively eliminate the need for a separate dive computer on straightforward dives and act as a backup to a more sophisticated computer during ‘Tec’ dives.
Features to Look For In Dive Watches
- Elapsed Time. You need to be able to see the elapsed time of your dive at a glance. The method is different for each type of watch, with dive computers usually showing your elapsed time automatically and digital watches having a stop-watch type function. Analog watches have a rotating bezel enabling elapsed time to be read. As the bezel needs to be aligned with the minute hand at the start of the dive, it is very important that it cannot be accidentally rotated during the dive causing an inaccurate reading of elapsed time.
- Wrist Band. Dive watches need to fit over the outside of the wrist of your wetsuit. The strap needs to be long enough to accommodate this. Alternatively, an expanding bracelet type is popular.
- Power source. For those who are keen on environmentally friendly choices, the self-winding, mechanical type watches are a good choice. Some digital watches can use solar power – however, that is not ideal in all situations.
- Easy To Read. Many diving situations are low-light, so an illuminated display on a dive watch will be essential. Mechanical watches do not typically have a light-up display but they do have hands and bezel gradations that are luminous, so these are a good alternative. A watch that has a good contrast between the background color and the numbers and markers is going to be easier to read too.
- The strength of the Casing. Any diving watch needs to have a casing that is robust enough to handle water pressure at dive depths without cracking or damage. Crystal faces and screw down or sealed backs offer the best protection against leakage.
Ultimately, the choice you make from the huge array of dive watches available will depend on your diving requirements, your preferred style, and the budget you have available. If you find a diving watch you really like, chances are that you will use it for many years to come so it is probably well worth the investment.