Reviewing The Best Dive Watches of 2021
Cressi Leonardo Underwater Diving Computer
Luminox Men’s 3059 EVO Navy Seal Colormark Watch
TEKMAGIC Digital Scuba Diving Watch
Boat Safe is a community supported site. We may earn comission from links on this page, but we have confidence in all recommended products.
You don’t have to be a diver to need a dive watch. Dive watches are fully functional both in and out of the water, whether you are a recreational diver or deep diving professionally. Dive watches are stylish, durable, and versatile, and should be added to any watch collection.
Dive watches don’t have to break the bank. Many affordable dive watches don’t sacrifice quality or function, and we have included them in the product reviews below. We have taken all of the guesswork out of the buying process and replaced it with all you need to know in this buying guide.
What is a Dive Watch?
A dive watch is more than just a water-resistant watch that can withstand submersions of 100 meters or more. A dive watch will monitor how long you have been underwater, light up underwater in dark conditions, and a rotating bezel.
These terms may be difficult to understand to those who are just learning the terminology of diving, so we will explain what each of these terms means below.
- Watch Case – this is the watch face enclosure that keeps the internal parts of the watch protected. This is where the battery, gears, and other parts of the watch are located.
- Water Resistance – the total distance the watch can be submerged while continuing to function correctly.
- Rotating Bezel – a hand on the watch that rotates to let the diver know how long they have been underwater.
- Backlight/Lumination – a light on the watch face that allows the numbers on the watch to be seen at night or in dark conditions.
- Tachymeter – a device used to measure distance according to speed.
- Chronograph – a device used to record time; a stopwatch
A dive watch should have all of these components to be certified for diving. If a watch is labeled as a dive watch but does not have all of these features, we do not recommend wearing it for diving. While it may be water-resistant and suitable for recreational swimming, we do not recommend wearing a watch that does not record time or alert you while diving, as this is what will keep you safe while you dive.
Other Dive Watch Features to Consider
There are additional features you may want your dive watch to have. These features are not required criteria to be classified as a dive watch; however, they can help improve the quality and safety of your dive if they are available.
Deep Stop (“Pyle Stop”) Alerts
A deep stop, also known as a Pyle stop, is a stop that a diver makes during the ascension to the surface. This type of stop was named after Dr. Richard Pyle, an ichthyologist from Hawaii. During his dives in Hawaii, he noticed that making periodic stops on his way to the surface significantly decreased his post-dive fatigue. Thus, he developed what is known as a deep stop or “Pyle stop.”
When ascending to the surface, the dive watch will alert you to notify you to make a stop. This is known as a deep stop. You should stop your ascent for 30 to 60 seconds before resuming the ascent. This stop will prevent microbubbles from developing in the diver’s bloodstream.
Microbubbles will slow down your ascent, which can be dangerous and make you fatigued. Making a deep stop at the right time will prevent this from happening; thus, allowing you to have a quicker and more successful ascent.
Helium Release Valve
Some dive watches are equipped with a helium release valve. Helium release valves are a useful feature to have in your dive watch only if you will be diving in deep, saturated conditions for long periods of time.
When saturation diving, helium particles that are found within the atmospheric pressure conditions can seep into the watch. This is not an issue for the watch until you ascent to the surface, and the watch becomes decompressed.
During decompression, the pressure becomes trapped between the helium atoms with no way to escape. Over time, the pressure can damage the watch in different ways, such as causing the watch case to break or malfunction.
A helium release valve will allow any helium that has built up in the watch to be released automatically. There is no manual button or dial that you will have to activate for this to work. However, there may be a manual screw-down crown on the side of the watch that you can unscrew at the beginning of the decompression so that any helium and pockets of pressure within the watch can be release.
Helium released valves are typically only found on dive watches that have a water-resistance of 1,000 feet or more. Helium release valves are not required for recreational diving as the conditions and the duration of the dive will not have helium present, meaning that pressure will not build up inside the watch.
Dive watches can be powered by a battery or automatic movement. The battery is what makes the watch function. When the battery electrifies the quartz within the watch, the quartz sends a vibration that causes the second hand of the watch to tick. When the battery dies, the ticking stops and the battery will need to be replaced for the watch to work again.
Automatic movement watches rely solely on the movement of the watch to make the second hand tick. The spring of the watch will store energy and send it through the gears of the watch to make the second hand tick.
Dive watches that are powered by automatic movement are considered more reliable than battery-powered watches as you don’t have to worry about the battery dying when in use. What’s more, you don’t have to replace the battery in the watch when it dies. Your watch will always be wound and ready to go with an automatic watch.
Both automatic movement and quartz watches are fine for diving. There is no right or wrong choice. Automatic movement watches are considered more luxurious and more reliable, but both automatic movement and quartz watches are perfectly fine for diving.
How to Choose the Best Dive Watch
As you can see, dive watches range in style, price, and features. Dive watches can be simple, analog watches with a rotating bezel for measuring time underwater, or they can be a digital computer with various modes with FO2 and PO2 adjustability and a helium release valve.
To choose the best dive watch, you should first consider the conditions in which you will be using it.
If you will be diving for fun, you will need a dive watch that can withstand depths of 100 meters while measuring your time underwater. The most basic and affordable dive watches are ideal for general swimming, snorkeling, and diving, as they will provide water resistance up to 100 meters while measuring the time you spend underwater.
Training to dive professionally, or if you are already a professional diver, will require a dive watch that is equipped with more features for a safe dive. This may include various diving modes, a tachymeter, a deep stop alarm, and/or a helium release valve. For advanced or saturated dives, you should consider a diving computer with many included features so that your dive is safe and efficient.
Consider the type of diving you will be doing before you buy the first dive watch you come across. A basic dive watch should be water-resistant up to 100 meters, have a unidirectional rotating bezel, and a bright backlight. These dive watches come in a variety of styles, colors, and are reasonably priced.
As we mentioned earlier, automatic movement and quartz watches are both used to power dive watches, so you may want to choose your watch according to the method in which it is powered. If you don’t want to rely on a battery to power your watch, or if you don’t want to have to worry about replacing the battery when it dies, you should consider an automatic movement watch.
How to Care for Your Dive Watch
Each time your dive watch comes in contact with sand and saltwater, it deteriorates. To slow this deterioration, you will need to make sure you properly care for your dive watch.
Once you have completed your dive and you are out of the sand and sea elements, you should immediately clean your dive watch. Take some clean running water and place the watch under the water while gently rubbing the watch with a soft cloth. Do not scrub the watch, as scrubbing can cause even the most scratch-resistant watch faces to scratch with vigorous scrubbing.
You should also plan to have your dive watch serviced periodically by a local horologist. A horologist will inspect the watch to ensure all the gears, seals, and mechanisms within the watch are working properly. This should be done on a yearly basis.
A great dive watch can be as simple or as extravagant of a timepiece as you want it to be. It is important to remember that the most basic dive watches are perfect for any dive. Just make sure the water resistant depth is at least 100 meters so that your watch can withstand the depths and pressure of each dive.