Best Men's Dive Watches For Taking A Plunge
The reality is that most people who buy dive watches won’t actually ever use them for diving. Splashing around in the tub? Sure. Descending to the Mariana Trench? Not so much.
Here, to help you take the plunge, whatever your reason for opting in to the dive watch trend, is our ultimate guide to what you need to look for, what you should (and shouldn’t) be buying, any other deep and pressing questions you might be fathoming, plus the best diving watches to buy.
What is a dive watch?
Though the vast majority of dive watches have now been superseded in functionality by dive computers, dive watches were originally used by divers to calculate the amount of time spent underwater – important when you’re dealing with oxygen tanks with limited supply. Technically speaking, a dive watch is a timepiece that can withstand a minimum water-resistance of 10 atm (the equivalent of around 100 metres). Where most dive-ready timepieces these days will be able to reach minimum depths of 200-300 metres, some can go as deep as 20,000 feet below the surface of the sea – the CX Swiss Military Watch being a case in point. Those at the shallower end of the dive spectrum should be used for more recreational scuba diving, snorkelling and swimming, while technical divers will require something with greater resistance.
Which characteristics define a dive watch?
There are many characteristics that define a true dive watch. Firstly, most diving watches will feature a rotating bezel, which allows the diver to easily measure elapsed time. Your dive watch will most likely also feature a long rubber strap, making it both suitable for underwater use and for wear over a wetsuit. What’s more, the watch should be finished with luminous hands and indices in order to make them both readable at depth. Another useful thing to have is a helium escape valve, which allows for the safe release of potentially damaging helium in the watch. This builds up as divers go deeper underwater. If your dive watch is particularly fancy, you may also have a built-in depth sensor. Other key characteristics include a screw-in crown and case-back finished with rubber seals, and an extra-thick crystal (occasionally domed) to deal with all the extra pressure. Phew.
Are dive watches actually waterproof?
Dive watches are always only water-resistant to the depth stipulated on the watch. Take them any depth below that and not only will your watch not be water-resistant, but it will be broken. What you can rely on, however, is that if you use your dive watch (resistant, as we know, to a minimum of 100-metre depth) for recreational swimming, you shouldn’t have a problem (although try and avoid the bath or shower, where excessive humidity can present problems of their own). Remember: most diving watches are able to go deeper than humans themselves can go, so you should, invariably, be fine in most scenarios.
Here are five of the smartest investments you can make right now, whatever your budget:
I.N.O.X Professional Diver Titanium by Victorinox
A quartz watch at the lower end of the price pool, Victorinox’s ultra-light timepiece is water resistant to 200 metres, has survived some 130 extreme endurance tests and is ISO 6425 certified.
Aquaracer by TAG Heuer
Water-resistant to 300 metres, complete with a screw-in crown and case-back, and as affordable as it is easy-wearing and chic, this piece by TAG Heuer is a great entry point into the diving watch arena.
Deepsea D-Blue Dial by Rolex
The daddy of all diving watches, Rolex’s Deepsea is waterproof to a whopping 3,220 metres (around the same depth as the deepest part of the Timor Sea) and it’s also exceedingly attractive, housed as it is in a 44mm Oystersteel case finished with a helium escape valve and a natty deep blue dial.
Superocean Heritage II Chronograph 44 Outerknown by Breitling
Finished with a strap made by sustainable fashion brand Outerknown, who has manufactured it out of fishing nets salvaged from the sea, Breitling’s Superocean Heritage is a hard-working tool watch, water-resistant to 200 metres.
Heritage Skin Diver by Longines
With a smart retro aesthetic and a 300-metre water-resistance, Longines’ new Heritage Skin Diver features a screw-in crown (hence the impressive depth) and a chic PVD-coated bezel.