10 Best Diving Watches | April 2017
- comes in a handsome gift box
- screw-in crown for a watertight seal
- date is a bit small and hard to read
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
- displays the day and date
- smooth sweeping second hand
- supplied strap is of poor quality
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
- black dial with silver accents
- durable flame-fusion crystal face
- a bit too heavy for some wearers
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
- 120-click bezel timer
- does not need a battery
- glass is easily scratched
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
- glow-in-the-dark hands
- analog quartz movement
- does not include a warranty
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
- three inset dials and a date window
- durable ribbed polyurethane band
- o-ring seal may fail over time
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
- impact-resistant steel case
- rotating gunmetal bezel
- two-year power reserve
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
- countdown timer and stopwatch modes
- daily and hourly alarm functions
- great value for the price
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
- molded polyurethane band
- simple buckle-style closure
- handy dive table printed on strap
|Rating||4.7 / 5.0|
- large digits for easy reading
- available in a wide range of colors
- clearly visible battery life meter
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
Looking Good Wet
Water-resistance is a strange bit of technology. Warranties can only guard against so much, and you're at the mercy of a lot of individual company policies if you get water in your watch. For one thing, it's hard to prove whether you took it too deep, whether it was defective from the start, or whether something happened between your acquisition of the watch and its failure that caused it to become susceptible. You also might get a customer service representative on a bad day, and that could cost you a lot of money in out-of-warranty repairs.
The diving watches on our top ten list are all water resistant up to at least 100 meters, and they do so with a combination of water-resistant coatings and gaskets made from rubber, Teflon, or similar materials.
Manufacturers have to account for any potential weak spot. That means that the rear plate, front glass, and crown (the part you turn to set the time) all have to have water-resistance measures in place. If the watch has chronograph features, the buttons that operate those functions also need gaskets to keep water from finding its way into the timepiece.
In addition to providing you with an accurate readout of the time in wet and pressurized conditions, a diving watch makes a particular statement. Anyone who recognizes the style will read a number of implications into your personality. It says that you're the type of person who isn't afraid of diving into the depths (literally and metaphorically), someone who's ready for adventure at a moment's notice, and who knows a thing or two about men's fashion.
Even if you never strap an air tank to your back, the very suggestion of aquatic activity is enough to give a haute jolt to a pair of old jeans and a sweater, or to add just the right amount of boyish James Bond charm and sportiness to an elegant suit.
In order to become a Scuba diver, you need to undergo a certain amount of training and certification. It requires hours of lessons and time spent underwater, and it's totally worth it if you've never been. Diving watches are no exception to the rigorous standards set by the ocean herself, and by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
I don't want you to panic if you've gotten this far on our page and you've already fallen in love with one of the watches on our list, only to find out here that it doesn't meet ISO standards for scuba diving. Only about half of the watches on our list actually meet the criteria, and they aren't even necessarily the watches that you can take the deepest underwater.
In order for a watch to meet with ISO standard number 6425, which certifies it as an official diver's watch in the eyes of the international diving community, that watch has to meet a ton of very specific criteria. It must, among other things, have a unidirectional bezel, maintain readability at 25 centimeters in total darkness, resist the influence of a magnetic field of 4,800 A/m to the tune of no more than thirty seconds in either direction, stand up to the shock of a 3 kg hammer hitting it at 4.43 m/s, and keep all of its water resistance after spending 24 hours submerged in a 30g/l solution of sodium chloride to test it against the galvanic corrosion of seawater.
It's understandable that a company wouldn't want to invest any capital in all this testing if their primary demographic is looking for the style of a diving watch and not necessarily the full function. If you fall into this camp, then any of the watches on our list will suffice, so you can base your choice on personal style.
If you actually plan on taking one of these watches on a scuba diving expedition, look for the ISO's marker of genuine testing. Any of the watches on our list that say "DIVER'S" on the front in all caps are the ones you want. The one full dive computer on our list does not meet these specifications simply because they don't apply to digital apparatuses.
A Century Submerged
Until the 1920s, any watches produced with water-resistance were done so on a customer-by-customer basis, meaning that no companies were making them as a standard piece. Divers in hard hats and diving bells would often bring their pocket watches into the deep by suspending them within or affixing them to their helmets, allowing them to track their time spent underwater.
All that changed in 1926, when Rolex unveiled its Oyster series of water-resistant watches. When Mercedes Gleitze swam the English channel in 1927, she had an Oyster hanging around her neck. After the swim, it checked out, fully sealed and still operational.
Rolex and its sister company Tudor have since partnered with several famous dives and swims in an effort to reinforce the power of their brands, though it was Omega who produced the first industrially made, water-resistant watches for widespread distribution back in 1932. Since then, the race has been on among companies and the diving community to find the best watch for underwater adventures.