As an outdoor person, a watch is imperative. It should also be robust and waterproof to take anything the bush can throw at it. Then, it’s good looks should also enable it to be worn in the boardroom without raising eyebrows. So if you are diving into that Powerpoint presentation or swimming in the bush or underwater diving (post lockdown), you can still fulfil your everyday carry (EDC) needs as well as looking fashionable. Dive watches are highly utilitarian timepieces, well designed and well suited to day to day use.
So, to excuse the pun, what exactly makes a good dive watch tick? Let’s look at this in terms of its prime functionality – diving.
Primarily the watch exists to monitor how long you have been underwater and, more importantly. how much air you have left in your tank. Dive watches have been around for some time and continue to be a beautiful mix of fashion and function. A typical example will have an immediately recognisable look – they tend to be larger (about 42 mm ) and will generally feature a stainless steel or rubber strap, although a newer trend is towards paracord straps or nylon (NATO) straps. They always look pretty cool and are built in a very durable robust style. There are, however, certain key features to look for when buying your first (it could be your last if you buy correctly) dive watch, namely;
Water resistance. A watch that claims 50m of water resistance will only survive a shower or a dip in your pool. The real deal would start at 200m of water, so this should be your beginning, unless you are only going to swim and shower. At this point, it’s worth mentioning that the watch is a good investment, so you should shop around from a price and specification perspective, Who knows – this could be the gift you hand over to one of your children on a special occasion.
Then we get to build quality. Reliability, durability and good construction is a given here. Look for a watch with a well-built case, a good crystal or mineral glass and a robust strap. A good watch will last for decades if maintained and looked after.
Then we get to the movement. Here one needs to decide whether you opt for an automatic movement as opposed to a quartz movement. This is where reliability comes into play. With an automatic movement, it is simply the movement of the watch on your arm that winds it and you never have to worry about battery replacement and some of the attendant “issues” thereof! If an automatic watch has stopped due to lack of use it tends to restart easily. They are also a lot easier to repair than quartz watches, and there is an air of craftsmanship to the mechanical movement. Quartz may be tempting due to its affordability whilst the automatic watch will stand the test of time.
Lastly, we get to legibility. This is critical when underwater. Knowing how long you have been underwater is crucial. This is where the bezel comes into play. Simply set the zero marker opposite the minute hand; as time passes, you can read off elapsed time on the bezel without having to do any mental calculations. Your more expensive watches will feature a one-directional bezel which will assist in avoiding errors.
Given their impressive size dive watches are easy to read in the dark and the hands and indices are generally illuminated to assist the process. Lastly, and of extreme importance, always ensure that you have given you broker full details of your watch for insurance purposes. Happy diving wherever you may be!