In order to choose the best dive watch for you, you’ve gotta know what you’re after!
There’s countless models of diving watch out there, from a variety of different manufacturers. Some cost less than a hundred bucks, whereas others are priced in the thousands – or even tens of thousands!
All dive watches; even the cheapest ones, must have water resistance, a rotating bezel for easy reading of elapsed time and luminous hands.
However, good quality dive watches can also have extra features such as tide info display, power reserve indicators, chronographs (stop watch feature) and tachyometers (measures speed).
The most expensive dive watches often employ mechanical automatic movements which require a higher level of craftsmanship than the simpler but slightly more accurate quartz movement used by less pricey options.
Also, each dive watch has it’s own unique style, which is influenced by the colours incorporated into it’s dial and bezel, the shape and size of it’s case, any visible features it has and the material from which it’s constructed.
Join us now as we review the best dive watches for every price range and then explain every last thing you’ll ever need to know about them!
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The beautiful yet affordable Pantor Seahorse dive watches offer exceptional performance, style and durability. Sure they’re not as cheap as some options, but they do offer the best overall value for money.
For starters, they’re water resistant to a whopping 3280 ft / 1000m, which is far deeper than any other inexpensive dive watch can go as well as deeper than even many luxury watches can be taken.
Each watch features a 120 click unidirectional rotating bezel available in three colours: dark royal blue, silver or black. The window is constructed from sapphire crystal, which is highly scratch resistant and features an anti-reflective under coating.
There’s a screw in crown (increases water resistance) and a helium escape valve (only useful for saturation divers, but still a cool feature!), as well as 20 layers of swiss super-luminova on the indices and hands for easy low light readability.
Behind the high quality stainless steel case lies the original Japanese mechanical automatic 9015 movement with a 28.800 beat rate and a 40 hour power reserve. (Die hard watch enthusiasts prefer mechanical movements, so this is a big plus!)
The sleek metal bracelet is comprised of 15 pcs separate links with a mesh style that allows sweat to escape through it, as well as an extension buckle that expands, making it easy to take on and off.
With a case that’s 45mm in diameter, the Pantor Seahorse is a large watch, that makes a bold statement on your wrist.
With a sleek hammerhead shark picture on it’s dial as well as on the rotating bezel, this top selling cheap dive watch both looks and feel more expensive than it really is.
Despite it’s formidably low price, it is highly durable thanks to a stainless steel case and scratch resistant flame fusion crystal as well as comfortable to wear; having an adjustable stainless steel strap with fold over safety clasp.
It may be simple, but the Invicta Pro Diver has everything required of a dive watch: it features a unidirectional rotating bezel, luminous marker on the hands and hour markers and is water resistant to 330 ft / 100m.
Admittedly 330 ft isn’t as deep as other dive watches can go, but it still lies well beyond recreational scuba diving limits, so you won’t notice!
This dive watch incorporates a simple, yet highly accurate quartz movement and also features a date display.
With it’s comfort, style and durability it’s pretty amazing that the Invica Pro Diver Hammerhead watches sit way below a hundred dollars. The hammerhead shark makes it really stand out!
Orient are a Japanese watch brand who’re renowned for creating high quality dive watches; the best budget option of which, is the Mako II.
It’s surprising to see such a cheap dive watch with mechanical movement, but that’s exactly what the Mako II is; with it’s Japanese automatic calibre: Orient F6822.
Previously, this movement calibre was reserved only for Orient’s top of the range watches, but has since found it’s way down into more affordable options, like the Mako II. It gives an accuracy of – / + 15 seconds a day, which is reasonable for the low price.
The rotating bezel and dial are available in three different colours: dark blue, all black or a red and blue pepsi dial theme.
The stainless steel case has a diameter of just 41mm, making it subtle to wear on your wrist and sports a beautiful mixed finish of brushed and polished surfaces, resulting in the Mako II looking way more expensive than it really is.
Of course being so cheap, it doesn’t really hold up to real luxury watches: it’s window is mineral crystal, which is cheaper than sapphire and more prone to scratching.
Whilst the hands and markers do contain a luminous marker; it’s of inferior quality to pricier options. Also, the aforementioned Orient automatic F6822 movement is less accurate than movements sported by more expensive dive watches.
All the same, with a screw down case and solid black crown, this Mako II is waterproof to an impressive 660 ft. If you’re looking for the cheapest dive watch that looks like the most expensive one, this is the choice to go for.
We’re huge fans of the Phoibos Reef Master – it has a truly unique style!
This is immediately obvious from the quirky looking octopus found on the dial, crown face and on the back of the stainless steel case as well as the coloured stitches on the crazy horse leather strap.
(Do note, you’ll either need to wax the leather strap to make it waterproof or use the extra rubber band that’s included when taking the Phoibos Reef Master diving).
The 42 diameter case makes this a subtle, unobtrusive piece to wear on your wrist. But there’s more to the Phoibos Reef Master’s breath-taking aesthetics than first meets the eye…
A truly spectacular super-lumiova fluorescent finish has been applied to the hands and markers – available in either an incredible turquoise or fiery orange colour, depending on which design variant you choose.
In total, there’s three design variants to go for, consisiting of either metallic or black cases with vivid blue or acrylic orange luminous marker themes.
On top of that, the Reef Master offers superior quality, thanks to the ceramic unidirectional bezel construction and the window being constructed from highly scratch resistant, sapphire crystal.
With an automatic movement featuring the highly reliable Seiko NH35 calibre that has an accuracy of + / – 12.5 secs a day, this is a pretty damn accurate enough watch considering the reasonable price. It’s water resistance rating is to a whopping 984 ft!
Aloha! These bright and cheerful looking dive watches; the official watch of the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association, are available in a variety of different colour combos for the dial, bezel, strap and stainless steel case.
Despite their casual appearance and affordability, Hawaiian Lifeguard watches are both tough and of good quality, with water resistance to 660 ft and featuring a rotating dive bezel as well as ventilation on the rubber strap for added comfort.
They’re also highly accurate thanks to the Miyota Japanese quartz movement they incorporate plus they’re easy to read in low light on account of the fluorescent green lume marker on the hands and dials.
The K1 hardened crystal of the windows is fairly scratch resistant, whilst the brushed case (with a subtle diameter of just 42mm) and sturdy lugs make these watches capable of being knocked all over the place.
You can buy the strap separately in any colour you like, allowing you to customise the look of these watches further. To the 3 o’clock position, there’s also a date display.
Although designed to withstand the enormous power of the ocean, Hawaiian Lifeguard Watches also make pieces for just about any watersport or everyday activity.
Another budget dive watch with a unique style, the Luminox Navy Seals Chronograph is available in all black or black with striking red accents across the dial and bezel from the noon to 4 o’clock positions.
The latter option also includes the phrase “the only easy day was yesterday” across the red stripe within the dial, which is the motto of the US navy seals. The case is 45mm in diameter, giving this watch a tough, bulky look on your wrist.
One thing we do have to admit straight off the bat is that having so much black colouration in a watch – including on it’s numbers, can make it hard to read!
It’s actually much easier to tell the time in low lighting, because then you get the awesome effect of Luminox’s special lighting technology on the markers, which provides a 24/7 glow for up to 25 years.
Whereas dive watches are usually made of stainless steel or sometimes from titanium, the Luminox Navy Seals chronograph’s case is unique in that it is constructed from Carbonex, which is even lighter than titanium yet as durable.
These watches are also unique among inexpensive dive watches, in that they feature a chronograph: three small sub dials within the main dial, which can be operated via pusher buttons to act as a stop watch.
Behind the sturdy case, the swiss quartz movement builds upon years of expert craftsmanship for stelar precision. The Luminox Navy Seals Chronograph features a rubber strap, uni-directional bezel and water resistance up to 660 ft.
Seiko, a highly reputed dive watch manufacturer, are the official watch partner of PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors), with their “PADI Watches” line being made especially to commemorate this partnership, making them a great collector’s item.
The “Pepsi” colour scheme has been a firm favourite among watch enthusiasts for a while now and with the Seiko SRPA21, the mix of blue sunburst dial, red highlighted minute hand/hour markers and red/blue bezel do it true justice.
To further compliment it’s appearance, the stainless steel case; which features an attractive silver-tone finish, has a formidable diameter of 45 mm making this dive watch really pop out on your wrist.
With it’s unidirectional dive bezel, scratch resistant hardlex crystal window and bright lume on the markers and hands, as well as water resistance to 660 ft, the Seiko SRPA21 is everything a diver needs in a watch and more.
It features a date display, hand and automatic winding capabilities and a screw down crown for extra water resistance.
The stainless steel bracelet’s links are extremely quiet and don’t squeak as in cheaper bracelets. They bracelet also features a wetsuit extension clasp, allowing it to be worn over a wetsuit.
Traditionally, dive watches follow the classic analog design – it’s a big part of their charm and collectability. That said, some folks feel inclined to go for a digital dive watch and if that sounds like you, the Casio G-Shock Frogman is the best digital dive watch going.
A big advantage of digital watches – including the Casio G-Shock Frogman, is that they have useful modes like stopwatch and calendar as well as an auto / manual backlight.
But the Casio G-Shock Frogman has far more than just the average digital watch; it’s been designed especially for scuba diving after all (it’s even got a ISO 625 diver’s certification to prove it!).
This is also the only dive watch to display moon phase and tide data as well as interval and dive time readings. Plus it is solar powered. Nice!
The stopwatch mode means there is no need for a rotating bezel and subsequently, this is also the only dive watch without one. Personally, we’re huge fans of the rotating bezel – it’s an iconic and defining part of a traditional dive watch, so it’s absence is a shame!
The sturdy case makes the Casio G-Shock insanely durable – few dive watches are shock resistant but this one is. Admittedly, it’s also got to be the bulkiest dive watch ever and may compete for space on your wrist if you’re also wearing a dive computer.
Ultimately some divers are going to love the idea of a digital dive watch; a deal that’s further sweetened by the extra data it displays, whereas others will prefer a traditional analog style watch. The choice is yours…
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Despite it’s sophisticated appearance, the Victorinox Pro Diver is one of the most durable dive watches going; having been designed to withstand a barrage of durability tests raging from extreme shock and vibration to temperature highs and lows.
These are high-end Swiss ronda quartz movement watches; a big part of their appeal is their spectacular appearance, which is more in keeping with a traditional European watch design rather than that of a high-tech looking Japanese watch.
The dial is very handsome, being three dimensional and set deep within the case. It’s design follows important legibility codes of traditional watchmaking, meaning contrast is good, the hands are the right size and the markers are easy to understand.
With a variety of colour choices for the dial and the option to either get a stainless steel or coloured rubber strap, you can pick the best combo to match your style.
Water resistant to 660 ft, the Victorinox Pro Diver features a unidirectional bezel that makes a satisfying, visceral clicking noise when turned, a date window, high quality luminous marker on the hands and markers and a sapphire crystal window.
These watches scream quality and refinement. They don’t feature a mechanical movement, but their sheer beauty, high accuracy and insane durability combined with a price well below $1K still makes them extremely popular pieces.
Seiko, the official watch partner of PADI, are a huge name in the dive watch scene.
The Seiko Prospex Diver Watch SBDC033, lies way below $1K, yet offers all the eloquence, sophistication and charm of a much pricier diving watch.
ISO Diver certified, it’s water resistance rating is to 660 ft and incorporates a Seiko 23 jewel automatic (6R15) movement, with an accuracy of +25 / -15 seconds a day.
The rugged, stainless steel case has a distinct, high-end looking finish consisting of polished insides contrasting against a brushed edge that twists away and is contrasted again by polished sides.
The dial has a stunning sunburst finish, which reflects light beautifully and can change from dark blue to a very blight blue, depending on the light.
It also offers superb hand legibility, having large, broad hands that are generously coated with high quality lumibrite, which is also painted on the hour markers.
As for the unidirectional bezel, it makes a very nice clicking sound although one minor annoyance is that it doesn’t have very pronounced notches which can make gripping it a tad tricky. Also, the window is only hardlex crystal – sapphire crystal would be better!
These minor gripes aside, the Seiko Prospex SBDC033 is an excellent dive watch for it’s reasonable price point and excellent quality and automatic movement incorporation.
If you like the sound of a dive watch that deviates drastically in both style and function, the solar powered Casio Frogman is definitely worth considering.
It displays tide info and dive time measurements as well as featuring an LED light and smartphone app from which to manage settings and even access a dive log. There’s also home time, dual time and date display.
The sapphire crystal window has superb clarity and a distinctive sheen in addition to a very subtle curve that lends depth to the face and catches the light beautifully.
The monocoque style carbon case and back cover with carbon reinforced resin add maximum strength and shock resistance to this insanely durable watch, which is water resistant to 660 ft.
Of course, the watches asymmetry, combined with it’s enormous case size of 56 mm diameter as well as the four buttons and protruding crown, does make it very bulky.
It’s not the sort of thing we can imagine wearing all the time, which many other dive watches are. It goes without saying that the Frogman lacks the certain charm that more traditional looking dive watches have.
This one’s going to be a bit of a no brainer. Chances are, you’ll either love or hate the idea of a dive watch with a stylised image on the dial – even more so, if said image is a cat!
With an edgy feline head glaring out from behind the sapphire crystal window and silver tone hands as well as the dive bezel incorporating silver, red and green this dive watch certainly makes a bold statement – some may even call it lairy.
Despite this, the case diameter of this watch is just 40mm, meaning that it wears very lightly on the wrist; it’s subtle outline contrasting nicely against the edgy looking puss within the dial.
It features a reliable quartz movement, screw down crown and water resistance to 660 ft as well as a black rubber band with tang clasp. Luminova has been applied generously to the hands and markers, making them easy to read in low level light.
Admittedly you don’t get as many diver friendly features as some of the previous watches we’ve reviewed, but the main selling point of this watch is it’s distinct look.
Further down, we’ve reviewed a separate Gucci Dive Watch with a snake image, but if you prefer felines to reptiles, then this is the dive watch for you. Meow!
Built to government specifications for use by military personnel, the Marathon JDD watch was designed for underwater search and rescue missions. Subsequently, it is a tough, no frills piece.
With a rugged case and strap constructed from 316 stainless steel and an anti-reflective sapphire window, it’s designed to withstand some serious abuse!
Waterproof to a formidable 1000ft, it features a tritium tube behind every hour marker as well as on each hand.
Tritium tubes are self illuminating gas tubes that never dull down in brightness – unlike normal photo-luminescent paint, which requires an external light source. This ensures a constant level of high visibility in low light, unmatchable by other watches.
The automatic movement is a 26 Jewel, Swiss-made Sellita SW220, self winding mechanical calibre, which offers breathtaking accuracy.
There is a date window, in which the day of the week can be displayed in English or French.
The dive bezel is high set and has extremely pronounced teeth; it’s been designed for use with gloves. This, along with the knurled crown make the JDD look breathtakingly cool whilst hassle free to use. A watch for action is clearly what the Marathon JDD is.
With a 46 mm case, it’s a big piece that stands out on your wrist – which is exactly the point.
Gucci are a luxury fashion house based in Florence, Italy. They are well known for the bold statements that their fashion watches make and this king snake dive watch model is no exception.
With a rugged, silver-tone stainless steel case, a high quality sapphire crystal window and an adjustable pin-buckle fastening strap for a classic look, it is both comfortable to wear and extremely durable.
The large, 45 mm diameter case means it really pops out on the wrist.
The unidirectional bezel sports carved detailing and pronounced teeth to make it easy to grasp and turn, producing a crisp clicking sound when you do so.
Three hand eta quartz movement ensure high precision with telling the time and there is also a date window at the bottom.
Thanks to it’s bold look and powerful imagery of a king snake, this watch will instantly appeal to a certain ssssort of wearer. Sorry. We couldn’t resist.
The extremely slick looking Oris Aquis Dive Watches are available in two styles: the iconic black dial version with spectacular orange luminova or a blue dial option with white indexes.
Water resistant to 1640 ft, each version features a rotating ceramic bezel that has pronounced teeth for easy gripping and which sits nice and high above the domed sapphire crystal window, which has been coated with a high quality anti-reflective.
Uniquely, instead of having a seconds hand on the main dial, these watches instead incorporate a smaller sub-dial for seconds at the 9 o’clock position.
With a sturdy, 45 mm diameter case, this dive watch has enough presence on your wrist to easily see the seconds sub-dial which is extremely satisfying to watch go round. There is also a date window at the 3 o’clock position.
The comfortable strap, which comes in stainless steel or rubber, features a push button deployment clasp and divers extension.
Featuring 28 jewels, 4Hz vibrations and a Swiss automatic movement: Oris caliber 743, these quality diving watches are as accurate as they are quirky and attractive.
The Seiko SBBN025 – sometimes nicknamed “darth tuna”, is a popular choice for commercial saturation divers. Now, whilst that’s probably not you, it still speaks a lot about the durability and high performance that this watch has to offer.
This is also a rare watch, being intended primarily as a domestic Japanese product.
Because the Darth Tuna’s monocoque case is constructed from titanium, it’s exceptionally light (112 g with band attached), yet highly durable and corrosion resistant as well as less prone to getting cold in artic conditions.
The movement is Sekio’s own 7c46 calibre – although this is a quartz movement, which is surprising to see on an expensive watch, it’s not just any quartz movement.
Instead, it’s a purpose built high torque quartz movement, rated to an impressive accuracy of +/- 15 seconds per month and offering exceptional reliability.
The stainless steel, toothed bezel turns just as a diver will want it to – a little firmly, but not prone to accidental contact and with beautiful clicks for every 30 seconds (120 clicks).
The dial is incredibly legible, even more so thanks to the fact that the lumbrite used on it’s hands and hour markers is Seiko’s own high end quality.
When you see the rare and practically invincible Seiko Marine Master 1000m on someone’s wrist, you’ll know it’s almost certainly a person who really knows their diving.
In total, there’s only a thousand of the limited edition Oceaneva Deep Marine Explorer II watches; the wide assortment of different dial and bezel colour combos makes each style even rarer.
With a triple seal crown, helium escape valve and an I-ring sealed around the sapphire crystal window, each one has a water resistance rating to an incredible 4100 ft, a depth rating that is matched by only one other watch: the Seiko Prospex Darth Tuna.
The Deep Marine Explorer II’s automatic movement is the highly accurate, Swiss made Sellita SW200-1 callibre, featuring 26 jewel and 28,000 bph.
Top grade, long lasting luminous marker has been applied to the hour markings and numbers of the 120 click ceramic bezel, which has plenty of teeth for easy gripping and makes a crisp click as you turn it.
The stainless steel bracelet is comfortable and light to wear and sports a push button milled clasp with micro adjustments.
It’s genuinely surprising to see that the Marine Explorer II actually costs less than any of the other best diving watches we’ve reviewed in the “under $2000 section”. It offers some of the best value for money of any dive watch. has a
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Orient are a Japanese watch brand owned by the renowned Seiko, who’re partnered with PADI.
The CFD0C001B Pro Diver is their very best model: it incorporates a superbly adjusted automatic movement with an unbeatable accuracy of 1 – 2 seconds a day.
(Only 3 % of Swiss productions attain the Chronometer certification, meaning their movements are certified to operate within -4 / +6).
The suitably toothy bezel’s markings and numbers are engraved and when you turn it, the ratchet crank sounds particularly crisp and satisfying.
In low light one can observe the high quality lume on the hands and markers, which is unusual in that it gives off a spectacular, very beautiful turquoise glow.
Water resistant to 1000 ft, the Orient Pro Diver features a specially corrosion resistant stainless steel case and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal window with a greenish tinged anti-reflective coating.
It also sports a power reserve indicator between the one and three o’clock positions, which is an extremely rare feature in dive watches.
The comfortable, stainless steel bracelet sports an adjustable extension feature that allows rapid sizing.
Despite it’s exceptional quality and next level accuracy, this stunningly presented, luxury Orient dive watch is priced extremely reasonably, sitting way below $3K.
This has got to be one of the coolest looking diving watches out there. During WW II, Laco were the primary producers of the “observation watches” equipped to German pilots.
Nicknamed “1925 Laco Squad Classic”, this extremely sleek looking dive watch is water resistant to a whopping 3280 ft and features a tachymeter on it’s well notched bezel.
A tachymeter is an extremely rare feature that allows a watch to measure the speed of something over a known distance. Admittedly, not many people will need to do this on a dive, but it’s still a thing worth bragging about because so few watches can do it!
A similar thing can be said for the helium release valve that this watch has. It’ll only come in handy to saturation divers, but is still a cool feature for a watch to have.
With a sapphire crystal window that’s been coated with double antireflective, this dive watch is also exceptionally durable, thanks in part to it’s anti-magnetism as well as the high level of craftsmanship incorporated into it’s matte black steel case.
Also, the dial is extremely legible, having excellent contrast, well sized hands and logical, easy to read markers coated with high quality and long lasting super-luminova. There is a date window at the 3 o’clock position.
Sporting a highly accurate and reliable Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic movement, the Squad 1925 Classic features a rubber band that is textured to provide excellent comfort.
Marathon are an award winning, international supplier of military watches.
Here we see their very best model, the Marathon CSAR, which includes a chronograph: three sub dials that work as a a stop watch for periods of time of under an hour, when activated.
It features 1/5 second (100th minute timing) with a non-magnetic movement and a minimum running time of 36 hours.
In just about every other way, the Marathon CSAR, it’s the same as it’s cheaper cousin, the Marathon JDD, which we rated as the best dive watch under $2000.
It incorporates self illuminating tritium gas tubes behind the hands and hour markers to provide excellent readability in low light conditions.
Built to government specifications and designed for search and rescue missions, it’s waterproof to a mighty 1000 ft and is exceptionally durable, thanks to it’s rugged, 316L surgical grade stainless case and scratch resistant sapphire crystal window.
It incorporates an extremely reliable automatic movement: 7750 ETA Valijoux 25 jewel Swiss and also features a date window with a rapid date and day correction option.
The unidirectional bezel is high set and has pronounced teeth which make it easy to turn even with gloves. When you do turn it, it yields a crisp, high quality sounding click.
With a 46 mm diameter case, this is a big, beefy looking piece that looks like it means business – which it does!
Omega, a Swiss luxury watch maker, are the second most recognisable watch brand in the world, with 70% brand recognition vs Rolex’s 100%. The dive watches they manufacture are of extremely high quality and maintain excellent resell value.
Enter the Omega Seamaster: in many way’s it looks similar to the Rolex Submariner, however there’s a few unique elements to it’s design: for starters, it has an attractive wave pattern behind it’s dial and the case is wider than a Submariner by a couple of millimetres.
There aren’t any teeth on the ceramic bezel, instead it features an interesting pattern of textures that make it easy to grip, yet more subtle in it’s appearance.
It’s also interesting but welcome to see that unlike any other dive watch, the Omega Seamaster features a ceramic dial.
With anti-magnetic properties, a date window and helium escape valve, it employs a self-winding, automatic 8800 caliber chronometer movement that’s exceptionally reliable.
Said movement is META-approved, as like Rolex, Omega now certifies it’s own movements as a commitment to accuracy.
The case and strap are constructed from stainless steel with an attractive mixed finish, whilst the sapphire crystal window uses high quality anti-reflective so that it’s easy to read from any angle. You can choose from a range of colours and themes for the Oceanmaster.
At the rate they’re going, Omega may just catch Rolex up some day; but for now they firmly hold the title of second most luxurious watch manufacturer in the world. The main advantage Omega has over Rolex, is that they’re a lot less expensive.
Rolex: they’re the biggest name in the luxury watch world, being renowned for manufacturing time pieces that are unbeatable in value and quality.
With 18k white gold hands and hour markers, a sapphire crystal window and a superbly well-made, automatic movement: Rolex Caliber 3130, each Rolex Submariner dive watch gives off a sense of utter perfection.
Whereas most steel watches use 316L stainless steel, Rolex is the only company to incorporate 904L steel, which is harder to produce but polishes up better, with a subtle whiteish tinge.
Sporting a 40 mm wide case, the Rolex Submariner is a small piece, although it wears quite large for it’s size thanks to the wide lugs, which make it more like a 42 millimetre watch.
On-wrist comfort is next level, with an oyster bracelet that wraps nicely around your wrist and features a Glidelock system that allows for quick and easy adjustment within a few mm.
The rotating ceramic bezel features precision cut markers, well defined teeth for easy gripping and makes a wonderfully crisp and high quality sounding click when turned.
Rolex Submariner watches are available in a variety of bezel and dial colour options as well as with or without date windows and the option for 18K gold to be incorporated into the case and bracelet.
Whereas earlier models utilise high end super luminova on their hands and markers, those produced since 2008 are equipped with high quality chroma-light, which lasts longer and is a spectacular blue colour, giving the watch a unique look in low light.
Without any doubt, the Rolex Submariner is the most luxurious, high quality – and also expensive dive watch in the world.
The bezel is the top ring surrounding the crystal window.
A rotating bezel with minute markers aka dive bezel, is a defining feature of a dive watch; it allows for an easy reading of an elapsed period of time of under one hour from a specific point.
Unidirectional bezels only rotate clockwise, meaning an accidental bump underwater will only make it look like more time has passed resulting in earlier surfacing – not later.
Most bezels are stainless steel, but some luxury dive watches have bezels that are constructed of ceramic, which is more corrosion resistant as well as lighter.
A good bezel should have pronounced teeth or ridges along it’s sides to make it easy to hold and twist, even when wearing gloves.
Even the cheapest dive watches are water resistant to at least 330 ft.
However, most diving watches are water resistant to at least 656 ft; some go to 984 ft, and a few: such as the Seiko Marine Master, the Laco Squad 1925 and the Oceaneva Deep Marine Explorer can be taken to 3280 ft!
In recreational scuba diving, 131 ft is the limit. Tech and commercial scuba divers as well as professional free divers do go deeper than 131 ft, but the vast majority of divers don’t.
That said, being water resistant to a greater depth is a good indicator of a dive watches’ overall strength and durability, as well as being a cool boasting point!
Because light levels diminish as you descend through water, dive watches need to be easy to read in low light levels. For this reason, the hands and / or hour markers of dive watches are usually coated with some sort of fluorescent luminous marker aka lume, luminova or lumbrite.
The colour, brightness and quality of the lume varies between dive watches, but generally speaking you get what you pay for, meaning high quality dive watches also have the best lume.
The “window” is the see through crystal covering the dial. The highest quality and most scratch resistant watch windows are constructed from sapphire crystal whereas more affordable options use mineral crystal, which is not quite as durable.
You certainly don’t want a leather strap or one constructed of any material that won’t hold up well in water! That’s why dive watch straps are made from either stainless steel or rubber, both of which are corrosion resistant.
Quartz movements are extremely accurate and reliable, being commonly found in most standard, non-flashy dive watches.
Generally speaking quartz movements are the most accurate, although this is by a pretty negligible amount.
However, many enthusiasts prefer mechanical movement watches, due to their high level of quality and craftsmanship.
Many luxury dive watches and some mid-price options employ a mechanical movement.
Also known as “calibre”, a watches movement is the engine that acts as the powerhouse from which it operates.
This internal mechanism moves the hand as well as powering any complications such as chronograph and second’s sub dial. Most importantly of all, it drives all timekeeping functions and is essential to accuracy of time.
There are dozens of different watch movements, created by different manufacturers that utilize propiertary innovations but each of these movements falls into one of two categories: Quartz or Automatic.
Identifiable by the individual ticking movement of the seconds hand, Quartz movement watches work by sending an electrical current through a small quartz crystal, electrifying it to create vibrations which keep the movement oscillating and drive the motor to move the watch hands.
Quartz watches are slightly more accurate than mechanical ones yet tend to be more affordable, since they are battery powered, easier to make and subsequently have fewer moving parts.
A mechanical movement watch is identifiable by the sweeping motion of the seconds hand. Skilfully created by expert watchmakers, mechanical watches contain an intricate series of tiny components working together to power the timepiece, which is powered by a wound spring.
Although the general design of mechanical watches has not changed very much in centuries, technological improvements have allowed for more precise engineering and greater attention to detail.
There are actually two types of mechanical movements – manual and automatic, both of which have unique characteristics.
Generally speaking the case and bracelet of a dive watch is constructed from either stainless steel or titanium.
Whilst both of these materials are light, durable and corrosion resistant; there are a few differences between them.
Stainless steel is an alloy steel, which means that it is steel combined with one or more elements in order to change it’s characteristics.
Generally, stainless steel is made with roughly ten to thirty percent chromium and seventy percent iron, to give it corrosion resistance as well as the ability to hold up well to temperature changes. It’s both tough and lightweight!
The vast majority of dive watches are made from stainless steel.
A metallic element, Titanium is even lighter than stainless steel as well as more resistant to temperature changes, whilst also not getting as cold in artic conditions. Therefore, although it is more expensive, titanium is generally considered to be a superior material to stainless steel.
That said, if you like a dive watch because of it’s features and appearance, don’t be put off if it’s not titanium! You will be unlikely to be able to tell much difference.
The case diameter of a watch determines it’s overall size and subsequently has a considerable effect on it’s overall appearance and how much presence it has on the wrist.
Generally, a standard dive watch has a case diameter of 40 – 42mm, which is a little bigger than non-action watches, which normally have diameters of around 37 – 39mm. That said, some dive watches have larger case diameters than this, of up to 45mm; these models look quite big on the wrist, which is a style that some people like.
The top ring, it surrounds the crystal window. Dive watches are visually defined by having a rotating bezel with minute markers, which allows for easier reading of an elapsed period of time of under one hour.
This is the part of the watch that contains the movement and dial. It protects them from wear and tear as well as the elements – in the case of dive watches, from the water.
Most cases are constructed of stainless steel but a few luxury dive watches have cases made from titanium.
Occasionally referred to as horns, lugs are projections of the watch case that are used to secure the strap or bracelet to it.
A special feature that aids in water resistance, thereby increasing how deep a dive watch can be taken.
This type of threaded winding crown screws tightly into the case and protects it from any form of dust and water. It also has gaskets which create an air tight seal when it is screwed in.
A helium release valve is only really useful for commercial divers doing very deep saturation diving, where they live in underwater habitats filled with a trimix breathing gas containing helium.
The helium molecules, being extremely small, can make their way into the watch case and then, when the diver ascends, these molecules expand (due to dropping pressure) and can damage the watch. A helium valve prevents this from happening by automatically allowing built up helium molecules to leave the watch during decompression.
However, for recreational divers – even technical ones, helium build up in a watch is not an issue as we typically do not spend a lot of time in underwater habitats hundreds of meters below the surface.
Therefore, for the vast majority of divers, a helium valve is a flashy, but useless feature. All the same, it’s still pretty cool to brag that your dive watch has a feature required by commercial level divers!
The scratch resistant, crystal window covering the watch dial. More affordable watches feature windows constructed of mineral crystal, whereas pricier models sport sapphire crystal windows.
The portion of the watch that displays the time. It includes the hour and minute markers.
The rotating markers that tell the time. There is an hour, minute and seconds hand.
A watch bracelet, also known as a watch band, belt or strap is a bracelet that straps a watch onto the wrist. Dive watch bands tend to be made of either stainless steel or rubber.
A stainless steel strap certainly makes a watch look more classy and expensive than a rubber one will, plus stainless holds up well in water thanks to it’s corrosion resistant properties.
That said, if you’re going to be using your dive watch a lot, a rubber band will ultimately last the longest without any wear or tear.
A chronograph watch consists of three sub dials within the main dial – a seconds dial, a minute dial and an hour dial.
These dials act as a stop watch for periods of time of under an hour and are operated by two to three pusher buttons.
Not always found in a dive watch and rarely in cheaper options, when it is present, the date display is usually located at the 3 o’clock position and displays the date.
Power reserve refers to the amount of hours a mechanical watch will keep functioning after you stop wearing it (remember it’s powered by the movement of your wrist!) – at which point it will run out of energy and you’ll have to start it again by winding it.
How about that?! You’ve finished reading the entire best dive watches saga.
That’s 22 brutally honest reviews of the best dive watches across a wide price spectrum, a handy buyers guide telling you which essential features all dive watches must have as well as rarer qualities that pricier options might have and also detailed breakdowns of watch movements, materials and parts.
At Diving Squad we’re constantly researching new gear and model releases and fanatically adding all of our findings into our existing articles in the form of obsessive compulsive edits and updates, in order to ensure that the information you read is as up to date and informed as possible.
Because of this, you can rest assured that what you’ve read today reflects the very latest information regarding dive watches and the absolute best models currently the market.
We truly hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and found it useful. Good luck choosing your ultimate dive watch!
Diving Squad out.
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