Do you take your diving seriously? If so, a good diving watch can save your life when you are out in the water. But is it necessary to break the bank and get those drool-worthy top of the line models? Can you get away with an el-cheapo version instead?
The truth lies somewhere between the two, and so we have compiled the best diving watch reviews to help you find out which option will work best for you.
Factors to look out for when buying the best diving watch?
These timepieces are highly popular at the moment, and you can get a range of different features like helium release valves, bezels, compression keys, etc.
Some of these sound pretty exciting, but it is important to look past all the fancy gadgetry, especially if you are going to be taking this out to sea with you. What you need to focus on is the features that really make a difference, and that could possibly save your life.
Let us look at the top five features that can make a real difference if you are a serious diver.
The gasket is simply a rubber ring. It should be remembered that timepieces have several holes in their design. After all, you need to sometimes make adjustments to the settings or engage the stopwatch, etc.
This is made possible by creating a hole in the side and the little knob that allows you to change the settings. This enables water or possibly dust to get in, and so, if the timepiece is to be truly water-resistant, it is necessary to have these gaskets to ensure that no water can seep through.
These are usually more robust when it comes to a model that is designed to go deep underwater. It should be borne in mind that, like all rubber, they will perish or dry out over the long term. They can also sometimes come unstuck if the casing is jostled too much.
If you are buying an expensive model, find out how often it should be serviced for maximum efficiency or, at the very least, how often the gaskets should be replaced.
Better options will allow you to screw the crown down securely. This is done before going into the water. Securing the crown in this manner puts more pressure on the gasket to ensure that the opening is completely sealed.
It should also be noted that this is not a setting to adjust when you are actually underwater. You also need to be careful about the amount of movement that you make in the water itself. As soon as you go under, there is more pressure on the gasket.
The deeper you go, the higher the pressure. Add in excessive movements, and you are increasing the chances that you will have problems with water leaking in.
A good checkup annually is a good investment in keeping your piece in tip-top condition and ensures that gaskets can be replaced before they become a problem.
This is a feature that all good models will include. Normally these will be large enough to read easily and will be easy to grip and set. It is important to look for one that is unidirectional for reasons that we will go through later on.
The settings will count out the minutes in the hour and so will read between zero and sixty.
There is one caveat here – not all models that have this feature will necessarily be water resistant. Some of those that are might not be suitable for submerging at all.
Check the manufacturer’s recommendations and the specifications of the model very carefully before exposing it to a lot of moisture.
It is also important to ensure that the outer rim is easy to read in dark conditions and that you understand fully how to read it before using it.
Legibility and Luminescence
So, okay, we are also into gadgets, but in this area, the simpler things are, the better. Look at our top-rated option, the Omega. It has no gas release valve or depth gauges. Now, while these might be seen as improvements in safety, it should also be noted that they are not strictly necessary.
And that they can be more distracting than helpful. It is a lot more important to ensure that you get an option that is easy to read and that has a luminescent dial. These are important features in low light conditions.
You want to be able to see the markings on the dial, and also the minute hand very clearly so that you can see how much time has elapsed.
If you do get yourself a battery-powered model, you need to ensure that there is a battery life indicator onscreen as well. That way you will not get caught out with a dead battery at a crucial moment.
Resistance to the Elements
This is one of the most important elements. You don’t want something that is going to fall apart at the first knock. And, no matter how careful you are, when you are out on a boat, there are bound to be a few instances when your choice takes a knock or two.
If you are also going to be using dive computers, you need to make sure that your watch has a feature that protects it against magnetism.
Of all the protective factors, protection against corrosion by salt is the most important factor. It is not such a big deal if you are only going into fresh water, but will be essential if you are going into the sea.
That is why you are going to need to choose the casing and strap carefully. A stainless-steel casing is your best bet in this area. For the strap, stainless steel or rubber are both good options.
At the same time, you do need to ensure that you clean everything in fresh water and dry it as well as possible when you are done for the day. If the salt residue is left in place, it will eventually start pitting and corroding the surface.
Best diving watches for the money
In this section, we will go through the best options for the money. These are great alternatives to paying a few thousand dollars for one of the luxury brands. These all represent value for money offers that are both highly functional and also very easy on the eyes.
Omega Men's 2594.52.00
Citizen Men's Eco-Drive
Seiko Men's SRP311
Invicta Men's 80040 Pro
Best diving watch Under $1000
The Seiko Prospex is one of the best waterproof watches in its category. It can be submerged in up to 650 feet and can withstand 20 bars of pressure. This is one of the best Seiko watches for someone who is active because it has been robustly built and will withstand a lot of knocks.
The case is made out of titanium and so is going to last a long time. The unidirectional bezel is made from brushed stainless steel and is easy to turn. The back screws in.
Seiko is a well-established Japanese brand, and this is one of its most durable watches.
Best Diving Watch Under $500
The Omega Seamaster is one of the most iconic watches on the market. Some would even say it is the best watch in the world. Be warned, you are going to have to pay a pretty penny for it, but it is classed amongst one of the best professional divers watches globally.
Omega has built itself as a top luxury brand and also created some of the most durable watches ever designed. This is the kind of heirloom that you will pass on to your kids one day.
This also rates as the best mechanical diving watch because it is water-resistant up to a depth of 1000 feet. It features a screw-down crown and back and a gasket system that will keep the water out. The manufacturers recommend sticking to a depth of around 99 feet for a maximum of two hours.
As a result, this is the best diver watch that we have reviewed. The cover for the dial is made from scratch-resistant sapphire. The casing makes this a stainless-steel diving watch. These tough watches will put up with a lot of abuse.
Best of all is the forty-eight-hour power reserve. It is self-winding but requires movement to keep it ticking over. For most timepieces of this nature, this means that if you don’t wear it every day, it will soon start to lose time and eventually stop.
The Seamaster, however, does not have to be worn daily because of the power reserve.
Best Diving Watch Under $300
The Citizen Pro Master Dive Watch is a more contemporary take on your classic watch design. The minute hand has bright orange accents. This is the most up to date looking watch that we have come across.
It has a bezel that is easy to turn and a strong stainless-steel case. The strap is made from rubber. What really makes this one of the coolest watches is the Eco Drive technology that powers it. This timepiece is powered by light and not by movement as so many others are.
It is water-resistant up to 1000 feet, which makes it a real scuba diving watch. This and the Eco Drive tech make this rank amongst the best affordable automatic watches. This also scores points as one of the best value watches.
If we had to nit-pick, it would be that the face looks a little cluttered. We did feel that the bezel could be a little narrower to allow more space for the dial. This is not a huge issue at all though.
Top of The Line Automatic Diving Watch
If you are looking for something completely different to the norm, the Seiko Men's SRP311 is an excellent choice. It is almost as if Seiko decided to take the standard look of navy diver’s watches and went in the opposite direction.
First off, this is an orange face watch. The dial is a toned-down orange, and the markings on the bezel are bright orange. Perfect for when you are working in low visibility conditions. The hour markers and hands are Lumibrite and fluorescent.
But what makes this one of the best-looking watches is the stainless-steel case. What is so special about this stainless steel? It is black-toned, so you have the robustness of steel, with a more understated look.
Vintage Dive Watches
The Invicta Men’s 80040 watch is set to become a cult classic. It has a unique vintage style unmatched by other watches. The watch has a stainless-steel casing and strap. The dial is easy to read, has a day, 60-second, and 30-minute dial with 18k gold plated accents.
The strap features a safety clasp. The casing for the dial is synthetic sapphire and so highly resistant to scratching.
It is water-resistant up to 600 feet, which technically means that it is not for scuba diving. It does, however, hold up very well if you are out and about on the water or out in the rain.
We loved this option for two reasons – first off, it looks impressive. It is definitely something that will get you great compliments. It bridges the gap between casual and smart seamlessly – this looks as good with a tux or business suit as it does with your shorts and sneakers.
It has a high-quality finish and looks like a luxury option. The other thing that we loved about this was the price. It is definitely a highly affordable option.
For a choice that is as easy on the eyes as it is on the wallet, it does not get a lot better than this.
What is a bezel on a watch?
The bezel on a watch is the outer ring. It is simply engaged by turning it, and this allows you to keep track of how much time you have already spent in the water. So, all you need to do is to move the bezel into the correct position to mark dive time.
When checking while under the water, where the minute hand is in comparison to the bezel lets you know quickly and easily how much time has passed. This enables you to ensure that you know exactly when to start to surface and can help you keep track of decompression stops if necessary.
Setting the bezel does not have any impact on the actual time setting on your watch itself. It is best to look for a unidirectional one so that you don’t have to be concerned about accidentally knocking it and turning it the wrong way.
It was originally designed for divers, but it can be useful in any circumstance where you need to keep track of the amount of time that has elapsed effortlessly. Say, for example, that you want to run for twenty minutes – set it to twenty minutes and you will know how much time is left for you.
And, let’s be honest here, even if you don’t really need this feature, it does look pretty cool – especially if you are fond of gadgets.
Why Wearing a diving watch can help when snorkeling or scuba diving?
So, if you are snorkeling or scuba diving, do you really need to know what time it is every minute or second?
With snorkeling, it is not as important. You are not relying on a limited air supply, and you are not going down as deeply. However, being able to keep track of the time is still useful because you will know exactly how long you have been.
This could be important especially around the times that tides change or if you have a limited amount of time to spend snorkeling. Can you snorkel without one of these? Sure, you can get away with not wearing any timepiece at all.
However, if you do want to go into the water with your timepiece, you must look diver’s watches because they are water resistant.
When it comes to using scuba equipment, this moves from the category of nice to have, to potentially life-saving.
The deeper you go, the more important it becomes. For starters, you don’t want to be at the bottom and find yourself running out of air. A dive watch can easily be set to give you a countdown, allowing you to know exactly how much time, and consequently air, you have left.
This is also essential when it comes to setting up the right decompression stops. The bends is a condition that can be life-threatening, and so this is another area that you do not want to play around with.
Can you dive without one? You probably could if you really wanted to, but why take chances like that? Deep in the ocean, especially where very little light can penetrate, you need all the tools that you can get to ensure that there are no tragic mistakes made.
This is not where you want to be guessing how long you have been down there for.
It is also important here to get a watch that can handle the pressure. You don’t want to cheap out here, or you could end up having to replace your waterlogged timepiece very quickly.
With all the great watches that we reviewed, coming up with one favorite was rather difficult. We loved the Omega Seamaster, and there is no doubt that it is the best of the lot, but the price is quite high, so it is not ideal if you are on a limited budget.
That said, if you can afford to buy one, you won’t be sorry. It works well and looks really great. It is classically elegant and something that never goes out of style. Forget the Rolex, this model is just as impressive and also highly functional.
That it is a status symbol is beyond question – it practically screams, “I am successful.” If you need to impress clients with how successful you are, this does it in a subtle way. It is a very tasteful alternative.
Our choice for best value for the money is the Citizen Pro Diving Watch. It comes in at a surprisingly low price and offers features that you would expect from the top-rated models. It will stand up well underwater and is robustly built.
It is also not going to look like your dad’s old watch, so if you prefer a much more up to date look, this is the option to consider.
You will notice that we did not include a digital diving watch in our dive watch reviews. That would be cheating – analog is the best choice when it comes to this category. You don’t want a watch with a battery that could easily die on you if you are busy diving.
You will notice that none of our choices need batteries at all. As you can see from the review, there are many different options to choose from, and they all come in at different price points.
If you are a serious diver, you need to look for a timepiece that is water resistant beyond 200 feet. Any options that are 200 feet or below are better suited for use above the water – like when you go jet-skiing or surfing than deep diving.