There are many diving watches on the market. This is an article to help you sort out the good from the bad and which watches should you should shell out the big bucks for. First off We will define what a diving watch is.
A diving watch is a watch made for under sea diving. It is a watch that will log your time underwater and assist you, by the use of decompression tables (if an analog watch), in a safe return to the surface.
Many diving watches are very stylish and can easily be worn as a fashion accessory or for everyday use.
Diving watches must be able to withstand water pressure from 100 meters up to 200 meters. If used in the sea, it must be able to withstand the salty ocean water. A diving watch that is an authentic one must meet ISO 6425 standards, this is a world wide standards that allows conforming permission to the manufacturer to imprint the words “DIVER’S” on the watch.
Characteristics of a Diving Watch
As well as a diving watch conforming to the ISO standard, many diving watches deliver additional features as well. Traditional divers watches were all analog, but nowadays diving watch computers has added much more variety into the market. So how is one dive watch different from a traditional wrist watch? There are several characteristics that distinguish a diving watch from a wrist watch.
Water and Corrosion Resistant Watch Case
Diving watches must have sufficient water resistance. Therefore they are crafted of materials such as synthetic resins, titanium, stainless steel, ceramics and plastics. Dive watches must also have resistance to moderate levels of external magnetic disruption and shock.
Elapsed Time Controller–the Rotating Bezel
It is crucial that a diving watch accumulate dive time. Analog watches have a rotating bezel that takes care of this. The bezel’s function is to provide for registering of elapsed dive time. The bezel is turned to line up the zero on the bezel with the watch’s second or minute hand, saving the diver the need to remember the original hand position. The bezel moves in only one way, counter clockwise, to increase the perceived elapsed time. Some diving watches have a lockable bezel. This reduces the risk of unintentional alteration while diving. Digital diving watches exhibit the time in numeric form.
Underwater Crystal Case
Due to the extra force of being underwater, diving watches have an extra-thick crystal dial window. The normal type of materials used for a crystal dial include: acrylic glass, hardened glass and synthetic sapphire. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. Many watch companies use a combination of these basic materials.
Acrylic glass. This is tolerant to shattering but is the easiest to scratch.
Hardened glass. This is more scratch resistant than acrylic glass but less brittle than sapphire.
Sapphire. Sapphire is very tolerant to scratching but will break more easily than the other materials
All analog diving watches feature a water-proof crown. To set or correct the time or date the crown must usually be unscrewed and then screwed in again after setting to restore water resistance.
Helium Release Valve
Most dive watches are created for dives no deeper than 200 meters deep. This is considered “shallow”. But others are designed to go 1000’s of meters deep. This is known as “technical diving” or “saturation diving”. A problem encountered in ultra-deep diving which are performed in deep Helium environments is pressure builds up caused by helium getting into the watch. Without a proper venting mechanism, the crystal dial cases would come off or “shoot” off due to pressure buildup of the helium. Companies of technical or saturation dive watches compensate for this by installing release valves to expel the excess Helium gas.
Readability of the Watch
Dive watches have to be readable in low light conditions deep below the sea surface. ISO 6425 mandates that the watch has an indicator in the dark. Things such as high contrasting, non-cluttered dials with easily read numerals, minute marks and hands add to this readability.
Power Reserve Indicator
Dive watches that are powered by a battery are ISO 6425 mandated that it exhibits an End Of Life (EOL) indicator to warn of low energy reserve. One way it does this is by a message on a digital watch.
While a good diving watch may be expensive, they are an ultra-durable timepiece. Keep in mind that the watch has been put through much more arduous tests than a standard sports watch. A good diving watch can last near a lifetime–but if you are a serious diver you really can’t live without one.