In this blog post, we’ll discuss the top six features you need to look out for and understand when buying a dive watch.

This is a guest post from Niamh Jordan who is a fellow watch fanatic and founder of the watch blog Which Watch Next.

Top Six Dive Watch Features To Know

Dive watches are one of the most popular types of watches around today. The love for dive watches has only grown in popularity more and more over the years. With the diver’s watch now being one of the most sought after types of timepiece for the majority of watch collectors. 

What is a dive watch?

A dive watch is a timepiece that’s specifically designed to be worn while underwater. They’re water-resistant watches that have other handy features like luminous dials, screw-down crowns, and unidirectional rotating bezels. All of which are specific features built into the watch for people who spend their days diving underwater.

Top Dive Watch Features

  1. Water Resistance
    • Water Resistance Table
    • Atm & Bar Measurements
    • ISO 6425 Compliant
  2. Screw-down Crown
  3. Screw-in Caseback
  4. Rotating Bezel
  5. Luminosity
  6. Expandable Strap

1. Water Resistance

The most important feature to look out for in a dive watch is the level of water resistance your watch has. The water resistance of your watch is represented by the amount of water pressure that the watch can handle. You’ll most often see the depth that a watch can withstand displayed in meters or in feet. Below is a handy watch water resistance table that you can use to figure out how water resistant your watch is, and what activities it can handle.

Water Resistance Table

Meters Feet Suitable for…
30m 100ft Accidental splashes
50m 165ft Accidental splashes
100m 330ft Swimming
200m 660ft Water sports

Freediving

Scuba diving (only if specifically stated)

300m 990ft Water sports that are high impact

Scuba diving

500m 1650ft Saturation diving
1000m 3300ft Deepsea diving

Atm & Bar Measurements

Another way that a watch’s water resistance is measured is using the water pressure measurements atm and bar.

An easy way to understand these is that:

  • 1 atm = 10 meters of water pressure
  • 1 bar = 10 meters of water pressure

So if a watch has a 30 atm or 30 bar of water resistance. That would mean the watch should be able to handle up to 300 meters or 990ft of water pressure.

ISO 6425 Compliant

You might see that a dive watch says that they are ISO 6425 compliant. This means that the watch has been put through many rigorous torture tests to prove the amount of water pressure that dive watch can handle. ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. They are a company that handles best practices tests in a range of different industries, not just watchmaking, and are located in Geneva, Switzerland.

Their ISO 6425 test is a best practice for dive watches. If a dive watch can pass the ISO 6425 tests then they are able to write Diver’s on the watch’s dial next to the max depth it can handle. The ISO 6425 certification is a top standard for dive watch water resistance. However, many of the top luxury watch brands do their own water resistance tests in-house. Such as top Swiss luxury watchmakers like Rolex and Omega. So if you don’t see Diver’s on the dial it doesn’t mean that the watch doesn’t have top-level water resistance.

2. Screw-down Crown

Screw down crown with crown guards

Another essential feature of a dive watch is the screw-down crown. A crown is the little knob on the side of your watch. Every watch has one. However, a dive watch has a crown that can screw down tightly. This helps keep water from entering your timepiece. And it’s very important to make sure that the crown is screwed down well, before entering the water with your watch. If the crown is loose then water can enter the watch and damage the internal parts.

The crown of a dive watch may also be protected by crown guards on each side of it. This makes sure the crown is cushioned from any knocks or impacts.

3. Screw-in Caseback

A proper dive watch will also come with a screw-in case back. The case back is simply the back piece that protects the underside of your watch’s case. The screw-in case back is often sealed by a rubber seal that’s designed to keep out liquids and prevent moisture from getting inside the watch’s case and movement. This will help to protect the case of your watch from water entering through the back.

4. Rotating Bezel

What makes a dive watch really stand out is its rotating bezel. The rotating bezel allows you to measure the time you spend underwater. This can help you calculate how much air supply you have left so that you can stay safe on your dive thanks to the dive watch’s bezel.

There are two types of rotating bezels found on dive watches:

  1. Unidirectional rotating bezel – Only rotates in one direction
  2. Bidirectional rotating bezel – Can rotate in two directions

5. Luminosity

A dive watch has to be easy to read, even in low light conditions. This is where great luminosity comes in. Luminosity can be found on the following parts of the dive watch:

  • Luminous hands
  • Luminous hour markers
  • Luminous dot on the bezel insert

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The luminous hands and hour markers are essential for a dive watch. Usually found to be in a bright green, and they make telling the time in the dark easy.

You’ll also often see the luminous dot on the bezel insert above the 12 o’clock marker. This is to help tell the time even easier underwater, especially if you become a bit disorientated underwater.

6. Expandable Strap

Expandable Strap over a wetsuit
Expandable Strap over a wetsuit

Wetsuits are essential when diving, yet they will add more bulk to your wrist. That is why some people need to wear their dive watch with an expandable strap. This helps you fit your new watch over your wetsuit.

You can often purchase an expandable strap with your diver’s watch. Expandable straps are usually made out of silicone or rubber. So they are water-resistant, comfortable, and well able to stretch.

To Sum Up

So what are the top features found in a dive watch? Well for starters it needs to have a high level of water resistance. At least 200 meters so it can handle a scuba dive. Then a dive watch should come with a screw-down crown, and screw-in case back to further help keep the case airtight.

It should also have a rotating bezel so you can measure the time spent underwater. While also having bright luminosity for the dial, and an expandable strap to easily fit your watch over your dive suit.

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