The Best Dive Watches

Looking for the latest, greatest in dive watches? offers the following article by Neal Santelmann in his Connoisseur's Guide. From the budget minded to the extravagant, he covers the bases and provides a good comparison of a wide range of watches.

Connoisseur's Guide - The Best Dive Watches - Neal Santelmann

In the roiling sea of wristwatches, dive watches occupy a rarefied island all their own. Sure, Grand Complications may seduce with sophisticated movements and artfully cluttered dials. Multiple time-zone pieces have their appeal for world travelers. Ladies watches have that svelte and jewel-draped lusciousness, while big and boldly colored fashion watches are the latest necessary accessory of the ever-burgeoning celebrity class. But dive watches have that certain something that makes them stand out on a crowded reef or jam-packed commuter train. In a word (or two), they're cool.

Not just "water-resistant-down-to-some-absurd-depth" cool, but the kind of cool that pegs the wearer as a man or woman of action. Strap a dive watch to your wrist and suddenly you're someone who can go deep; who could risk the bends; who may have faced treacherous weather, hostile sea creatures or near disaster on the open waves and--with a little help from your dive watch--lived to tell about it. Now that's cool.

Most dive watches never make it anywhere near the water, of course. "Most consumers like dive watches for their attributes, even if they don't understand what they are," says Andrew Block, a senior vice president at Tourneau, the international watch retailer. "Even if you never get your dive watch wet, it's nice to know that it could survive up to 2,000 meters." Block notes that one out of every five watches manufactured today has some sort of dive function: water resistance, for instance, or a rotating bezel for timing the amount of oxygen you have left in your tank--or, more likely, the time left until your next meeting.

For all their sophisticated functions, however, recent advancements in dive technology have lately relinquished dive watches to the role of redundancy. For many divers, they're a handy double check of what the console on their regulator is already telling them.

There are basically two types of dive watches on the market: those with the attributes and those with the computers. The former are much more about style than function, produced by high-gloss watchmakers such as Rolex, Panerai, Breitling and Blancpain with basic features including water resistance, a unidirectional rotating bezel and brilliant luminescence. The latter, on the other hand, offer a world of sophisticated functions to help divers track their underwater status, such as water temperature and depth readings; separate gauges for timing the breathing mixture in one's tank; and various alarms to warn of timely doom. Details can often be downloaded from such dive watches onto a personal computer for later analysis or sharing online--if you really must.

Whatever dive watch you go with, if you're actually planning to wear it underwater, make certain it can take a beating. Most are put together with anti-corrosive materials and non-scratch crystals, have large and easily accessible buttons for data entry with gloved hands and are outfitted with extendable wrist straps that can fit over a wet suit.

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