Is the Dive Watch Dead?


For the first half century of diving and underwater exploration, the dive watch reigned supreme as the piece de resistance of the diving world.

You needed it to monitor your time and determine no decompression limits. Together with your mechanical depth gauge and your decompression tables, the dive watch was indispensable. Dive watches even evolved to include decompression tables on the dive watch dial. The improvements were good, but was the handwriting already on the wall for the dive watch?

Move over Dive Watch – Here Comes the Dive Computer

The dive computer exploded onto the scene in a big way by the early 1990’s. These dive computers could perform all of the old manual calculations more accurately and timely than our old dive tables and dive watch. Many divers who have been certified in the past 20 or so years have never relied on a dive watch and have always used a dive computer. The beauty is that computers are customized to your exact body and each dive’s specifics. Dive tables, on the other hand, were developed based on young, healthy male divers, relied on user proficiency and couldn’t determine other variables such as how many minutes you spent at a specific depth.

Why You Still Want a Dive Watch

  • Let’s be honest – dive watches just look cool! They send a visual message to others that we are seekers of dangerous and thrilling underwater adventures. They can also be used to time all sorts of stuff – your jog, how long your kid needs to read, how long the pasta needs to boil – the possibilities are endless. And they’re pretty resilient and generally last a long time.
  • More importantly, we always, always, I’ll say it again, always need some type of backup device to time our dives. While many of us can afford two dive computers, a standard and a backup, a lot of us can’t. If your only timing device is your dive computer and although it’s rare, they can fail. Without knowing how long you’ve been under, you have to end your dive — no fun and potentially dangerous if you also lack a backup depth gauge.

st mortiz dive watchesHow to Choose a Great Dive Watch

Dive watches come in all price ranges, from affordable and practical on up to incredibly expensive and generously appointed with features and information. If your dive watch is going to be your primary timing device, you need to invest in a functional one, not solely a fashionable one.

Things to consider when buying a dive watch:

  • You want a water resistant watch, not a waterproof watch. Your dive watch should be rated as water resistant to at least 200 meters, even if you only plan to dive half that depth.
  • You want a one-way (counterclockwise) adjustable bezel – if it gets accidentally bumped, the timer will show a longer time instead of shorter. You don’t want a bezel that could go either direction because if it’s knocked shorter, you might think you still have 20 minutes left when you really only have 10.
  • You want luminous dials – it’s dark underwater so you need to be able to see even in low light conditions. The numbers should also be clear and easy to read.

If you’re a diver, you just need a dive watch, even if you have three computers!

Need a dive watch? Check out our online inventory at Scuba Toys! Or if you’re in the market for a dive computer, we have plenty of those too.

Do you dive with a dive watch? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Article Name
Is the Dive Watch Dead?
Dive watches used to be a absolute necessity for diving, but with the advent of dive computers, we explore why you still want a dive watch.

4 responses to “Is the Dive Watch Dead?”

  1. Krysta Burma says:

    My husband is so old school, he still uses his dive watch and dive tables when he dives….I think I may have just thought of a great Christmas present – a dive computer!

  2. Jose H. says:

    My wife got me a very nice dive watch for Christmas a couple of years ago. I actually where it in and out of the water.

  3. Carl Linthicum says:

    I’m interested in buying a dive watch. I want a nice one but don’t want to spend a fortune. Is that even practical?

  4. J.C. says:

    Carl – there are plenty for under $100. It all depends what you’re looking for.

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