Guide to water sports and dive watches

As we move into the summer months, more and more people will be shopping for watches that are suited for use outdoors, in the water, on the beach, and even under the water.

The first thing the retailer should do is determine what the customer wants to use the watch for – many customers think they need a dive watch, when what they really need is a quality watch with a reasonable level of water resistance.

Does water resistance mean waterproof?

No. Retailers should not use the term waterproof, even though customers may come in asking for a waterproof watch. There is no such thing as a “waterproof” watch – watches come in various levels of water resistance. Water resistance is usually measured in ten (10) meter or one (1) atmosphere (ATM) increments.

What’s is Water Resistance and how is it measured?

There are different levels of water resistance (WR), and they are usually noted on the watch dial. A watch that is labeled WR to 30 meters can be splashed with water, but should not be submerged (and shouldn’t even be worn in the shower). A watch that says WR 50m means that the watch can withstand 50 meters of water pressure and can be submerged, but should probably not be submerged for any length of time. A rating of 100 meters means that the watch can be worn swimming or snorkeling. 200 meters is good for recreational scuba diving. Anything more than 200 meters is for serious divers.

The customer who complains of a fogged crystal doesn’t need a professional diving watch, he just needs a watch with a reasonable amount of water resistance (100 m).

Water resistance is measured in a laboratory setting, with the watch usually sitting completely still, in water that is completely still. You can understand how a watch, when worn swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving would experience pressure above and beyond laboratory conditions, which would increase the likelihood of water getting into the watch.

If you have a customer who is an active water sports participant (competitive/fitness/lap swimmer, suffer, snorkler, etc.), he/she should be wearing a 200 meter WR watch, because of the agitation involved with swimming for long periods of time.

What are ATMS?

ATM stands for atmosphere, and one ATM is equal to 10 meters of water pressure. The word “bar” means the same as atmosphere.

What is the difference between water sports and dive watches?

Water sports watches are rugged and have a certain amount of water resistance, but they don’t have to be nearly as technical or meet the high standards of a dive watch. On the other hand, dive watches are manufactured to exacting standards and have features that are specifically designed for use while diving.

What is a unidirectional bezel?

A unidirectional bezel is a bezel that only moves in one direction, counterclockwise, allowing a diver to set the maximum time he or she is allowed to stay underwater. The reason it’s unidirectional is so that if the bezel gets knocked or pushed, it can only decrease the amount of time underwater, never increasing it and putting the diver in danger.

What are the minimum requirements for water sports watches?

  • 100m water resistance
  • Screw down crown
  • Screw down caseback
  • Rubber coated leather or water resistant/corrosive resistant bracelet
  • Good material crystal (hardened mineral or scratch resistant sapphire)
  • Quality material construction (stainless steel, titanium, etc.)

What are the minimum requirements for dive watches?

  • 200m water resistance (some dive watches are 12,000 meter WR or more)
  • Screw down crown
  • Screw down caseback
  • Rubber coated leather or water resistant/corrosive resistant bracelet
  • Good material crystal (hardened mineral or scratch resistant sapphire)
  • Uni directional bezel
  • Superluminova markers and hands
  • Quality material construction (stainless steel, titanium, etc.; extra thick cases; extra water resistant gaskets)
  • Expandable or extra-long strap (to go over a wet suit)
  • Flip lock clasp so the watch can’t come off

Some additional features specifically for dive watches include depth sensors (with maximum depth memory), countdown timers, pressurized cases, and more. Some dive watches have their movements and dials bathed in liquid to increase their resistance to water pressure.

What companies make high quality water sports watches?

Citizen, Corum, Breitling, Bell & Ross, Landjager, Rolex, Omega, Tag Heuer, Festina, Freestyle, MW by Michele, Mont Blanc, Doxa, Technomarine, Aquamarine, Invicta, Oakley, Luminox, Casio, Timex, Swiss Army and more.

What companies make high quality dive watches?

Citizen, Corum, Bell & Ross, Breitling, Luminox, Rolex, Landjager, Omega, Panerai, Technomarine, Invicta, Dive Rite, Doxa, and more.