Dive into the Last Days Of Summer with a Beach-ready Watch
With summer travel in full swing, it’s time to make sure your watch can withstand a day at the beach. Dive watches, intended for underwater exploration, are more water-resistant than a conventional watch, and should be worn for water activities. While you wouldn’t dream of swimming wearing your Patek Philippe Calatrava dress watch, a Rolex Submariner or Harry Winston Ocean is up to the task. Yes, even Harry Winston makes a diving watch.
Why Your Bezel Is Your Best Friend
Not only does a diving watch’s watertight case protect the watch’s movement from damage, it is an actual timing tool for scuba divers. A diver can only stay underwater safely for a limited amount of time before they must come back to the surface. Depending on the length and depth of the dive, this “safety window” of time must be measured accurately to protect the diver from running out of air and being underwater longer than the time limit for his dive.
The bezel (outer ring) of a diving watch can be rotated around the watch itself in one-minute increments. When the dive starts, just before going into the water, the diver will set the bezel pointer to the minute hand. For example, if you are starting your dive at 11:15, rotate the bezel so the pointer points to where the minute hand is at that time; in this case the bezel will point to 3 on the watch. After it is set, the watch measures the elapsed time for you, with increments of every 10 minutes in larger numerals making it easier to read.
For safety’s sake, almost all diving watch bezels rotate only one way: clockwise. This ensures that even if the bezel is moved during the dive, it will show more elapsed time and therefore less time to the finish of the dive. For example, the Omega Seamaster and Rolex Submariner have bezels that only go one way, which is called a unidirectional bezel.
Clockwise from 12 o’clock: Omega Seamaster Professional; Cartier Pasha; Rolex Submariner; Tag Heuer Aquaracer; Breitling Colt Ocean; Tag Heuer Aquaracer Chronotimer; Omega Planet Ocean; Bvlgari Diagono Scuba; Harry Winston Ocean; Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor; Rolex Yachtmaster; Panerai Submersible
Bill Murray and Owen Wilson both wear water-ready watches in their comedy The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Murray sports a Vostock Diver, while Wilson wears a Rolex GMT Master. While the GMT Master is not technically a diving watch, it does have water resistance of 100 meters, or 330 feet. Jacques Cousteau, legendary explorer of the undersea world, wore several dive watches during his underwater adventures. He sported Rolex Submariners and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms timepieces, as well as lesser-known brands including Lip (the Nautic-Sea) and Doxa 600T and 1000T.
Speaking of feet and meters, there are two main ways in which a watch’s water resistance is indicated on the watch itself. The first way is in units of Atmospheric pressure, or ATM, and indicates the amount of the water pressure that the watch can withstand. The second way is depth indicators in units of meters (300m, for example) or feet. These numbers show how far down under the water the watch can safely go. Tip: atmospheric pressure underwater increases by one for every 10 meters of depth. So if you are 30 meters under water, you (and your watch) feel three times as much pressure than you would feel on dry land.
Going the Distance
If your vacation destination is somewhere like Hawaii where the waters can get quite deep, a deep-water dive will require a higher level of water resistance. Rolex’s Submariner is waterproof to 300 meters, and its Sea-Dweller, a true professional diving watch, is waterproof to 1,220 meters or about 4,000 feet. But if you are snorkeling in the shallow waters of say Phuket, Thailand, the Submariner or Omega’s Seamaster will do just fine.
Whatever your activity, diving watches are usually made of metal with a matte finish. Very shiny, flashy metal can attract unwelcome predators who mistake your watch for a fish swimming. Speaking of swimming, a regular dive into the water of a swimming pool, lake, or ocean creates extra pressure on your watch at the moment it hits the water. When in doubt of whether your watch can withstand this extra pressure, take it off before your plunge.
Testing, Testing and More Testing
Pressure tests are a part of The RealReal’s multi-step authentication and testing process. While every watch is tested and certified by one of our watch experts, watches that are made for water activity are pressure-tested to at least 30 meters of water resistance. We always recommend a full service on a dive watch to ensure it is watertight before your next underwater adventure, even if it’s just your backyard swimming pool.
Whether you are heading to the beaches of the Bahamas or Cape Cod, be sure your watch can join in the fun by getting it tested regularly. You’ll be relaxed and reassured knowing that your watch is up for any activity that you are.
Ready to take the plunge and invest in a dive watch? Shop our expert-tested collection here.