What Is A Dive Watch?
To be classically considered a dive watch, a watch must have a water resistance body that can withstand depths of up to 100M (or 330 feet) and have accurate time keeping (no easy feat).
Therefore, all the watches in this article adhere to this definition.
Mechanical vs. Quartz vs. Digital – Which Is Best For Your Next Dive Watch?
If you ask 10 different watch enthusiasts what the best ‘movement’ is for a wristwatch, you are likely to get 10 different reasons on why one movement may be considered superior to another.
While respecting everyone’s option and not pushing our own agenda, here is a simple overview of the movement mechanism of all the dive watches that we compared:
Quartz Dive Watches
One of the most popular of all movement mechanisms found within wristwatches today is quartz. It’s prevalence is so widespread, in that some folks estimate that 90% of all watches on the market are quartz based.
These battery powered time pieces are what many men are likely already familiar with. When it comes to affordable diving watches in particular, quartz is a sound choice when making a selection.
Mechanical (Self Wind & Automatic) Dive Watches
Mechanical watches come in two varieties self-winding and automatic. As you can see in our table above, we only outlined one Automatic watch – the Invicta Men’s Diver Automatic Watch. Automatic watches, by their very nature are more complex instruments when compared to Quartz. During our research, we were able to only find very few Automatic watches that not only were considered diving watches (per IOS 6425 standards), but more importantly affordable.
So what is automatic movement?
Automatic watches are designed in a way to be self-wound by the simple movement of your body while wearing the watch. Therefore, there is no reliance on a battery that may suddenly die while taking a dive.
However, there’s a catch (albeit a small one):
Automatic watches are widely considered to be less accurate than their quartz counterpart. While some people prefer time keeping down to the millisecond (like an atomic clock), automatic watches will generally keep within a few seconds of the actual time.
Secondly, and more importantly:
When your automatic watch isn’t being worn, it will slowly lose track of time. Therefore many men who own automatic watches will invest in a watch winder. This device mimics the movements of your body in order to ensure accurate time keeping between wearings.
Digital Dive Watches
Much like quartz, digital dive watches will rely on battery operation for accurate time keeping.
However where digital dive watches largely differ is their face display. Instead of a traditional hour and minute indicator, digital watches will often have some customization as to the data that can be displayed to the user.
However, many digital watches go beyond the realm of ‘affordable’ making only the XONIX Men’s Sports Watch the only viable option for an inexpensive digital dive watch.
Does The Watch Crystal Matter With A Dive Watch?
In short, yes.
If you are planning on keeping a dive watch around for more than a few months, then the type of crystal you choose can have a large impact on a watch’s life span.
When researching dive watches, or any wristwatches for that matter, you will often find that they come in primarily three different grades/options (ranked from best to worse):
According the the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness, sapphire is the second hardest natural substance on earth behind diamond. Therefore, when it comes to deep sea dives or a casual snorkeling where you may be sifting through rocks, clams, and foreign objects, sapphire will undoubtedly be the best watch crystal you can rely on to withstand casual scuffs and hits.
This not only will all but ensure that the watch crystal doesn’t break, but a sudden scuff or scratch on the face will not be off-putting should you decide the wear the watch on a daily basis.
Should your budget allow, we would strongly recommend paying a few extra dollars more for a dive watch that has a sapphire crystal.
Inexpensive Dive Watches That Feature A Sapphire Crystal:
Behind sapphire crystal, you will find mineral glass watch crystals. This crystal is simply a hardend glass that will withstand most situations. While not as resistance to scratches as sapphire, this is a terrific choice for men who are price sensitive.
Mineral glass should last you for several years, however, won’t be ‘heirloom’ quality should you want to pass it down to your son one day. But for casual dives, with mineral glass you can’t go wrong.
This crystal is the last option you will want to consider for a watch. Simply put, this crystal is made out of plastic and will scuff, scratch, and break rather easily compared to sapphire and mineral glass.
Acrylic faces are often reserved for those who plan on doing extremely casual dives, novelty uses, and for men out there on a shoestring budget.
If you plan on diving only a few times yet want to have some time keeping abilities on you, then acrylic can make a decent choice – but only after you have exhausted the other mineral glass options that exist on the market.