Back in the day, Zodiac had to convince customers it was OK to buy a dive watch even if you don’t dive. Nowadays, Zodiac feels free to tag their retro Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation “For the Underwater Pro” – knowing full well pro divers wear digital dive computers. People buy dive watches because they’re cool. Free country and all that. But here are three reasons NOT to buy a dive watch . . .
A dive watch isn’t that rugged
I know: dive watches send off a “you can’t beat this with with a stick, and even if you do, you won’t kill it” vibe. But it ain’t necessarily so – especially if you buy a dive watch with an automatic movement.
You want to hear something funny? Dive watches don’t like showers. Humidity kills the cat. (Image courtesy courtesy twistedbezel.com.)
I’m not saying you can’t find a hardy dive watch (if only because I abhor a double negative). I’m saying there are plenty of other types of watches that are just as rugged. And even more that are more so (double positive!).
If you’re looking for max durability (Max Headroom’s rural cousin) it’s a titanium G-SHOCK FTW. But I feel your pain. Even Evil Knievel would have difficulty making the jump from a dive watch to a digital square.
Luckily, there are plenty of “traditional” (i.e., analogue) quartz watches that can take a licking and keep on ticking. Watches like the Victorinox’s I.N.O.X. (no commission on link).
In celebration of Victorinox’s 130th anniversary, we created 130 tests which our I.N.O.X. watch had to survive in order to ensure lasting quality and reliability. Coming up with such an innovative model required 4 years of thinking, 3 years of extensive development, 6 months of harsh testing and 421 samples. Half of them completely crashed in the process!
Is that “eight ton pressure test” valid given that the watch rested on soft soil? (Fans of the Netflix series Dead Like Me will like their video of a titanium I.N.O.X. dropped from a weather balloon.) I hope it didn’t take the Swiss Army folks four years to think of a way to make I.N.O.X. watches that wouldn’t crash. They certainly found a unique way to deal with scratches.
Behold! A removable compass bumper, or as I like to call it, a watch rubber. All joking aside (as if), Victorinox sells some stylish, macho, and stylishly macho pieces that graduated from the school of hard knocks. As do others.
A dive watch doesn’t go with everything
I’m strong believer in freedom of choice. If you want to pair a huge dive watch (courtesy forums.watchuseek.com) with a svelte Armani suit who am I to disagree? Even so, I reckon there are more appropriate choices for a tie-and-jacket event than a dive watch – like anything else that isn’t a G-SHOCK, digital dive computer or giant cuckoo clock.
Don’t get me wrong: high horologists make elegant dive watches that wouldn’t bring dishonor to us all (although they would bring bankruptcy to most). Blancpain’s 73-watch Fifty Fathoms collection has a good dozen timepieces that I’d feel entirely comfortable wearing to the opera – and a horological dartboard best left hanging on a closet wall. (Or not.)
Do you wear a dive watch playing tennis? Cuddling up in bed? Riding a camel? Sure, we’re deep into first world problem territory here. All I’m sayin’ is that there are more versatile watch choices – an important factor if you have expensive tastes and a limited budget.
If you’re looking for a tough, do-it-all watch at the lower end of the price spectrum, I recommend the Longines Conquest V.H.P. If you’ve got big bucks to spend, the world is your Oyster.
Everyone’s wearing dive watches
The days when Zodiac had to convince non-divers to wear a dive watch are a long time gone. The genre no longer says you’re a good swimmer – never mind someone who knows that decompression sickness has nothing to do with yoga. Dive watches are everywhere, and they are, increasingly, in a word, dorky.
That said, I’m sure y’all have enough taste to buy a dive watch that will stand the test of time, like the Tudor or ye olde-is-new Yema Navygraf above. But if you want something truly distinctive on your wrist, a dive watch ain’t it.
If you want to wrist a conversation piece that doesn’t say DIVE! DIVE! DIVE! (e.g., the Sinn Diving Watch U1 made of submarine steel above), go back to the future.
Vintage and neo-vintage watches are the next big – make that “appropriately-sized” – thing. Hamilton is all over it. Ditto Longines. Although I urge caution when considering microbrand watches – for quality and service reasons – there are plenty of small maker retro choices competing for your cash.
TTAW will continue to cater to your undersea needs with articles, reviews and guides. Just don’t get to thinking that a dive watch is your only choice or even, perhaps, the best choice.
[NB: The Truth About Watches does not receive commission on links.]
The INOX diver is a fun watch, though!
The reason I love them (automatic diver watches) is because:
1: I wear my watch all the time (don’t always have a phone with me!) and it can take a beating. Sure, as you said, a G shock can take more of a beating, but…
2: Since there’s no battery, you rarely if ever have to open them and mess up the seal. Sure, eventually, you might have to, but I have family members with old Seikos and Citizens that have never been opened or serviced, and they still are watertight and run great. Sure, they’re not as accurate as quartz, and a quartz solar provides the above benefit without sacrificing accuracy. However, I usually wear one for a few days and then switch it up. Still very accurate over such a short time period, and by the time I get back to it, it’s stopped, and I can reset it off one of my quartz!
3: I don’t scuba dive (my Dad does, where I got the love of the watches originally!), but i do spend a lot of time in water, we own a cottage on a lake and it’s not just leisure in the water, but often work as well. Whether building or repairing the pier, diving down a few feet for a mooring chain and setting up the mooring buoys, fixing something on one of the boats, or searching for a dropped object…..and like I said, I nearly ALWAYS wear a watch, might as well make it one that can handle diving so I don’t even have to think about water getting inside.
4: In a world where our history is being erased and forgotten and everything is electronic and tracked to the nuts and built to break so you have to buy another, I really think there’s something just extra awesome about a spring powered marvel of engineering with roots going back hundreds of years and which can function in extreme environments, and which worl for decades, keep their value, and can be passed on to my kids someday.