Scuba divers need to rely on every element of their gear and equipment in order to stay safe when deep under water. They become experts at assessing the state and reliability of bits of gear such as buoyancy compensators, demand valves and air tanks. Many of these are regularly inspected for damage and to ensure they function properly. Yet there is far less thought given to other equally important items of safety gear that they need; their diving watches.
One of the greatest safety risks that scuba divers face is called “the bends”. This arises as a result of bubbles forming in the blood if they ascend too quickly having spent some time at depth. Now divers are trained to avoid this, mostly by producing and then sticking to rigid dive plans by which they spend no more than a certain amount of time at depth. They then have to ascend slowly making what are known as decompression stops at various depths to allow the gas dissolved in their blood at high pressure to be removed slowly without forming tiny bubbles. All of this requires careful planning in consultation with specially formulated “dive tables” that specify how long each stop should be and at what depth it should occur. Because this is all safety critical stuff, it is absolutely essential that scuba divers have reliable watches that will enable them to time each of these activities. Even spending a few minutes too long at a great depth, or shaving a few minutes off from a decompression stop can be dangerous.
Diving watches also need to be read under trying conditions, sometimes in murky water with poor visibility. So watches with very large faces and extra-large hands are often favoured. You’ll also want one that is well illuminated with hands that are easy to see in the dark. Many people choose something such as a divers version of the Swiss Army Watch because of its excellent illumination.
It goes without saying that they need to be water resistant to sufficient depth and also sturdy. The last requirement is a rotating bezel that only turns in one direction, which allows one to easily see how much time has elapsed. A good divers watch won’t be cheap, but if you purchase a good make, it should offer many years of reliable service.