Earlier this week, we discussed what makes a watch water resistant — just in time for those great summer water sports we all love. Today, we look at some of the factors that go into the making of a professional dive watch that can accompany you on your underwater explorations. Since scuba diving has become a favored sport for water lovers, the watch world has come full circle – assisting divers, by offering highly technical precision timepieces.
Indeed, top watch brands offer watches that easily withstand the cold or warm salt water elements of the deep blue sea. Watches for diving are equipped with all sorts of important features, including helium escape valves, one-way rotating and ratcheted bezels to measure elapsed dive time, SuperLuminova hands and markers for easy underwater readability, expansion bracelets for use over wetsuits, and so much more.
Dive watches are not a new category, though they have gained in popularity for wear both in and out of the water. Often watch brands seek outside help from experts in the dive world as they build their professional timepieces. Dive watches have to meet certain diving standards to be considered true dive watches, and then — depending on whether one is skin diving, scuba diving, deep sea diving or snorkeling — the water resistance requirements range from — at the absolute minimum — 100 meters, with most needing to be water resistant from 200 meters to 1,000 meters.
Additionally, today’s dive watches typically are defined by characteristics, such as durability, anti-glare crystals and rugged materials. Generally, surgical-grade stainless steel and titanium are the materials of choice for the serious diver. For straps, the concept is, without question, bracelets or rubber straps.
Other important factors — often patented by the watch brands — include double- or triple-locked winding crowns, additional gaskets to ensure water resistance, silicon O rings, extra-large crowns, alarm functions and double-locked bracelet clasps. Most dive watches are also COSC-certified chronometers. (Chronometers are watches that have undergone rigorous testing in various positions and under different conditions of pressure, temperature, depth and gravity, usually by the Controle Official Suisse des Chronometres (COSC) observatory over a period of time.)
IWC, no newcomer to the world of diving watches, having introduced its first Aquatimer to the world in 1967, sponsored the Cousteau foundation in the past and even released the Cousteau Divers Aquatimer in 2004. That revolutionary watch, five years on the heels of its GST Deep One Divers watch, opened doors for a host of new Aquatimers and put IWC squarely on the underwater maps. Most recently, IWC has teamed with the Charles Darwin Foundation to preserve the biodiversity and environment of the Galapagos Islands.
The newest additions to the IWC Aquatimer family – the Aquatimer Automatic and the Aquatimer Chronograph – are worth a close-up look. Offered on rubber straps or metal bracelet with quick change bracelet system, the new pieces are statements of purist design and function. The watches feature an internal rotating bezel with quarter-hour scale that is reminiscent of the first Aquatimer released in 1967.
The watch is enhanced by the strong look of the external bezel with rounded, recessed grips. Because it is essential to see time at a glance when underwater in order to calculate how much air is left in the tank, IWC offers a triangle marking system on the bezel. The triangle marking the start of the dive, zero point, is synchronized with the minute hand so elapsed dive time can be precisely read on the scale. For added protection the external bezel can only be rotated counter-clockwise so that should it inadvertently be moved, the diver will conclude he has been underwater too long – an annoyance but not a danger. This new IWC SafeDive system features a patent-registered sliding clutch.
Additionally, the new 2014 Aquatimers are now pressure-resistant to 30 bar. Inside the 44mm steel case of the Aquatimer Chronograph beats the 79320 caliber with 44 hours of power reserve, while the 42mm Automatic Aquatimer is powered by the 30120 caliber. All watches are equipped with luminescent hands and markers. These watches are functional and fantastic. If you are so inclined, watch the video below for a look at IWC’s newest 2014 collection, and remember to stop by to see our wide variety of dive watches anytime — but before you go diving, naturally.