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This is the most useful diver wristwatch

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Some dive watches are better than others.

The above, an Orient Mako II, is an example of a dive watch that has the most useful configuration. I'll explain why in a moment.

When it comes to dive watches, there are a ton of them out there cover all price ranges. I believe the cheapest you can go for a dive-style watch that actually works like it's supposed to is the Casio MRW200H. You can't do for-real diving with that timepiece, but at least it has the rotating bezel and anybody can afford one. The Orient Mako II on the other hand can be used for actual diving as it does have 200m water resistance, although it's probably a wise idea to have it pressure tested first just to be on the safe side. If you want something that is absolutely certified for diving, see Seiko Prospex. That says "DIVER'S 200m" right on the watch dial itself, and a watch can't have that printed there unless it's been certified for diving.

But let's say you don't dive, which counts for most dive watch owners. What's the most useful style?

Look back to that Orient Mako II above. You don't have to get that specific watch, but if you get one in that specific configuration, it is the most useful.

First-15 separation

It is really useful if the bezel has some kind of visible separation either with markers, colors or both to separate the first 15 minutes. Most things you will time with that bezel will be in that range.

As a cooking timer, that's where seeing the first-15 separation is really useful. Cooking things like potatoes, rice, hamburgers and so on all can all be timed with your trusty dive bezel.

Believe me, you will very much appreciate having that color/marker separation when the bezel is used as a cooking timer. Just rotate the bezel so the arrow lines up with the minute hand, and when the minute hand reaches the desired time, the timer has elapsed. Nice and easy.

Big markers or big numbers

The best dials on dive watches have either big numbers or big dots and blocks.

A fundamental reason why so many guys like divers so much is because you get maximum legibility. Even if your eyesight is poor, you can still read the thing.

The Seiko Prospex divers mentioned above not only have giant markers, but some models also feature a red minute hand border - and the minute hand is an arrow. There is no mistaking the minute hand for the hour hand on a Prospex diver. Great design.

Mechanical or Solar

The #1 reason to own mechanical or solar is so you don't have to mess around with battery changes.

Mechanical never needs a battery change because it doesn't use one.

A solar watch battery, in theory, should last 20+ years provided that you don't keep it in the dark. What I mean by that is when you're not wearing it, don't put it in a drawer. Keep the watch out in the light, even if it's just room lighting or sunlight coming into the room during the day, and that's enough to allow the solar battery to hold its charge.

An example of a very nice solar diver is the Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive.

The worst thing you can do to a solar-powered watch is let the battery go completely dead. That doesn't mean you have to perch the watch in the window directly facing the sun to keep it working. Again, it just means it has to be exposed to some light during the day and not be stored in total darkness in order to keep working properly.

Metal bracelet

A lot of dive watches come with rubber straps for the obvious reason that it's easier to strap that over a wetsuit. However, for day-to-day use, the metal bracelet is better.

Even if you prefer a leather strap, get a diver with bracelet anyway simply for the fact you'll have more choices available to you.

If the bracelet is terrible, get a Strapcode bracelet. It will be better. Alternatively, take the bracelet off and use leather. Most guys seem to have good luck with Hadley-Roma straps, and that brand even offers a few styles in silicone that look like leather.

If possible, stick with the metal bracelet simply for the reason it will outlast leather or silicone so it's one less thing to worry about.

Dark dial

This usually isn't a problem since the majority of dive watches have dark dials. You will however see a few with bright dials. Don't go there.

A bright dial means less contrast and makes it more difficult to read the time.

Stick with the standard dive dial colors of black or dark blue. Other colors like green or red are also good as long as they're dark. When you see the bright orange or yellow, stay away from that because it won't be doing you any favors.

Uncluttered dial

The Orient Mako II is a good example of a good clean dial design and is in fact cleaner than the Seiko Prospex dive dial which gets a little busy with its script above the 6.

One of the cleanest dive dials I've seen is the Bulova Oceanographer. The script on that dial is done in a way where it never gets in the way of the time, which is a good thing. The stubby fencepost style hands make reading the time very easy. Several color combos are available, almost all of which are great (except the orange dial version, which is terrible).

In the end, if you get the right dial configuration, then you've got yourself an awesome dive watch you'll enjoy wearing that looks good and is genuinely useful.

Published 2023 Apr 20

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