What is a Dive Watch? A Complete Guide for 2024

Dive watches have become incredibly popular in recent years, even among those who never plan to go near the ocean. With their rugged styling, high water resistance, and useful features like rotational bezels, dive watches have earned a place both underwater and in casual everyday wear.

As a manufacturer of watches since 2001, Romlicen understands what makes a great dive watch. We offer professional OEM and ODM watch manufacturing services to brands looking for quality timepieces with a custom design. Based in China, Romlicen can produce dive watches to your exact specifications, with your brand logo and design elements.

In this complete guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about dive watches in 2024. What exactly makes a watch suitable for diving? How are dive watches different from regular sports watches? What features should you look for? We’ll also showcase some of the top dive watch brands on the market and give tips for using your diver properly. Whether you’re an avid diver or simply appreciate a stylish, rugged timepiece, read on to learn all about the dive watch.

Stainless Steel Dive Watch
Stainless Steel Dive Watch

Table of Contents

What Makes a Watch a Dive Watch?

Dive watches represent a specialized category of watches built for underwater use. While casual sports watches may look similar, true dive watches have features that set them apart. Here are the key characteristics that define a dive watch:

Water Resistance Rating

The most basic qualification for a dive watch is sufficient water resistance. While most quality watches have some level of water resistance, a true dive watch will be rated to a minimum of 100 meters (330 feet). However, ratings of 200-300 meters are more common for dive watches used for recreational scuba diving. Professional dive watches used for commercial and technical diving often have water resistance up to 1000 meters or more.

Rotating Diver’s Bezel

A defining feature of many dive watches is the rotating bezel that allows divers to track elapsed time under water. The bezel is marked at regular intervals and spins in one direction to align with the watch hand, providing an easy way for divers to monitor their remaining air supply. Uni-directional bezels only rotate counterclockwise to prevent accidental adjustment. The markings on aluminum, ceramic, or steel bezels allow for timing dives up to 60 minutes.

High Readability

Being able to easily read the watch at a glance is critical for divers. Dive watches emphasize readability with large markings, high contrast, and ample lume for visibility underwater. Bold index markers, thick hands, and clear numerals on the dial enhance readability. Luminous paint on the hands, indices, and bezel allow the watch to be read in low light.

Two divers with diving watches
Two divers with diving watches

Types of Dive Watches

While all dive watches are made for underwater use, there are some distinct categories based on their intended purpose and depth rating:

Professional Dive Watches

Professional or commercial dive watches are built for divers who work underwater for a living. They have extremely high water resistance up to 1200-2000 meters for deep sea diving. Features like helium release valves allow them to withstand professional diving conditions. They comply with international diving standards and have highly durable, shock-resistant cases. Popular professional dive watch models include the Rolex Sea-Dweller, Omega Seamaster Ploprof, and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms.

Recreational Dive Watches

For casual divers and scuba enthusiasts, recreational dive watches offer plenty of features without going into the extremes needed by professionals. With 200-300 meters of water resistance, they can handle typical recreational scuba diving to depths of 100 feet or less. They often have more stylish case designs while still including key features like timing bezels, lume, and screw-down crowns. Many watches in this category come from brands like Tudor, Oris,Hamilton, and Seiko.

Dive-Style Watches

These watches have the aesthetic styling of a dive watch but don’t necessarily have top-end water resistance or features needed for scuba diving. Dive-style watches have classic design elements like numbered bezels, diver’s extension bracelets, and bold lumed hands and markers. With 100-200 meters of water resistance, they can handle swimming and snorkeling but not scuba diving. This category includes fashion diver’s watches from brands like Hugo Boss, MVMT, and others .

stainless steel Wrist watch is under water
stainless steel Wrist watch is under water

Major Brands Known for Dive Watches

Certain watchmakers have become icons within the dive watch world. By consistently producing high-quality diving timepieces over decades, these brands dominate the market. Here are some of the most renowned:

Rolex Submariner – One of the original dive watches, the Submariner dates back to the 1950s and is now a certified chronometer with 300m water resistance. The classic aesthetic makes it hugely popular.

Omega Seamaster – Used by James Bond and Olympic swimmers, the Seamaster combines style with proven performance up to 600m depth. Models like the Planet Ocean and Diver 300M lead Omega’s dive lineup.

Tudor Black Bay – Offering heritage styling with modern build, the Black Bay borrows design cues from Tudor’s 1950s Submariner and is a more affordable alternative to the Rolex.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms – The Fifty Fathoms was one of the earliest dive watches used by French Navy divers. Its robust case and safety features set new standards in the 1950s.

Seiko Diver’s Watch – Seiko offers its iconic dive watch collection known simply as the Seiko Diver’s Watch. They provide serious dive functions at an accessible price point.

Citizen Promaster – With professional features like titanium cases, Eco-Drive solar power, and deep water resistance, the Promaster series is a high-value diving watch choice.

dive watch
dive watch

Using a Dive Watch Correctly

While dive watches are built to handle underwater conditions, they require some care and proper technique to work effectively:

  • Inspecting Seals – Before entering the water, closely check that the watch crystal, case back, crown, and bezel are sealed properly without any gaps or defects. This ensures water integrity.
  • Testing the Crown – Screw down the crown completely to lock it in place, then unscrew slightly to verify smooth operation. Avoid cross-threading or forcing the crown.
  • Setting the Bezel – Align the bezel’s zero marker with the watch minute hand before descending. The markings allow easy tracking of elapsed dive time.
  • Rinsing After Use – After diving, especially in saltwater, thoroughly rinse the watch in freshwater to prevent corrosion and maintain bezel/crown function.
  • Servicing Regularly – Have the watch serviced every 2-3 years to replace seals, o-rings, and lubricate parts. This maintains water resistance and functionality.
  • Checking Pressure – For serious diving, check that the watch retains proper water resistance by having a pressure test done at service intervals.

Following these best practices for using your dive watch helps keep it in peak performing condition for years of underwater adventures. Let me know if you would like me to expand on any part of using a dive watch properly.

How to use bezel on dive watch
How to use bezel on dive watch

Benefits of Dive Watches

Dive watches offer versatility, durability, and functionality whether you’re a serious diver or simply appreciate a great timepiece. Here are some of the top advantages they provide:

  • Rugged Durability – With robust cases, strong luminescent hands, screw-down crowns, and scratch-resistant faces, dive watches can withstand rugged use on land or sea. They’re built to last for decades.
  • Water Resistance – While most watches have basic water resistance, dive watches take it to another level with 300+ meter ratings, protected crowns, and compression-resistant cases.
  • Rotating Bezel – The ratcheting diver’s bezel provides the unique ability to track elapsed time via the markings, an essential underwater feature.
  • High Legibility – Large dials with bold markings and plenty of lume allows a dive watch to be read clearly at a quick glance in any conditions.
  • Automatic Movements – Many dive watches house self-winding automatic movements, adding convenience since manual winding isn’t needed.
  • iconic Style – The sleek utilitarian look of dive watches makes them stylish accessories that convey a sporty, adventurous image.

For an all-around watch that combines performance, durability, and great styling, dive watches can’t be beat. Their versatility makes them suitable for the water or everyday casual wear.


When you break it down, the defining qualities of a true dive watch include water resistance to at least 100 meters, a unidirectional rotating bezel for timing dives, high legibility and visibility, and durable construction. Dive watches come in various types, from hardcore professional models to more accessible recreational and dive-style watches.

Leading brands like Rolex, Omega, Seiko, and others have helped propel dive watches from obscure naval equipment to one of the most popular watch categories today. Even for those who never plan to dive, dive watches project an image of rugged capability with their iconic styling.

As an OEM and ODM watch manufacturer since 2001, Romlicen brings its expertise in crafting quality timepieces to create customized dive watches. By partnering with Romlicen for manufacturing, brands can produce their own dive watches to exact specifications.

Whether you’re searching for a performance-driven diving companion or a sturdy accessory that looks as great on land as it does submerged, a dive watch checks all the boxes. Their versatility and rugged appeal continues making dive watches a popular staple of watch collections today.

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