Cheap Dive Watch

J Allen

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I see folks looking for a cheap dive watch and have to scratch my head. I mean, what are they thinking? That’s sort of like saying I want a cheap pacemaker – yes I know it could kill me if it stops, but I just don’t want to spend much money on it.

There are lots of things one can get away with being “cheap” about, including watches not used for diving, but it just doesn’t make much sense to risk injury or death by depending on a dive watch not up to the task.

There’s an old joke that has one astronaut asking the other “How do you feel about riding in this spacecraft consisting of a billion different parts all provided by the lowest bidder?”

Different context but the same idea – quality actually counts.

Okay, there’s cheap and “really cheap”. The first is a good deal; relatively inexpensive; while still being sturdy and reliable. The second is disposable, low quality junk – you might as well save time and just flush the money down the drain. You know it’s going to break – just a matter of when.

I would like to assume most folks trying to buy a dive watch cheap are really just looking for a good deal, but often see that’s not the case – they really mean low quality cheap. I recently read a post by a guy bragging about the $10 watch he got to use for scuba diving.

Talk about an accident waiting to happen – there it is.

Maybe he’s forgotten the part timing plays in dive planning. If he’s diving with a computer as well as the watch then his exposure is far less, but if that watch is his only timing device and he’s spending any appreciable time at depth, he’s got a high risk of decompression illness (DCI) when it fails him.

There are of course several factors involved, but if his watch fails while at say 100 feet underwater, and he doesn’t notice right away, he could easily think he hadn’t reached his no-decompression limit, when in fact he actually stayed down long enough to need more deco stops than he has air for.

End result – DCI, also known as the bends. If severe enough it could kill him, if not, maybe just a painfully crippling injury. Either way, why take the risk?

A dive watch like all dive gear needs to be reliable simply because the diver’s life depends on it. When diving, Murphy’s Law is in full effect. There are a myriad of things that can and sometimes do go wrong. Why add to that list, things you can actually do something about?

You can read more about the risks associated with getting a cheap dive watch, along with other articles by John Allen on scuba gear and diving, at his website which sells dive watches at


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