Dive Watches vs Dive Computers

Dive watches and dive computers are both found on the wrists of divers — but there are major differences between them! In this article we explain the differences in detail.

Ultimate Gear Lists

Dive Watches vs Dive Computers — WTF is the Difference?

Dive watches and dive computers are both awesome bits of scuba gear that let you keep an eye on the time while you’re exploring the marine world. Knowing the time is crucial for diver safety because it lets you track how long you’ve been on a dive, estimate how long your air will last, and time that all-important safety stop on your ascent.

Both dive watches and computers are constructed from durable materials that can stand up to corrosive saltwater and high pressures, as well as those inevitable bumps and scrapes all dive gear has to endure. They also need to be readable in the dark, so you can keep track of things even when the visibility is poor, and, of course, they have to be waterproof too.

But the similarities end there. While dive watches are essentially waterproof versions of everyday watches, dive computers are, well, mini-computers that you wear on your wrist.

Dive watches

The world’s first waterproof watch, Rolex’s Oyster, was released in 1926, followed by the world’s first commercial dive watch, the Omega Marine, in 1932. These analog watches inspired dive watches for years to come, and it wasn’t until 1972 that the digital watch was created.

This means that the vast majority of dive watches are analog and, inspired by those early creations, tend to be sleek and elegant (although there are a few digital versions out there too).

Just like ordinary watches, they display the time, and often the date, but they also come with a range of features that makes them suited to diving. These include luminous hands and marking that can be read in dark conditions (like when you’re diving through a wreck), unidirectional bezels that can be used to monitor elapsed dive time, and, of course, a serious waterproof rating.

In fact, for a watch to be ISO-certified as a dive watch, it must have all of these features as well as several more, including corrosion-, magnetic-, and shock-resistance. Although ISO-certification can indicate high-quality craftsmanship, be aware that there are heaps of dive watches out there that aren’t ISO-certified (like the Rolex dive watches) and still perform excellently in the water.

Traditionally, dive tables were used to plan dives, and dive watches were used to ensure the plan was followed underwater.

Dive computers

Nowadays, dive watches have been largely usurped by tech-heavy dive computers that not only tell the time, but also record, monitor, and display details about almost every aspect of your dive.

Crucially, dive computers calculate no decompression limits (NDLs) using algorithms that are based on the same principles as the recreational dive planner (which has been used to plan dives since the early days of scuba diving). A key advantage of dive computers over tables is that they constantly readjust your NDL based on depth changes throughout the dive, so you can extend your bottom time by ascending to a shallower depth.

Dive computers also have heaps of safety features that come in handy during a dive, like monitoring your ascent rate (most computers will beep if you ascent too rapidly!), automatically timing your safety stop, and telling you if you exceed your NDL and require additional decompression stops.

After a dive, your computer can tell you how long you must wait until you can fly safely, and it can also be used to monitor your surface interval and plan subsequent dives – plus, if you hate planning, it will simply tell you how long you can remain at depth on your next dive as soon as you’re underwater (just don’t be disappointed if you skip a proper interval and can’t stay under for long!).

Some of the fanciest dive computers are synced with a transmitter and can display your air supply, while others are Bluetooth compatible and can send your entire dive profile to your laptop after a dive.

Verdict

Dive computers have changed the scuba diving world forever and have become a fundamental piece of diving equipment. However, although dive computers are incredibly useful, they can be a little tricky to get to grips with. Plus, they’re often large bulky things that you’d never wear on dry land, and even the best dive computer can fail unexpectedly halfway through a dive.

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On the other hand, dive watches are super easy to use and they make a great back-up for ‘just in case’, so some people still like to take one with them on their underwater explorations. Plus, they’re typically super stylish and look right at home no matter whether you’re in a business meeting or at the bottom of the ocean.

Ultimately, if we had to pick just one, we’d go with a dive computer every time… but in an ideal world, we’d have both!

Want to learn more about them? Check out our round up of the Best Dive Computers or Best Dive Watches — and enjoy your underwater adventures!

MORE INFORMATION

Looking for more information on diving? Be sure to check out some of our other diving content:

Or check out our entire Gear Reviews Page for more diving and outdoors related content.

What Is a Dive Computer?

What is a Dive Computer

What is a dive computer? A scuba computer or Personal Dive Computer (PDC) is a digital device that makes real-time calculations on diving information. The device is worn on the wrist, similar to a watch.

Do I need a dive computer? Though they are not mandatory, they have become a standard piece of equipment for frequent divers. This is because a PDC is a more accurate and detailed alternative for dive tables.

Never used a dive computer before? Here is all you need to know about scuba computers and how they work. This is a very popular piece of scuba equipment and here we will inform you of what to look out for when picking the best dive computer for your next experience.

Table of Contents

Computer vs. Tables

Have you learned how long you are able to stay underwater at specific depths using dive tables before? These are used to calculate how long it is safe to stay at specific depths and whether a decompression stop is required. The tables are also known as dive charts, decompression tables, and recreational dive planners.

Reading the tables is an essential skill for frequent divers and an important part of any diving course. However, these tables can appear confusing to the untrained eye.

Learning to read them takes a bit of practice but comes naturally when done often enough. Still, even professional divers can sometimes make a mistake in the calculations.

Using a diving computer takes away the possibility of human error in calculating safe diving depths, diving periods and decompression stops. Scuba diving computers precisely measure the depth and time spent underwater in real-time. A scuba computer also calculates more accurately. With the continuous information, it can re-calculate as you are diving while a table is a static method that you cannot adjust while diving.

For example, a PDC adjusts the calculations to how much time you spend at different depths and whether you spend more or less time at that specific depth. This is more difficult to plan with a table that often leads divers to take longer decompression stops and spend less time at certain depths.

Another advantage when diving with a computer is the added features that give more details. Read more about these extras next.

Extra Features

Using a Dive Computer

Depending on the model, there are many extra features that enhance your diving experience. For example, the Suunto Eon Steel dive computer features a pressure sensor which transmits information wirelessly to the device when it is held close to the tank, and the reading is pretty much instant.

Here are a few examples of common specs for PDCs.

Ascent Rate Monitors and Warnings

Ascension must be done slowly to avoid decompression sickness. However, how fast or slow to actually go is difficult to calculate with a table.

Without a PDC, ascending at the safest rate is guesswork. These devices can accurately tell you whether you are swimming up too fast, many models even have a warning system installed.

Air Integration

Air Integrated Dive Computers

Scuba computers that have air integration or Air Time Remaining (ATR) offer an added safety precaution. Air integration monitors how much air is still available and therefore how much time can still be spent underwater safely.

Air integration calculates this using information about both the diver’s air consumption rate and the capacity of the air tank. These calculations are also adjusted in real-time.

Since the information is constantly updated, the PDC can factor in how the time changes when there are rough water conditions or at different depths. For example, the air consumption rate might increase when there is a strong current.

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A submersible pressure gauge or SPG does show how much air is still left in the tank. However, the gauge does only that; it doesn’t provide time-related information.

Nitrogen Monitoring

Many also monitor the level of nitrogen in your system. This is also called a Tissue Loading Meter.

The nitrogen monitor is another safety precaution to avoid decompression sickness. By checking how much nitrogen is still in your system, you will know whether you have spent enough time at your decompression stop.

Just like the ascent rate monitor, the tissue loading meter can be set as an alarm device. Note that this is separate from the no-decompression limit.

Dive Nitrox

This feature is specifically for Nitrox divers. As they use a different composition in the air tank which has added risks for central nervous system (CNS) oxygen toxicity.

Therefore monitoring the exposure to oxygen is very important. And these devices show how much time is left for oxygen exposure to still be safe.

They show this information in minutes left within the safe time limit. But another way a PDC shows this information is through percentages of exposure.

Dive Log

They also track all the information that you would fill into a log. And much more accurately than you could manually. The Mares Smart Wrist model, for example, can log 25 hours, and also has a dive plan mode.

The information collected is easily transferable to a computer where you can log the information into a digital log. A PDC comes with a cable that links to a PC.

Why You Should Use a Scuba Computer

Using a Dive Computer

So why should you own a dive computer? They are great pieces of diving gear. They make your experience safer thanks to their accuracy and constant monitoring.

How do you measure your exact depth underwater? It is quite difficult to know how deep you are which is why all the other calculations are never completely accurate.

Wearing a PDC keeps track of a ton of information that you could never precisely monitor yourself, let alone all at the same time. It offers exact information on decompression stop times, nitrogen and oxygen levels and how much air is still inside the tank.

Cressi Leonardo Dive Watches

Safety should always come first whether it is by using tables or when diving with a computer. The main reason to use the scuba computer is the extra control over the many variables that you need to deal with.

However, familiarizing oneself with the device first is essential. If you are still taking a diving course then ask the instructor if they do dive computer training to also teach you how to read a dive computer. It’s important to always follow your training, even when using one of the devices.

Once you fill comfortable, it’s a good idea to invest in your own computer, and there are so many options for them to choose from so think about your requirements to find the best scuba diving computer for you. Knowing how to take care of your dive computer is essential too, to ensure your new piece of kit stays in good shape and maintains its longevity.

We hope that we have answered the most common questions about what is a dive computer, scuba diving computers and a little of the computers and how they work. But remember safety first and always ensure that you have divecomputer training where possible, but that you are fully aware of their uses.

Scuba diving is more than a passion to me, it’s a part of who I am. Now, I travel and dive as much as I can, exploring the world, trying new dive gear, discovering dive destinations and reviewing them here for you. All while educating people of the threats our marine life and oceans face every day and what we can do to help defend it.

Dive Watches vs Dive Computers

Dive watches and dive computers are both found on the wrists of divers — but there are major differences between them! In this article we explain the differences in detail.

Ultimate Gear Lists

Dive Watches vs Dive Computers — WTF is the Difference?

Dive watches and dive computers are both awesome bits of scuba gear that let you keep an eye on the time while you’re exploring the marine world. Knowing the time is crucial for diver safety because it lets you track how long you’ve been on a dive, estimate how long your air will last, and time that all-important safety stop on your ascent.

Both dive watches and computers are constructed from durable materials that can stand up to corrosive saltwater and high pressures, as well as those inevitable bumps and scrapes all dive gear has to endure. They also need to be readable in the dark, so you can keep track of things even when the visibility is poor, and, of course, they have to be waterproof too.

Read Post  What Not to Do If You Want to Get Your Friends into Scuba Diving

But the similarities end there. While dive watches are essentially waterproof versions of everyday watches, dive computers are, well, mini-computers that you wear on your wrist.

Dive watches

The world’s first waterproof watch, Rolex’s Oyster, was released in 1926, followed by the world’s first commercial dive watch, the Omega Marine, in 1932. These analog watches inspired dive watches for years to come, and it wasn’t until 1972 that the digital watch was created.

This means that the vast majority of dive watches are analog and, inspired by those early creations, tend to be sleek and elegant (although there are a few digital versions out there too).

Just like ordinary watches, they display the time, and often the date, but they also come with a range of features that makes them suited to diving. These include luminous hands and marking that can be read in dark conditions (like when you’re diving through a wreck), unidirectional bezels that can be used to monitor elapsed dive time, and, of course, a serious waterproof rating.

In fact, for a watch to be ISO-certified as a dive watch, it must have all of these features as well as several more, including corrosion-, magnetic-, and shock-resistance. Although ISO-certification can indicate high-quality craftsmanship, be aware that there are heaps of dive watches out there that aren’t ISO-certified (like the Rolex dive watches) and still perform excellently in the water.

Traditionally, dive tables were used to plan dives, and dive watches were used to ensure the plan was followed underwater.

Dive computers

Nowadays, dive watches have been largely usurped by tech-heavy dive computers that not only tell the time, but also record, monitor, and display details about almost every aspect of your dive.

Crucially, dive computers calculate no decompression limits (NDLs) using algorithms that are based on the same principles as the recreational dive planner (which has been used to plan dives since the early days of scuba diving). A key advantage of dive computers over tables is that they constantly readjust your NDL based on depth changes throughout the dive, so you can extend your bottom time by ascending to a shallower depth.

Dive computers also have heaps of safety features that come in handy during a dive, like monitoring your ascent rate (most computers will beep if you ascent too rapidly!), automatically timing your safety stop, and telling you if you exceed your NDL and require additional decompression stops.

After a dive, your computer can tell you how long you must wait until you can fly safely, and it can also be used to monitor your surface interval and plan subsequent dives – plus, if you hate planning, it will simply tell you how long you can remain at depth on your next dive as soon as you’re underwater (just don’t be disappointed if you skip a proper interval and can’t stay under for long!).

Some of the fanciest dive computers are synced with a transmitter and can display your air supply, while others are Bluetooth compatible and can send your entire dive profile to your laptop after a dive.

Verdict

Dive computers have changed the scuba diving world forever and have become a fundamental piece of diving equipment. However, although dive computers are incredibly useful, they can be a little tricky to get to grips with. Plus, they’re often large bulky things that you’d never wear on dry land, and even the best dive computer can fail unexpectedly halfway through a dive.

On the other hand, dive watches are super easy to use and they make a great back-up for ‘just in case’, so some people still like to take one with them on their underwater explorations. Plus, they’re typically super stylish and look right at home no matter whether you’re in a business meeting or at the bottom of the ocean.

Ultimately, if we had to pick just one, we’d go with a dive computer every time… but in an ideal world, we’d have both!

Want to learn more about them? Check out our round up of the Best Dive Computers or Best Dive Watches — and enjoy your underwater adventures!

MORE INFORMATION

Looking for more information on diving? Be sure to check out some of our other diving content:

Or check out our entire Gear Reviews Page for more diving and outdoors related content.

Source https://www.ultimategearlists.com/advice/dive-watches-vs-dive-computers#:~:text=While%20dive%20watches%20are%20essentially%20waterproof%20versions%20of,well,%20mini-computers%20that%20you%20wear%20on%20your%20wrist.

Source https://oceanscubadive.com/what-is-a-dive-computer/

Source https://www.ultimategearlists.com/advice/dive-watches-vs-dive-computers

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