A friend of mine asked my advice on getting a Divers watch recently and whilst I’m happy to advise where I can, it’s a long time since I did any diving (like 40 years!) and even then it was fairly basic scuba diving. But he’s just taken up “holiday” snorkeling and had thought he’d already got himself a Divers watch, but after his first ducking it steamed up inside and stopped working! Now whilst it looked good, it was basically a fashion watch that was on it’s 3rd battery change (no seals left!) no screw down crown and a WR of 5Bar – purporting to be an all singing and dancing Divers model he said – which it patently was not!
I decided to have a look at what was available and within the confines of what my friend could afford. So I was restricted somewhat as he stipulated around the £200 mark, which I confess I thought might be a bit of a challenge. But absolutely not! There are literally hundreds of “Divers” models around and amongst them there are quite a few good Divers 200m models that offer pretty good value.
In the face of all this lot I made up my mind to concentrate only on the two big players, Seiko and Citizen, as their reputations, technical abilities and after sales servicing are well established and in my opinion the safest option. They also have the wherewithal to invest in new ideas and designs.
First up is Seiko and as you’d expect, being one of the largest Brands today they have a considerable number of good Divers models across various prices ranges. Kinetic seems to be the latest techno fad from Seiko and one model that didn’t seem too expensive is the Seiko SKA371P1 shown here.
Good solid Stainless Steel case model with the classic Divers look and unlike many of the resin cased digital models, this one is not too big at 42mm x 15mm, has a 200m Water Resistance. The watch fits nicely on smaller wrists as lug to lug distance is relatively small. There is a small date window @3 which is not well defined actually but has little importance when underwater. The bezel is excellent, uni-directional and has 60 definite clicks, so from a safety viewpoint does exactly what it’s supposed to do and has a luminous dot at Zero.
Regarding the luminous aspect of the hands. Whilst the lume is very good on the hour markers, the hands being skeleton show only the tips as luminous and I find this not as clear to read as solid hands. I prefer to see the length of the hand (as a pointer if you will) and not just a dot or very small arrow head as here. Others may not find this so, but that’s my observation. A really good point to note is the provision of bracelet lug screw bars, which are much stronger than spring bars. If snagged underwater, it’s an easy way to lose your watch. And one of the reasons I used to wear my old Divers with a Nato strap in the old days of spring bars only.
Overall though, despite the small and personal little concerns I’ve noted, this is one really, really good watch and especially so at the discounted price of around £200 – £230 mark in the UK.
As to Kinetic – well you either like it or you don’t. The idea is sound in that you use a movement rotor in the watch to generate via a small turbine an electric charge to the cell, which in turn powers the Quartz movement, so in theory accuracy should be really good. No battery to change and as long as you’re moving, the watch should tick away just great! This model like most Kinetics has a push button to indicate using the second hand as a pointer to the charge remaining, which is neat.
What is a Divers watch?
I should also explain, as I understand it, just what a Divers watch should feature. Practically it should be reliable and tough, it needs to have a Water Resistance of at least 20bar (200m) and it should have large easily read indexes and hands. Generally a Divers watch will be used in dim water at depth and from around a foot distance it should be easily readable and it’s important that it should have a uni-directional bezel, preferably with definite clicks. This used to simply time your dive against oxygen “time left”. This bezel also should also be figured or milled so that gloved fingers are able to turn it. So all that said –
Another Seiko model I’ve featured is the conventional Automatic 21 jewel SKX007K1 (Cal.7s26) which I rather like myself. It also features a tough construction, large index and hands configuration, the WR200m of course, uni-directional and strongly grooved bezel and is approximately 42mm x 13mm case dimensions, so again a sensible size.
Between the two I think I actually prefer the SKX007K1 and for a few reasons. First off are the hour and minute hands – these are solid infill and not skeleton, so for me much clearer. The second weep hand is white along it’s full length – again nice and clear. I also like the fact that it has a nice and clearly defined Date and Day window @3, though of course as Divers go, not essential. I also like the crown @4 position which prevents any catching on the wrist. I also prefer the slightly tidier case shape. Note that this is a classic Automatic mechanical movement, not Kinetic. It too has a movement rotor, which basically winds the mainspring. So accuracy won’t quite match the quartz or kinetic variety. But again, keep it moving and it will do the job AND the fact that it’s around £40 cheaper at around £170 in the UK it’s a pretty good buy.
There are other alternative models from Seiko such as the “Monster” series (not sure why they’ve picked up this name) but the Orange SKX781K at around £150 is certainly worth a look. It is also available in conventional black and is also a classic mechanical Automatic with Day Date. Once again very solid, dependable, hi-visibility and with similar dimensions. As can be seen there are quite a few options with Seiko and it’s down to personal preference really as to which you pick.
So looking at the other big brand – Citizen. The model that springs to mind with regard to the price is the Citizen BK3150-04EE- shown here –
Of course Citizen have quite a number of Divers classification models and most are quite similar with just a few style differences. This one is NOT eco-Drive but powered by a standard Quartz movement, so a battery change is approximately every 5 years, has quartz accuracy and is very much a Divers watch. 200M Water Resistance, solid stainless steel in a rubber strap version, big clear hour markers and hands with good luminosity. This one also has a well defined Day and Date feature. It is a really neat size at only 40mm diameter case and the strap is 20mm wide. As usual it also features hardened mineral glass and a uni-directional bezel etc. Note that not all Divers models have screw lug pins and most of the Citizen models, as this one, feature heavy duty spring bars, which I have to say are pretty good nevertheless. It sells for around £120 in the UK, so again tremendous value.
Citizen, as I say, have quite few Divers models and the last one featured briefly here is the BN0000-04H.
Amendment – addition – image – The Citizen BN0000-04H Eco-Drive Solar Divers
There are of course other brands out there, so many in fact that it’s easy to get bogged down searching out every little difference, but in all honesty I’m sure you can get pretty much your ideal with either of these two great Brands. So much so that I’ve recommended my friend looks these out and takes his pick – and all without breaking the bank.
And I’m not looking at any more – Phew!
Note – Of course there are watches that whilst not officially classed as “Divers” watches, are nevertheless absolutely fine for swimming and even the occasional shallow snorkeling. Many have a WR of 100m and better, but maybe without a uni-directional bezel or with large indexes and so on, though from experience IF you are in the water/sea more than most, then it makes sense to get the proper thing. As you can see from the above – these don’t certainly don’t have to be expensive. However like my friend don’t get fooled by some that describe themselves as Divers when they are most definitely not. A great big outer bezel for example may look OK until you note the hour numerals and markers are thin and/or chromed and often in many cases with poor luminous quality.
So my advice for what it’s worth is – if scuba-diving or diving – check out the above “What is a Divers watch?” paragraph and take it from there and you’ll hopefully be safe rather than sorry!
Update – Well my personal choice (prior to writing this was actually the last one No 4. I opted for the Citizen BN0000-04H after quite a bit of indecision. Why this one you may ask? Well it’s Solar (Eco-Drive) for one thing, so no battery to worry about and no Water resistance issues either. It also unusually has a solid brushed stainless mono-case construction with a WR300 rating, and it’s very compact. I’ll feature it in a future post once I’ve had a week or two using it and post my impressions then. And coincidentally by friend bought the very same model just before me, though I didn’t know this (from another Dealer) and he loves it.
And the cost? A very reasonable £130, which can’t be bad .