The answer is a definite “NO” – not even if your watch has the proper water resistant depth rating. Watches must be water resistant to a minimum of 330 feet (100 meters or 10 atmospheres (ATMs)), have luminosity, a time controller and a unidirectional bezel (that ring the case) to be a diver’s watch. They must also be built for shock resistance and anti-magnetism. You would be foolish to scuba dive with improper equipment including an inappropriate watch. Professional divers would not even consider a watch that did not have all of the above characteristics and water resistance of a minimum of 660 feet (200 meters or 20 ATMs). Some require much more.
Water resistant watches are made for everyday wear and recreational swimming. You can normally use them for snorkel diving, because this activity is included in the definition of recreational swimming. They can be used in a variety of temperatures and pressures, but under no circumstances are they designed for scuba diving.
For regular water use, water resistant watches must have solid metal cases, screw in case backs and crowns plus other specially constructed products. Each brand of watch will provide you with an owner’s manual that will explain the conditions of use and the manufacturer’s warranty. Be certain you read the manual – especially the portion that relates to the watches limitations and its warranties.
Finally, if you ski, parachute, hike at high elevations, climb mountains, hang glide or pilot an airplane or hot air balloon, be certain that you have a watch that has an appropriate ATM capability to avoid damage to your watch and yourself above and below sea level.
Unfortunately, too many consumers buy a watch that they believe meets all of their anticipated uses and activities, with the hope they can be used as specialty watches from time to time. I hope that this article will remind you not to make this mistake the next time you buy a water resistant watch.
Bidiamonds.com has a nice selection of watches that are specifically designed for scuba diving and that can also be used for daily wear.
The Author: Paul Buchanan is a Graduate Gemologist, Graduate of the American Institute of Diamond Cutting and is President of Bella Ideale Diamonds, more popularly known as bidiamonds.com.