It is easy to find a a cheap dive watch that is rated water resistant to 100-200 feet. There are lots of them out there to choose from - all very inexpensive and affordable.
But is it the best idea to use one of these when you go diving?
Well, like many things in life, it depends.
First, water resistant to 100 feet does not mean it is safe to dive to 100 feet with that watch.
Essentially, tests are done under static conditions and movement of the diver or the water will increase pressure on the watch. This could cause the watch to fail at that depth. (I discuss this in more detail here.)
The current recommendation is that you get a watch that is water resistant to 200 meters (660 feet).
Now, that being said, if you still want to use an inexpensive dive watch, you have to consider whether this is your primary or secondary source of timing.
If this is your primary source of timing, don't skimp here.
You want a reliable, dependable source of timing your dive. If your watch fails at depth, you have no way of knowing how long you have been under and how much longer you can stay before you run the risk of decompression illness.
So get a good, reliable watch made especially for scuba diving.
It doesn't have to cost hundreds of dollars, you can find reasonable inexpensive dive watches out there (see our recommendations for best mid-range and budget dive watches below).
If this is your secondary source of timing, the risk is much less if a dive watch fails at depth. You will have your computer as your primary source of timing still up and running and giving you all the information you need to know.
So, if you are so inclined, you can take a little more risk here and buy cheap scuba watches if you want to.
Now cheap here, I'm talking those $10-$20 watches you see in stores like Target and Wal-Mart.
Yes, those watches. They actually do work at depth. Read on for our experience.
If you are willing to go that route we have picked several models that get high reviews and are all priced under $25, several under $20.
So here you go, our picks.
As far as our experiences, my husband and I have both used cheap scuba watches as a secondary source of timing.
Let it be said that my husband has been much luckier.
His watch ($10 or so) has lasted over 100 dives with no problem. He uses it to time his safety stop (in addition to the dive) so he will press the stopwatch button underwater. It's still tickin'.
Now me, that's another story. I think my watch failed after about 25 or so dives. I had my computer so it was no big deal. But you never know with these watches.
I just bought another dive watch at Target for $19.99. I used it on my Cozumel dive vacation with no problem. We'll see how long this one lasts.
So as far as a cheap dive watch goes, take your chances if you want, but not if it is your primary source of timing your dive. That's my $0.02.
Here's to those cheap dive watches still tickin'!
For more information on picking and choosing a dive watch, you may want to check out some of our other pages:
Scuba Diving Watches Introduction //Best Dive Watches: Luxury and High End//Best Dive Watches: Mid-range and Budget// Dive Watch Primer //Types of Scuba Dive Watches //Scuba Watch Care and Maintenance //Dive Watch Repair
Looking for other scuba equipment and accessories? Check out picks for best dive gear here.
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