The best freediving watches can assist the diver in a difficult situation and can help to keep them safe when on a freedive. Whether you’re an experienced diver or a beginner, a freediving watch can be a total gamechanger and it’s a must-have safety device that you can use on any type of dive.
So, how do you find the right freediving watch, one that you can really rely on, one that’s durable, and one that’s built to last? That’s where I come in. I’ve created a buyer’s guide that will go over each of the features available, what features really matter, and how to choose a watch that will be perfect for your next dive. I’ve taken many freediving watches on a dive and tried out the best of the best, only to find six models that had what it takes to really work on a dive the way they’re meant to. I’ve included each of the six models on my must-have list. You’ll find a comparison chart below that includes each of these watches, in addition to how they rated, what standout features you’ll love, and more.
Freediving Watches Comparison Chart
Cressi Leonardo Underwater Diving Computer
This model is made by the popular dive gear manufacturer Cressi. The watch features a single button design that allows the diver to easily access important dive information or change modes. This model is perfect for both beginners and experienced divers. The display is large and easy to read, while the dive modes can be switched quickly using the single large button that’s easy to press even underwater. This model comes with a USB cable, so you can connect it directly to your computer to upload important dive information.
- Single-button design
- Large display screen
- Backlit design allows you to read the display in any type of light condition
- Watch doesn’t store dive time and depth information
This model is perfect for the new or experienced freediver in search of a model that allows the wearer to monitor their depth and diving progress. The battery life is decent, the price is right, and the user menu is easy to navigate and very intuitive. The durable wrist band is thick and comfortable and will not cause chafing, while the large display screen will allow the diver to quickly and easily view important diving information. This model is a great buy for divers in need of a model that’s built tough and features the type of reliability that’s crucial during a dive.
SUUNTO Zoop Novo Wrist Scuba Diving Computer
This latest diving watch from Sunnto features a large display screen that’s backlit, so you can easily view your diving stats in a variety of light conditions. It features a total of four buttons that makes it easier to quickly access important diving information. This model comes with five diving modes including off, freedive, gauge, nitrox, and air. The user menu is very straightforward, which makes it easier to navigate and keep a close eye on your diving stats. This model is perfect for divers of all skill levels, although the experienced open water diver or freediver may get more use out of the different diving modes compared to the beginner. Unfortunately, this model does not come with a heart rate monitor, which will be a drawback for the freediver. In terms of battery life, unlike competing models, this watch does not need to be charged and instead comes with a battery that lasts up to twelve months. Once the battery begins to run low you can order a replacement directly from the manufacturer.
- Large backlit display
- Five diving modes
- Intuitive user menu
- Comfortable wristband
- Features a battery life of one year
- Does not come with a heart rate monitor
This model features a straightforward user menu, brightly lit display, and five diving modes that allow the diver to track important data during a dive. The watch is easy to set up and use, so it’s a good choice for divers who are not tech-savvy. The included USB cable allows the diver to upload important diving stats to their PC in order to track diving progress. This model is a great buy for the experienced diver, but may be overkill for the beginner or casual diver.
Mares Puck Pro Wrist Dive Computer for Scuba Diving
This dive computer watch by Mares features an impressive dive log time of thirty-six hours or fifty dives. It’s also nitrox programmable and comes with an ascent rate indicator, which will come in handy for any type of diver, whether you’re open water diving or freediving. This is essentially a fully loaded RGBM nitrox computer that comes equipped with some great features including a slim design and larger display and super intuitive functionality. The firmware is upgradable, so you can enjoy new features with every update, which is a huge plus for every buyer. The included batteries are replaceable and have a lifespan of twelve months, so you won’t have to worry about charging your watch right before a dive like you do with some competing models. The surface interval alarms will alert the freediver when they need to return to the surface and is a great feature to have for beginners. This fully loaded model comes with several diving modes, a dive planner, dive time, and more.
- Surface interval alarm
- Dive planner
- Dive log capability
- Does not include a heart rate monitor
This model can be used by divers of all skill levels and includes many features that will allow you to monitor current dive conditions and diving progress over a period of several months. If you’re a freediver that needs a durable and intuitive watch that will allow you to track your depth records and remind you when it’s time to take a surface break, this is one of the easiest to use and more reliable models on the market.
Pyle Digital Multifunction Sports Wrist Watch
This model comes with a total of five modes so you can track your diving data and progress. Modes include diving, countdown, chronograph, dual time, and the current time. The watch has a max diving depth of three hundred and thirty feet and works in both freshwater and saltwater. It also comes with an automatic dive alarm when emerging, which is a must-have feature for beginners. The underwater dive mode will display current water temperatures, current time with emerging and submerging depth indicators and dive time. The watch can store up to one hundred dive records so you can keep a close eye on your diving progress. The large backlit display will allow you to easily read the display in a variety of lighting conditions.
- Slim design
- Five diving modes
- Large backlit display
- Stores up to one hundred dives
- Does not include water temperature reading
This diving watch can be used to track current dive conditions, features a total of five dive modes, and comes with a large backlit display that will allow you to easily read important data in a variety of lighting conditions. The versatile design makes this watch perfect for a wide range of applications including diving, snorkeling, and even every day use. This watch is a great buy for the beginner and seasoned diver, and anyone that wants to track their diving progress.
Omer SPORASUB SP1 Free Diving Wrist Computer
The serious diver will fall in love with Omer’s latest freediving watch, which makes tracking diving progress and current dive conditions a breeze. This model can store up to two hundred dives in active memory, features surface interval reminders, and offers a longer battery life compared to competing models. It can also be used as an every day watch, so you’ll get more bang for your buck with this buy. This watch is specifically designed for the freediver and spearfisher. It will record dive duration, water temperature, max depth of dive, date and time, and dive number.
- Surface interval reminders
- Can record up to two hundred dives
- Tracks important dive data
- Can be used as an every day watch
- Watch must be sent to the manufacturer for battery change
When you’re freediving, the goal is to always do better. This watch can help you reach your diving goals by helping to track important diving data for up to two hundred dives, so you can clearly see your progress or lack thereof. The user interface is very intuitive, with information that’s easy to access. This model is a great buy for the serious freediver and spearfisher and includes all of the essential features needed to improve max depth, dive times, and general progress per dive.
SalviMar One Freediving Watch
This freediving watch by Salvimar comes equipped with all of the important features the freediver needs the most. The watch will automatically activate surface time calculation, so you’ll receive surface interval alerts, which is a must for every freediver who is more focused on achieving diving goals than paying attention to surface break times. The watch also displays diving time, diving depth, current time, water temperature, and a stopwatch feature.
- Slim design
- Tracks diving depth
- Surface interval alerts
- Automatic active surface time calculation
- Low price
- Battery needs to be replaced every four to six months
This model comes loaded with all of the bells and whistles that the freediver could want and provides important diving data in real-time. It will track a wide range of diving data including depth, time, and other information that will help you achieve your diving depth goals. The biggest drawback with this model is the battery which must be replaced by the manufacturer every four to six months. Overall, this watch is a great buy for the diver on a budget that needs an affordable diving watch that includes many essential data tracking features that competing lower-priced diving watches do not.
Freediving Watches Buyer’s Guide
Freediving watches can be used by all types of divers, not just the freediver, since many of these watches come loaded with important features that can help you stay safe in the water or can be used for diving training purposes.
When you’re learning how to freedive deeper, it can be easy to lose track of the depth. That’s why you need a watch you can rely on, one that’s able to keep track of your depth automatically. Additionally, many models can also tell you the different temperatures at different depths. There are many popular brands of diving watches on the market, but not all freediving watches are created equal, or as reliable as the manufacturer wants you to believe. The best watch to use is one that’s simple, user-friendly, and a model that tracks your data. These watches will allow you to keep track of your data so you can upload it to your PC and review it later.
What Features Do I Need in a Freediving Watch?
This can depend on your skill level, where you enjoy diving, and whether or not you’re training to dive deeper. For most divers, the most important features to look for when shopping for a new freedive watch includes:
- Alarm systems
- Dive plans
- Location and depth tracking
- Diving modes
- Mounting options
- Heart rate monitors
- Data tracking
- Battery life
- Software updates
- Dive logs
Higher priced models will come with more bells and whistles, while low priced and moderately priced watches will come with the basics. If you’re an experienced diver, then you’ll want to go with a model that comes loaded with all the features that allow you to monitor your dives and include tracking information, while the beginner may simply need a watch that provides dive alerts and GPS functionality. Ultimately, the type of features you need will depend on how often you dive, your skill level, where you dive, and what your diving goals are.
Many models will come with integrated GPS systems. These systems are able to point you in the right direction and can save coordinates. This means you’ll always be able to find your favorite diving sites. Since GPS doesn’t work underwater, the diver must stay on the water’s surface in order to record their endpoint and starting point. Many manufacturers recommend that the diver raise their hand above the water, waiting for the GPS signal to be received. Usually, this will take a matter of seconds.
Many models of freediving watches come with a simple alarm that can actually save your life. These systems can track your oxygen levels, alerting you when it’s time for you to return to the surface. It will also tell you if you need to wait a few seconds in order to decompress.
A surface interval is the period between each dive. The surface interval is an important aspect that every diver should keep in mind. These intervals represent the length of time in which the diver needs to rest before they head back underwater.
Did you know that diving can be very stressful on your body? Because of this, a rest period is required between each dive. You must know when it’s time to rest, which is why the ability to keep track of your dive is so important. Many of these watches will start timing the surface interval as soon as you reach the surface. Many watches calculate the no-decompression limit automatically based on the watches’ algorithm. Some watches will also allow the diver to manually enter the values in order to obtain a customized result.
Most watches will also allow the diver to change the type of water they’re diving in. This allows the device to calculate the no-decompression limit and adjust to the water’s parameters. Saltwater and freshwater are very different, which means each one has different parameters. The watch you use must be able to adapt to different types of water in order to provide you with accurate and correct information.
Location and Depth Tracking
A top of the line watch will need to be able to deal with pressure. Be sure that the watch you buy is rated to go beyond the depth you plan to dive. All watches will come equipped with a depth indicator. These indicators show the diver the ascend and descend rates, in addition to the current depth they’re in. You’ll also find a mode that displays the max depth the watch is able to handle.
During a multi-gas or single-gas dive, you’ll be able to view the current diving conditions, physiological data, and dive compass.
For a gauge dive, most models will allow you to view current diving conditions, the dive compass, the stopwatch, and heart rate data. This mode is not one of the most commonly used modes, especially for recreational divers. In fact, it’s better for the user who is learning how to freedive.
During an apnea hunt dive or standard apnea dive, the watch is able to display the details of the last dive, the diver’s surface time, the current dive conditions, the map, and heart rate data. Typically, this mode is used by divers who like to go spearfishing or freedivers.
With most models of diving watches, there are a couple of options concerning the type of mounting mechanism they come with. Most models are designed to be mounted on the wrist. However, there are others that come equipped with a chest tube mounting mechanism that attaches to the strap or BCD.
The wrist wrap is by far the most common mounting option and they’re cheap and easy to replace if they end up wearing out. Most of these wrist straps are made out of durable rubber and other common materials that are used for diving gear.
Heart Rate Monitor
Some models are equipped with heart rate monitors, which will come in handy for those divers that like to challenge themselves with each dive. Heart rate monitors are perfect for divers who practice different scuba diving entry methods and experienced freedivers. Many of these watches will have the heart rate monitor displayed at all times, while others will have it displayed only when the watch is put into a certain mode. When it comes to heart rate monitor accuracy, some models are more accurate than others. Higher price models will come equipped with heart rate monitors that are more accurate than what you’ll find on other types of sports watches since the diver doesn’t use their hands to stroke in the same manner that a swimmer or runner does.
If the watch you own allows you to use third-party apps just keep in mind that during a dive their functionality will often be restricted because the manufacturer needs to ensure that these apps don’t interfere with important information that you need to rely on during a dive.
Many models are able to sync with your computer or smartphone. This will allow the user to upload all of their dive data information or share it with friends. Many freedivers like to train using their diving watches for this specific purpose since it allows them to keep track of their progress.
The best models of freediving watches must be recharged before each dive. Just like any other type of electronic device that runs on rechargeable batteries, such as your smartphone, over time, the battery will lose its capacity to hold a charge. This means that it will begin to discharge at a significantly faster rate as time goes on. Many models will come with replaceable batteries or you can purchase new batteries directly from the manufacturer. The battery should only be replaced once you see signs that it’s failing to run for a significant length of time or requires more charges than usual.
When you charge your dive watch make sure that you unplug it as soon as the battery has been fully charged in order to avoid damaging it.
On average it can take anywhere from two to five hours to charge the watch, however, this will vary from model to model. Watches that come equipped with larger batteries will take longer to charge. How long battery life lasts per charge will depend on the battery capacity. Typically, a battery will last between 6 to 12 hours. Battery life can last even longer if you don’t use many of the features such as GPS.
Just like with your smartphone, firmware and software updates are very important for dive watches. When a new system update pops up make sure that you take it since it can provide your dive watch with plenty of new features while improving usability and getting rid of any glitches. Additionally, software updates can significantly extend the battery life. Just like with your other diving equipment you should take care of your dive watch after every use. If you don’t take care of it and clean it properly it can start to malfunction. Always rinse the watch off using clean fresh water. Doing so will remove any salt that has become deposited on any of the external components. As you probably already know, salt can lead to degradation to the backing, housing, and the band.
Even if you only use a dive watch in freshwater conditions, I still recommend that you rinse it off in order to remove any chemicals or debris. Once a watch has been washed off allow it to air dry completely before storing it.
Many divers use these watches to count their dives, while the serious freediver will rely on the watch in order to know when it’s time to return to the surface. These watches will come in handy for tracking surface intervals and keeping track of carbon dioxide levels. If you want to solely focus on your dive then pay attention to your watch which will let you know how long you need to remain on the water’s surface. Dive watches that can be used for everyday use will add to its value and versatility, allowing you to get more bang for your buck.
Most models will come with internal memory that can be used to save diving information. Some models will allow for expansion cards which will allow you to store more information. If you’re someone who enjoys tracking all of your dives, then make sure the watch you purchase comes equipped with more memory. in the event you lose or break your watch it’s always recommended that you backup your dive information on your smartphone or computer. In terms of overall space needs, it will boil down to personal preference concerning how many dives the user wants to log.
When it comes to design most models will come in a square or round shape. The style you choose will be a matter of personal preference however you should choose a model that comes with a display that’s easy for you to read. Additionally, you’ll want to choose a watch that features a display that organizes all of the information neatly. Typically, watches that have a large square screen tend to offer better organization compared to round models.
The watchband that you choose should be comfortable and flexible on your wrist and should not be too stiff. Most diving watch bands are made out of rubber or a thicker polymer. Some models will even come equipped with a metal band. Before you buy you need to know what size of band to purchase. If you decide to buy a model with a metal band, chances are that it will not fit over your wetsuit. Because of this most divers opt for non-metallic bands.
Most watches will come with a stock rubber watchband. If you don’t like the look or fit of the band, many manufacturers will allow you to upgrade and purchase a different band directly from their website.
When it comes to choosing watch size, this usually refers to the size of the screen. Watches that come with a bigger display screen will be able to display more information at once. For some divers having to hit the display button several times in order to access different information can be a hassle and can even be distressing when they’re in the middle of a dive and trying to read stats, or information regarding surface intervals. Buying a watch with a bigger screen can easily solve this problem. Watches with a bigger screen usually have a shorter battery life compared to models with a smaller screen. Visibility will be another important aspect of watch face size. You should choose a model that comes with a screen that’s large and able to clearly display information.
Higher price diving watches will come loaded with many bells and whistles and features that the serious diver can rely on. Additionally, they will also have a better build quality compared to low priced models. However, a low priced diving watch is better than not having one at all since they still must undergo quality control testing. This means that low price models will still be reliable in terms of the information they provide such as stats, they just won’t come with the same variety of features that you can expect to find on higher-priced watches.
Freediving involves holding your breath as you dive when you’re underwater. It also involves diving without the use of an aqualung and can also be referred to as skin diving. Freediving can be used with a snorkel, fins, and mask, but will always involve holding your breath regardless of how deep you go. This type of diving is very challenging and it’s often not recommended for beginners who have no prior diving experience. However, if you’re comfortable in the water and have a history of open water diving or snorkeling, then this type of diving can be the next great challenge. Keep in mind, the freediver will spend plenty of time training, learning different types of breath-holding techniques, with a focus of diving deeper and holding their breath for longer.
To learn more about diving, the type of gear you need and helpful information concerning freediving techniques, click here to read my article on diving tips for beginners.
Other Important Features
Below, you’ll find a list of some extra features that you’ll commonly find on higher priced dive watches, although lower priced models may offer one or two extra features such as data tracking your dive history.
Models that come equipped with backlighting will allow you to easily see the display screen even when you’re deep underwater or in bright light conditions on the surface.
A dive counter will keep track of how many dives you’ve taken over the course of several months. The number of dives the watch keeps track of will ultimately depend on its memory and storage capacity.
In most cases, a diver will already be aware of what the water temperature is upon entering the water, but many beginners do not know that the water begins to get colder the deeper they go. Watches that come equipped with water temperature readings will allow you to monitor the changes in water temperature throughout the duration of a dive.
Training mode is designed for the new freedive diver and helps them to keep track of the length of each dive so they can continue to test themselves every time they find themselves in the water. The freediver’s goal is to dive deeper each time so this tracking feature will come in handy.
A digital compass works much the same as a standard compass but will be constantly displayed on the face of your watch and can help you find your entry site when a dive is finished.
Freediving watches can be worn on the wrist and provide useful information to the freediver and open water diver. A high-quality watch will give accurate readings concerning depth, surface interval times, heart rate, pressure, and water temperature. The type of watch you choose should be made from high-quality materials that are able to withstand harsh water conditions and exposure to salt. Most newer models of freediving watches will come equipped with GPS positioning which will allow the diver to know exactly where they are when they surface. This feature will come in handy for the diver who spearfishes since it will help them to track the best locations to fish in the future. Those who are new to diving want a watch that’s easy to use with controls that are highly accessible, straightforward, and reliable. A watch that’s complicated to use will not come in handy to the diver in distress who needs to access information in a hurry.
The best freediving watches are built tough, come equipped with a longer than average battery life, are easy to use, and come loaded with all the right features that the freediver needs to rely on during a dive. These watches can be used for training purposes, or in order to alert the diver when it’s time to surface and take a break. Many of these watches will come loaded with features that will help the freediver to improve their dive times, allows them to know exactly where they are in the water, and helps them to track their progress over the course of several months. These watches are designed with functionality and usability in mind and will be crucial for the diver who wants to track their progress. The models included in my top six lineup each offer features that all divers can appreciate, and the type of durability that’s essential out in the water. I hope this buyer’s guide has helped you learn exactly what features you need in your next diving watch, how this type of watch can help you challenge yourself on your next dive, and how it can help to keep you safe when you’re out in the water.