Keith S. from Colorado, USA asks:
In your estimation how many high-end dive watches get many actual, daily use miles in true ocean environments? How do they fare? My perceptions lead me to believe that regular divers wouldn't rock a $12K Clerc Hydroscaph to the "office" each day. I am friends with a former full-time scuba instructor, and from the income they earn are more likely to wear a Seiko Orange Monster (or even cheaper brand) since dive computers handle the work dive watches used to.
Are high end dive watches simply status symbols? I have no doubt they are fine timepieces, but would a Hydroscaph or even a Rolex Submariner actually last in the environment they're supposed to thrive in, or at least marketed to thrive in?
In the watch world we have a term called "desk diver." It describes the kind of person who is an "aspirational" or perhaps real diver who nevertheless spends most of their time out of water, but wearing a dive watch. Dive-style watches are the most common type of dive watch because of their looks, legibility, and durability. All good brands like to have at least one good diver in their collection. The truth of the matter is that no matter how capable most dive watches are, few of them see anything deeper than a kitchen sink.
Part of that is because most people who dive are afraid to take their high-end watches underwater, even if they are designed for that. There is something unnerving about taking your $5,000 or $10,000 plus watch under water. It doesn't help that inexpensive watches starting at about $100 or less would do the job just as well, and because dive computers are what most people use while underwater for necessary functions. Today many divers wear a watch, but as a back-up tool if anything.
There is no way to give an actual percentage to the question of how many high-end dive watches get used underwater, but I'd venture to say 1% or so actually spend any significant time in the sea. When we swim or dive with high-end watches it is mainly for novelty value, since they aren't strictly necessary. Long gone are the days that you needed to heavily invest in a serious professional dive watch if you wanted to have a reliable instrument underwater. So wear your affordable diver when diving and keep your nice ones for desk duty.
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