The mechanical dive watch versus the dive computer.

Are mechanical dive watches still relevant today given the prevalence of dive computers used by both professional and recreational divers?

Perhaps so, when it comes to instruments that are made for actual diving. After all, dive computers are more useful, offering more functions than what an analog mechanical watch can provide.

The relevance of mechanical dive watches was one of the questions we posed to Scott Cassell during an interview at the Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa in Thailand in November 2017.

The interview was conducted a day before the Luminox Essential Mission, a dive expediton to recover ghost nets in the Gulf of Thailand, alongside Thai dive volunteers from Save our Seas (SOS).

Scott Cassell is the founder of non-profit organisations SeaWolves Unlimited and Undersea Voyager Project. Luminox is a partner, helping to fund his activities through the sale of the watches named after him.

Cassell is also a counter-terrorism combat dive instructor to the Special Ops community, an anti-piracy consultant, former sniper, special ops combat medic and MedEvac flight instructor in the Army National Guard.

With regards to diving instruments, Cassell should know better as he is an underwater sea explorer and has undertaken dangerous dives, coming up close and personal with sharks and has even been attacked by the Humboldt squid.

Mechanical dive watches continue to be popular among watch collectors as they are sporty and generally made to be robust. For watch collectors, American journalist Jason Heaton figures that dive watches are “talismans of derring-do”. There are also many desk-diver watch fans out there who just want a sporty watch.

For us, it makes practical sense to own and wear a mechanical dive watch, especially when travelling due to its robustness and water-resistance. The dive watch is also a good companion to have daily especially in regions where rainy weather and the occasional flash floods occur.

For Cassell, the answer is a practical one – he will wear the computer dive watch as well as the mechanical dive watch – the mechanical dive watch with an automatic movement including a mechanical depth gauge are essential tools for dive missions as they are back-up instruments in the event the dive computer fails or when its batteries runs out while one is submerged.

Seiko Prospex PADI Special Edition SPB071J1: a modern reinterpretation

The Seiko Prospex PADI Special Edition SPB071J1 has a distinct graduated dial that goes from blue to black and has wave patterns. Its recommended retail price is approximately EUR910. Photo: © Seiko.

The Seiko Prospex PADI Special Edition SPB071J1 features a graduated dial from blue to black and wave patterns that is inspired by the deep sea. Its design is the brand’s modern reinterpretation of the first Seiko diver’s watch from 1965.

In darkness, the hour markers at 6, 9 and 12 including the minute hand emit a blue light while the others and the hour hand have a green luminescence.

The Seiko Prospex PADI Special Edition SPB071J1 will be available from February 2018 onwards and its approximate pricing is EUR910.

Seiko began its partnership with PADI in 2016 and the first Seiko PADI Special Edition timepieces were the SRPA21 Automatic Diver’s and the Seiko Prospex PADI Special Edition Kinetic GMT Diver’s SUN065.

PADI is the acronym for Professional Association of Dive Instructors and they are the world’s largest scuba diving organization with the highest number of recreational diving memberships.

Seiko has been producing diving watches since 1965 and their movements and watchcases have proven to be extremely robust.

Seiko Prospex PADI Special Edition
Automatic Diver’s SPB071J1
Technical Specifications:

• Calibre 6R15 automatic movement
• 21,600 vibrations per hour (6 beats)
• 23 jewels
• 50 hours power reserve
• Sapphire crystal, anti-reflective coating
• Screw-down crown
• Graduated blue to black dial with wave pattern
• Lumibrite luminescence
• Uni-directional bezel
• 42.6mm diameter case in stainless steel
• Water-resistant to 200m
• Silicon band
Recommended retail price: approx. EUR910
Available from February 2018