Best Freediving Watches
When you are planning on going diving, there are several different types of watches and computers that you can tag along with you. However, it does depend on the type of diving you are performing. For instance, freedivers will dive without the use of a breathing apparatus and must rely on their ability to hold their breath.
With this type of diving, which is what this guide is going to focus on, you can get away with a standard freediving watch. Now, it is worth noting that some of the best freediving watches in the world are models that instill a decompression algorithm. Because of this, some of the watches below are ideal for both freediving and scuba diving.
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Integrates a digital compass that can be used while diving
Features three dive modes
Does feature wireless air integration
Top Ten Free-diving Watches
1. Suunto D9TX
Integrates a digital compass that can be used while diving
Features three dive modes
Does feature wireless air integration
The Suunto D9tx Freediving Watch is simply a masterpiece and if you have the extra money to invest in it, it is highly recommended. It has the capability of functioning as a freediving or a scuba diving watch because of its plethora of features.Read more
Suunto uses a Reduced Gradient Bubble Model algorithm and in addition to this, they utilize three different diving modes (air mode, mixed gas mode and gauge mode). Most notably, the mixed gas mode allows you to choose up to eight different gas mixes.
The entire watch is encased in a full titanium housing with sapphire glass. It is not only compact enough to be worn as an everyday watch but also can function down to 200 meters deep in gauge mode.
While the dot matrix display is fairly easy-to-read even while underwater, all the different gas mixes are easy to switch between and the interface as a whole is controlled via four buttons.
Clearly, the most notable extra feature of this watch is its electronic 3D digital compass. This can either be accessed on dry land or while underwater to ensure you always know which direction you are going.
In conjunction with the optional DM4 software from Suunto, you can transfer your data from this watch to your computer for detailed analysis. As far as the D9tx, it can hold around 80 hours of log data.
Given that this is one of the most technically advanced models out there, it is completely understandable if it is too much for you. However, the D9tx is a device that can serve many purposes for you beyond just freediving.
2. Suunto D6I
One reviewer raved of the comfort delivered by the strap
Powered by a lithium-ion battery that is claimed to last up to two years
Features a steel case with a stainless steel bezel
Suunto mandates that owners do not replace the battery themselves
Do not fret, this list is not only just comprised of Suunto watches it just so happens that they have taken the top two spots. Their D6i model is a robust computer that features a tough steel case and a durable silicone strap.Read more
When you dive beyond four feet, the integrated dive mode on this watch will automatically be activated. Plus, the included dive algorithm will keep you free from decompression sickness.
Wow, that is all that needs to be said here. Both the case and the strap are magnificently designed as the case is made of steel and the strap of silicone. Both the comfort of the strap and its buckle-and-clasp system are highly appreciated.
Suunto logically designed the interface on the D6i Watch and it certainly shows. The LCD dot matrix display shows all the critical information in bold fonts and the less significant information in smaller segmented fonts.
There is a no-deco diving mode and this will display the time to surface, stop times and minimum ceiling depth in one-minute increments.
When the time comes, you can sync this device with Movescount.com and transfer all your data over. This includes the log data that was captured by the D6i and also any images and videos you want to share.
No matter what type of watch you are looking into, it should be universally agreed that the D6i features one of the most impressive builds out there. It also does not hurt that its functionality is superb.
3. Mares Smart Apnea
The battery is rated to last up to 200 hours
Features a mineral glass display with a segmented LCD screen
Integrates new software and an advanced microprocessor
Dive organizer could be better
This is another freediving watch that is free of diving algorithms and thus, only suitable for freediving. But, when you are diving you are sure to appreciate the scratch-resistant mineral glass display found on the Smart Apnea.Read more
As was just mentioned, there are no diving algorithms present on this device and it serves the sole purpose of being a freediving watch.
In conjunction with the mineral glass scratch-resistant display is a segmented LCD screen. Top this with a 492-feet waterproof rating and you have an excellent built watch.
The aforementioned display provides optimal visibility under any condition. Beyond this, Mares has implemented new software and an advanced microprocessor to improve the experience of the interface and to simplify it.
In addition to the freediving mode, you will also find a bottom timer, training modes, a surface mode, and a countdown timer on this watch. Plus, the integrated audible alarms can be customized to alert you in different situations.
Via the Mares Dive Link USB cable, you can transfer the data from the Smart Apnea to your computer. In total, the Smart Apnea can store up to nine sessions.
Mares manages to combine an eloquent interface with rather simple software to create an outstanding freediving watch. It lacks some of the top-end features of other dive computers, but for only freediving, it is quite the masterful device.
4. Oceanic Geo 2.0
You can switch between up to two Nitrox mixes
There are firmware auto updates available
Sports several features that are typically found on watches doubled in price
The labeling of the menus is merely the first letter
Oceanic is right back at it but this model is one that can be used for both freediving and scuba diving thanks to its exclusive dual algorithm. While the interface could use a bit of improvement, the upgraded look of the 2.0 model is a welcome sight.Read more
This holds the functionality as a scuba diving watch as it is powered by a dual compression algorithm. On top of this, there are up to two Nitrox mixes up to 100 percent oxygen.
This can handle depths of water down to 330 feet and its upgraded look, which sports a stainless steel accent ring and new color combination, is not too shabby, either.
One nice feature is the Step Back which allows you to easily navigate through menus and settings. However, the menus are labeled with a single letter and are a bit too complicated.
There are four modes of operation and they include the standard watch mode, the norm mode (which features the different gas types), a gauge mode with a run timer and a free mode which will track specific calculations.
While the computer itself is capable of holding and storing up to 300 dive hours in its memory, it will only retain up to 24 of the most recent dives you have made.
Oceanic could have designed their Geo 2.0 with a more intuitive interface but the wide range of features and exceptional physical design do make up for it a bit.
5. Cressi Leonardo
Designed with a single-button interface
Is an exceptional entry-level device
Features a large screen with fonts that are easy-to-read
There is no digital compass
Probably one of the best aspects of this next entry is it sports a single-button interface and this simplifies the operation. In addition, the screen will display your maximum depth, dive time, battery level, temperature, and current depth.Read more
It is vital to note that if you want to use this as a dive computer for scuba diving, the included algorithm is on the conservative side which means it does not risk decompression sickness in the slightest.
When using this for diving, its operational maximum depth of 393 feet and large case pay dividends. Yet, it may be too bulky to be ideal as an everyday watch.
Some watches implement a four-button design but Cressi limited their Leonardo to only one. What this creates, alongside the two-inch widescreen, is an easier experience as you will not get lost exploring the features.
Everything you need is displayed right on the watch interface including your current depth, the maximum depth you can go, dive time, NDL, temperature and battery level. Plus, there are audio and screen warnings for safety stops.
You can invest in a PC interface if you prefer having a digital dive log but the Leonardo can hold up to 60 dives in its internal memory.
This is one of the better entry level diving devices out there. If you wanted to go beyond freediving and explore the wonders of scuba diving, also, its decompression algorithm allows you to do just that.
6. Omer Up-Xi
It is equipped with a USB recharging cable
Includes a heart rate monitor
Features a power save mode to save battery
The alarm can be quite loud
If you simply could care less about possessing a watch with a decompression algorithm and multiple gas modes, take a look at the UP-X1 from Omer. Besides having an integrated dive function, it also comes equipped with an external heart rate monitor.Read more
Once you are beyond one meter, the dive mode will activate and it provides you with the water temperature, dive time, water depth, and your heart rate. Speaking of heart rate, this is indeed equipped with a heart rate monitor.
Omer did not spend too much time in their description assessing their build quality. However, the maximum depth that you can take this watch is 328 feet, so be wary of that.
The UP-X1 sports a fairly large screen and the bulk of the operation is performed by the four buttons (two on each side of the watch).
Outside of its functionality as a dive watch, it also features classic watch features such as an alarm, dual-time, hour and date, and Chrono. But, in addition, the powersave mode automatically switches on the standby function during inactivity.
Once you hit 250 dive records, which is all that the UP-X1 allows, you can connect this device to your PC and use the specific PC software to upload all your dive data.
The integrated dive function deserves praise on its own but what is really special about the UP-X1 is its integrated heart rate monitor. Because of this, this freediving watch also becomes suitable for other uses.
7. Tusa DC Solar
It is designed with Bluetooth technology
Powered via solar energy
An integrated warning function assists in the prevention of decompression sickness
Bluetooth connectivity has issues
If you always stay updated with the latest technology, you may recognize this diving watch. Tusa actually had to recall their DC Solar Link due to issues of the computer malfunctioning and risking death to the user. That was a few years ago, though, so all issues should be fixed.Read more
Not only is Tusa’s exclusive M-value warning function integrated to further assist in decompression sickness prevention, there are also four levels of switchable oxygen concentration. Additionally, there is a freediving mode.
Right off the bat, you should notice how beautiful this watch is. Of course, it is also very rugged being constructed of metal materials and factory-sealed for waterproofness.
The screen on this particular DC Solar model is larger than any that had preceded it. Also, the operation is very intuitive and a bright backlight can be activated with the touch of a button.
Outside of the various supported gas mixes and freediving mode, there is also a gauge mode that can be used to simply monitor your diving depth. In addition, there is also an alarm, timer, and stopwatch.
One of the most advanced features of the DC Solar Link is its integration of Bluetooth technology. This allows you to wirelessly record your dive log information to Tusa’s Diving Log app.
There is always going to be a bit of doubt in your mind when you use this watch as it was recalled in the past. However, it truly is one of a kind and it just proves that no one is immune to mistakes.
8. Pyle Waterproof
The dive mode will activate once you pass 1.5 meters in depth
Very stylish to wear as an everyday watch
Engineered with marine-grade waterproof construction
The temperature gauge can be inaccurate
Do not be thrown off by the abnormally low price, this is a high-quality waterproof watch that works superbly for freediving. It has various modes of functionality including multiple diving modes to mess around with.Read more
Again, there are five operating functions (dual-time, current time, countdown timer, chronograph and diving modes). You can actually choose between either lake or sea diving and at any time, you can recall the selected dive.
Pyle engineered their watch with marine-grade waterproof construction and the result could not be any better. On top of its imperviousness to water, it sports a stylish appeal.
A four-button system is designed into this watch and with a push of the backlight button, you can activate the Electro-Luminescent backlight and this greatly enhances the visibility.
The chronograph mode allows this to function much like a standard watch and as a bonus, you can actually choose the measurable units you desire.
As this is a cheaper watch, it is understandable that its storage capabilities are below-average. In fact, one user went as far as to say that accessing past dives is tedious.
Sure, you will sacrifice some features and specific technology if you choose this watch but you will also be getting a watch you can be proud of thanks to its superb diving mode and excellent construction.
9. Sherwood Amphos
Includes a history mode to keep track of your previous dives
The font on the screen is large and easy-to-read
Designed with chrome accents for enhanced appeal
Feels large on your wrist
This next watch has everything you would expect from a standard wristwatch plus features like the date, temperature and altitude information. Yet, what truly stands out are its decompression model and four different operating modes for divers.Read more
With four different operating modes, including a freediving mode, there is seemingly no end to what can be performed on the Amphos. As a side note, it is Nitrox compatible for those interested in scuba diving.
Sherwood includes a durable rubber wrist strap but what is truly noteworthy here is the chrome accents. This provides a touch of class that will not go unnoticed by your peers.
Despite that, the product description notes the interface is very intuitive, one user agreed to disagree. According to this same user, navigating through the various modes requires a learning curve. But, the screen is not difficult to see at all.
Besides the traditional watch features such as a countdown timer and a chronograph, there is also a history mode. This is convenient as you can see your total dive hours, maximum depth, total dives and lowest temperature.
The USB cable connector is optional but recommended as you are limited to 24 dives (for three screens each) within the logbook.
Despite the rather large case and the slightly complicated interface, the Sherwood Amphos is a highly versatile device that is sure to fulfill the needs of all types of divers, including freedivers.
10. Oceanic F-10
Features a surface interval alarm for competitive freediving
It is powered by a lithium-ion battery with a 300-hour battery life
The depth alarm can track each atmosphere
Some may feel the LED alarm is pointless
At the time of its release, there were a few professional divers claiming this was the best freediving watch they had ever used. Due to the attention to detail and intuitive interface, the F-10 has managed to stand the test of time admirably.Read more
The freediving mode displays for you the elapsed time of your dive and the depth of the water. Beyond this, you can also either access a pre-set countdown timer or a lap timer.
Per the review of one user, they felt the strap needed improvements. They claim that the screws holding the band together have a tendency of coming loose and leaving the strap insecure.
There are four buttons that are used to operate this device and it is pretty straight-forward in how you navigate. You should not hit any speedbumps when accessing the features on the F-10.
Outside of the digital watch functions, there is also a history mode which works very similarly to others that integrate this feature and a repeating dive time alarm that can track each atmosphere.
For the maximum depth, surface interval, and EDT, there are 99 dive logs that can be saved within this device at one time.
Looking past the strap design, this is almost a flawless freediving watch. Of course, it seems there is always someone who comes up with a red flag and the issue with the strap could be a potential one.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
There is a huge difference between scuba diving and freediving and this where things get a little complicated. Because freediving does not utilize a breathing apparatus, your depths are limited as there is only so much time that an individual can hold their breath. Not everyone is David Blaine, after all. While it is okay to use a watch that has a decompression algorithm to prevent decompression sickness for scuba divers, it is ideal to use one that has a freediving mode. See, some watches or dive computers are designed to only work for scuba diving and the triggers can be off on when the dive starts. But, with an integrated freediving mode this is not an issue.
Of course, other devices will only be designed as a freediving watch. Basically, you are looking for a freediving watch to indicate the water depth you are at, the dive time, the temperature of the water, and various other metrics that can be important. What is nice about having both functionalities, though, is you can use the same device to go scuba diving and freediving.
As simple as they seem, there is a lot that goes into a freediving watch. For starters, it must be engineered with a waterproof construction as they are primarily designed for diving. But, some will offer different depth limits and this is a number you need to pay attention to. If you are only worried about freediving, the depth does not have to be too substantial as again you do not have a breathing apparatus with you. However, the design of the case and the strap are just as important.
A watch that has a durable and well-built case, perhaps out of steel, and also a scratch-resistant screen is ideal. Meanwhile, you also want a strap that is both comfortable and long-lasting. For freediving, a rubber or silicone strap is ideal as this will contour to your body while you are underwater. You would much rather be diving with a watch that is overly secured than one that is obnoxiously loose.
A great watch, no matter what type you are discussing, would be complete without a fantastic (or at least passable) interface. There are two key components that comprise the interface of a watch (or most devices for that matter) and they are the display and the readability of the watch and also its software and how easy it is to navigate. For a display to be readable in all conditions, especially underwater as that is where you will spend most of your time with the watch, it should feature a large screen, bold and highly visible text, and a backlight display. The deeper you go underwater, the harder it will be to see so having these features is paramount.
However, even more important may be the intuitiveness of the software and the button layout. If you constantly have to refer to user manuals or online tutorials to figure out how to access a certain feature, the software needs to be improved. Some watches will require you to memorize specific button patterns to get where you want to go and this can be tedious. One of the easiest ways to tell if the software is intuitive is to scroll through user feedback to read actual experiences that people have had with it.
As you probably know with a watch, there are always extra features that can add a little spice. Well, it just so happens that there are quite a few of them when you are looking into a freediving watch. For starters, and this is more expected to be honest, it is nice when they sport the traditional features that you are accustomed to seeing on an everyday watch. Features such as a stopwatch, countdown timer, alarm, and chronograph are always nice to have and can come in handy for different scenarios.
Yet, there are some other less well-known features that can sometimes make their way on freediving watches. One of those would be a history mode. A few watches on this list integrate this feature and this allows you to see metrics such as your total dive hours, the maximum depth you achieved, the total amount of dives you have taken, and even the lowest temperature you dove in.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Freediving is a nice alternative to scuba diving for those who simply do not have the funds or desire to buy all the equipment necessary for scuba diving. But, even though less gear is required, you should always go out with a freediving watch. It allows you to see critical information at the glance of a wrist as there is nothing scarier than diving blind. Plus, they can be darn nice to look at which is an added bonus.
Other Factors to Consider
After you have spent countless hours looking through watches to find one that has an optimal depth rating, a quality build, and all the features you need, you may let this next section slip your mind. Do not forget about this feature as it can play a major role in your final decision. Of course, this is referring to the internal memory of the freediving watch and if that data can be transferred to an external device such as a computer.
Each watch will have a different amount of dives or dive hours it can store in its memory and if you plan to go on a long trip without emptying the data, you may need a higher number. Speaking of which, some devices will come equipped with a USB cable or more rarely Bluetooth that allows you to transfer that data to your personal computer. This is ideal as you can then log your data and free up space on your watch.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is the Difference Between Freediving and Snorkeling?
Okay, so this question is not directly about freediving watches but it is still one that should be of interest to you as you are clearly intrigued by freediving. There certainly is not anything wrong with snorkeling but the problem for most people is it is extremely limited. See, when snorkeling, you stay close to the surface as you are utilizing a snorkel to breathe above water. If that snorkel goes underwater, you will start breathing in water and notice it immediately. But, freediving merely entails you to dive further down as you are not restricted by a snorkel; just restricted by the amount of time you can hold your breath.
One way to think of freediving is that you will dive deeper than you would when snorkeling, but not as deep when scuba diving. It almost lands you right in the middle expect, you still need to hold your breath.
q: How Do You Clean a Freediving Watch?
It seems like no matter what type of watch is being alluded to, consumers and users are always curious and interested in how they are supposed to be cleaned. One plus to a freediving watch is due to the nature of its design, it can withstand submersion in water. Taking advantage of this, you can simply rinse off the watch thoroughly after each use. This is especially necessary if you go freediving in the sea as salt water is rougher on watches. Allowing the salt to manifest itself on your watch can lead to corrosion.
If you are looking for more of a deep clean, though, you can apply mild detergent on most freediving watches and scrub them with a soft brush. Be wary of using hard brushes as this can damage the casing and possible leave scratches. To wrap up, you can dry off the watch with a microfiber cloth if desired.
q: With Such High Water-Resistances, Can a Human Hold Their Breath That Long?
As you noticed throughout this guide, several of the freediving watches continue to operate when you are 100 feet below water. Given that the average person will only be able to hold their breath for a few minutes underwater, this seems like an unnecessary astronomical amount. However, remember, some dive computers can function for both scuba diving and freediving and this high water-resistance is more beneficial for scuba divers. With that being said, though, there have been divers who have reached 200 meters on a single dive.
It takes practice, not only physical but also mental to handle dives so far below the earth’s surface. If you think it is easy to hold your breath for that long, check out the training regimen that world-famous magician David Blaine went through to try and break the record.
q: Can You Freedive Anywhere with a Freediving Watch?
It goes without saying that some freediving watches will be more durable than others. These same watches may be able to endure environments that others can’t. This leads to the question of whether or not you can take your freediving watch anywhere you please and the safe answer is no. Most will handle salt water quite well, especially if they are programmed with a sea diving mode; granted you rinse them off afterward with fresh water to prevent the salt from corroding your watch.
However, other environments, such as chlorinated pools, you should probably avoid. There is no telling what will happen here as the pool may contain harsh chemicals that could have ill effects on the watch. Given how shallow pools are anywhere, it is not as if this is going to break your heart.
q: Why Are Alarms Used on Freediving Watches?
This design feature has not been discussed in-depth; until now, that is. One of the more prominent features you will find on a freediving watch are audible alarms. However, what is the purpose of having them and what do they accomplish? Well, before this question is answered, know that not all alarms will be used for the same purpose and they sometimes will be able to be customized. But, there are a few common reasons why you will see alarms on freediving watches.
For one, they can be used to alert you of when you should start freefalling. Next, an alarm may go off at a set time to indicate how much time has elapsed since the start of the dive. Also, they could simply be used to alert you to how deep you are. No matter, they are used primarily for convenience.
q: Can You Wear Freediving Watches Casually?
This question can be looked at in two different spectrums, to be honest. On one hand, you could say that a freediving watch would work admirably as a casual watch as some sport an incredible look and basic features that normal wrist watches possess. However, on the flipside, these same features can be found in watches significantly cheaper and the main reason to get a freediving watch should not be to wear it casually.
Of course, there are also watches that are simply too bulky or abnormally sized to be used as a casual watch. Then again, it is based on your personal preferences and if it suits you then go for it.