November 30, 2020

The dangers of cheap dive watches

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Photo: Cayman Islands Department of Tourism

Why would anyone buy a cheap dive watch? Do they have a death wish? Hopefully they mean they want an inexpensive watch that meets the demands of scuba diving.

The word cheap brings to mind characteristics of not just inexpensive, but low, or questionable quality of a ‘throw-away’ nature.

If your dive watch stops working while you’re at 110 feet of depth, and you don’t notice right away, it could kill you. That may sound far-fetched, but if you were depending on it as your primary timing device you have lost the means for accurately knowing your no-decompression limits.

If you ended up unknowingly exceeding those limits and then surfaced, it’s very likely you would suffer some degree of the bends i.e. decompression illness (DCI).

DCI is where the nitrogen in your blood forms tiny bubbles that can get trapped. If they happen to become trapped in your brain, odds are, you’ll die. At best, they may get lodged in a joint causing severe pain, or perhaps crippling.

Obviously it makes no sense whatever to chance serious injury because one wants to be cheap. Open water scuba certification instructors nearly always suggest you ought to be spending as much as you can possibly afford on your gear. The most significant is because your lives depended on it.

So if what you really want is a watch for scuba diving that is reliable, rugged enough for the demands on it, yet reasonable in price, then great. That makes a lot more sense than going for ‘cheap’ disposable, and deadly.

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