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another newbie question re: the instrument (a thing on your wrist)

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.

1 Tadpole

I'd rather play than work
Jul 27, 2002
Getting started in "recreational" freediving, is having a depth guage / timer / watch / alarm(s) / oxy sensor / pulse monitor / coffee maker / kitchen sink on your wrist REALLY necessary to begin with? I'd love a Suunto D3 just like the next person but like alot of us I'm on a budget. Especially with other essential pieces to purchase.

I've seen alot of pics of spearos without a device. At a minimum, is using an appropriate watch and an "old school" analog depth gauge sufficient for rec./snork/spearo dives? If so, what are some dependable analog gauges to look for? Anyone have one to get rid of?

I'd welcome any and all thoughts from you.

Hey amigo,
I used a watch and a wrist-mounted depth guage for a long time, and they were great.....the high-tech stuff is nice for streamlining and the convenience, but really not necessary I think :)
Erik Y.


E-bay is the place to get inexpensive depth guages. I've bought five of them over the past couple of years (lost the first one - but then I bought four more to replace it - long story). I've paid from $5 to $35 for each of them.

Let me know if you can't find one as I might consider parting with one of mine (although I find I accumulate better then get rid of - you never know when that situation will arise and that 4th depth guage is needed...)

Just for information, I use a Timex Ironman 200 meter watch that has spent a lot of time in the water, for under $45 Canadian you can't go wrong. Also use a cheap Uwatec Analog depth gauge, which works well. Available at DiveInn quite cheap.
I'm with Mssr. Young, less is better. True it's nice to know how deep, how long, what's the phase of the Moon and her cycle too, but in the beginning, focusing on getting a great suit, fins and a mask is critical. And then there's getting to the water...

I was recently gifted with a computer (!) and was surprised at how I spent time looking at the numbers rather than looking around. Very disconcerting.

depth gauge verses watch

I had the same questions a few weeks earlier and ended up buy a Dacor, fluid filled, analog, depth gauge from E-bay. I thought it was going to be just the thing, because the dial went only to a 150’ making the graduations larger and easier to read than the usual 250’ ones. I was surprised to find out the thing has a height, above the wrist, of about 2”.

I had a used Casio watch with a depth gauge earlier, but the gasket was bad and I only got one trip out of it. It is waiting for a new gasket now. The stand-alone Dacor gauge is easier to read quickly than the digital readout on the Casio, but I would pick the Casio for two reasons. First it’s a nice watch as well and I can wear it all time, which makes one less thing to have to put on when I am preparing for diving. Second it’s much more streamline than Dacor and the easier to read factor wasn’t that important after all. I found that putting my left hand in front of my face to read the gauge took a distinct physical act anyway which kind of defeated the ability to read it quicker.

When you scuba dive you descent feet first, looking down, so all you have to do to read a gauge is pick your arm up a little. In that situation you could read the large analog gauge at a further distance (not have to pick your arm up as much) than the digital depth display on the watch. In free diving you have to bring your arm all the way up in front of your head to keep a watch on where you are going, which is down and read what is on your wrist at the same time. In this position your wrist is only a few inches in front of your mask, taking away the advantage of being able to read the stand-alone depth gauge at a further distance.

Casio and Timex both make watches with depth gauges which you can purchase for under a $100, new over the internet. You can pay a lot more for citizen or some other Swiss brand, if you’re into the prestige thing, but at those prices you might as well buy Suunto.

My Casio is currently at jewelry shop owned by a guy from my church. I watched him take it apart and asked him a lot of questions. What I would recommend, if you’re going to buy a diver watch with a depth gauge, is buy a new one. This is because too many people think they can change the batteries themselves, which they can, but they don’t get the gasket back right, which ruins the gasket. The watch works fine out of the water for selling it on e-bay. You don’t save enough on a used watch to offset the chance it will leak.

The new Casio’s and Timex’s I saw on e-bay were more expensive than some of the large volume, discount watch stores on the internet.
Timex Helix Depth Meter (D_M) $102.95

Depth, timer, watch, temperature gauge.

All the basics.

Next up is a Suunto D3 or Mosquito ($265 at least). All the bells and whistles you want or need.
i had the pleasure of trying the suunto D3 this past weekend and i must say that it was a joy to use (my "usual" being a watch, and no depth gauge...), having also used the mares apneist for one of the days...i will post a quick comparison...

mares suunto
dive time min/sec min/sec
max dpth whole m(10) nearest 10th of meter (10.3)
surface int. N/A min/sec
size larger smaller
button use easy easier
watch mode N/A yes

the nicest feature i found was that the D3 displayed surface interval, and the max depth in tenth of a meter was nice to have, but not necassary

before this i was using a cheap 10$ watch (waterproof to 200m apparently...)

just my insights...
Thanks for the input guys. Very helpful to hear what others are using. Being in a cold water region I think I'll try the simple low-tech approach to begin with. Perhaps there's a D3 in the future but for now it'll be a sans-battery approach (I personally hate to rely on batteries especially in extreme environments).

Dive on!
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