Function and form are at the forefront of watchmaking. For Marines, timepieces work as an efficient tool, providing an outlet for personal style. If you find yourself in the market for a watch made for the ocean versus air, here is a crash course on what to look out for in maritime and aviation watches.
Marines love the ocean. It is what inspires to this branch of military service, and for both working on the boat and off-hours recreation, maritime watches appeal to supplement the day-to-day.
First and foremost, if you are looking to do some deep sea diving while wearing your timepiece, you will need to know how water resistant your watch is. Brands test watches for 300, 600 and even over 3,000 feet of underwater depth. Some watches track depth memory, so you can keep track of where you are in relation to the surface.
Visibility is also a forefront concern, and good diving watches should have features that make viewing easy in both bright and dark conditions. Non-reflective displays assist in preventing glare from the bright surface sun. Luminous materials, or fluorescent hands, make marking hands easy to read with their constant glow, which are ideal for deep dives.
Rubber straps are perfect for underwater comfort, and diving watches should ideally come in a waterproof case to protect them from any mishap going overboard.
When it comes to racing, winning is about timing, which is why keeping time is the most important element of a great racing watch. A racing watch should have a countdown, or elapsed time indicator, a stopwatch, be easy to reset, and have an alarm for the boat call.
For racing, comfort is key. Is the watch easy to use with gloves? Is the band comfortable? Does it have a comfortable weight/size? Are there large keys? Or are the buttons hard to press because they are too small and recessed?
After the essentials come the bells and whistles: compass headings, GPS position, and an adapter for mounting the watch on a boom or mast. These are wants, not needs, but still make for a fun timepiece at competitions.
Love to fish? Find a watch that will give you the perfect timing for the best catch. As a general rule, small fish come in during the incoming tide, and big fish come out to hunt with the outgoing tide. High and low tide displays indicate the tides for the day, hinting at when to go out for that nice, big catch. Moon phases on a watch can also be helpful, since most fish respond to the moon and sun for feeding times.
Weather is also essential to account for. A digital compass will indicate where weather is coming from, keeping you from getting stuck. Some watches have an atmospheric pressure alert as well, warning of storms on the horizon.
It is important to note that most water resistant watches have a seal, which make removing the battery a more complicated process. Ask about models with easier battery changing access, if concerned.
Whether piloting is a hobby or frequent flying is part of your day-to-day, the bomber jacket aesthetic of an aviation watch offers extras for air, the way marine watches offer extras at sea.
For high altitudes, look for a watch with an anti-fogging system and low-pressure resistance. By far, the most important complications in an aviation watch are dual time zone and chronograph capabilities. Beyond those, extras to look out for can include mapping, flight plans, speed and waypoint, for digital watches, as well as an altimeter and compass.
Dapper and practical, GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) watches are dual time zone watches showing the local time, as well as GMT, which falls as 0 on a 24-hour scale of international time zones. Adding or subtracting GMT will give the time zone in any place. True GMT watches are in a 24-hour format, though today there are GMT watches sold with 12-hour dual time zones, which are not true GMT watches.
A 24-hour hand and two 12-hour hands are standard for most GMT watches. Usually they are used to keep track of any two time zones, not necessarily just a local time zone and GMT. If there is a GMT scale with a rotating 24-hour bezel, then a third time zone can be tracked as well. It is of note that UTC is a term sometimes used in place of GMT. Pilots and frequent flyers alike can appreciate fast time zone adjustments.
Long Duration Chronograph
Chronograph watches are essentially stopwatches with window displays, and are one of the most popular complications in watchmaking. Popular with aviators, they allow for precision timing and making multiple calculations.
Different models have been invented. For example, the “flyback” model offers a quick secondhand reset to zero, whereas the “rattrapante” model has multiple secondhands, which work independently of each other.
The long duration chronograph displays elapsed time. Most have a start button near the two o’clock position, with three separate time revolutions of 1 second, 60 seconds and 60 minutes, recording time since activation of the start button. If flying long distances often, look for a model with a long power reserve, some aviation watches offer reserve life of up to 70 hours.
With many luxury and digital options, today’s marine and aviation watches offer form and function for marines, both on and off duty. Whether you are looking to sell or upgrade a watch, our team at WP Diamonds always enjoys seeing the marine and aviation timepieces come through. I personally enjoy the marine watch options, as a man who enjoys time on the boat. No matter whether above ground, or in the ocean, though, it is nice to know there are watches made for every occasion.