In case you have learn my article Zen And The Artwork Of Wristwatch Upkeep: The Advantages Of Studying To Service Your Personal Watch, you’ll know that I’m not averse to opening up my watches and tinkering with the innards, in some instances going so far as to carry out a full service. Within the case of dive watches, this entails changing and/or lubricating the varied seals to make sure that the watch is as water-proof as its score signifies.
A time-only wristwatch normally has three factors of ingress for water, particularly underneath strain: the case again, in fact, but additionally the seal between the crystal and the case, and the crown.
In a dive watch, along with the rubber gasket on the winding stem that blocks the crown tube within the regular place, the crown is normally of the screw-in selection, offering extra safety. The crystal has a gasket between it and the case, wedged in place by friction, and the case again normally has a gasket beneath its lip that closes in opposition to the case when tightened.
The case itself must be robust sufficient to face up to distortion from increased water pressures, which is why dive watches are typically somewhat chunky in comparison with their non-sporting counterparts. Offered that is so, the crystal, case, and again will likely be sealed ever tighter as water strain will increase.
Common silicon lubrication of all of the gaskets prevents them from drying out and growing weak factors. That is additionally why it is best to by no means “kill” the rubber seal on a case again by over-tightening it: it must retain a few of its cross-sectional “o” form in order that it nonetheless seals the hole on returning to regular air strain on dry land.
I had lately checked the seals on my Seiko SKX013 Pepsi and lubricated them utilizing silicon grease, efficiently trialing its fundamental water resistance whereas swimming and snorkeling within the sea off France’s Atlantic coast on a number of events over the summer season.
Skilled watchmakers have air- or water-based testing equipment to check the water resistance of their watches, however I don’t. So I used to be looking out for a possibility to take it all the way down to the subsequent stage, so to talk.
What I did on my holidays
As an ideal instance of the absurdity of present European COVID-19-related journey restrictions, despite the fact that France’s authorities is, like its UK and Spanish counterparts, working round in ever-decreasing circles just like the proverbial headless rooster, as UK nationals resident in France there was no restriction of any sort on our journey to Catalonia for the vacation we had booked a number of months in the past. So we packed up the automotive and headed off on the six-hour drive to the Costa Brava within the time-honored method.
Our daughter was not so lucky and couldn’t be part of us as deliberate as she lives in London and would have confronted a 14-day quarantine (“quatorzaine”?) interval on her return, which in line with those that have undergone it lately is a pointlessly merciless and demoralizing expertise, particularly for younger individuals.
So we had been capable of spend a number of days on a cliff-top lodge overlooking the pleasant seaside cove at Aiguablava, whose measurement and form has naturally restricted vacationer growth to a handful of eating places, a ship rent shed, and a diving store and college, Begur Dive. It was the latter that caught my eye, particularly because it provided a two-hour “Introduction to Diving” course. Right here was a possibility to submit my SKX to some critical water strain.
My earlier expertise of scuba diving had hitherto been restricted to a grounding within the fundamentals, gleaned on a PADI course in a north London swimming pool about 30 years in the past. I had ultimately dropped out of the course after listening to extra skilled members of the membership repeatedly lamenting the truth that the “vis” (visibility) on the wrecks they had been exploring on their weekend journeys to the English coast had been one meter or much less!
I used to be due to this fact eager to renew my coaching within the limpid waters of Aiguablava, particularly as, in line with an data panel located simply off the seaside, 4 wrecks courting again to the primary century BCE had been excavated within the rocky bay and located to include amphorae containing wine and olive oil from North Africa, presumably on their solution to Rome.
After a short chat with one of many diving instructors, I signed up for the subsequent day’s “Introduction to Diving” course. The next afternoon I turned up on the beachfront college and was kitted out, alongside two different trainees, with full wetsuit, masks, buoyancy harness, and compressed air tank.
For anybody who enjoys the liberty of swimming and free diving within the sea, the constricting nature and sheer weight of full scuba tools takes some getting used to. I consoled myself that it could all really feel much more comfy as soon as underwater.
Lastly, I rolled my left cuff up a little bit in order that my Seiko SKX can be clearly seen.
After a maybe somewhat peremptory rationalization of the essential respiration and masks administration methods (I used to be glad to have had some earlier sensible expertise of this, even when it was a few years in the past), we padded all the way down to the seaside and into the ocean, donning flippers and swimming out to a depth of about two meters.
As soon as submerged, my teacher Alan started adjusting my buoyancy jacket in order that, with the assistance of the ten kilograms’ value of weights strapped round my waist, I started to sink till I discovered my buoyancy stage.
As soon as stabilized, I used to be given the okay signal (utilizing index finger and thumb, NOT thumbs up, which implies “going up”) I used to be instructed to undertake and preserve a kneeling place on the seafloor whereas the opposite trainee divers caught up. A faculty of curious John Dory swam as much as examine this unusual, bubble-emitting phenomenon.
At this level I used to be fairly comfy with the expertise of respiration compressed air underwater, though respiration completely by my mouth did take some getting used to and I felt that I used to be over-breathing.
As soon as we had been all in place, we headed off out to sea in a bunch. Alan tapped me on the shoulder and instructed me to look behind us: the college of John Dory, now 20 robust, was following us in sizzling pursuit on the seafloor.
As we swam additional out, the seabed step by step fell away and we dived deeper, pausing solely to equalize the air strain in our ears, simply as one does in a descending airplane. Quickly we handed over a heap of amphorae scattered on the seabed, which I figured had been most likely replicas as the unique wrecks had lengthy been excavated and moved to a museum.
By now the sunshine from above was rising dimmer, despite the fact that it was a really sunny day, and the nose-pinching ear strain changes grew to become extra frequent. Simply as they inform individuals with a concern of heights to not look down, when diving you might want to be ready for the primary time you lookup and might’t see the floor.
I now realized that at a couple of depth of 9-10 meters, I used to be deeper underwater than I had ever been.
This was the place issues started to get fascinating: though my eardrums had been efficiently equalizing the elevated water strain my sinuses weren’t, and a pointy ache started to develop throughout my brow. A lot as I wished to proceed the dive, I might really feel my stress ranges rising because the ache elevated.
Even skilled divers usually are not proof against “altered notion” underwater, a psychological state that may be triggered by one thing so simple as an tools drawback, aggressive wildlife, or just an unplanned flip of occasions. On this state the diver’s notion narrows, typically focusing obsessively on one factor and shedding the flexibility to suppose rationally about the right way to cope with the scenario.
If left unchecked, this could result in rising nervousness and ultimately a full-blown panic assault, which may end up in probably deadly makes an attempt to tear off masks, oxygen tank, and regulator and make a bolt for the floor, which is utter lunacy in case you are greater than three or 4 meters beneath the floor.
A panicking, flailing diver additionally poses vital hazard to his dive teacher or dive buddy, which is why diving instructors bear particular coaching in coping with a panicking diver.
It was at this level that I caught myself calculating that if I did ever wish to make a break for the floor, as I didn’t have management over my buoyancy jacket (with a newbie, the teacher regulates this all through the dive), I used to be going to should jettison my weight belt, which was strapped on with a buckle much like an airplane seat belt, adopted by the buoyancy jacket and oxygen tank, which had been hooked up by significantly extra fiddly buckles.
Happily, I acknowledged this irrational considering as a positive indication that I used to be displaying the preliminary indicators of stress and was going to should abort the dive. I signaled to Alan that I used to be “not okay” and wished to go up. He adjusted my buoyancy jacket and we made our manner fairly slowly again to the floor. As soon as there, we tried to make my masks extra comfy by loosening the strap, but it surely didn’t actually assist so we determined to name it a day.
Despite this expertise, I’m very eager to strive diving once more, maybe after getting my latent sinus drawback checked out by a physician.
Oh, should you’re questioning in regards to the depth-testing of the Seiko SKX, I by no means appeared on the rattling factor the entire time I used to be underwater as I had extra urgent issues. However I can report that it appears to have survived the expertise too.
* This text was first revealed 30 September 2020 at Depth-Testing My Seiko SKX013 Dive Watch: Leaping In At The Deep Finish