The Best Freediving Watch – 2021 Buying Guide

Best freediving watch

Personally, I love gadgets. And what I love even more is analyzing information gathered by a gadget. The best Freediving watch or dive computer is exactly such a gadget. 

The old saying what gets measured gets improved is true of freediving as well. 

If you want your freediving to improve you need to start measuring and tracking your dives with the best freediving watch. 

Before we jump in here are couple of the top freediving watches available on the market.
We will go into more detail on each of these and then after that we will tell you why you need a freediving watch and how to choose the best one.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, Apnealogy, earn a small commission from qualifying purchases


Let's jump in!

Best Freediving Watches

Best Entry Level: Seac Driver

The Seac Driver was released in 2019/2020 and followed on the very successful Seac Partner freediving watch. 

The improved Driver was tested by us in 2020 and after sorting a battery issue we fell in love with it. 

  • Freediving focused
  • 100m water resistant
  • Auto stop-start dives
  • Hydration reminder and Surface Time Interval Timer
  • Great value for the money
  • Doesn't come with the USB data cable as standard
  • Alarms very soft and barely audible underwater.

This is a great freediving watch for spearos and beginner or non-competitive freedivers. 

Our favorite function on this watch is probably the MSST function and the Hydration reminder.
MSST stands for Minimum suggested surface time and is a timer that suggests how long you should recover at the surface before taking your next dive. 

Seac Driver Freediving Computer

OUR RATING

The Seac Driver is the least expensive freediving watch on our list and one of the least expensive ones you will find on the market. It is still a quality product worthy of your hard earned cash and compares very well to the other watches on our list that cost twice as much..

In our opinion it is the best freediving watch for beginner and even experienced non-competitive freedivers.  By adding a data cable you could extract even more valuable statistics from it to help with your training and progression. 

To learn more about the Seac Driver and to find out how we solved the battery issue which a couple of users of the first versions experienced, follow the link below to read our in-depth review:


Best Mid-Level: Mares Smart Apnea

The Mares Smart Apnea Freediving watch is our top recommended Mid Level Freediving watch. 

It's a very popular choice with freedivers and spearos and since it has been tried, tested and improved over the years it sets the bar for spearfishing and freediving dive computers 

The Smart Apnea has a simple and intuitive user interface with improved software that's easy to manage thanks to only two control buttons.

The important functions, like your surface time interval is always 

  • Easy to use and intuitive user interface
  • Segmented LCD display showing all the important information
  • 150m depth rating
  • Scratch resistant mineral glass screen
  •  Multiple Alarms - Dive time, Surface interval, Depth & Hydration 
  • Can only store up to 9 dive sessions
  • USB data cable sold separately
Mares Smart Apnea Freediving Watch

Credit: Mares.com

The Mares smart apnea comes in 4 different colors and is stylish enough to make it a good everyday watch as well even though it is missing some simple features like a daily alarm and countdown timer(both function you find on the Seac Driver) 

OUR RATING

Like the Seac Driver and Suunto D4F, the Mares Smart Apnea also loses a couple of points because of the data cable being an added extra. We understand that not all people would want to download and analyze their dives in detail like we would but for this price class you would have expected there to be one included and it does feel like being cheated paying extra for it.


The Safe Alternative: Suunto D4F

Don't be mistaken by us calling this a "safe alternative". The Suunot D4F is an excellent dive computer and very good choice for serious Freedivers/Spearfisherman.

  • Suunto specialize in watches
  • All the features and alarms that you'd expect - Surface interval, 5x depth alarms and dive duration
  • Apnea training tables (Co2 and O2 Tables)
  • 100m depth rating
  • Large internal memory
  • Great software to analyze dives - Suunto DM5 Software 
  • USB Cable not included
  • No Hydration reminder

The Suunto D4f is a freediving specific watch but if you also Scuba then the D4i is the one you will need to go for. 

The multiple depth alarms is very useful when diving on a line and you'll know exactly how deep you are without looking at your watch and breaking focus. And unlike other watches this one is actually audible underwater.

We think the large stainless steel bezel frames the watch beautifully while also protecting the mineral glass lens. The strap is comfortable and replaceable in case it breaks. 

Suunto D4f Freedive Computer

Credit: Suunto.com

OUR RATING

One of our favorite features on the D4f has to be the training tables. There's mixed opinion out there on the efficacy of Co2 and O2 tables but we do them and love this built in feature. 


Best Value for Money: Atmos Mission One

This freediving watch is something else!! If you judge a book by its cover then you'll be forgiven for thinking the Atmos Mission One is a regular smart watch. Don't be fooled this good looking dive watch is packed with features.

For a slightly more than the Suunto D4f you get a full dive watch with Air, Nitrox, Freedive and Gauge functions, GPS, compass and the ability to receive text messages, emails and other notifications from your smartphone.

Here are some of the top pros and cons:

  • Stylish and modern dive watch available in 3 different color combinations
  • Uses standard 24mm watch straps 
  • Competitively priced
  • Email, text and other notifications from your Phone(IOS/Andriod)
  • Vibration and Audible alarms(10 each for Depth & Time)
  • Sync with the Atmos app(IOS/Android) 
  • Battery life
  • Some messages/notifications hard to read on screen and cut off
Atmos Mission One Freediving Watch

Credit: Atmos.app

The Atmos mission one get's full marks for style and value for money. The team at Atmos have really done a great job delivering a watch with these features at an affordable price point.

It loses some points for battery life but bear in mind that it is rechargeable where the previous watches on our list used traditional coin cell type batteries. 

A big bonus and one of our favorite features on the Mission One is the Wireless sync to your smartphone with the Atmos App that's available on the IOS store and on Google Play. With the App you can analyze your dives and record all of them in a Logbook to see your progression over time.

OUR RATING

We're hoping to do an indepth review of the Atmos Mission One very soon. Visit the Atmos Website to learn more and keep checking our blog and social channels to be the first to know when the review goes live...


Money is no Object: Garmin Descent Mk2

If you have deep pockets and want the best Freediving watch that money can buy then look no further than the Garmin Descent Mk2.

Quick disclaimer: The most recent Garmin Descent model does cost 3 times as much as any of the other watches on our list and 4 times as much if you scuba dive and want to add the transmitter.

But then again you need to keep in mind again that this is not just a dive watch or even just a smart watch.

This is more of a multisport-lifestyle-smart-watch.  

Here are just a handful of the long list of standout features:

  • Multisport watch with 6 different dive modes
  • Includes Apnea and Apnea Hunt(Spearfishing) modes
  • Surface GPS and underwater compass
  • Wrist based heart rate monitor - even underwater
  • Dive log and Dive app sync on Smartphone
  • Good battery-life: up to 80hours in Dive Mode on a single charge 
  • Price
Best Freediving watch - Garmin Descent Mk2

Sure, if you only freedive and do nothing else then this watch is probably overkill.
However, chances are very good that since you freedive you also do other cardio exercises like jogging, cycling, rowing or swimming. These are just some of the other activities for which you can also use this watch with its preloaded Sport activity features. 

The Garmin Descent Mk2 and Mk2i with its "air intergration" feature for scuba divers are expensive dive watches but oh so desirable. They are loaded with features that are actually useful and not just fluff. 

If you've got the money then buy it now. If you don't then consider the older Garmin Descent Mk1 or better yet save up for a bit and get the latest one.

OUR RATING


Why use a Freediving Watch

A Freediving watch doesn't just have the potential to make you a better freediver, it also can make you a safer one. 

For us there are two major reasons for owning a freediving watch and because of these reasons it is an essential piece of kit.
For us it falls in the same class as your freediving snorkel or spearfishing wetsuit. Very often though, a Freediving computer is one of the last pieces of gear that someone would buy. 

The reasons we believe that a Freediving Watch is an essential piece of equipment is because of its ability to:

  1.  To make you a better diver and
  2. To make you a safer dive



How does a freediving watch make you a better freediver..?


The way that freediving watch helps to make you a better diver is by tracking and logging stats about each dive on all of your dive sessions.

A good freediving watch will track the time you spent on the surface between dives, how long your dive was, your descent and ascent speed, water temperatures and a multitude of other data.
Analyzing this data after each session allows you to track progress, build upon it and eventually help to make you a better diver. 

A popular quote in the business world is one by Peter Drucker: "What gets measured gets improved"

A freediving watch helps you to measure many different data points for each of your dives which then, if you analyze, extract insights and learn from the data, helps to improve them over time.

Remember that data on it's own isn't worth much. It is only when you analyze and interpret the data, process it, gather insights and learn from it that it shows it true value. 


Seac Freediving watch


How does a freediving watch make you a safer freediver...?


One way that a good freediving computer can make you a safer diver is by tracking your resurface intervals.

This is one of my favorite functions on my freediving watch.
A surface interval timer is a function that's available on most of the popular dive watches(including all on our list) and tells you how long you need to spend at the surface to recover in-between dives.
The time is calculated automatically by the watch and depends on how long you were under water for

Other features that can help to keep you safe while diving and that might be available on your chosen watch is:

  • Hydration reminders
  • Alarms for dive duration, depth, etc
  • Water temperatures
  • Tide Tables
  • GPS

The first 3 above are quite common for dive watches but the last 2 you'll only find on more expensive dive watches like the Garmin Descent.

Remember that having the tool is not good enough. You will need how to use it for it to help you be a safer breath-hold diver. 


How to choose the Best Freediving Watch


Choosing the best freediving computer for you will most likely come down to two things: the price you are willing to pay and the features that you need.
And, as is normally the case, prices often vary depending on the features of the product. The higher end features like GPS and heart-rate monitor demand a massive premium.

Freediving watches also differ significantly from scuba diving watches. Scuba diving computers often have a lot of extra functions to calculate decompression time, monitor tank levels/pressure and constantly determine dive limits depending on the type of gas you are using...     

If you are a scuba and freediver, then it makes sense getting a scuba diving watch with all the extra functions functions. But if you're only interested in freediving and spearfishing then getting a dedicated freediving computer, will be better and less expensive.

If you can live without the expensive features then you can pick up a dedicated freediving watch on the cheap.
 
The cheapest freediving watch you will find is the Salvimar One, Salvimar 8000(aka One+) or the Seac Partner.  
All three are good choices for beginners on a tight budget.

When choosing a freediving watch ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will I use it while Scuba Diving or only while Freediving...?
  • Will I wear it everyday and while doing other sport activities or only while diving..?
  • How important is battery life..?
  • Do I need GPS..?
  • Do I need a Heart Rate monitor..?
  • Do I need it to sync with an app or my computer..?
  • How much am I willing to spend on the best Freediving computer..?

Truthfully answering these questions will give you a good idea of which watch to go for and what you could expect to pay for it.



Final Thoughts


Although freediving watches can be expensive we consider them essential pieces of kit for all freedivers and spearo's.

You can start off on the lower end and upgrade as you progress or if you are really serious about your diving you can save up and get the best that money can buy.

If you use them correctly and often then they will make you a safer and better freediver.
And let's be honest, who doesn't want to be a safer and better freediver


Do you think we should have any other Freediving computers on our list...? If so, leave us a comment below and tell us your top freediving computer.

Whether you are you a beginner just diving in, or a skilled freediver looking for a watch to make you a better and safer diver, we’d love to hear from you!


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About the Author Gerrie van Niekerk - Apnealogy

Gerrie is a passionate Freediver, Spearfisher, Digital Marketer, and author for the Apnealogy website. Gerrie is an SSI Level 1 certified Freediver who loves geeking out about freediving and spearfishing gear and lives for his family and adventure.

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