Updated on February 13, 2020

Every diver knows just how adept your submersible pressure gauge (SPG) and tethered dive computer are at avoiding your hand at just the moment you need them. It’s frustrating! They’re connected to your tank hoses, they barely have any length to play with, and yet they always float into that one spot where you can neither see nor reach them. Never again! The very best wrist dive computers are here to make our subsea lives a breeze – or is that a current underwater? Simply look down at your wrist to see all the information you need in a snap.

Now the problem is, how do you wade through the marsh of options that has all the clarity of a kelp-forest when it comes to choosing which dive computer is right for you? Not to worry, we’ve done all the hard work for you. We’ve compiled this list of our favorite wrist dive computers, along with their most important features, to get you underwater in no time.

For more of our top scuba gear recommendations, check out the Best Dive Computers

 

Quick Answer - The Best Wrist Dive Computers

  1. Mares Smart
  2. Garmin Descent Mk1
  3. Suunto D6i Novo
  4. Aqua Lung i300C
  5. Cressi Leonardo

 

Comparison Table - Best Wrist Dive Computer

PictureNameScreen SizeBatteryAir IntegrationNavigationPriceRating
Mares SmartLarge (1.9” Diameter)Lasts Approximately 200 Dives And Is User ReplaceableNo - See Mares Smart AirNo Compass Or GPS$$4.1
Garmin Descent Mk1Small (1.2” Diameter)40 Hours In Dive Mode - RechargeableNoGPS And Compass$$$$4.6
Suunto D6i NovoLarge (1.91” Diameter)1.5 Years (Assuming 100 Dives/Year) And Replaceable By ManufacturerYesTilt-Compensated Compass, No GPS$$$$4.2
Aqua Lung i300CMedium (1.5” Diameter)User-ReplaceableNoNo Compass Or GPS$$4.5
Cressi LeonardoLarge (2.6” Diameter)User ChangeableNoNo Compass Or GPS$4.5
PictureNameScreen SizeBatteryAir IntegrationNavigationPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Wrist Style Computers for Diving

Mares Smart

Specs
  • Weight: Approximately 82g
  • Screen Size: Large (1.9” Diameter)
  • Battery: Lasts Approximately 200 Dives And Is User Replaceable
  • Air Integration: No - See Mares Smart Air
  • Navigation: No Compass Or GPS
  • Dive Modes: Nitrox Enabled With Two Gas Capability
  • Algorithm: RGBM Mares-Wienke
Features
  • Scratch Resistant Screen
  • Very Intuitive User Interface
  • Sharp Clear Display

BEST FOR: BEGINNER DIVERS   

If you’re just diving into the world of SCUBA, the best wrist dive computers will feature reliability, budget-friendliness, and ease of use. The Mares Smart accomplishes all of this and more to make it an ideal choice that will grow with beginners from their first dive onward. 

Setting up this computer to record and display data is easy thanks to its simple two-button interface. This data is displayed on a sharp and crystal-clear screen that makes it easy to read in just about every situation. And as you develop your diving skills, the Smart can stick with you as it allows for customized gas concentrations – an upgrade over normal air for deeper diving. 

It’s important to note that the simple two-button design may oversimplify the process for folks who want more control and options for navigating the computer. So if you get the chance, try it out! We’re also disappointed that this computer lacks an integrated compass.

However, we’re particularly fond of the fact that the battery is replaceable without having to send it back to the manufacturer, and that the Smart features a very accessible price point. All of which, combined with some very snazzy color options, makes this our top recommendation for beginners!

Garmin Descent Mk1

Specs
  • Weight: 100g - Type Dependent
  • Screen Size: Small (1.2” Diameter)
  • Battery: 40 Hours In Dive Mode - Rechargeable
  • Air Integration: No
  • Navigation: GPS And Compass
  • Dive Modes: Single And Multi-Gas - Nitrox and Trimix Support
  • Algorithm: Bühlmann ZHL-16c
Features
  • Different Modes Makes This Computer Suitable For Many Types Of Diving
  • Preloaded Activity Profiles Mean This Watch Can Be Used For Many Sports
  • Plot Your Entry And Exit Points Using The GPS Tool

BEST FOR: EXPERIENCED DIVERS  

When you’re looking for an advanced dive computer to suit your extensive diving experience, the Descent MK1 is just what you need. Single and multi-gas modes along with support for Nitrox and Trimix make this computer customizable for just about every diving situation. Or head to the other end of the diving spectrum with no gas in the freediving mode. 

In terms of navigation, Garmin has a reputation to uphold and they once again earn that reputation with the MK1. GPS and GLONASS enabled along with an easy to access compass means you always know exactly where you are. 

We do wish that Garmin had incorporated air-integration so you could monitor your air usage and supply, but this is unfortunately not included.

This is nevertheless one of the best wrist dive computers on the market. While certainly a major investment in your diving future – this computer does not come cheap – you advanced tech divers will love the plethora of features and customization options. Fine-tune each and every dive to exactly your taste and needs, preplan GPS waypoints for your entry and exit points, and simply enjoy the swish design!

Suunto D6i Novo

Specs
  • Weight: 128g
  • Screen Size: Large (1.91” Diameter)
  • Battery: 1.5 Years (Assuming 100 Dives/Year) And Replaceable By Manufacturer
  • Air Integration: Yes
  • Navigation: Tilt-Compensated Compass, No GPS
  • Dive Modes: Air, Nitrox, Gauge, Free, And Off - Gas Switching Up To Three Gasses
  • Algorithm: Suunto RGBM
Features
  • Easy To Navigate Menu
  • Anti-Fingerprint Coating To Prevent Dirt And Grease Buildup
  • Test/Simulate Upcoming Dives And View No-Decompression Data

BEST FOR: ALL AROUND DIVING FROM BEGINNERS TO ADVANCED

Suunto has been providing quality sports instruments since their inception in 1936, and it’s no wonder that one of their products is among the best wrist dive computers. The D6i Novo provides a wonderfully versatile array of dive options and functions, making it ideal for just about any diver. 

First off, the D6i is set up for air integration. Meaning a transmitter attached to your tank can wirelessly transmit data to the computer so you have constant updates on your air supply and dive time remaining. 

A tilt-compensated compass furthermore allows for accurate underwater navigation. The different computer modes can also track those underwater escapades through both standard air and Nitrox, along with freediving, making it an ideal choice from beginners to more advanced divers. 

Suunto, unfortunately, asks that you go through a service center for battery replacements, which adds a certain level of complexity to owning this computer. Nevertheless, you’ll be sure the process will be completed correctly and not compromise the computer’s waterproofing.

Aqua Lung i300C

Specs
  • Weight: Not Available
  • Screen Size: Medium (1.5” Diameter)
  • Battery: User-Replaceable
  • Air Integration: No
  • Navigation: No Compass Or GPS
  • Dive Modes: Air, Nitrox - 2 Mixes Up To 100% O2, Gauge, and Free
  • Algorithm: Buhlmann ZHL-16C based PZ+
Features
  • Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Intuitive Use And Setup
  • Water Activated On-Switch

BEST FOR: EASE OF USE 

When it comes to setting up your wrist dive computer easily for each dive, and viewing your stats afterward, the Aqualung i300C launches to the front of the pack. The intuitive two-button system allows you to breeze through the menu options and set up your dive settings in no time. These settings include both air and Nitrox up to 3 gasses, making it suitable for beginner to intermediate divers. 

The water-activated on-switch combined with audible alarms and ample backlighting all work together to make this computer function flawlessly yet effortlessly on each and every dive. After your dive, the i300C’s Bluetooth connection allows you to quickly and painlessly view your dive log directly on your phone and share with your dive buddies in no time! 

Some divers report that the buttons may be hard to push when wearing thick gloves, which is why we recommend testing out the computer before your dive to make sure everything goes smoothly beneath the waves. The lack of air integration in this wrist dive computer is also unfortunate, but when it comes to an easy to use and reliable computer at a very reasonable price, you can’t beat the i300c!

Cressi Leonardo

Specs
  • Weight: 135g
  • Screen Size: Large (2.6” Diameter)
  • Battery: User Changeable
  • Air Integration: No
  • Navigation: No Compass Or GPS
  • Dive Modes: Air, Nitrox - 21-50% O2, And Gauge
  • Algorithm: Bruce Wienke/Haldane Model RGBM Algorithm
Features
  • Very Accessible Price
  • Simple One-Button Menu
  • Constantly Calculating Nitrogen Absorption And Release Data

BEST FOR: LOWER BUDGET  

If you’re looking to pick up your first dive computer at a price that won’t break the bank, then the Cressi Leonardo is just what you’re looking for. But don’t be fooled, even at that lower price you’re still getting Cressi’s proven track record in quality products along with a solid computer that will cover all your basics. 

The large display along with large single button makes this computer easy to read and adjust, even when wearing thick gloves for those icy water dives. You can also switch between either air or Nitrox to make sure the computer is perfectly synced with your current dive, and the computer will monitor your nitrogen levels throughout the activity. 

While you’re missing out on more advanced features, such as air integration and navigation, the Leonardo will still get the job done for all your basic diving needs. Those advanced features tend to boost the price, which isn’t what we’re about with this watch! Therefore, when looking for an entry-level computer at a reasonable investment, we highly recommend the Cressi Leonardo.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A WRIST DIVE COMPUTER

DIVING SKILL LEVEL

You’ve no doubt noticed that the list of possible features can fluctuate considerably from computer to computer. It’s therefore very important to consider what type of diving you have planned, and use that as a platform from which to make an informed decision.

If you’re brand new to diving, the latest and greatest wrist dive computer with all the bells and whistles, mixed gas capability, and customizable trimix settings is likely overkill for your needs. Then again, if you are an advanced technical diver, make sure you read through all the computer’s specifications to make sure you find one that fits your type of diving.

This guide to choosing a dive computer from PADI is an excellent resource to weed out what basic features you’ll need, and which features are optional.

 

DIVE MODES

There’s more than one way to dive! Not only are there different gas mixes, discussed below, but you can also dive with no gas at all – known as apnea or freediving. The best wrist dive computers take these distinctions into account and offer several different pre-programmed dive modes for you to choose from. So consider your needs and diving style, and purchase your wrist dive computer accordingly.

 

BUDGET

Like most gear in the scuba world, computers don’t come cheap. This is especially true when it comes to finding the best wrist dive computers. But don’t let this scare you off! Simply remind yourself of what you need, consider what your budget is, and make the best decision for you.

Remember, these devices are designed to be rugged, long-lasting, and accurate. Because when you are over a hundred feet underwater, your life may well depend on it. So we’re not recommending you simply buy the cheapest item possible. Simply remember that it’s an investment in your diving safety, and plan accordingly.

 

BATTERY LIFE AND REPLACEMENTS

Your shiny new wrist dive computer will, unfortunately, need some more power one day. We therefore highly recommend you read the specs for your perspective computer beforehand to make sure you know how to give it more juice when the time comes.

Some computers use a battery that you can simply remove and replace with minimal fuss. Other models are rechargeable and come with a cable so you can keep them topped off for every dive. Still other models require you to contact the manufacturer directly, and send your device to a service center for battery replacement. The last option is by far the most troublesome, especially if you’re on the clock for an upcoming diving trip, so make sure you read the specifications beforehand.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

AIR INTEGRATION

Your console gauge and/or computer would traditionally be tethered to your tank and rest over your shoulder and display the pressure left in your tank. Console computers will also complete the extra step of computing your time left before ascending. However, having these devices dangling in space is certainly inconvenient, which is where the best wrist dive computers come in.

However, having a hose from your tank snake up your arm and connect to your watch is simply ridiculous. The solution? Air integration. This allows you to attach a small device to your first-stage, connect it wirelessly to your computer, and you’re good to go!

For safety’s sake, it’s still worthwhile to have your SPG in case of any technical malfunctions with your watch. But not having to grope around for the console to view your tank pressure is a major diving win!

NAVIGATION

Having the ability to accurately navigate underwater is a core scuba skill, and is emphasized in most advanced diving courses. To that end, you need the tools to accurately navigate. The most common tool is your standard compass, from which you can take bearings, orient yourself in relation to your entry point, and plot your overall diving course.

Many of the best wrist dive computers include a built in compass that will even adjust for your arm angle so you don’t have to hold the compass perfectly flat. Others will go one step further and spoil you with GPS navigation assistance.

We highly recommend you always have at least a compass on every dive, and whether this is included in your SPG or wrist dive computer is up to you. However, being able to simply look at your wrist is a major convenience in our book.

GAS MIXING

Many of the best wrist dive computers feature multi-mode functionality to support different gas mixes when diving. But what exactly are those mixes?

The entry point for all divers is standard atmospheric air. This is quite literally air – nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other trace gasses – that’s been filtered, dehumidified, and compressed into a scuba tank.

Many divers will eventually move on to a Nitrox gas mixture to increase their dive time and reduce decompression limits. This involves increasing the amount of oxygen in their gas until it makes up approximately 30-35% of the total gas volume, thereby reducing the risk of decompression sickness – caused by excess nitrogen bubbles in their bodies.

A third common gas mixture is trimix. Helium is added into the mixture to reduce the chances of absorbing too much oxygen – leading to oxygen toxicity – and therefore increasing the scuba diving depth limits.

The details of gas mixing are very specific, and require additional training and certifications in order to use. For more information, check out this article about Scuba diving gas mixes from Leisure Pro.

ALGORITHMS

The plethora of calculations that your computer completes in order to monitor your diving activity, safe bottom time, and decompression stops are complicated, to say the least. Many different models have been adopted over the years to complete these calculations, and some are more conservative than others. Meaning that different computers will sometimes cut your dive short out of an abundance of caution, while others will lower that safety factor and let you stay under longer.

It’s therefore very important to research the particular algorithm your computer uses, and decide if it fits your diving style. In general, beginner divers should opt for more conservative options for safety’s sake, while more experienced divers can get by with less conservative models.

READ MORE

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