If you're looking for a watch, whether it's your first or seventh, the crucial question you should ask yourself is "Where?" – as in, where are you going to use the thing? If you answered anything resembling "off the coast of Rarotonga," look no further than Timex's Intelligent Quartz Depth Gauge, the best bargain diver we've tested this year.
For the adventurous set, there are some serious bells and whistles here (depth sensor, temperature gauge, night light). And since the watch is water resistant down to 200 meters, it'll stay safe whether you scuba, surf, or shower with it. That this is a quartz – powered by a battery, but regulated by an oscillating crystal – means it's exceptionally more accurate than some digital dummy. Which is comforting to know if, say, your 02 levels happen to be reliant upon your bezel position.
Timex went the expansive route with styling options. It offers two case finishes, steel and black ion plating, and three dial options (black with blue, black with yellow, and orange with black), along with three strap types (black rubber, yellow rubber, and a steel bracelet for an extra $25). So buyers have 18 opportunities for customization. Despite that impressive range, two stand out: For the wannabe Calypso crew members, there's the black case, black with yellow dial, and yellow rubber strap. When coupled with the Indiglo light, it's the easiest to read underwater. For the rest of us, the black case, orange with black dial, and black rubber strap delivers a touch of rugged informality.
No matter your decision, one thing's for certain: This isn't the watch to wear to your best friend's wedding (for that, we'd recommend one of these). But for anything requiring that you hold your breath or don and a knife and fins (or, you know, nights out with the boys), this diver will do just fine. [From $225; timex.com]