Up for review today is a dive computer wristwatch from a lesser known Italian company: The Immersion Prowler. It’s a digital data logger, dive computer, and full-featured watch, all in a 200m (660ft) water-resistant housing.
Let’s start with the feature list:
* Stainless steel case with rubber side guards.
* Integrated rubber strap with machined buckle and clever strap retainer. It’s also long enough to easily go over a 1cm wetsuit.
* Swiss-made depth sensor.
* Dive mode which starts automatically by the pressure sensor on the left side (more on this below). In dive mode, it logs the min and max depths for each dive.
* Always-visible temperature sensor, in Celsius or Fahrenheit.
* Film supertwist nematic LCD. These are the ones with a brilliant green hue from certain angles which makes it very readable.
* Electroluminescent backlight for the entire display.
* Battery life indicator. Around the outside of the dial from about 5:30 to 9:30, there is a 11-bar battery “gas gauge” that shows remaining battery life. In a safety-critical item like a dive computer, this is a great feature.
* In dive mode, the backlight comes on automatically when you tilt your wrist, as do many Casio G-shock watches. Nice touch.
* The dive log records a total of 50 dives, with log date & time, max depth, min depth, and temperature at each recorded data point.
* Sleep mode. You can have the display turn itself off after a configurable interval, to be instantly activated on any button press. Also an excellent idea, especially for a watch that you may only break out a few times a year.
* Fast ascent warning. An alarm warns you that you are surfacing too rapidly and are risking the bends.
There is also a full complement of digital watch features:
* Dual time zones, easily toggled from the main display by holding down a button.
* Three alarms.
* Multi-mode countdown timer.
* Simultaneous display of H/M/S as well as day, date, and year. As Christian never tires of preaching, this is surprisingly useful.
Dive mode is actually two modes: free dive, or deep/scuba. In free dive mode (which the watch is primarily recommended for), the Prowler displays the surface interval, one of the variables in avoiding the Taravana bends; in scuba mode, it displays dive start time instead. In either mode, it keeps (and logs!):
* Total dive time.
* Maximum depth.
* Actual depth.
* Minimum temperature.
* Date and time of the dive.
* Submerged descent speed.
There’s a wide spectrum of dive computers/watches, ranging from minimal to full-blown computers with bitmapped displays and USB interfaces (like the Suunto D9). The Prowler sits squarely the middle in that a lot of info is logged, but it doesn’t have the USB interface or on-screen plots of things like depth vs time. Which you prefer probably depends on how you dive, and how often. And, as previously mentioned, the Immersion Prowler is primarily recommended for free diving.
The dive mode is triggered automatically by two sensors hidden under the left rubber bumper. There’s a conductive water sensor, and the Intersema pressure sensor. Once the water sensor activates, the watch waits for 1.15atm of pressure, and then starts dive mode. Very cool!
So how is it to wear on dry land? I found it to be pretty comfortable with one minor caveat: it’s a large watch, about 50mm at the widest point, but low-to-medium weight (120g) due to the use of rubber on the strap. The contoured strap is comfortable and keeps the watch in place on the wrist without shifting around, and the general look is that of a sports/fitness/outdoors watch, not too different from a Pathfinder or perhaps a G-shock.
The strap retainer has a stainless steel stud on it that locks the end of the strap in place. On my 7.25″ wrist, the strap is too long, so (as pictured) the strap has excess length. Also, the retainer stud means that I struggle to free the end of the strap to remove the watch. That’s a feature, though, if you think of it from the perspective of “I don’t want to lose my watch in rough seas or high currents”.
The buttons are large, low profile, and stainless. They work well with or without gloves, and are widely spaced so you never miss the one you want. There’s no tactile click feedback, but its not really required.
In terms of looks, I like the Prowler. Despite being a dive computer, it doesn’t trumpet the fact, and it is “quiet” in appearance. I think this makes a great all-around watch for the diver who also does other activities, such as running, hiking, lap swimming and life in general. I’ve used it for timing laps, and it works great.
The Immersion Prowler is not the most hardcore dive computer on the market, but overall, it’s a very decent and capable watch.