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I posted this over on the DOXA forum to shed some light on a thread regarding how the orange dial looks underwater. However, I originally conducted these tests for myself, as well as for anyone who doesn't dive, to give them a better understanding of color behavior at depth. Maybe it will also help you see why we divers groan a lot when we see dive watch companies use colors that are of little benefit underwater.;-) Hope you find it beneficial......

Over the Easter Holiday, I was able to carry out some color tests that I'd been wanting to conduct for a while. My main interest was in how fluorescent colors behave at depth, but I also included spectral(non-fluorescent) colors to help further compare and contrast.

First I had to make the sample cards, and I started by obtaining the required colors from Home Depot's paint center(except for the fluorescence). I chose the most vibrant examples that I thought represented the color in it's truest form, and mounted them to a piece of white card stock for contrast. Using a strip of black tape, I bordered the colors on the opposite side to show how the colors contrast with black. Both examples were then laminated with a thick, transparent laminate...similar to what you'd find on a driver's license. The fluorescent samples were obtained by first painting a flat white base-coat on a color paint sample, and then painting the card with Krylon fluorescent spray paint.

Here you see the cards in bright sunlight with the spectral colors on the right. The fluorescent examples are on the left.


Now we'll take a look at the same cards at 60 ft. The water quality in the Gulf of Mexico was poor that day. Flooding and record breaking rainfall in the North had brought a heavy influx of fresh/tannic water to the region. Visibility was approx. 12 ft with a heavy level of particulate in the water. Not the best for sight-seeing, but pretty good for conducting tests such as these. As a side note, this photo is straight out of the camera with no filters or adjustments for white-balance, color, etc. In other words, the colors look axactly as they did through my eyes underwater.



As you can see, the spectral red is completely gone and difficult to distinguish from black. The orange now looks drab and almost an olive-green. Yellow holds fairly true, but green is now looking closer to yellow. Blue and indigo are OK, but violet contrasts with black about as well as red.

Now for the fluorescent colors. In my studies, I'd read that flourescent colors fluoresce(glow) due to ultra-violet light. Since UV is present as long as there is ambient light, fluorescent colors remain mostly unaffected as long as there's light to view them by. In other words they're immune to the filtering effect that plagues spectral colors. Looks like what I'd read was essentially correct.

The fluorescent red and orange are still very vibrant, and the fluorescent yellow contrasts well with black and white. I am a little surprised by the performance of the fluorescent green. It is more stable than the spectral green, but didn't glow as I thought it should. I suspect it may have something to do with the green tint in the water, and water with a purer blue color may give a better result.

Of course to be more conclusive, the test should be conducted over a wider range of depths and in blue water as well. For me though, this was a good place to start.
 

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Re: Colors at depth

Interesting & good post, thanks!
Have read a lot about this but it is good to see it IRL.

/Stefan (deskdiver)
 

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Re: Colors at depth

Great effort - something I've been wanting to read more about for a long time!

I suspect that water color will have a great deal of influence on the non-flourescent colors (was surprised the blue was as clear as it is), but was impressed with how well the flourescents held up. Thanks for posting this.
 

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Re: Colors at depth

very good post. thank you for thinking of your watch buddies around the globe and haelping us learn a bit more about our fav type watch! :-!

i dont dive, but i always prefer to have a dive watch i know could handle it if ever tested. so this was a good thread for me ;-)
 

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Re: Colors at depth

Underwater....there is no swine flu.:-d


"Have a nice day"​

Hay Ty,
I hope you are correct:-s, headed to Cozumel next week and gonna tough it out. I just hope I don't get some new Mahi-Mahi Flu:-d...........Nice job on the color experiment- Always loved the look of yellow at depth.​
 

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Re: Colors at depth

Great post, Ty. |>

So, basically, you're saying to go with the Divingstar instead of the Pro? ;-)
 

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Re: Colors at depth

Underwater....there is no swine flu.:-d


"Have a nice day"​

Hay Ty,
I hope you are correct:-s, headed to Cozumel next week and gonna tough it out. I just hope I don't get some new Mahi-Mahi Flu:-d...........Nice job on the color experiment- Always loved the look of yellow at depth.​
Have fun in Cozumel and I wouldn't worry about it too much. With Cozumel being an island, I imagine it's fairly insulated from the mainland. Oh and if you call it Mahi-mahi in Mexico, they're probably going to look at you funny. I know, I learned the hard way.:-d In Mexico, they call it Dorado and on the US Gulf Coast, we call it Dolphin.

Well, now that you're diving....are you still planning on coming to Cayman?

l
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Re: Colors at depth

Great post, Ty. |>

So, basically, you're saying to go with the Divingstar instead of the Pro? ;-)
For the highest level of contrast underwater, the Divingstar is the better choice over the Pro. For the ultimate in underwater visibility, the plane ol' Sharkhunter beats them all.;-)

https://www.watchuseek.com/showthread.php?t=259643
 

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Re: Colors at depth

Have fun in Cozumel and I wouldn't worry about it too much. With Cozumel being an island, I imagine it's fairly insulated from the mainland. Oh and if you call it Mahi-mahi in Mexico, they're probably going to look at you funny. I know, I learned the hard way.:-d In Mexico, they call it Dorado and on the US Gulf Coast, we call it Dolphin.

Well, now that you're diving....are you still planning on coming to Cayman?

l
Thanks for the tip- Blackened Dorado sounds yummy:-d. As for Cayman, still trying to swing the financial side of it:think:, but would love too......
 

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Re: Colors at depth

Great post. Thank you for sharing. :-!

This seems to confirm that the traditional diver design of black dial with near white lumed hands & indices provides the best contrast underwater.

Everything else is just fancy. And if fancy is the way to go, yellow rules.
 

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Re: Colors at depth

Keep in mind that UV light or radiation is very heavily absorbed by water. At 12 feet I doubt that much if any UV is getting down there. The governing equation is Beer's law (I may have misspelled) and as I recall even a 1/2" of pure water blocks something like 10% of the light at 248nm. Given this I'd be surprised if UV is at play here. THe most affected visual spectrum color would be violet at roughly 400nm and the least red at 700nm, which is to say that longer wavelengths transmit better through water. FOr reference green is right at 560nm and the human eye is most sensitive at 565nm which is the peak spectral output of the sun and also the wavelength that chlorophyll absorbs.
 

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Re: Colors at depth

That flourescent green is not very bright even out of the water. I bet "road crew" or "bicycle windbreaker" green would be as bright as the yellow. That's a color shade that I have never seen on a watch dial but would love to.
 

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Re: Colors at depth

Keep in mind that UV light or radiation is very heavily absorbed by water. At 12 feet I doubt that much if any UV is getting down there. The governing equation is Beer's law (I may have misspelled) and as I recall even a 1/2" of pure water blocks something like 10% of the light at 248nm. Given this I'd be surprised if UV is at play here. THe most affected visual spectrum color would be violet at roughly 400nm and the least red at 700nm, which is to say that longer wavelengths transmit better through water. FOr reference green is right at 560nm and the human eye is most sensitive at 565nm which is the peak spectral output of the sun and also the wavelength that chlorophyll absorbs.
Sure you aren't confusing ultra-violet with infra-red?
 

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Re: Colors at depth

The best color combination seems to be black and white to me...
 

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Re: Colors at depth

Sure you aren't confusing ultra-violet with infra-red?
Nope. UV is short wavelengths up to about 400nm, with visual being from 400nm to about 700nm and infra red (near than far) above that. the absorption is much higher in the shorter wavelengths than in the longer ones. The bottom or short wavelength of the visual region is violet and the long end is red to Near IR. THats just the absorption physics talking for photons penetrating versus depth. Factor in your eye's sensitivity and that blues and greens are affected as the water is sort of that color?? you could mathmatically determine the best wavelength. One issue is that the physics knows jack about how the brain works so a non optimal color or combination may work best. I have no idea myself. I just wanted to make sure folks knew that a UV assisted florescences (sp) was not gonna help alot. interesting thread. cheers all
 
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