Whether you’re living on an island and swimming is one of your favorite activities, or just need a good looking and durable watch for practical purposes when you’re going about your usual business in town, a dive watch, or diver, is a solid option. Especially when you can find an affordable one, and don’t need to drop too many figures on it.
Dive watches are extremely practical and very readable, and their oversized dials make for a masculine look as well. Though created with the very specific purpose of being legible and easily operated many feet below the surface of the water, nowadays it’s more of a fashion statement and a status symbol. What’s more, their water resistance, ruggedness, and durability has made them a popular choice among adventurers of all sorts.
But first let’s understand what makes a watch a diver in the first place.
- Dive Watch Characteristics
- 20. Doxa SUB 200
- 19. Marathon TSAR Quartz Medium
- 18. Invicta Pro Diver
- 17. Mido Ocean Star 200
- 16. Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale
- 15. Casio MDV 106 ‘Duro’
- 14. Luminox Pacific Diver 3121.BO Sea Series Watch
- 13. Orient Star Automatic Diver’s Watch
- 12. Casio G-Shock GWF-1000-1
- 11. Orient Neptune
- 10. Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Strap Dive Watch
- 9. Luminox Navy Seal
- 8. Victorinox I.N.O.X. Pro Diver Watch
- 7. Seiko ‘Arnie’ SNJ025 Prospex
- 6. Seiko SKX007
- 5. Orient Mako II
- 4. Seiko Samurai
- 3. Orient Kamasu
- 2. Seiko ‘Turtle’ Prospex
- 1. Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive
Dive Watch Characteristics
Water Resistance Rating
Simply put, a dive watch is purpose made for professional divers, with its main characteristic being the water resistance rating of at least 200m, allowing the watch to withstand intense pressures deep underwater.
But there’s more than meets the eye to a dive watch. They need to endure rapid changes in temperature and magnetism, and also need to pass a specific set of requirements to get the ISO 6425 Certification to be labeled as ISO certified professional dive watches. For recreational diving, that’s not needed, and it’s mostly seen in the more premium dive watches, and sometimes even in affordable ones as well.
Dive Time Bezel
A dive watch also has a uni-directional rotating dive time bezel, which is a key feature that helps divers calculate elapsed time up to 1 hour, and mainly use it to keep track of the oxygen left in the tank. But this feature comes in handy for just about anything, making the watch handy for everyday tasks as well.
Another important feature of a dive watch is to be luminescent, so that it can be easily read deep underwater where light doesn’t penetrate as much as near the surface, making the environment darker. All the parts that tell the time, hour and minute hands, hour markers, markers on the bezel, all of them need to be filled with phosphorescent paint, or “lume“.
Dive watches also have to be easily read, therefore they come with large, usually oversized dials, with bold markers and numerals that makes them very visible under low light conditions and underwater.
Now that you know the most important characteristics of a dive watch, let’s take a closer look at the best affordable dive watches you could buy right now:
20. Doxa SUB 200
Coming in at just under $1,000, the Doxa SUB 200 is a very solid choice, but a little more expensive than most of the other options on this list. The good thing about this watch is that it’s well worth those money, with Doxa being renowned all over the world for their professional dive watches.
This piece is just their entry level option, but it ticks all the right boxes of a true dive watch, so if you’ve got the budget, it’s worth taking it into consideration.
It’s powered by the ETA 2824 Swiss automatic movement, encased in a 42mm stainless steel case rated for 200m of water resistance, and looks gorgeous.
Smaller than the traditional dive watch with a 36mm case, the Marathon TSAR Quartz Medium is built to U.S. Military standards, so you know from the very beginning this is a solid timepiece.
It’s tough, durable, and has a water resistance rating of 300m, so it can withstand whatever you’ll throw at it.
The Invicta Pro Diver is a special watch and a solid diver, with 200m of water resistance rating, and powered by the robust Seiko NH35A movement.
The most important thing about this Invicta is its price of around $100, which makes it one of the most affordable divers out there. Sure, not everybody likes the details on the dial, but for that price it’s hard not to consider it.
Another option that’s slightly more expensive, going for a little over $700, is the wonderful Mido Ocean Star 200.
It’s a quality diver from a reputable Swiss watchmaker, and has all the right features, from the 200m water resistance rating, sapphire crystal glass, modern ETA automatic movement with 80 hours of power reserve, and the 42.5mm case.
Costing slightly less than the Mido above, the Yema Navygraf Marine Nationale is a diver made for France’s Marine National, which means it’s good enough for the average Joe as well.
It’s smaller than usual at 39mm, but it’s got a water resistance of 300m, and is powered by a YEMA2000 automatic movement, plus that the dial design is simply stunning.
For about $50 to $60, the Casio MDV 106 ‘Duro’ is a steal. It may not come with the best of features, but it’s a diver, with a 200m water resistance rating and all the functions needed, but without all the fancy detailing of more expensive divers.
It’s reliable, well built, and can take a beating and keep on ticking.
Coming from Luminox, you can expect to get from this watch high quality, all the needed features, and a rugged, military style design that will impress anyone.
The Pacific Diver from the brand’s Sea Series is a serious diver, with the obvious 200m of water resistance, rotating dive time bezel, lume, and a date window at 3 o’clock.
But probably the most interesting “spec” for those who’re more interested in fashion than diving, the all-black bezel, dial, case, and strap make for a stunning appearance.
13. Orient Star Automatic Diver’s Watch
The Orient Star brings a more unique design to the dive watch world, with a less angular aesthetic, a superb colorway, outstanding luminescence, and a high performance in-house movement.
The dial has, at the 12 o’clock position, an interesting 50 hour power reserve indicator.
The Orient F6N47 movement rises to the level of more expensive watches like the Seiko, but is offered in this Orient Star for around $250.
If you didn’t know the G-Shock series from Casio had a diver among them, you know now. The GWF-1000-1, nicknamed the “frogman”, is a very capable digital diver.
It was launched back in 1993, and it’s the only ISO certified diver in Casio’s G-Shock range.
Besides the usual features of a classic G-Shock, this one has a moon-phase indicator and even a tide graph, plus the obvious 200m water resistance rating. The watch is powered by the Casio Tough Solar quartz, which means almost infinite battery life.
11. Orient Neptune
The Orient Neptune is an overlooked dive watch, with a few features rarely seen in a dive watch, such as the power reserve complication at the 1 o’clock position, and the super easy to use knurled crown, which is unusually placed at the 4 o’clock position, making the watch more comfortable on the wrist.
The Neptune also comes with the usual diver features, like the 200m water resistance, an oversized 43.4mm case, dive time bezel, the sapphire crystal glass, and large bold markers and hands below it.
Hamilton has a nice range of field and military watches that deserve attention, and the Khaki Navy Scuba Strap Dive Watch isn’t an exception. For just a little under the $500 mark, you can have an excellent dive watch.
The piece comes with a quartz movement, a sapphire crystal glass, a superb black dial underneath it, dive time bezel with detailed markings for the first 15 minutes, and a water resistance rating of 100m. This unfortunately, doesn’t make it a true diver, but for water sports enthusiasts and light diving it’s ok.
Wearing the name of one of the most proficient military unit when it comes to underwater and sea warfare, the Luminox Navy Seal is among the toughest watches you could find.
Designed specifically for the U.S. Navy Seals, this timepiece is almost indestructible. It’s made from a lightweight carbon case, with an all black stealthy colorway, and comes with the traditional dive bezel, chronograph function with stopwatch functionality.
The watch comes with 200m of water resistance rating, and uses Luminox’s self powered illumination, which will glow constantly for up to 25 years.
The I.N.O.X. Pro Diver Watch from Victorinox, the watch brand that’s also famous for their Swiss Army knives, is a very good dive watch, featuring all the right characteristics and a superb industrial-like aesthetic.
The simple and clean dial, the 200m water resistance rating, the antimagnetic movement, and the ISO certification for professional dive watches, all make this timepiece one that should be your go-to watch no matter if you’re in a diving suit or a business one.
Nicknamed after Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Seiko ‘Arnie’ SNJ025 Prospex was worn by his character in the famous 1985 film ‘Commando’.
The watch itself is solar powered, tough, and durable, making it an obvious choice for somebody like Arnold’s character in the movie. The dial is a little bit more complicated than the usual diver, but the huge 47.8mm case allows the extra space, though it might not be for the tiny individuals.
6. Seiko SKX007
The Seiko SKX007 is a legendary ISO certified pro diver, and at around $500 – $600, it’s a perfect choice without any fault. Well, the only issue is that it has been discontinued in 2019, which means it may be harder to find one.
But if you do, don’t hesitate, because it’s one favored by collectors, which is always a good sign. Especially in the beginning when you can still afford it.
All in all, the classic 42mm stainless steel case, 200 meter water resistance, the Seiko automatic movement, and simple but stylish aesthetic, make for a great diver.
The Orient Mako II is a greatly valued watch from the Japanese brand, a direct competitor to the above Seiko SKX007, which was considered the absolute standard in dive watches.
The watch is powered by an in-house Orient movement, water resistance up to 200 meters, big bold Arabic numerals at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock, and a design that makes it a good choice as a dress watch.
And for a price of around $200, it’s a very good choice.
Part of the Prospex lineup, Seiko’s pro range of dive watches, the Seiko Samurai brings some interesting features to the traditional dive watch design.
The sharp geometric design of the case and the hour markers look nice paired with the round all black bezel and dial. Everything is large and bold, from the hands and hour markers to the external components like the crown and the bezel, made so for ease of use and legibility.
The Samurai is a great classic diver with a more sophisticated and unique design that sets it apart from most of its rivals.
One of the best value dive watches on the market right now, the Orient Kamasu comes with everything it should, a 200 meter depth rating, sapphire crystal glass, a 41.5mm case, an in-house automatic movement, all this at a very affordable price of around $200.
The Orient F6922 automatic movement comes with hacking and hand winding, and makes the Kamasu a steal at that price point.
The Seiko ‘Turtle’ is part of the same pro range from Seiko, the Prospex, and comes as the bigger brother of the Seiko SKX, and brings an immense value, an awesome aesthetic, and comfortable wear in an impressive package that costs around $500.
The timepiece is powered by the Seiko 4R36 automatic movement encased in a huge 45mm case with a depth rating of 200 meters. During the several decades in existence, the Seiko Turtle developed a reputation for excellent durability, especially since its ISO rated, so developed with professional divers in mind.
That and the price makes it one of the most affordable ISO rated watches on the planet.
The Citizen Promaster has been around for many years, a tried and true diver that has reached legendary status. And counting in the low price, it’s probably the best option for an affordable dive watch. It’s cheap, reliable, and ISO certified. What else could we ask for from a diver?
Among the many variants, the Eco-Drive Promaster makes use of Citizen’s solar powered technology, so there’s no need for any effort from your side, with one charge lasting for about 6 months.
The design might not be the best, and the strap could be better, but for about $200, it’s more than enough.
Dive watches don’t have to be very expensive to be what they need to be. There are many certified divers at affordable price points, and most of them have all the features of a true dive watch, so what’s left for you to decide on is the aesthetic.