Originally made for professional divers, dive watches are built with durability and water resistance in mind.
This makes them excellent watches for everyday wear since you don’t need to baby them as much as you would a dress watch. Plus, you have the added benefit of being able to swim with a dive watch, without having to worry about potential water damage, thanks to their typically higher levels of water resistance.
With that said, they’ve become increasingly more and more popular, with companies like Orient, Seiko, and more, consistently releasing new, better, and more affordable divers.
Here are some of the best dive watches you can get under $500.
Best Divers Under $500 – My Top Picks
Let’s cut to the chase. I believe the best dive watch currently under $500 is the Orient Kamasu. It has an in-house movement, a sapphire crystal, and a handsome design that wouldn’t look out of place in an office, or paired with a T-Shirt. And it actually comes well under that $500 price mark.
The Casio MDV106-1A is the most affordable option on this list, making it a great entry-level budget diver. But despite its affordability, it still has 200 meters of water resistance, and solid build quality, so you can swim or dive wearing it, without issue.
If you want something a little more high-end, just barely squeezing itself into your $500 budget, check out the Tissot Seastar Powermatic 80. A swiss-built watch with an automatic Swiss movement, and its 300-meter water resistance is a huge step up from the 200m water resistance watches typically seen in watches in this price range. It also has a ceramic bezel insert, which, along with the sapphire crystal, helps keep this watch looking newer, for longer, thanks to its durability.
Read a more in-depth description of each of these divers, as well as a bunch of more options down below.
To kick things off, we’ll start with one of the best value dive watches on the market, and a personal favorite in my collection: the Orient Kamasu.
Sporting an impressive set of specifications like an in-house Orient movement with hacking and hand winding, a sapphire crystal, and of course a 200-meter water resistance rating, the Orient Kamasu is packed with features.
Further, it can regularly be found well under the $500 price point, and sometimes even under $200, making this an incredible value for the money.
Its dynamic sunburst dial and bold geometric hour markings make this a relatively straightforward, yet handsome dive watch that can be worn by the pool just as well as it can be paired with a suit.
It also comes in a variety of rather unique color schemes, from red, emerald green, and of course your typical blue or black.
Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive
The Citizen Promaster is simply legendary. It’s a tried and true watch that has been around for years and is known to stand the test of time, not yet something we can say about newer dive watches like the Orient Kamasu.
It comes in many variants, such as the Promaster Eco-Drive which uses Citizen’s solar-powered Eco-Drive technology, and can be powered for days with just a few minutes of charge from the sun.
There is also a series of automatic Promasters that have been around since the late 90s.
With that said, you can’t go wrong with a Promaster, no matter what variation you get. The automatic variant will be perfect for the watch enthusiast who just can’t resist that smooth sweeping second hand of a mechanical watch, while the Eco-Drive is perfect for anybody who just wants a reliable watch that they can wear and abuse, day after day.
Check out the Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive on Amazon.
Casio MDV106 ‘Duro’
One of the cheapest dive watches with 200 meters of water resistance that I will comfortably recommend is the Casio MDV10
When you think of watches in this price range, around or under $50, you generally don’t expect much in terms of build quality.
Well, I can assure you, that the MDV106 is well-built and more than capable of handling just about anything life throws at it.
While it’s not the most detailed watch, it’s more of a functional tool than a fashion statement. This is a reliable quartz watch that’ll take a beating and keep on ticking. It features 200 meters of water resistance, a japanese quartz movement, and of course a rotating dive bezel like just about every other watch on this list.
Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80
The Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 is an affordable Swiss-made automatic diver that is as well-built as it is good-looking.
While some mid-level divers leave a lot to be desired, the Tissot Seastar has all of the bases covered.
Its Powermatic 80 movement boasts an impressive 80-hour power reserve, so you won’t need to constantly wind or set your watch, even after an entire weekend off the wrist. It also has a 300-meter water resistance thanks to its screw-down crown and case back, a huge improvement over the typical 200 meters of water resistance we see in this price range.
Both the crystals on the front and case back of the watch are made of sapphire for extra scratch resistance. And the ceramic bezel only further strengthens the Seastar’s case as a durable, everyday watch.
I almost feel like if the Tissot Seastar 1000 was rebranded by a high-end luxury Swiss brand, it would cost much more than it actually does. Sometimes the hidden gems are the best values on the market.
Check out the Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 on Amazon.
Seiko Turtle Prospex
The Seiko Turtle is part of the Seiko Prospex lineup; Seiko’s professionally rated watches are built for, well… Professionals.
A sunburst dial that illuminates itself to reveal slightly different hues of colors under different dial conditions gives this serious tool watch a slightly fun and inviting look.
Don’t let its refinement fool you, however, the Turtle has everything you’d want from a professional dive watch including 200-meter water resistance, and is one of the most affordable ISO-certified dive watches on the market.
It’s a slightly larger watch, coming in at 44.5mm in diameter, however, its uniquely designed cushion case tapers to minimize the visual footprint of the watch on the wrist. This clever design makes it wearable not only by those with larger wrists.
Further, Seiko recently released the “King Turtle” which adds some key upgrades like a sapphire crystal and ceramic bezel.
Check out the Seiko Turtle on Amazon.
Timex Q Reissue
The Timex Q Reissue is a quartz dive watch that simply exudes charm. With its vintage styling and tastefully applied faux patina that makes the watch look like it lived through a lifetime of beach adventures, the Q is the perfect way to add a watch with a bit more character to your collection.
With a quartz, mechanical, and GMT version, you can have your pick depending on your movement preference.
At 38mm in diameter, the Q’s smaller sizing may be a little too retro for some, but for others, might be the perfect, hard to come by sweet-spot you’ve been looking for.
Seiko Mini Turtle
If you like the look of the Seiko turtle, but want something a bit smaller, Seiko’s got you covered!
Their Mini Turtle comes in at just 42mm in diameter, and has a more condensed lug width than the original Seiko turtle, making it wear well on just about any sized wrist.
Its applied hour markings are slightly unique in shape, and add a bit of embossing to give the watch a slightly blingier and more modern appearance.
The Seiko Mini Turtle is great for anybody who wants the history and lineage of a legendary dive watch like the Seiko SKX and Turtle, in a more modern and compact package… Or just somebody who wants a reliable dive watch with 200 meters of water resistance.
Check out the Seiko Mini Turtle here.
A watch I don’t hear about often enough is the Orient Neptune.
With a few unique upgrades that we rarely see in dive watches, like a power reserve complication that tells you how much power your watch has left, and a bulky knurled crown that is satisfying and easy to use. Orient really paid attention to details with the Neptune.
The crown is also conveniently placed at the 4:00 position, which is slightly unconventional but also makes the watch wear a bit more comfortably on the wrist, as the crown is more out of the day.
Of course, the Neptune still has all of the design elements we like and expect in a dive watch in this price range, such as 200 meters of water resistance, sapphire crystal, and a dive bezel.
All of its upgrades do come at a bit of an added cost, and combined with the sizable 43.4mm diameter, this watch may just be a tad too large or expensive for some, especially when there are other cheaper dive watches on this list that are just as good.
With that said, if you really want THE WORKS when it comes to dive watches, the Neptune definitely delivers.
Check out the Orient Neptune on Amazon.
Invicta Pro Diver
The Invicta Pro Diver 8926OB will always have a special place in my heart (and watch box) as it was one of the first mechanical watches that got me hooked to mechanical watches.
While it’s not the most technologically advanced, it’s definitely a solid diver. Featuring 200 meters of water resistance, and a robust Seiko NH35A movement, the build quality of this watch is sound.
Some complain about the needlessly large overbranding, such as the engraved “Invicta” logo on the side of the case, and some are not a fan of the cyclops on the date wheel. Personally, those are just drops in a bucket for me, and I don’t mind them, especially when considering you can often find the Pro Diver for under $100.
The Invicta Pro Diver is simply one of the most affordable automatic dive watches with 200 meters of water resistance. While you can get a better watch by spending more, there isn’t that much competition when considering other dive watches directly in this price range.
Check out the Invicta Pro Diver 8926OB on Amazon.
Orient Mako II & Ray II
The Orient Mako and Ray were two divers from Orient that really positioned the brand as a great value proposition, as they directly competed with the Seiko SKX, which was often considered the best of the best, at the time.
While not as fully featured as the newer Orient Kamasu, the Orient Mako and Ray II sport an in-house Orient movement and 200 meters of water resistance. The only downside is they offer a mineral crystal instead of a sapphire crystal, which may be a bit more prone to scratching.
Comparing the two leads to only slight visual differences. The Mako has different hour markings, with Arabic numerals at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock, that give the watch a bit of a unique, dressier look that is rare in divers. The Ray, on the other hand, has round hour markers that make it look like so many other dive watches on the market.
If you’re someone who’s not too careful with their watch, spend the extra bit of money, and get the Orient Kamasu instead. But if you’re looking to save a few bucks, either the Orient Mako or Ray II will give you a great dive watch, often priced well under $200.
Victorinox I.N.O.X. Pro Diver Watch
Victorinox, well known for their legendary Swiss Army knives, also make surprisingly good watches.
It features a stainless steel dive bezel that adds a much more industrial look over typically colored aluminum dive bezels we see on many other dive watches on this list. This adds to the “tool watch” look of the watch overall.
A relatively simple and clean dial and a substantial oyster bracelet come together to form a handsome design that wouldn’t look out of place when paired with a suit, despite how industrial-looking this watch is.
It also has a swiss-made antimagnetic movement, so no need to worry about having your watch magnetized.
Best of all? It’s ISO certified. Meaning it’s rated as a professional diving watch, with a water resistance rating of 200 meters.
At 45mm, it does wear a bit larger than many other watches, but that comes with the added benefit of legibility.
This watch is so simple and large, that it’s incredibly easy to read at a glance. And its subtle date wheel positioned between the 4 and 5 o clock positions adds some extra functionality for day-to-day use.
Overall, the Victorinox I.N.O.X. is a simple and clean, yet incredibly tough, professional dive watch. Get the INOX if you want a watch that’s exactly what it’s meant to be, a purpose-built tool watch without anything unnecessary.
Check out the Victorinox I.N.O.X. Pro Diver on Amazon.
Luminox Navy Seal
Want to feel like you’re going on a tactical mission? Want a watch that can literally (but not really) take a bullet? Luminox watches are the official watch of the Navy Seals and will do just that.
Made to be nearly indestructible, the Luminox Navy Seal is an all black stealthy diver that simply flies under the radar. You’ll draw absolutely no attention to yourself wearing this watch, which could be a good or a bad thing, depending on your intentions.
With an ultra lightweight carbon case, this diver is extremely comfortable and lightweight on the wrist.
A chronograph function adds stopwatch functionality, and the included dive bezel allows you an additional method to track the time. You can essentially be timing two or three different things at once, if you use your dive bezel correctly, including an additional time zone.
Overall, the Luminox Navy Seal is a swiss-made diver that is ultra lightweight, comfortable, and durable enough for any mission you might find yourself in… Like… Writing a blog post about watches at 2am.
Check out the Luminox Navy Seal Chronograph on Amazon.
Seiko ‘Arnie’ SNJ025 Prospex
The Seiko Arnie is nicknamed after Arnold Schwarzenegger who famously wore this watch in the 1985 film ‘Commando’. The Arnie is an absolutely iconic, solar-powered watch, that’s as quirky as it is durable.
Its 200m of water resistance and unique case veil protects the entirety of the watch’s case, giving a sense of robustness and reliability. This is truly a watch that can take a beating, and live to tell the tale.
On the dial, we see a complicated looking dial that packs tons of functions including a stopwatch, alarm, rotating dive bezel, and of course, the unique digital display.
At 47.8mm, it makes sense why someone with Arnie’s massive biceps would be the one sporting the SNJ025, so those with smaller wrists might want to avoid this one, however, the rather condensed 51.3mm lug to lug does make the watch wear a bit more comfortably than one would expect.
All in all, if you want a watch that is absolutely iconic thanks to its roots, is a durable watch that can survive anything, and is sure to turn some heads, the Seiko Arnie may be for you.
The Seiko Samurai is another from Seiko’s Prospex (pro lineup) of dive watches with a highly-tested 200 meter water resistance rating.
The Samurai features an incredibly unique design with sharp and geometric design queues across the case, handset, and hour markers that makes this watch wear unlike any other watch on the market.
Its large and bold hour markers make it extremely legible, even in the darkest conditions, aided by the bright applied luminescence.
All of the design elements that you need to operate on this watch, from the dive bezel to the crown, are intentionally oversized for ease of use, even when your hands are wet, making it extremely comfortable and easy to set the bezel, or the time.
Overall, the Samurai takes all of the well-built elements we love from Seiko’s Prospex lineup and delivers it in a unique looking, sharp and geometric design like we’ve never seen before.
Yes, another Seiko, and for good reason. The Seiko Monster is yet another Seiko dive watch in the Prospex family with 200m of water resistance for under $500.
Particularly, the Monster is notorious for its extremely industrial and aggresive design with its large scalloped stainless steel bezel, chunky metal bracelet, and geometric hour marks that look like the teeth of a monster.
If you want a big chunky dive watch with a ton of wrist presence and personality, the Seiko Monster is the perfect choice.
Glycine Combat Sub
The Glycine Combat Sub is the perfect balance of dressy and rugged, featuring hints of military diver aesthetics, with an heir of refinement.
It’s a great watch for wearing from the office, to the gym, as it will almost always never look out of place, and can suit a variety of different environment, simply by changing the strap.
Office time? Leather strap or metal bracelet. Hitting the gym or pool? Throw the Glycine on a NATO or rubber strap, and swim your little heart out, big fella.
Jokes aside, the Glycine Combat sub is a serious diver watch built for combat.
It’s tough, durable, and has 300 meters of water resistance, more than capapble of safely swimming or diving, without having to fear water damage.
Check out the Glycine Combat Sub On Amazon
Orient Kamasu II
The Orient Kamasu II embodies everything loved about the original Orient Kamasu – well-built, handsome, and a great value for the money.
The Kamasu II has minor, mainly aesthetic, differences from the original, with its gradient dial and unique color schemes.
For under $300, a sapphire crystal, in-house Japanese mechanical movement, and 200m water resistance are a rare combination, but Orient manages to deliver in an aesthetically pleasing package and innovative color schemes.
Seiko SKX007 / SKX009 / SKX013
While technically discontinued by Seiko in 2019, the legendary Seiko SKX007 and SKX009 are still some of the best dive watches you can buy under $500, if you can find one for a reasonable price.
They sport an impressive ISO certification which represents the SKX as a watch suitable for even professional divers, making it more than adequate for desk diver such as myself.
Its vintage appearance is also a part of its charm. The SKX is a tool watch, through and through, and you won’t find anything blingy or fancy about it. Even the hour markings are simply painted on instead of embossed, cutting down on the amount of light this watch reflects.
For someone who prefers are more subdued dive watch, the Seiko SKX is the perfect option. It comes in a few variations, such as the black dial SKX007, the Pepsi SKX009, and smaller 38mm SKX013.
While they might not be as readily available and easy to find as they once were, you can also take a look at their predecessor, the Seiko 5 Sports divers instead. Note, the Seiko 5 sports divers do not boast an ISO certification like the SKX does, and it only has 100m water resistance instead of the SKX’s 200m.
Check out the Seiko SKX on Amazon.
What is a Dive Watch?
A dive watch is a watch that is purpose-made for divers. It most often includes a few key features:
- Rotating dive bezel. This can be outside of the case, or ocassionally internally, underneath the crystal.
- The dive bezel is rotated to the current minute to allow a diver to track how much time they’ve been submurged, which allows them to surface before they run out of oxygen in their dive tank.
- 200 meters of water-resistance. The water-resistance rating determines at what depths the watch can survive the intense water pressure. Some watches have no water resistance at all, although professional dive watches have at least 200 meters of water resistance.
- Lume. Luminescent paint often fills a the hour markers and handset of a dive watch, and illuminates when in the darkness, such as in the depths of the ocean, during a dive. Lume is charged through light.
- Legibility. Dive watches typically have large and bold designs to be able to be read easily, at a quick glance, under dark lighting conditions.
What Should You Look For When Buying a Dive Watch?
Choosing the right dive watch can be difficult, with all of the many available options. Here are a few things to consider when choosing the right dive watch to suit your needs:
Water resistance is the rating given to a watch which states the depth it can be submerged without having any concern of water damage.
Dive watches are often made with a water resistance of at least 200 meters, which is more than suitable for diving, swimming, washing your hands, showering, etc.
Watches with a 100 meter water resistance rating are generally suitable for swimming, but not diving. And a 50 or 30 meter water resistance rating means they’re generally “splash-resistant” and generally fine to wear while washing your hands, or if they get caught in the rain. I wouldn’t be comfortable swimming in a watch with 50 or 30 meters of water resistance, howegver.
Take this rating with a grain of salt, for a couple of reasons:
- Different brands have various levels of testing and margins for ever when measuring water resistance. Notable and trustworthy brands like Seiko often have more accurate water resistance ratings than, for example, a brand new company with generic watches from a Chinese factory.
- Water-resistance is measured at the time of testing and is not a permanent rating. Over time, as water-resistant gaskets, and other parts in a watch start to degrade, the originally measured water resistance rating may not still stand to the same degree of water resistance years later.
ISO 6425 Certification
An ISO certification is a very specific set of requirements that essentially determines whether or not a dive watch is robust enough to be labeled as an ISO-certified professional dive watch.
While this is typically seen in higher-end, more expensive watches, there are affordable options such as the previously mentioned Seiko SKX, PADI Turtle, and Mini Turtle.
An ISO certification is not necessary unless you are in fact a regular diver, which I’m sure most of us reading this are not. And keep in mind that you do not need a professionally rated, ISO-certified dive watch for recreational diving. Generally, a watch with at least 200 meters of water resistance is more than suitable for recreational diving.
A key feature on just about any dive watch is a functional dive bezel.
A dive bezel is rotated and allows you to track elapsed time, typically up to 1 hour. This is regularly used by divers to gauge how much oxygen is left in their tanks before they need to resurface.
In modern applications, dive watches can be used to time just about anything. From timing a work break to a pizza in the oven, they’re extremely functional and helpful to have in your day-to-day life. In fact, dive bezels are one of the reasons why a dive watch makes such a great everyday watch.
Although dive bezels are typically seen externally on the case of a watch, they can sometimes be found inside the watch itself. These are often called “Super Compressor” divers.
Lume on watches typically is referring to the special luminescent paint used on the applied markers, hands, and sometimes other parts of the dial like the logo, in special cases.
Essentially, the lume is charged up in direct lighting, and emits a glow in darker environments… Basically, it lets the hour markers glow in the dark.
Traditionally, this was meant to help the legibility of a dive watch by a diver, in the depths of the ocean. But this comes in handy even when just reading your watch in a dark or dimly lit room.
Of course, when it comes to watches, not all lume is created equal. Watches like the Seiko SKX have fantastic lume that glows bright, and for a while, while other watches may have lume that doesn’t glow as strongly, or last as long.
Traditional dive watches, aside from being water-resistant, should always be easily legible. This is so divers can read them quickly, at a glance, when diving.
Like any watch, the movement inside is almost always just as important as the aesthetics and build quality. There’s no point in owning a Ferrari if it has the engine of a Honda. Not that Honda engines are bad… But you get the point.
Watch movements vary in accuracy, with quartz movements often being the most accurate, and mechanical movements varying greatly. The level of accuracy that is important to you is completely up to you.
If you’re someone who wears a watch STRICTLY for the timekeeping, you’ll want to consider dive watches with highly accurate movements, or consider a quartz/eco-drive watch instead, as they’re often more accurate than their mechanical counterparts.
Build quality and longevity are also important aspects of choosing a watch movement. You want a movement that you know will last.
What Watches do Divers Actually Use?
Dive watches predate modern dive technology such as diving computers, and were originally the primary source a diver would use to measure their dives, and oxygen left in a tank.
Today, however, there are many more, innovative and simpler to use solutions than the dive watch, such as digital dive watches, or diving computers.
Diving computers are essentially an extremely water-resistant dive watch with specific functions used to measure oxygen in a tank, current dive depth, dive time, and tank pressure. Dive computers are typically large and are designed to display all of this data at once to help keep the diver safe while submerged.
With that said, while a dive computer is the no-brainer choice for any serious diver, often, divers will wear a dive watch in addition to the dive computer, as a backup. This gives peace of mind, and a failsafe, in case their dive computer were to fail, and they will be able to still reliably track just how much oxygen is left in their tank.
With that said, a dive watch is not just for divers. Thanks to their water resistance and robustness, they’re overbuilt to survive any challenges you might throw at it in daily usage.
Further, a dive bezel has more uses than just dives, and you can use it to time anything in up to 60-minute increments, such as food in the oven, work breaks, or how much time you’ve spent reading about watches.
Can You Swim With a Dive Watch?
Yes, you can swim with a dive watch, as long as it has at least 100 meters of water resistance. Most dive watches, built for diving, have at least 200 meters of water resistance rating and are more than suitable for regular swimming.
Can You Wear a Dive Watch in the Shower?
You can wear a dive watch in the shower on occasion, but you should not make a habit of it. While the watch should be able to withstand the water pressure, and heat, briefly, the moisture will degrade the dive watch’s seals, and reduce its water resistance as a result, over time.
There are plenty of great dive watches on that market in the $500 dollar range, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one to suit your needs.
Watches like the Orient Kamasu represent great value for the money, the Citizen Promaster is a tried and true, reliable workhorse, and the Seiko Turtle is one of the most affordable, professionally-rated divers there is.
A few things to consider when buying a dive watch are the water resistance, how well the dive bezel functions, its legibility, and of course, one of the most important parts of any watch; the movement.
Last update on 2023-01-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API