The 10 Best Dive Watches

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The 10 Best Dive Watches

Whether you’re just diving into a huge workload at your desk, or actually spending some time deep underwater, one thing is clear — a dive watch would be great to have on your wrist. You don’t need to be a diver to appreciate these high-performing, beautifully designed, and undoubtedly utilitarian timepieces for everyday use. In this Carry Smarter guide, you’ll get familiar with the basics of dive watches, what features to look for when buying a diver, and our picks for the best and most affordable options to help you take the plunge into the world of dive watches.

A Crash Course on Dive Watches

The purpose of a dive watch is to monitor how long you’ve been underwater, and more importantly - how much air you have left in your tank. They’ve been around since the turn of the 20th century and continue to be both fashionable and useful to this day.

The quintessential dive watch has an immediately recognizable look. They're larger (around 42mm), feature a rotating bezel, and rest on a metal bracelet or rubber strap. 

Dive watches are ideal for EDC because they’re built like tanks, they’re easy to read, and they look just plain cool.

4 Hallmarks of Dive Watches

Water Resistance: If you’re buying a dive watch, it should have proper water resistance. While most watches claim 50m of water resistance, that really means that it will survive hand washes and maybe a shower. When looking at dive watches, 200m (660 feet!) of water resistance is common ground. If you plan on having a watch that will stand up to swimming, showering—and of course—diving, be sure to choose something with a high level of water resistance.

Build Quality: Divers entrust their watches with their lives to be able to know precisely how much time they have underwater. For dive watches, reliable durability and construction are critical. Look for a dive watch with a well-built case, a strong crystal (mineral and sapphire are best), and a good strap or bracelet. A solid dive watch will last for decades if maintained, and you can easily buy an heirloom piece in the $200 range.

Movement: The slight bump in price from our Military Watch Guide opens up more options for the type of movement that powers the watch. Automatic movements are popular in the diver market as they don’t require a battery. Automatic watches “wind” from the motion of your arm, so they’ll keep ticking as long as you keep them on your wrist. Also seen in this class of watches are day/date features, adding to the utility of the timepiece.

Legibility: When underwater, it’s crucial to know exactly how long you’ve been diving. The bezel, a key component of the dive watch, tells you exactly that. The bezel’s “12 o’clock” dot can be rotated to match up with the minute hand to keep track of time. As the minute hand moves, you can see how many minutes have elapsed by reading the bezel number as opposed to the watch face. Higher-end watches feature unidirectional bezels that only rotate counterclockwise to avoid accidentally overestimating how much time is left. Dive watches usually have large, illuminated indices (the hour and minute markings on the face) that are easy to read. This illumination (or “lume” in the watch world) not only looks awesome, but it helps you quickly tell time when the lights are out.

With the features to look for in a dive watch in mind, here are some of our favorite examples for this year—all coming in at around $250.


The 10 Best Affordable Dive Watches for EDC (Updated 2019)


Seiko SKX013

When talking about dive watches, it’s hard not to recommend something from the tried-and-true SKX line from seiko. While the 007 typically gets all the attention, the 013 is often glossed over. They look remarkably similar, but the 013 is in a smaller 38mm case that has all the same specs as its larger counterpart. There’s a scratch-resistant mineral crystal protecting the dial and reliable 7S26 automatic mechanical movement inside. With a water resistance rating of 200m and meet the same ISO 6425 set of specs for a true dive watch. If you’re looking for a classic and versatile diver in a more reasonable size, the Seiko SKX013 is for you.

Buy on Amazon


Timex NaviOcean

While the Timex Navi Ocean is a little more fashion-forward than the rest on the list, it’s still a capable little watch. At 38mm, it’s on the smaller side for a diver, so it will accommodate a wide range of wrists. It’s clear that this watch is inspired by the military dive watches of the 20th century, but still holds its own as a modern timepiece. The steel case, black bezel, and black/tan dial will look excellent on a variety of straps, even though the reversible slip through strap it comes with is no slouch. The strap is both durable and water resistant—ideal for activities on land and in sea.

Buy


Orient Kano

The Orient Kano is one of the most spec-packed divers you can buy for the money. At under $250, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. There’s an in-house automatic movement inside that also provides a day/date display on the dial. A 200m water resistant case is rendered in steel. It measures in at 44mm wide by a scant 12.9mm thick. You’ll find a screw-down crown on the side of the case for extra security surrounded by crown guards to protect against the occasional knock and bump. The legible dial is treated with luminous paint so it’s easy to read in both light and dark. Again, the specs stack up to way more watch than the sticker price suggests, making this an excellent choice for your EDC.

Buy on Amazon


Citizen Eco Drive BN0190-07E

If you’re on the hunt for a more aggressive-looking watch, the BN0190-07E is just that. At 44.5mm, this timepiece has some serious presence on the wrist. A chunky uni-directional bezel and bold hands and indices on the dial result in a handsome looking diver. Like the other Citizen on the list, this watch features a hassle-free Eco-Drive movement. It ships on a sturdy rubber strap too. With 200m of water resistance, the BN0190-07E is rated for professional level diving and water sports activities.

Buy on Amazon


Casio G-SHOCK Frogman

Taking a light departure from the rest of the watches on the list is the G-SHOCK Frogman. You’ll get all the classic features that a G-SHOCK is known for like shock resistance, 200m of water resistance, and build quality that will last for years. This model is powered by the sun, which is great for topping off the battery when utilizing some of the features. In additional to the regular features, there’s an on-board sensors for dive time, depth, and water temperature and data storage for up to 20 dives. At a hair under $500, this is one of the more spendy watches in the G-SHOCK lineup, but the premium features that make it part of the “Master of G” series help to justify it.

Buy on Amazon


Orient Kamasu

Orient’s “Kamasu” (the Japanese word for barracuda) diver is inspired by the sea and the creatures living inside it. The hands and markers are white and sharp, reminiscent of the teeth of the barracuda. The case measures in at a reasonable 41.8mm wide by 12.8mm tall. Inside, there’s an Orient automatic movement that’s capable of hand winding with a hacking seconds hand for precision time setting. There are also several features that are typically seen on much more expensive watches like a sapphire crystal, steel bracelet, and 120-click unidirectional timing bezel. The Kamasu is available in several handsome colors, and will make a great addition to your watch collection at just under $300.

Buy


Seiko SNZF17

This diver is from Seiko’s popular “5 Series” of watches. Each watch in the 5 Series features automatic winding, a day/date display, water resistance, a recessed crown, and a durable case and bracelet. This particular watch features a more vintage look thanks to the wide bezel and round indices on the face. The black face nicely accents the stainless steel and the transparent casebook allows you to see the mechanical movement in motion. The SNZF17 also comes on a stainless steel bracelet, which adds to the value of this affordable diver.

Buy on Amazon


Christopher Ward C60 Trident 300

The C60 Trident is a premium watch at a not-so-premium price. For under $500, you get a solid watch from a respectable brand, but at a reasonable price. The Trident 300 is water resistant to a class-leading 300 meters, features a 316L stainless steel case, and has a reliable Swiss quartz movement inside. There’s an interesting power saving mode that extends the battery life up to 5 years — all you have to do is pull out the crown during periods of non-use. You’ll also get an aircraft-grade aluminum unidirectional bezel for timing, and premium finishing seen throughout the watch. Even though it’s one of the more expensive watches on the list, the value is truly impressive.

Buy


Citizen Brycen

This vintage-inspired dive watch from Citizen both looks and performs great. The simple case design paired with a chunky blacked-out timing bezel up top results in a well-balanced watch. Powered by Citizen’s Eco-Drive movement, you never have to worry about winding up or replacing the battery inside your watch. Exposure to ambient light is enough to keep it ticking for years to come. At 44mm wide, the Brycen is a larger watch, but the blacked-out bezel helps keep its appearance slim. The case is good for 100m of water resistance, which is more than enough for swimming, showering, and snorkeling.

Buy


Steinhart Ocean One Vintage Red

Homage watches can bring about some strong opinions. Some dislike them for being unoriginal designs, while others see them as the only affordable way to get the look they want in a watch without having to shell out thousands for the original. Opinions aside, Steinhart watches put out some seriously great watches—in function and form—for the price. The Ocean One Vintage Red is based on an older Rolex reference that regularly sells for $25k+. Hence, the appeal of the Steinhart is strong. The watch is made in Switzerland and features an automatic ETA movement with hacking second and a power reserve of 40 hours. You’ll appreciate the premium features like a domed sapphire crystal, bracelet with solid end links, and sturdy unidirectional bezel.

Buy

Now that you know a thing or two about dive watches, how they could fit into your EDC, and examples of budget-friendly options, you’re ready to get your feet wet with a diver of your own. What dive watch is next on your list? What watches did we miss? We want to hear what’s on your wrist (or wishlist for now!) — leave us a comment below.

This post was updated on July 6th, 2019 with more recent product recommendations.

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Discussion (80 total)

Full Disclosure: I am a Rolex man. It's the only watch I've ever worn on a consistent basis diving or not, since getting my MBA in 1975 which was when I could actually afford one. I realize it's not in everyone's budget . I have owned and played with others over the years.
That said, I am a long time PADI Certified Rescue Diver. The world has changed since my early diving days in the 70s and 80s.
Today virtually everyone uses a dive computer which makes the dive watch superfluous except as an essential backup. "One is none, two is one."
Make sure the band is adjustable to fit over whatever wet suit you are using . If strictly a warm water diver, it's less of an issue.
While I love my Rolexes, the lighting sucks. Tritium is the way to go and I never understood why Rolex never adopted that technology. I also own the MTM SEAL watch. admittedly it's way overkill, but, it has a very cool factor. The tritium makes the watch readable in situations where the Rolex is useless.

I also have a basic distrust of all battery watches including my $2000 MTM SEAL. Even the cheapest Quartz Timex is more accurate than my $13K Rolex, BUT, batteries die , and usually when you need them most. Thus, I think an automatic is safer choice. You really need to assess your diving frequency and whether you are a strictly "blue water " once a year on vacation diver , or are wearing wet and or dry suits for the colder waters we have as you move up the East Coast (or all of the Pacific coast) and diving on a regular basis.
+1 on the tritium. A nice steady glow at any time.
Great information in here, thank you!
Ball use tritium in the watches if I remember it well, not sure what other brands use tritium.I am currently wearing Matwatches: https://www.matwatches.com.au/collections/sea/products/matwatches-diver-pro-destro with Super Luminova, a material that has the same properties as tritium but is not radioactive. Rolex used Super Luminova in the years 2000 – 2008, so maybe is time to upgrade your Rolex collection or find some other brand for diving,
I agree and disagree. Most high-end watches have a low battery indicator of some sort. So you have plenty of time to replace or recharge. All dive computers are battery operated. So using your argument you should never use a battery powered​ dive computer. It's just common sense and proper maintenance. I like automatics​ because I feel they are living works of art, but a battery watch is far more accurate and if you take it off to wear another time piece it will still have the correct time and date when you decide to wear it again. Citizen Eco-Drive is probably one of the most reliable watches made. I love my Swiss Watches but I'm not turned off by Japanese watches or Quartz watches in general. As long as they are well made and meet my needs.
Sorry for the very late response, I haven’t checked back here in months. Since posting my piece, I traded in two older Rolex dive watches for the Sea-Dweller , the newest top of the line dive watch. Good to 4000 ft (like I’m going there in a bathysphere anytime soon 😉), helium escape valve, built like an M1Abram, extra thick saphire crystal, etc. Cool new band adjustment system. The Super Luminova is indeed the best they’ve done to date, although Still no match for tritium. Although I can’t dive any longer for health reasons, it’s the watch I wear everyday regardless of where I’m going or what I’m doing.

Cheers and Happy Holiday new toy acquisition 😊.
Doesn't get any more classic than a Seiko. SKX007 is a damn fine timepiece and a great bang for your buck auto!
You cant't go wrong with classic. I own SKX009 and it is the best watch for that price.
I Love my SKX007
Hands down, the SKX007 is one of the best watches I've owned. 10+ years and still going strong.
Good write-up, folks. However, I wouldn't place the Parnis GMT in this category, since it is a GMT watch and wouldn't be useful for diving. Also, regarding the four hallmarks of a dive watch, I wouldn't consider a day/date function to be a dive watch requirement. Whereas a running indicator (i.e.- a ticking seconds hand) is absolutely crucial if you're 40 metres underwater. A luminous bezel pip (on a counter-clockwise, unidirectional bezel) is another requirement.
And, having sold wristwatches for over a decade (and collecting them for 20 years) , I can't really agree with "you can easily buy an heirloom piece in the $200 range". You *probably* can , but you'll fairly likely have a watch that may be a little 'fluid' in its timekeeping. EDIT; Fluid in its timekeeping as the decades roll by, that is.
Just buy a g-shock, generally cheaper (except in australia) and better looking. All of them are 20bar/200meters
Not that I would diss someone wearing a G-Shock, but I don't find them attractive in the least. I would take the Seikos or the Orient over a GShock any day.
I have never seen a single G-shock that I would find to be aesthetically pleasing. They're durable, affordable, functional, but they're just too damn gaudy and ugly.
Digital EDC watch??? If you're a child....maybe.
In your "Crash Course," you should probably have them make sure the watch has a bezel that is ratcheted to turn ONLY anti-clockwise.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diving_watch
Great point Chris, thanks for bringing that up! I added that to the legibility section
I have the Luminox 3051 watch. After a year of regular use in the army, it had several issues: the illumination dissappeared, the rubber band broke in several places, battery stopped after seven months, glass got scratched super easily. Overall im really disappointed with this watch. Its 10/10 cool, but doesnt do its job at all. Casio g shock is a hundred times better at a fraction of the cost.
Invicta 8926OB Pro Diver - Seiko NH35A automatic movement, 200m water resistance, screw down crown, luminous hands and markers, clear case back, great looking entry level diver, $78 on Amazon right now.
I use Casio G-Shocks too. Tough, reliable, and easily read underwater... Of course I don't Dive, just snorkel.
Britt, when I was diving in US Navy we were issued G shocks! Early 90's. I am told they dive with computers now. The only requirements were depth rated for dive, and the bezel be unidirectional or stop watch function.
I use g-shocks as well. I even did some lite skuba. In this list http://www.watchessence.com/the-best-dive-watches-review/ G-shocks are among serious diving watches. So we must be right :)
Good article. I wear my Seiko SKX007 often...it is a fantastic watch. While I think they are attractive watches, I don't see the Seiko SNZH53 or the Parnis GMT in this category because they do not have 200 meter water resistance. The SNZH53 is rated at 100 meters, the Parnis at only 30 meters. They certainly were made in a dive watch style, but no one should ever take them diving.
I've been wearing the Seiko Black Monster daily for about a year now. Best watch (diver or not) for the money IMO. Sturdy build and limitless functionality make it an excellent addition to anyone's EDC.
3-year Monster (1st gen) wearer myself. Even now that I know a lot more about watches, I still can't find any other watch at any price that fits absolutely all of my qualifications for a daily beater. Quite possibly the best investment I've made in my EDC.
I've had my black monster since they were introduced, which i think must've been about 15 years ago. I don't wear it as much now as I used to, but I have never had a single problem with it. I also have the orange monster and the 007 and 009, also the same with yellow face (SKXA35), and a couple other of the Seiko auto tanks. I typically wear them on NATO straps.
The Timex is not rated for diving
A curious choice
I have the Casio MDV106-1A and love it. I put on a velcro strap as i prefer then to the rubber ones. Next to buy will be the 007.
Casio watches are great. I have an old Casio Men's AMW320 (at least 15 years old) with a Gold face and love it. I was going to purchase a 007, but already had an SKX175 (Pepsi bezel) and went with a Momentum Torpedo Pro 44 instead. It's a great piece. It came with a nice rubber strap, but I switched it our for Maratac Zulu strap. I wear it nearly every day.

Good hunting!
I just had a look at the Momentum Torpedo Pro 44 online, its very nice. Shame about the price in the UK for it though. I had a Nato strap on my MDV106 for a while then changed to a Time Factors Velcro Strap and its still going strong.
To me Orient's Ray is the Submariner homage, while the Mako is closer to an Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean. FWIW, I have a Mako, a Casio MDV106 and two Vostok Amphibia, which should be on this list too. I also had the Parnis GMT, but as you did on your list, I deleted mine too.
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