Top 9 Affordable Dive Watches: Enthusiast’s Guide (2024)

Dive watches are essential tools for divers, offering more than style by reliably tracking time underwater to ensure safety. 

Designed to withstand deep-water pressures that would damage standard watches, they feature varying levels of water resistance, durability, and crucial functionalities like rotating bezels to monitor dive times and decompression stops. 

This article reviews some of the top dive watches available, detailing their features and capabilities, helping divers make informed choices about these vital, precision instruments.

Brief History of Dive Watches

Dive watches have been an essential tool for underwater explorers since their inception in the early 20th century. 

The 1920s marked the beginning of water-resistant watches, but it wasn’t until the 1930s that manufacturers began targeting the specific needs of divers. Early examples included the Omega Marine, introduced in 1932, which boasted impressive water resistance for its time.

During World War II, the needs of naval divers propelled advancements in dive watch technology, with companies like Panerai creating watches for the Italian navy. The technological race culminated in the 1950s with the launch of significant models that set the standard for modern dive watches. 

Blancpain introduced the Fifty Fathoms in 1953, and in the same year, Rolex released the Submariner—both offered rotating bezels, exceptional water resistance, and legibility under water.

Here’s a timeline of the notable developments in dive watches:

  • 1932: The Omega Marine debuted as one of the first dive watches.
  • 1953: Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was launched.
  • 1953: Rolex Submariner was introduced, setting new standards in the industry.

Dive watches transitioned from pure utility to style icons over time, merging robust construction with timeless design. They remain popular today, not only with divers but also as a statement of adventure and readiness for the active individual. 

As sports diving increased in popularity, so did the recognition of dive watches as an indispensable component of divers’ gear. They have become a symbol of durability and functionality; traits esteemed both below the waves and on dry land.

What Makes a Great Dive Watch?

Here are some of the main features that make up the ideal dive timepiece:

  • Durability: It’s paramount in a dive watch. High-quality materials like stainless steel, titanium, or ceramics are commonly employed for their resistance to corrosion and ability to withstand rough underwater conditions.
  • Water resistance: A dive watch must be capable of enduring certain depths. Water resistance is rated in terms of ATM (atmospheres) or meters/feet. For recreational diving, a minimum of 100 meters (10 ATM) is standard, but professional dives may require watches with higher ratings, indicating greater water resistance.
  • Visibility underwater: A great dive watch will have luminous hands and markers to ensure it is legible in low light conditions prevalent underwater.
  • Bezel functionality: It’s a key feature for divers. A unidirectional rotating bezel allows divers to track their elapsed time underwater to ensure safe ascent times. The bezel’s one-way rotation prevents accidental adjustments that could indicate a shorter dive time.
  • Various strap options: They support divers’ needs and include rubber, which is durable and stays flexible in varying temperatures; metal bracelets, which are sturdy; and NATO straps, favored for their quick-release and easy drying capabilities.

By combining these features, manufacturers create dive watches that are tools and reliable companions for divers exploring ocean depths.

Best Affordable Dive Watches

The following are our top choices for the best budget dive watches of 2024 for their exemplary features and performance:

1. Victorinox I.N.O.X Professional Diver Limited Edition – Titanium, Green Dial ref. 241957.1

Victorinox I.N.O.X Professional Diver Limited Edition ref. 241957.1
  • Retail Price: S$1,763
  • Private Market Price: S$1,598
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$1,650

They include a dial with a three-dimensional motif reminiscent of the oxidized brass of underwater shipwrecks, a date display between 4 and 5 o’clock, a titanium case with a matte black PVD finish, water resistance to 200m, and a unidirectional rotatable bezel with a matte black PVD finish.

  • Production Year: 2021
  • Case Size: 45mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Green, with a 3D motif and SuperLumiNova-coated enlarged sword-shaped hands and Arabic numeral/index hour markers
    • Bracelet: Expandable green rubber strap with a titanium tang buckle
    • Bezel: Unidirectional rotatable, titanium, with a matte black PVD finish and 60-minute dive scale
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Quartz movement

It’s a limited edition watch (to 1,200 pieces), raising its appeal among most dive watch enthusiasts. Moreover, its price has risen by at least 15 percent since its production.

About

The I.N.O.X Professional Diver Limited Edition is a luxury Swiss men’s piece. This first dive watch is part of the brand’s I.N.O.X collection and marries durability with a distinct aesthetic. As the name hints, it’s the modern professional diver’s best friend, promising to withstand the rigors of deep-sea exploration with its special features and precision engineering.


2. Baltic Aquascaphe Classic Blue Gilt – Stainless Steel, Blue Dial

Baltic Aquascaphe Classic Blue Gilt
  • Retail Price: S$842
  • Private Market Price: S$720
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$815

The main ones are a double domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the inner side over the dial, Arabic numerals at 12 o’clock, recessed triangle markers at 3,6 and 9 o’clock, a 120-click unidirectional rotatable sapphire/lumed bezel with a 60-minute dive scale, and a tropic style rubber strap.

  • Production Year: 2019
  • Case Size: 39mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Blue, with a sunburst pattern with beige SuperLumiNova C1-coated hands, recessed triangle hour markers with the lume at 3,6 and 9 o’clock, and Arabic numeral hour markers at 12 o’clock
    • Bracelet: Tropic style rubber strap
    • Bezel: 120-click unidirectional rotatable, stainless steel, with a sapphire crystal featuring a matching blue tone and a 60-minute dive scale
  • Function: Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic Miyota 9039 movement with 24 jewels, a 42-hour power reserve, and a 28,800vph frequency

It’s not only a capable dive watch but also an elegant accessory. Additionally, it has retained its value well and can appreciate in value over time if maintained properly.

About

Seeking a super affordable dive watch that’s charming and functional? The Aquascaphe Classic Blue Gilt’s got your back. It’s a luxury men’s dive watch that flaunts the vintage style of the 1960s and 1970s dive timepieces while incorporating exciting, up-to-date functionality and features. It’s one of the three latest Aquascaphe models, along with the black and gilt dial options.


3. Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 – Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. T120.407.11.051.00

Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 ref. T120.407.11.051.00
  • Retail Price: S$1,048
  • Private Market Price: S$565
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$742

They include a 300m water resistance rating, a screw-down, see-through caseback, a unidirectional rotatable bezel with a ceramic insert and luminous pearl at the starting point, a date display above 6 o’clock, and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal above the dial.

  • Production Year: 2019
  • Case Size: 43mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Black, with a sunburst finish and SuperLumiNova-coated enlarged sword-shaped hands and round/rectangle/triangular hour markers
    • Bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet, with a folding clasp with safety and diver extension
    • Bezel: Unidirectional rotatable, stainless steel, with a black ceramic insert, 60-minute dive scale and a luminous pearl at the starting point
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic Powermatic 80 movement

According to WatchCharts, its average market price increased from S$555 on November 21, 2023, to S$565 on April 17, 2024.

About

The Seastar 1000 Powermatic is a luxury men’s dive watch. It represents a harmonious balance between the demand for dive functionality and the desire for a watch that can be worn in everyday life. Its sleek design does not compromise on performance, embodying the essence of a versatile timepiece.


4. DOXA Sub 200 Caribbean – Stainless Steel, Blue Dial ref. 799.10.201.10

DOXA Sub 200 Caribbean ref. 799.10.201.10
  • Retail Price: S$1,346
  • Private Market Price: S$1,150
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$1,200

They include a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating and distinctive curvature over the dial, a bracelet with a ‘Beads of Rice’ design, a unidirectional rotatable bezel with audible clicks and a blue insert, a date window at 3 o’clock, and a 200m water resistance rating.

  • Production Year: 2023
  • Case Size: 42mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Blue, with Super-LumiNova-coated silver-tone sword-shaped hands and index hour markers
    • Bracelet: Stainless steel, with a ‘Beads of Rice’ design and folding clasp with wetsuit extension
    • Bezel: Unidirectional rotatable, stainless steel, with a blue insert with Super-LumiNova-coated 60-min graduations
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic Caliber ETA 2824-2 movement with a 38-hour power reserve and 28,800vph frequency

Its price has increased by at least 5 percent between 2023 and March 2024.

About

The Sub 200 Carribean is a sporty luxury men’s dive timepiece. It’s a tribute to the iconic 1967 Doxa Sub model, borrowing its iconic crystal design while introducing new features and slight tweaks to the overall look so it can resonate better with the modern (male) diver.


5. Certina DS Super PH500M – Stainless Steel, Orange Dial ref. C037.407.17.280.10

Certina DS Super PH500M ref. C037.407.17.280.10
  • Retail Price: S$1,293
  • Private Market Price: S$852
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$1,022

It boasts various features, including water resistance of up to 500m, a unidirectional bezel with an aluminum insert, a magnetic field-resistant Nivachron™ balance spring, a solid caseback with a special VDST divers’ engraving, and an orange dial.

  • Production Year: 2018
  • Case Size: 43mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Orange, with Super-LumiNova-coated sword-shaped hands and index hour markers
    • Bracelet: Black rubber strap with a stainless steel pin buckle
    • Bezel: Unidirectional rotatable, stainless steel, with a black aluminum insert with a dive time scale
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Swiss automatic Powermatic 80.611 movement with 25 jewels, an 80-hour power reserve, and a 21,600vph frequency

WatchCharts indicates its average market price increased from S$840 on October 23, 2023, to S$852 on April 19, 2024.

About

The DS Super PH500M is a resilient luxury men’s dive watch. It pays homage to its historic 1969 DS-2 Super PH500M (ref. 5801 123) predecessor while incorporating today’s advanced watchmaking technologies. 

This modern dive watch was the result of a partnership between Certina and the Association of German Sports Divers (VDST) and closely resembles its forerunner, save for its beautiful dial color.


6. Rado Captain Cook – Bronze, Green Dial ref. R32504315

Rado Captain Cook ref. R32504315
  • Retail Price: S$3,880
  • Private Market Price: S$2,569
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$3,112

They include a 120-click coin-edge unidirectional rotatable bezel with a ceramic insert, a titanium caseback with a special seahorses/stars engraving, a minute track around the dial’s outer rim, a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides over the dial, and a radially-brushed green dial.

  • Production Year: 2020
  • Case Size: 42mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Green, with a Super-LumiNova-coated bronze arrow-shaped hour hand, sword-shaped minute hand, and index/triangle hour markers
    • Bracelet: Black leather strap
    • Bezel: 120-click coin-edge, bronze, with a green ceramic insert with a 60-min dive scale
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic Swiss ETA C07.611 movement with 25 jewels, an 80-hour power reserve, and a 21,600vph frequency

Its price has increased by at least 15 percent between 2021 and March 2024.

About

This Captain Cook model is a luxury men’s dive watch that’s a homage to the original 1962 model, reimagined with contemporary features. It captures the adventurous spirit of its namesake, British explorer Captain James Cook and balances vintage and modern with its case material choice.


7. Longines Legend Diver – Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. L37744506

Longines Legend Diver ref. L37744506
  • Retail Price: S$3,267
  • Private Market Price: S$1,940
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$2,288

The reliable dive watch features twin crowns with a ribbed texture on the top and checkered pattern on the sides, an inner bidirectional rotatable bezel (controlled by the crown at 2 o’clock) on the dial’s flange, Arabic numeral hour markers at 12, 6, and 9 o’clock, a solid caseback with the engraving of a professional diver holding a harpoon, and a mesh bracelet.

  • Production Year: 2020
  • Case Size: 42mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Black, with blue Super-LumiNova on the hands, long blocks before 12,6 and 9 o’clock, and small squares between the index hour markers
    • Bracelet: Stainless steel, mesh, with a triple safety folding clasp and push-piece opening mechanism
    • Bezel: Bi-directional rotatable, black, with Arabic numeral/dot/sword-shaped indices and a luminous inverted triangle at its start point
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic Longines Caliber L888.6 with 21 jewels, a 72-hour power reserve and a 25,200vph frequency

Its price has increased by at least 20 percent between 2022 and April 19, 2024.

About

This Longines Legend Diver is a luxury diver’s watch that’s part of the brand’s Heritage collection. It’s among the revamped 2020 Legend Diver models that include a date function and boasts a thin stainless steel case and a stylish bracelet that makes it blend seamlessly with more formal attire.


8. Tag Heuer Aquaracer – Titanium, Green Dial ref. WBP208B.BF0631

Tag Heuer Aquaracer ref. WBP208B.BF0631
  • Retail Price: S$5,854
  • Private Market Price: S$3,613
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$4,012

The main ones are a 12-faceted unidirectional rotatable titanium bezel with a green ceramic bezel insert, a green dial with a linear pattern, a solid caseback with a heavy-duty diving helmet engraving, a date window at 6 o’clock with a magnifying lens above it, and hour markers at 1,2,4,5,7,8,10, and 11 o’clock with an octagonal shape.

  • Production Year: 2021
  • Case Size: 43mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Green, with a linear pattern and an hour hand and octagonal/index hour markers featuring green luminescent and a minute hand with blue Super-LumiNova
    • Bracelet: Titanium, with a push-button folding clasp
    • Bezel: Unidirectional rotatable, titanium, with a green ceramic insert. The graduations on the insert feature blue SuperLumiNova, while the yellow inverted triangle at the starting point has a green lume
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic Caliber 5 movement with 25 jewels, a 38-hour power reserve, and a 28,800vph frequency

WatchBase indicates its price increased from S$5,807 on April 7, 2021, to S$5,880 on October 1, 2022. Moreover, WatchCharts reveals its average market price rose from S$3,563 on October 23, 2023, to S$3,613 on April 19, 2024.

About

This Aquaracer model is a luxury men’s dive watch from TAG Heuer’s Aquaracer collection. The sporty brand presented it at Watches and Wonders 2021, and it made waves as the new titanium beast that would meet the modern diver’s needs: functionality, lightness, and a comfortable design, to mention but a few.


9. Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver – Stainless Steel, Black Dial ref. BR0392-D-BL-ST/SRB

Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver ref. BR0392-D-BL-ST_SRB
  • Retail Price: S$5,037
  • Private Market Price: S$2,984
  • Pre-Owned Price: S$3,214

They include a square case with four screws at the front, a unidirectional rotatable screw-down bezel with an anodized aluminum insert, a round date window between 4 and 5 o’clock, a screw-down crown, and a sturdy woven black rubber and an ultra-resilient black synthetic fabric strap for extra durability.

  • Production Year: 2017
  • Case Size: 42mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Black, with Super-LumiNova-filled skeletonized hands and round/index hour markers
    • Bracelet: Woven black rubber and ultra-resilient black synthetic fabric strap with a stainless steel pin buckle
    • Bezel: Unidirectional rotatable, screw-down, stainless steel, with a black anodized aluminum insert with a 60-minute dive scale
  • Function: Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds
  • Mechanism: Automatic mechanical BR 03-92 movement with 25 jewels, a 38-hour power reserve, and a 28,800vph frequency

It’s a wise choice for divers and collectors due to its functionality, design, and lasting value.

About

The BR 03-92 Diver is a professional-grade diving men’s watch known for its robust construction and high legibility. It has a nice stainless steel case-black dial design (typical of most men’s watches), but it spices things up with its playful design, bulky profile, and welcome features that earn it a place among dive watch greats.


Summary

The following table highlights the best dive watches above, plus their key features, retail, private market, and pre-owned prices:

Model

Key Features

Retail Price

Private Market Price

Pre-Owned Price

Victorinox I.N.O.X Professional Diver Limited Edition ref. 241957.1

  • Dial with a three-dimensional motif reminiscent of the oxidized brass of underwater shipwrecks
  • Date display between 4 and 5 o’clock
  • Titanium case with a matte black PVD finish

S$1,763

S$1,598

S$1,650

Baltic Aquascaphe Classic Blue Gilt

  • Double-domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating in the inner side over the dial
  • Recessed triangle markers at 3,6 and 9 o’clock
  • 120-click unidirectional rotatable sapphire/lumed bezel with a 60-minute dive scale

S$842

S$720

S$815

Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 ref. T120.407.11.051.00

  • 300m water resistance rating
  • Screw-down, see-through caseback
  • Date display above 6 o’clock

S$1,048

S$565

S$742

DOXA Sub 200 Caribbean ref. 799.10.201.10

  • Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating and distinctive curvature over the dial
  • Bracelet with a ‘Beads of Rice’ design
  • 200m water resistance rating

S$1,346

S$1,150

S$1,200

Certina DS Super PH500M ref. C037.407.17.280.10

  • Water resistance of up to 500m
  • Unidirectional bezel with an aluminum insert
  • Magnetic field-resistant Nivachron™ balance spring

S$1,293

S$852

S$1,022

Rado Captain Cook ref. R32504315

  • Titanium caseback with a special seahorses/stars engraving
  • Minute track around the dial’s outer rim
  • Radially-brushed green dial

S$3,880

S$2,569

S$3,112

Longines Legend Diver ref. L37744506

  • Twin crowns with a ribbed texture on the top and checkered pattern on the sides
  • Inner bidirectional rotatable bezel (controlled by the crown at 2 o’clock) on the dial’s flange
  • Solid caseback with the engraving of a professional diver holding a harpoon,

S$3,267

S$1,940

S$2,288

Tag Heuer Aquaracer ref. WBP208B.BF0631

  • 12 faceted unidirectional rotatable titanium bezel with a green ceramic insert
  • Green dial with a linear pattern
  • Date window at 6 o’clock with a magnifying lens above it

S$5,854

S$3,613

S$4,012

Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Diver ref. BR0392-D-BL-ST/SRB 

  • Square case with four screws at the front
  • Unidirectional rotatable screw-down bezel with an anodized aluminum insert
  • Round date window between 4 and 5 o’clock

S$5,037

S$2,984

S$3,214

Caring for Your Dive Watch

Dive watches are precision instruments designed to withstand extreme conditions, but they also require regular maintenance. Here are some essential tips to ensure your dive watch continues to function accurately and lasts a long time.

Routine Cleaning

  • After saltwater exposure: Rinse with fresh water to prevent salt deposits.
  • Daily wear: Wipe with a soft cloth to remove oils and dirt.
  • Cleaning solutions: Use a mild soap and avoid chemicals or abrasive materials.

Maintenance Schedule

A dive watch needs professional servicing approximately every 2-5 years, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation. It’s also essential to replace seals and gaskets to maintain water resistance.

Water Resistance

Before any water exposure, ensure the crown and case back are properly sealed. After battery replacement or servicing, have a pressure test conducted to verify the watch’s water resistance.

Usage and Care

  • Magnetic fields: Avoid placing the watch near strong magnets, which can affect timekeeping.
  • Temperature extremes: Sudden changes can compromise sealing and function.
  • Impact protection: While sturdy, avoid shocks and impacts that can damage the watch internally and externally.

Remembering these precautions and care steps significantly contributes to your dive watch’s longevity and reliability.

FAQs

1. What watch is best for diving?

The best diving watch is often subjective and depends on a diver’s needs and budget. High-quality materials, water resistance, legibility, and durability are crucial. The Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 and Omega Seamaster Diver 300m, and Seiko dive watches are noted for their robust movement and features, making them top contenders.

2. What watch do actual divers use?

Many professional divers use popular dive watches known for their reliability and functional features. Brands like Seiko and Omega are regularly spotted on divers’ wrists. The Seiko Turtle, for its affordability and durability, is a popular choice among actual divers.

3. What dive watch has the highest depth rating?

Dive watches vary in their depth ratings, with some designed for extreme depths. The Rolex Deepsea, for example, with its helium escape valve, has a water resistance of 3,900 meters, making it an exceptional model in terms of depth rating.

4. Do people still use dive watches?

Yes, dive watches remain popular as functional tools and fashion statements. They are valued for their build quality, aesthetic appeal, and historical significance. Divers and non-divers alike appreciate their traditional appeal and reliability.

Final Word

Diving watches serve as a tool for commercial divers and have become symbols of style and function. Each dive timepiece chosen reflects a blend of precision engineering and aesthetic appeal, catering to various tastes and requirements in the diving community.

Key Takeaways

  • A true dive watch offers significant water resistance, with a minimum rating of 200m, to ensure it can withstand the pressures of diving.
  • A typical deep sea diver watch sports a unidirectional bezel that rotates counter-clockwise. This feature allows divers to track their dive time, which is critical for safety.
  • Most dive watches typically feature robust constructions and high-quality materials such as stainless steel or titanium, which enhance their resilience to harsh underwater environments.

Looking to buy or sell your luxury watches? Watch Book is your one-stop destination for trading Rolex, Patek Philippe, Tissot, Sinn, Zenith, and other luxury timepieces. Find your next watch today or list your item for free!

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