Reviewed by our experts:

The Best Dive Watch For Every Budget 2018

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Our experts at work

We gave our two dive watch geeks one job: Test 20 different dive watches and write reviews of the best. The result is 13 of the best dive watches on the marked today.

Torben Lonne

Dive watch geek and editor Torben is a dive nut, with a passion for dive gear and especially dive watches.

Thomas Grøndfeldt

Dive instructor & Author

Thomas is a dive geek. Loves the geer, tech and guides.

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What is a dive watch, and should you get one?

As a dive instructor, I am often asked questions regarding equipment purchase.

And one topic I get a lot of questions about, are dive watches. So, I’ve put together the most common questions I’ve heard over the years here, along with the answers.

Consider it your dive watch cheat sheet.

So, what is a dive watch?

A dive watch is essentially just a watch that is waterproof enough to withstand the pressure at the depths that divers dive to.

A dive watch was an essential tool in the early years of the sport, as they were the only way to measure bottom time, and with that, know when to resurface, and how long of a surface interval was required before the next dive.

"I have a watch that says 'waterproof', can I use that for diving?" - Maybe, but check the manual first.

Watch manufacturers operate with a scale of waterproofness, from splashproof (you can wear it out in the rain, or do the dishes wearing it) to watches that can withstand the pressure thousands of feet below the surface.

Look for the depth rating and go for at least 100 meters/300 feet. While you’ll probably never dive this deep, you’ll want the safety margin to keep the watch safe.

Do I need a dive watch with dive computers everywhere? Honestly, no. A modern dive computer tells you not only the time, the dive time, and the depth, it also gives you remaining time at depth (how long you can stay at your current depth before needing to resurface), and it can calculate your surface interval for you.

Se our Guide to Dive computers

So, from a practical point of view, dive watches are obsolete. However, having a backup is never a bad idea. You never know when things will go south.

If you have a dive computer, you can still dive in with a dive watch.  Plus, they are often quite good looking watches. If you are looking to buy a dive watch, here are some of them that you can consider depending on your budget.

Best beginner dive computer

Best Budget Dive Watch

We've gathered a selection of the best budget dive watches. All stable a reliable, but at a low cost.

Best Advanced Dive computer

Best Medium Prized Dive Watch

You're diving alot and you want a dive watch that meets your needs. Here's the best medium priced dive watches.

Best technical Dive computer

Best High-End Dive Watch

Best high-end dive watch needs to be durable, realiable and easy to read. Here's the best choices in the tech dive watches selections:

Best Budget Dive Watch

Best budget dive watches are those that will serve the purpose at hand which is diving. They should be water resistant at all depths that have been specified by the manufacturer. They should come at a low cost (less the $1000) which is affordable without stretching a buyer’s budget. Also, these watches should be easy to use for diving novices. It is worth noting that budget dive watches may not spot the fancy designs and specs like those of a high-end dive watch.

Seiko SKX007 Review

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This is the cheapest classic dive watch you are likely to find out there. The SKX007 has been in production since 1996. At $200, you will have with you a mechanical watch stalwart which is not only simple but also absolutely reliable.

Features:

  • Movement: Seiko 7S26 Automatic 
  • Water resistance: 200m
  • Diameter: 42 mm

Pro's and Con's of the Seiko SKX007:

  • Pros: Reliable, The dial is clear and well legible, Proper bezel
  • Cons: Does not have features of a modern dive watch.

Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic Review

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Its breathtaking appearance is, perhaps, how it got its name; a sea star. It is one of the best choices you can make when buying a dive watch. The Seastar 1000 Powermatic has an impressive design and its features are top-notch. It has three sub dials on top of having a date window. Its casing is made from the 316L stainless steel. However, its unidirectional bezel is made out of ceramic which does not only resist corrosion but also makes the watch to weigh significantly less at 180g. Yes, 180g is quite a low weight given that the Seastar uses steel straps and has a wide length at 43mm.

Features:

  • Movement: Swiss automatic 
  • Water resistance: 300m
  • Diameter: 43 mm

Pro's and Con's of the Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic:

  • Pros: Stylish design, can be used to dive up to 1000ft deep
  • Cons: Heavy.

Deep Blue Nato Diver Review

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This one has a classic design. It has a great appeal with the bezel being excellently labeled for legibility. It uses a nato strap which makes its general weight lighter when compared to others that use steel and other metals. In fact, a nato strap is among the best dive watch straps in the market today. It has a casing diameter of 44mm which makes it appear quite big. The casing has been curved out of 316L stainless steel which is of high quality to ensure a long lasting dive watch. The bezel is made out of the same material as well. The Deep Blue Nato Diver is feature rich spotting a crown for movement control and a helium escape valve to secure the watch in case of deep diving.

Features:

  • Movement: Seiko NH 36 automatic 
  • Water resistance: 300m
  • Diameter: 44 mm
  • Price: $250

Pro's and Con's of the Deep Blue Nato Diver:

  • Pros: Helium valve prevents damage, high water resistance depth suits deep diving.
  • Cons: Wide diameter makes it look big.

Best Medium-priced Dive Watch

A medium prized dive watch can serve both novices and intermediate divers. Their pricing is quite high but it will have advanced features that even an advanced diving professional can make use of. The manufacturers of these watches tend to balance the materials used with the kind of pricing they will peg to them. Some of these watches would even contest with the higher priced ones in some areas. For example, you are likely to find a medium budget dive watch that will excel in terms of water resistance in very high depths. All in all, a medium budget dive watch is a balance of stylish design, affordable price, quality parts, and a premium appeal.

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Review

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The Sea Wolf is one of the oldest dive watches in the industry. Having been first manufactured in 1953, Zodiak has only made minor improvements to the original watch to make it look more appealing. At 40mm diameter and a thickness of only 11mm, the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf impressively less bulky at its price.

Features:

  • Movement: STP 3-13 automatic 
  • Water resistance: 200m
  • Diameter: 40 mm

Pro's and Con's of the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf:

  • Pros: Less Bulky, Reliable.
  • Cons: Suited for only shallow depths not exceeding 200m.

Oris Divers Sixty-Five Review

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This watch is a new version by Oris for 2018. This, however, does not mean that the Oris Divers Sixty-Five is a trial model. No. It is just another improvement that makes it better than its predecessors. In fact, similar to the Zodiac mentioned earlier, it is another classic gem that a diving enthusiast should consider at its low budget. It has all the features of a premium divers’ watch with its only downside being a shallow depth rating of 100m which, to be honest, not many divers go beyond. We can comfortably say that it will be the best for diving enthusiasts and recreational divers.

Features:

  • Movement: Oris 733 automatic 
  • Water resistance: 100m
  • Diameter: 40 mm

Pro's and Con's of the Oris Divers Sixty-Five:

  • Pros: Less Bulky, Reliable.
  • Cons: Suited for shallow depths not exceeding 100m.

Doxa Sub 6000T Professional Review

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Doxa is also another veteran in the diving game. The Sub 6000T Pro is an advancement of the legendary model that reigned in the ‘60s and the ‘70s. It is a piece of art spotting an orange dial and a bezel with a decompression limit. Since diving began, nobody has dived below 400m. But just in case you feel like you can break the record, the 6000T will be able to withstand the pressure up to 1800m. What about that!

Features:

  • Movement: Soprod A10 automatic 
  • Water resistance: 1800m
  • Diameter: 45 mm

Pro's and Con's of the Doxa Sub 6000T Professional:

  • Pros: High water resistance depth.
  • Cons: Expensive.

Sinn U1 Review

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The Sinn U1 was first produced in 2005. It was made for the wildest sea diver who would dare venture to depths of up to 1000m. Best known for its best chronographs of aviation inspirations, Sinn did not disappoint with the U1. The dive watch is made from the best stainless steel there is.

Features:

  • Movement: Sellita SW 200-1 automatic 
  • Water resistance: 1000m
  • Diameter: 44 mm

Pro's and Con's of the Sinn U1:

  • Pros: Suited for great depths.
  • Cons: Wide diameter makes it bulky and less appealing.

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Review

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This is a beautiful looking piece of a diving accessory. The Black Bay series by Tudor is an inspiration from the Submariners of between the ‘50s and the ‘70s that were Tudor-branded. The Black Bay Fifty-Eight has a unique 39mm case which one of the smallest diameters you are likely to find. It is a nice blend of modern and vintage features. Its accuracy and is chronometer rated and has an impressive power reserve at 70 hours.

Features:

  • Movement: Tudor MT5402 automatic 
  • Water resistance: 200m
  • Diameter: 39 mm

Pro's and Con's of the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight:

  • Pros: Smaller casing makes it less bulky.
  • Cons: Expensive, lower depth rating at 200m.

Best High-end Dive Watch

The best of high-end dive watches should feature unparalleled skill in its engineering. The design should ooze style and the materials used should be quality. It should be satisfactory to a professional diver with no limitation on the possible diving depths. If possible, a high-end dive watch should be suited as a diving utility as well as a fashionable outfit for everyday use.

Tudor Pelagos Review

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The Pelagos was at the heart of the development of diving watches by Tudor. It spots classic features in all its parts. From the dial, the bezel and its large titanium casing, you will find it resembling the early concepts of watch engineering. It also features a helium escape valve. A helium valve is a safety feature that prevents helium gas contained in a diver’s gas from blowing up the crystal from a watch case when the diver reaches the surface after a deep dive. For clarity, a helium bubble will occupy a small volume at deep dives due to high pressure exerted on it. Once on the surface, the same bubble will expand due to low pressure. The helium valve provides a safe route for the helium to be expelled from the watch.

Features:

  • Movement: Tudor MT5612 automatic 
  • Water resistance: 500m
  • Diameter: 42 mm

Pro's and Con's of the Tudor Pelagos:

  • Pros: Water resistant in deep diving up to 500m, has a helium valve for the watch’s safety.
  • Cons: Wide diameter and thick metallic casing makes it look bulky.

Seiko Prospex SBDB018 Review

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Seiko is among the first brand names that will come to your mind when you think of watches. Their strong presence in the watch industry has earned them unparalleled reverence. Their divers’ collection is often not usually expensive. However, when you have a glance at the Prospex SBDB018 you will be left in awe. Its breathtaking design and detail will leave you mesmerized. It is a perfection of Seiko’s pioneering dive watch of 1968. Its 44.8mm diameter creates ample room for the automatic Seiko 8L55 movement that ticks 36000 in an hour. Its large diameter will inspire a diver into a confident dive up to 200m deep.

Features:

  • Movement: Seiko 8L55 automatic 
  • Water resistance: 300m
  • Diameter: 44.8 mm

Pro's and Con's of the Seiko Prospex SBDB018:

  • Pros: Water resistant even at great depths, reliable.
  • Cons: Wide diameter makes it feel bulky, expensive.

Omega Seamaster 300M Review

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The Seamaster 300M is another top-of-class dive watch with a helium escape valve to protect it from helium damage. This wonder piece received a massive overhaul in 2018 but, nevertheless, did not entirely lose the pioneering appearance it got in 1993. Both the dial and the bezel insert are made from ceramic which is corrosion resistant. It uses the co-axial 8800 automatic movements by Omega and is a worthy option for deep scuba divers going down up to 300m.

Features:

  • Movement: Omega 880 automatic 
  • Water resistance: 300m
  • Diameter: 42 mm

Pro's and Con's of the Omega Seamaster 300M:

  • Pros: Ceramic bezel is lighter and cannot be corroded easily.
  • Cons: Quite expensive.

Rolex Submariner Review

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The most influential dive watch of all time had to be here. The inception of the Submariner in 1953 turned out to be a wakeup call that went ahead to inspire many sports watches. Its striking design is suited for both diving and everyday wear. Since the release of the first piece, the Submariner has been improved several times which has made it stand unrivaled by any other in its class. It has a fairly smaller diameter and its bezel is made from ceramic. These design features are all meant to make it less bulky and durable at the same time. Its automatic movement has also been well engineered to give it the necessary accuracy.

Features:

  • Movement: Rolex 3130 automatic 
  • Water resistance: 300m
  • Diameter: 40 mm

Pro's and Con's of the Rolex Submariner:

  • Pros: Styled for both diving and everyday wear, less Bulky.
  • Cons: Expensive.

Panerai Luminor Submersible I950 3 Days Review

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The Panerai brand is a dear for many watches but prior to the Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days release, there were concerns about the brand being very large. The 42mm Submersible came as a great improvement to the earlier models that had a 44mm diameter. The 2mm difference seems to have made a major difference. The watch now fits better and looks more appealing without losing its signature appearance. It has a power reserve that will last you 72 hours (3 days) and it is safe to dive with to depths of up to 300m.

Features:

  • Movement: Panerai P.9010 automatic 
  • Water resistance: 300m
  • Diameter: 42 mm

Pro's and Con's of the Panerai Luminor Submersible I950 3 Days:

  • Pros: A long-lasting power reserve, excellent design.
  • Cons: Thick making it look bulky.

Whether you are planning to venture into diving either for recreation or as a professional, there is a dive watch for you.

All you need to know is the features you are looking for and your budget. There are even those watches that will serve you well both as a diving equipment and as part of your daily outfit.

Why do many divers wear a dive watch?

Partly, tradition and preference. Dive watches are still strongly associated with the sport, and many divers wear them because they like them, and because they like having a backup for their computer, even if this backup doesn’t have all the features of the computer. Some dive watches feature depth gauges, and these can actually work as a rudimentary dive computer backup, allowing you to do a complete ascent to the surface, including any deco or safety stops along the way. But many divers, and non-divers, do simply wear them because they like them.

Why do dive watches have rotating bezel?

The bezel is marked with minutes up to 60 minutes (typically) to allow divers to quickly discern how long they’ve been down. You rotate the bezel so the zero mark is at the minute hand when you descend, and then you can read the duration of your dive at any time, without having to calculate it. And the bezel typically only rotates one way, so if it is accidentally moved, it will only shorten your dive, not extend it, possibly beyond your no-decompression limit. Always err on the side of caution.

What should I look for in a dive watch?

First and foremost, depth rating. At least 100 meters/300 feet/10 ATM. Then of course, a rotating bezel. Material is worth considering as well, stainless is good, titanium is better. Titanium is lighter and more corrosion resistant. Whether you choose a rubber strap or a metal bracelet is a matter of preference, but make sure that both are long enough to allow you to wear the watch over your wetsuit or drysuit. Most metal bracelets will have an extension function to ensure this. A depth gauge is useful, too. Also, make sure the watch face is clean enough to be easily legible.

Is Helium buildup a problem?

You may hear wild stories about an exotic feature called a helium valve. Don’t get hung up on this. A helium valve is useful for commercial divers doing very deep saturation diving, where they live in underwater habitats filled with a trimix breathing gas containing helium. The helium molecules, being extremely small, can make their way into the watch case, and then, when the diver ascends, these molecules expand (due to dropping pressure) and can damage the watch. But for recreational divers, even technical ones, this isn’t an issue, as we typically do not spend a lot of time in underwater habitats hundreds of meters below the surface.

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5 Comments

  1. David Tombs

    There is the almost invariable issue of leaving the ”winder” out and the watch flooding, as I did. Although some (very ) old divers may cling to tables, depth gauge and watch the gauges are not as accurate as a good depth timer even if you use tables.

    Reply
  2. Sharon

    It’s crazy how many ‘old school’ divers resist the switch to dive computers. Dive watches may be obsolete in today’s world, but lucky for the watches, they are such genuinely good looking timepieces.

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      I agree, it’s old school, but still great looking. And and and, you can always use it as a backup time device.

      Reply
  3. Fred

    Nowadays, the watchmakers operate differently, so watch your watch, so to say! Even on Ebay, there are explanations about new ways the depth/pressure resistance is marked! Thus, the watches marked “Water Resist” (yes, they all forget to add -ant”) to 30M (yes, they all use M instead of m) are protected from light rain, the watches marked to 50M (which is not miles) can stand the showering, and 100M are allowed for surface swimming. The ludicrous logic goes so far that only the watches marked with 200M are allowed for diving – and ALL are not to be operated in any way underwater, because there is a warning against pressing any buttons while underwater!
    My suggestion is, do not buy cheapware marked in this way. Go for proper diving watch with either mechanical or quartz drive until the smartwatch manufacturers see the light and start sealing the watch linear and rotational commands properly, and then mark the watches with real data. Never forget that your life and/or health depends upon such an instrument, even if it is only a backup to your dive computer!

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      I agree, do now buy a too cheap dive watch, that’s is money wasted. Go for the one that will last, and fits your needs. In the above guide, we tested all while diving, and they all functioned while underwater(we did not dive deeper than 30 meters on any test).

      Reply

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