Out of all the different categories of watches that exist out there, it would be fair to say that diving watches are by far the most popular ones and that is certainly not without a good reason. They are tough, legible, are water resistant and most of all come with a ‘go out there and do anything’ sort of attitude giving the wearer a peace of mind. Today’s article is dedicated to all the dive watch lovers out there, as we bring together for you a careful selection of dive watches that we think are some best value propositions between $200 to $2000. Now, before you read this article further, let me admit that there are a plethora of amazing divers out there which are not a part of our top 5 list. So, in case your top 5 differs from ours which there is a high probability of, please feel free to hit the comments section with your remarks and we would be more than happy to learn about your choices. Enough of rambling, let us now have a look at the watches.
5. Seiko SKX007
There are not many watches out there which have a cult following like that of the Seiko SKX007. Seiko is well known for producing some of best divers in the affordable price category and the SKX007 is a testimony to it. This watch features a 42mm stainless steel case which is water resistant to 200 meters and has an offset crown at 4, giving the watch a distinctive identity. On the top is Seiko’s proprietary hardlex crystal which is surrounded by a 60 click dive bezel with a black aluminum insert. Adding further to the bold looks of this watch are the big printed and lume painted hour markers which complement the matt black dial really well. The unique looking handset comprises a sword style hour hand, an arrow-shaped minute hand and a stick style seconds hand with a circular counter balance. And just like the hour markers, the entire handset has been deeply filled with luminous material which should make it a breeze to read the time in low light situations. Powering the SKXOO7 is Seiko’s workhorse 7S26C automatic movement which operates at a frequency of 21600bph, and offers a power reserve of around 41 hours. Now, coming down to what makes this watch all the more special, its price. The Seiko SKX007 currently retails for around 200 USD or even less depending on where you source it from and at that price point this watch certainly punches way above its weight.
Next up is unsurprisingly another Seiko, but this time around we are going in with a more refined and upmarket model the Seiko SPB051/SPB053. This watch is being promoted as the modern reinterpretation of the SLA017 aka the 62MAS and hence shares quite a few design cues with its elder brethren. The case on this watch is water resistant to 200 meters and bears a striking resemblance to that on the SLA017, but looks a lot chunkier and bigger with a diameter of around 42mm. There is some nice interplay between different finishes to be witnessed here, with the top of the case featuring some fine circular brushing followed by a nicely polished bevel on the side finally transitioning into the polished rear. Similar to the case, the dial has also been executed finely. The hour markers have been applied and feature a polished border which is a nice touch giving the watch some nice light play capabilities. The hours on this watch can be tracked using the fat arrow hour hand whilst the minutes can be read with the help of the long sword-shaped hand which reaches all the way to the tip of the printed minute markings on the sloped chapter ring. The entire handset along with hour markers has been deeply filled with lume to aid visibility during those underwater excursions. To time those dives you have a 60 click unidirectional bezel which has a glossy finish to it and this one even has a sapphire crystal glass giving a clear view of the dial. As this is premium offering from Seiko, the movement powering this watch is the caliber 6R15, which is 23 jewels automatic movement that hacks, hand winds and operates at a frequency of 21600 bph. It also offers an impressive power reserve of around 50 hours. Coming in at around 800 USD this is yet another fantastic offering from Seiko and there are 2 different variants to choose from, the SPB051 (Matt black dial), the SPB053 (Sunburst blue dial).
3. Oris Aquis
For our next entry on this list, we are shifting our focus to a brand that originates from the mecca of watchmaking, Switzerland. Oris is an independent Swiss brand that has been in operation for more than 100 years now and the Oris Aquis is the brands dive watch offering. One of the things that makes the Oris Aquis stand out amidst its competitors is its originality. The bold and masculine case on the Aquis has a diameter of 43.5 mm and its kettle style shape gives the watch a distinctive visual identity. Starting from a broad bottom, followed by a narrow tapering mid case housing the prominent crown guards and finally ending with a broad bezel on the top, the case on this watch does not resemble anything else out there. The 60 click unidirectional rotating bezel has a ceramic bezel insert along with a lume pip that would be essential in timing those dives. The dial on this watch is nicely executed and is easy to read at a glance. The applied faceted hour markers give a sense of depth to the dial and have been deeply filled with luminous material. The spear-shaped handset is well polished and adds to the quirky appeal of this timepiece. And though there is lot to like about the dial on this watch, my favorite detail has to be the date window at 6, which really helps maintain the symmetry of the dial. This watch is powered by the Oris caliber 733 which is a slightly modified Sellita SW200-1 with the famous red Oris rotor and the movement can be viewed through the sapphire crystal exhibition case back. The Oris Aquis is water resistant to 300 meters and retails between 1900 and 2100 USD depending on the whether you prefer it on a rubber/leather strap or a well-crafted bracelet.
2. Sinn U1
In case you are into tool watches, it is highly unlikely that you haven’t heard of Sinn. The German brand is known for making some really purposeful and value-packed watches and the Sinn U1 is no exception. So let’s have a quick look at what this watch has to offer. The case on the U1 has a diameter of 44mm giving it a bold stance and is made of high strength seawater resistant German submarine steel giving it extra protection against corrosion. There are no polished surfaces to be found on this watch and the entire case has a brushed finish to it confirming to its tool watch aesthetic. Water resistance on this watch is rated at a whopping 1000 meters which makes it the most capable diver on our list today. On top of the case sits a 60-minute diver’s bezel which incorporates Sinn’s Tegiment technology that technically speaking raises the hardness level of the base material implying that the bezel would be less prone to scratches. The markings on the bezel have been nicely done with the first fifteen minutes rendered in black and the rest of them in red which is a neat little playful touch. The dial on the U1 has a deep black shade with a matte finish and provides a great contrast to the printed white hour and minute markings. The entire handset has a peculiar blocky look to it which resonates with the shape of the hour markings and also adds to the overall utilitarian look of the watch. My favorite detail on this dial though is the fantastic use of the color red on the handset as well the text above 6 giving the otherwise monochromatic dial some pop of color. The movement powering this watch is the Sellita SW200-1 which operates at a frequency of 28800 bph and offer a power reserve of around 38 hours. As is the case with the rest of the watch Sinn seems to have modified the movement as well by making it shock resistant as per DIN ISO 1413 standards and also anti-magnetic as per DIN8309 standards. All in all the Sinn U1 is a power-packed offering from the brand which can be yours for either 1950 USD on a leather strap or 2150 USD on a bracelet.
1. Doxa Sub 50th Anniversary Edition
Finally to conclude this list we have a quirky Swiss dive watch with a great fan following, the Doxa Sub 300 50th anniversary edition. Doxa has a deep-rooted history in the world of dive watches and the watch that you see here is a tribute to the iconic Doxa Sub 300 released way back in 1967. One of the first things that strikes you about this watch is its visually striking Tonneau-shaped case that stands true to the original measuring 42.5mm in diameter and bearing a thickness of 12.4mm. Back in 1967 this would have certainly been a large watch, but by today’s standards this can easily be called a mid-sized watch and should sit comfortably on varied wrist sizes given the short lug to lug distance of the case. The bezel is a 60 click unidirectional unit, and comes engraved with the US navy’s decompression scale which is not to be seen anywhere else and is unique to the Doxa family. As the name suggests the watch is water resistant to 300 meters which is further ensured by a screw down crown at 3 and a closed case back. The bright orange dial on this watch is almost identical to the one found on the original and is one of the key elements of the signature Doxa look. The black hour and minute markings along with distinctively shaped black handset provide an excellent contrast against the orange dial and is expected from a dive watch there is a generous dose of lume on the dial to tackle low visibility scenarios. Another interesting detail on this watch is the domed bubble sapphire crystal on the front of the watch, which mimics the plexi crystal on the original Doxa Sub 300 and gives this watch a nice vintage vibe. The powerhouse of this watch is the ever-reliable ETA 2824-2 which is also chronometer certified for this anniversary edition making the timepiece highly accurate. The watch comes on beautiful beads of rice bracelet and retails at a price of 2490 USD. So, in case you are looking forward to an idiosyncratic dive watch the Doxa Sub 50th anniversary edition can be a good choice to make, in case you are lucky enough to get your hands on one as at the time of writing this article the watch seems to be out of stock on Doxa’s website.