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 go scuba diving often 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.
What is a dive watch?
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.
What makes a dive watch?
Aside from your budget, you should consider these four key features of a dive watch on your search.
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.
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.
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.
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.
10 Best Dive Watches in 2020
1.Seiko 5 Sports SRPD35K1 Dive Watch
A homage to their iconic affordable dive watch the SKX007, these new Seiko 5 Sports timepieces evoke the classic looks, but done up in more modern and vivid colorways. The SRPD53K1 features the traditional red-and-blue “Pepwsi” bezel, combined with a deep blue dial. The same familiar Seiko divers watch features are all here: Hardlex crystal, day and date display, see-through caseback, offset screw-down crown, unidirectional bezel, and LumiBrite treatment on the hands and markers. The 42.5mm brushed stainless steel case is rated for 100 meters of water resistance, while the in-house 4R36 automatic movement provides manual winding and a 41-hour power reserve—both make this a solid choice for an everyday diver-style beater watch.
-41-hour power reserve
2.Seiko Prospex SRPD09 Samurai Dive Watch
Nicknamed the “Save the Ocean Samurai,” this special edition Seiko diver watch features a black ion-plated stainless steel case, a graduated blue dial meant to mimic the shades of water in the ocean, and a two-toned bezel for an unmistakable look that’s backed with true dive watch performance. The screw-in solid caseback and screwdown offset crown ensure water resistance to 200 meters, while its uni-directional rotating bezel and Lumibrite treatment on its markers and Seiko Monster-style hands provide functionality and legibility in real-world dive conditions. Inside, an in-house 4R35 automatic movement keeps this tough beauty ticking without the use of batteries.
-Decorative blue dial
-41-hour power reserve
-Uni-directional rotating bezel
-Luminous hands and markers
3.Victorinox INOX Professional Diver Ti
This diver's watch pairs titanium’s light weight and corrosion-resistant properties with an anti-magnetic Swiss quartz movement for a robust offering in the dive watch category. The Victorinox I.N.O.X. Professional Diver Ti is an extremely durable and functional choice, passing the NIHS 92-11 (ISO 6425) standard for anti-magnetism, temperature tolerance, shock resistance, salt water resistance, luminosity, and finally, strap durability. On top of all that, it comes with a clear plastic magnifier attachment that goes over the watch face, case, and crown, for even more protection. It’s a dive-certified watch you need not worry about taking anywhere and everywhere.
-Swiss-made titanium case
-ISO 6425 certified
-AR-coated sapphire crystal
4.Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 Men's Dive Watch
Boasting an impressive 80-hour power reserve, the Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 is a diver's watch that made to keep on ticking, even if you leave it on your dresser over the weekend while you try other watches in your rotation. Not that you’d want to take this off anyway. Its 43mm wide case, contrasting color scheme, simple lumed dial, and black ceramic bezel provide the wrist presence this robust Swiss-made timepiece deserves. Inside lurks a Swiss-made ETA 2824-2 automatic movement that provides hackable seconds, handwinding capability, and magnetically-shielded accuracy. This tough beauty touts 300m water resistance—more than the usual for everyday dive watches—meaning it’s more than ready for whatever you throw at it.
-Swiss-made automatic movement
-80-hour power reserve
-Hacking and handwinding
5.Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Dive Watch
Functional and stylish, the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba pairs a compact and easy-to-wear 40mm stainless steel case with an H-10 automatic movement that gives this timepiece a robust 80-hour power reserve. It combines the readability of a field watch with the functionality of a diver’s model. The black dial features lumed indices and field watch styled 24-hour markings, and is mated to a blue-and-black “Batman” bezel that sets off the blue minute markings and second hand. A 20mm black nylon NATO strap keeps the look sporty, and also features a hint of blue on its edges, completing the “navy” theme of the watch.
-80-hour power reserve
-Distinctive hybrid styling
6.CountyComm SR-35 Titanium Dive Watch
With a compact 40mm wide 6Al-4V titanium case, the CountyComm SR-35 presents a robust mid-sized dive watch option. It’s powered by a Seiko NH35 automatic movement, which give you high bpm accuracy, a 40-hour power reserve, a date complication, and hacking seconds. Up front, a fully functional bezel and an offset screwdown crown give you dive watch looks and functionality, while the simple matte black dial provides high legibility with its Super-LumiNova treated minute markings and contrasting orange accents on the logo and second hand. From work to the weekend, The SR-35’‘s compact size and clean lines make this an everyday timepiece you can take just about anywhere.
-Titanium case and bracelet
-Triple Super-LumiNova treatment
7.Orient Star Sports RE-AU0302L Dive Watch
The combination of classic and clean aesthetics with a sleek blue dial and bezel make the Orient Star Sports RE-AU0302L stand out among its luxury dive watch offerings. Satin-brushed finishing all over the 43.6mm stainless steel case sets off the sunburst blue dial, which features luminous capsule-shaped hour markers, a small date window, and a fan-shaped power reserve indicator. The in-house F6N47 automatic movement has an impressive 50-hour power reserve, meaning on a full charge, you can leave this watch for two days and still come back to it still strongly and accurately ticking. Housed in a 200m water resistant and shock resistant case, this is a sleek and sturdy timepiece that’s heirloom-worthy.
-50-hour Power Reserve
8.Citizen Aqualand Diver Depth Meter Promaster
Don’t let the colorful aesthetics and digital windows fool you—this is a serious Citizen dive watch that integrates a water sensor that automatically puts it in dive mode once it senses the watch has been submerged. From there you have full dive watch functionality that includes a maximum depth indicator, a depth alarm, a water temperature indicator, and even a rapid ascent warning. It wears nice enough as an everyday watch, but an extension mechanism on its stainless steel bracelet lets you easily fit this technical timepiece over a wetsuit when you do take it out for a dive.
-Uni-directional rotating bezel
-1/100 second chronograph
-Time and depth alarms
9.Timex Navi Ocean Dive Watch
While the Timex Navi Ocean is a little more fashion-forward than the rest on the list, it’s still a capable little diver 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.
-Included reversible strap
-Hardened mineral crystal
-Bi-directional rotating bzel
10.Oris Aquis Date Relief Dive Watch
Inspired by the color of the stormy sea, the Oris Aquis Date Relief features striking aesthetics with its combination of a grey sunburst dial and polished silver accents. In a departure from the normal Aquis model, this version uses a solid stainless steel bezel that has the scale markings engraved in relief--hence the watch’s name. A transparent caseback showcases the Oris Caliber 733 automatic movement, which features their signature red rotor. The 43.5mm stainless steel case features integrated lugs, a screw-in crown, and a 300 meter water resistance rating, meaning this special edition watch is not just for casual dips in the pool—it actually has full dive watch performance.
-Special edition design
-Full stainless steel bezel
-Double-domed sapphire crystal