Even if you are not a professional diver or have never done a single dive in your life, a diver’s watch has an iconic look to them, and the fact that they are water-resistant makes them incredibly versatile. Whether you will be diving with them, using them for everyday wear, or both, it’s not surprising that they are some of the most popular types of watches on the market.
Since diving is an enjoyable activity that is also inherently risky, you should bring a dive watch to help you keep track of how much time you’ve spent underwater. But as you will quickly realize, there are hundreds of dive watches on the market, and not all of them are reliable. They are also quite expensive, however it is possible to get a decent one under $500.
In this guide, we review the best dive watches under $500. We evaluate each watch based not only on their aesthetics but also how well they perform underwater. We have also written a dive watch buyer’s guide to help you get an idea of the criteria we used, and it can help you in your own research as well. Without further ado:
Our Top Picks:
Best Dive Watches Under $500 Recommendations
- Sapphire Crystal
- 120-Click Unidirectional Bezel
- Japanese-automatic Movement
To kick this review off, we have the Orient Kamasu which provides incredible bang for the buck.
It sports an impressive list of features such as a 200m water-resistance rating with screw-down crown, small lug to lug distance, a durable sapphire crystal, and Orient’s in-house hacking and hand-winding movement.
Furthermore, with its bold geometric hour markings and dynamic sunburst dial, the Kamasu is an intuitive and handsome dive watch that can just as easily be worn underwater or paired with a suit. Personally, we feel that the versatility that a dressy driver such as the Kamasu provides makes it an irresistible option.
Additionally, the Kamasu comes in numerous color schemes such as the bold red dial, though standard offerings like the black and blue variants are available as well.
Without a doubt, the Orient Kamasu provides unbeatable value for the money and you can’t go wrong with it whether you are wearing it on the beach or in a boardroom.
You can read our full, in-depth review of the Kamasu by clicking here.
Victorinox I.N.O.X. Pro Diver Watch
- TIMELESS LUXURY: Form, funtionality, and precision with style. These timeless watches embody contemporary elegance.
- DURABLE CONSTRUCTION: Our timepieces are designed and manufactured with the same rigorous attention to quality as the brand’s legendary Swiss Army...
- SWISS MADE: Mechanical excellence, on-point aesthetics and relentless accuracy are the definitive hallmarks of a Victorinox watch. Swiss precision...
If you are looking for a masculine, durable watch that is built like a tank then the Victorinox I.N.O.X. is the ideal dive watch for you.
This titanium watch features a genuine sapphire crystal, an anti-magnetic case, a rubber strap with buckle closure, and made with high Swiss standards. In fact, the I.N.O.X. is an entry-level luxury Swiss watch that is designed to compete with other reputable brands like Tissot and Breitling.
What good is a watch that only looks tough? The I.N.O.X. is the real deal. It’s ISO-6425 certified which means it is suitable for diving down to depths of 200m. Various heat and stress tests have been applied to this watch to ensure that it can withstand all kinds of rough conditions that one might experience while scuba diving.
Furthermore, the I.N.O.X. has a case diameter of 45mm, is scratch resistant, and utilizes analog quartz. To further protect it, Victorinox have included a shield protector that covers the entire watch.
Lastly, this watch features a diver extension that adds an additional ¾ of an inch to the strap length so that it can be worn over a thick wet or drysuit. If you’re looking for a tough dive watch, this is one to keep an eye on.
Orient Mako II
- Mineral crystal
- Crown:Screwed-down.120-Click unidirectional bezel
- Japanese-automatic Movement
The Orient Mako II is a watch that was designed to compete with the Seiko SKX, which was considered one of the best dive watches at the time. The Mako II was able to compete by providing similar features at a low price, providing a great value proposition to the customers.
While it does not boast as many features as the Orient Kamasu, the Mako II still sports 200 meters of water resistance and an in-house movement. The most noticeable downside in the Mako II is that it only offers a crystal mineral instead of a sapphire crystal, meaning it is more likely to get scratched in comparison.
The Mako II has a dressy look with arabic numerals at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock. It also has a screwed-down crown and a 120-click unidirectional bezel. Its measurements are 41.5mm without the crown, and it has a lug width of 22mm. All if this is available to you at an affordable price.
However, if you are someone who wants a more rugged dive watch and you are willing to pay a bit more, then consider the Orient Kamasu instead. However, if you know how to take great care of your scuba gear and want to save a few bucks, consider getting the Orient Mako II or the Ray II. These dive watches are priced competitively and are often available at under $200.
- 200 M Water Resistance
- Diver Inspired Rotating Bezel With Anti Reverse, Screw Down Crown
- Date Display Regular Timekeeping Analog: 3 Hands (Hour, Minute, Second)
The MDV106-1AV dive watch by Casio is perhaps the cheapest dive watch with a water resistance rating of 200m that we will wholeheartedly recommend. First off, this watch is well below the $500 dollar limit that we have set for ourselves; it’s more in the range of $50.
When you think of watches this affordable, you typically expect it to be some Chinese knock-off with poor build-quality. However, this is Casio we’re talking about, so there’s no way they would put their name on a watch if it weren’t up to a certain standard.
Well, rest assured, the MDV106 is indeed sturdily-built and capable of holding up to whatever challenges you through its way. It may not be the most decorated or dressed watch, but it will do what you expect a dive watch to do and keep ticking away.
As we mentioned above, it has a depth rating of 200m, a Japanese quartz movement, and most importantly, a rotating dive bezel like the other more expensive watches on this list. If you are really strapped for cash but still want a solid dive watch, then we recommend the Casio MDV106-1AV.
Citizen Eco Drive Promaster BN0150-28E
- Iconic Promaster watches with advanced functions designed to venture to the deepest depths.
- 3 Hand, Date
- Silver-Tone Stainless Steel
Made with a minimal aesthetic and great diving functionality in mind, the Eco-Drive is ideal for both your underwater adventures and matching with your daily attire for a sleek, yet casual look.
It comes with many features: a unidirectional rotating bezel with luminescent pip, screw-down crown and case back, luminescent hands and markers, polyurethane strap, and 200m of water resistance. All of these form what is the quintessential diver’s watch.
In addition to its numerous excellent diving functions, it has even more features in store. First, as with all of the watches in Citizen’s Eco-Drive line-up of watches, this Japanese quartz watch is powered by their proprietary solar energy technology. In layman’s terms, this watch can absorb any light source, whether natural or artificial, and convert it into usable energy.
Yet another useful feature is its date display found by the 5 o’clock position. Next, for its dial window, the mineral crystal provides a glare-free, clear view of the dial. It is scratch-resistant and anti-reflective, so you get the best of both worlds: durability while also being easy to use.
- Japan 21 Jewels Automatic Self-Winding Movement (Caliber 7S36)
- Stainless Steel Case, Resin Strap
- Hardlex Mineral Crystal, Day/Date Display with Japanese Option, Luminous Hands and Markers, Uni Directional Turning Bezel
This next watch is very similar to the aforementioned Citizen watch, however it has its own unique features as well. Both Seiko and Citizen are two of the most trusted Japanese dive watch manufacturers, and their watches are desired by many divers due to the similarities that their watches share.
At first glance, both the Citizen Eco Drive BN0150-28E and this Seiko SKX007J1 look nearly identical. Both have a minimalistic, chic design with comparable features for diving, such as 200m of water resistance, unidirectional rotating bezel, luminescent pip at the 60-minute position, screw-down crown and case back, and luminescent hands and hour markers. These are all well and good. Now let’s take a look at the differences.
While the Citizen watch is a quartz watch that is solar-powered, which is Citizen’s specialty, the Seiko SKX007J1 is an automatic watch powered by the movement of the user’s wrist. Due to the nature of automatic watches which have more mechanisms in it, naturally the SKX007J1 is slightly thicker. This watch has 21 jewels and approximately 40 hours of power reserve.
Another difference between the Seiko SKX007J1 and the Citizen watch is that it uses a rubber strap instead of a polyurethane strap. Though both materials are good at handling water (they do not absorb water and dry quickly), what differentiates them is that rubber tends to be more comfortable. On the other hand, polyurethane is overall more resilient and tear-resistant, but less comfy to wear for longer periods.
The SKX007J1 includes not only a date display but it also specifically displays the day of the week, a feature that not all dive watches have. Lastly, the dial window of the SKX007J1 utilizes Seiko’s trademark Hardlex crystal that is even more durable than mineral crystal.
You can check out our full review of the Seiko SKX007 here.
Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80
- Case Size: 43.00 millimeters, Bandwidth: 21 millimeters, Case Thickness: 12.70 millimeters
- Swiss automatic movement, 316L stainless steel case, Index dial type, Date
- Rubber bracelet, standard buckle closure
The Tissot Seastar is a highly legible watch with a sleek design. It has a gradient of your preferred color in the dial, surrounded by the ceramic top ring of its unidirectional rotating bezel, with a nice design molded into its silicone strap which adds to its aesthetic. If you are looking to add a little oomph to your style, then the Tissot Seastar is up to the task.
In order to ensure an optimal diving experience, the Seastar has a 300-meter water resistance rating, as well as features like a helium valve for automatically depressurizing the watch, a unidirectional rotating bezel with luminescent pip at the 60-minute position, a diver’s buckle and extension attached to its silicone strap, and luminescent hour markers and hands.
To keep the water out despite the high water pressure at 300m, it is further reinforced with a screw-down crown and case back. In addition to its diving features, this Swiss quartz watch also includes a chronograph as well as a date display by the 5 o’clock position.
Scratches and glares are a thing of the past when you are using the Seastar. Its dial window is made from scratch-resistant, anti-reflective sapphire crystal. Nothing will impede the clear view you have to this watch’s clean face; even years later, it will look as clear as the day you bought it.
You can read our full, in-depth review of the Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 by clicking here.
Luminox Navy Seal XS.3001
- Precise Swiss-Quartz movement
- Sapphire crystal
- Case diameter: 41 mm
Extreme ruggedness with great functionality is what Luminox has been about since their inception in 1989. The company has consistently produced watches that can withstand just about anything you can throw at it. They have also developed a proprietary light technology that provides visibility under any condition without an external light source or the need to press any buttons.
Additionally, the XS.3001 meets the standards set by the Navy SEALs and is frequently used by military and law enforcement groups. Outdoor enthusiasts and sporty individuals have also taken a liking to the XS.3001 because it can hold up to rigorous use.
With the XS.3001, Luminox continues their tradition of making durable watches, which is why it is also a fantastic dive watch. This rugged Swiss quartz has a carbon-reinforced polycarbonate case, mineral crystal dial window, a screw-down crown and case back and is water resistant to 200m. It also features a unidirectional rotating bezel, also carbon-reinforced, making it perfect for diving.
Additionally, it has a date display at the 3 o’clock position. The only downside we’ve found is that the rubber strap is not nearly as durable as the rest of this watch. If anything is going to break on the XS.3001, the strap is probably the weakest link, though it can last a long time if you take good care of it. Overall, the Luminox Navy Seal XS.3001 is probably one of the most rugged dive watches under $500 you can get.
Orient Mako XL
- Mineral Crystal
- 120-Click Unidirectional Bezel
- Japanese-automatic Movement
Dive watches are, actually, quite large in order to provide better readability. And since the Orient Mako was so popular, many divers demanded a larger version of it and Orient delivered the Mako XL. It is bigger than the original Mako by 3mm, and thicker by a third of a millimeter.
That’s not all that changed. The Mako XL has been revamped to provide larger hour bar markers, with pear-shaped hour and minute hands, lollipop second hand, and a splash of whichever color you choose on the unidirectional rotating bezel. Additionally, it has 200m of water resistance, screw-down crown, screw-down case back, and of course, luminescence.
The Mako XL is an automatic watch with a power reserve of 40 hours. We found its stainless steel case and bracelet to be very durable, and its scratch-resistant mineral crystal dial window will be able to take a few hits without ruining its perfect clarity. You can find a date display which also includes the day of the week by the 3 o’clock position.
Seiko Prospex X PADI Automatic Dive Watch
- Hand and automatic winding capabilities
- Cal. 4R36 Movement, 24 Jewels, Water Resistance: Diver's Watch to 200 meters (660 feet)
- Power reserve: approximately 41 hours
The Seiko Prospex X PADI is the result of a collaboration between these companies. Since PADI is literally the diving authority and they are willing to put their name on this product, it must mean that it passes some strict quality standards that other dive watches probably don’t. Let’s see what this watch has in store.
First, its diving specific features include 200m of water resistance, a unidirectional rotating bezel with luminescent pip at the 60 minute mark, a screw-down case back, screw-down crown, as well as large, luminescent hour markers and hands.
Furthermore, the Prospex X PADI is a Japanese automatic watch with hacking and hand winding capabilities. It has 41 hours of power reserve and its movement consists of 24 jewels. You will also find a date display along with the day of the week at the 3 o’clock position.
Next, this dive watch has a tough Hardlex crystal dial window that will ensure nothing leaves a scratch on it, as well as a stainless steel case and bracelet. To be fair, all of the features listed so far are about what you’d expect from a dive watch in this price range.
What you are really buying is a guarantee that this product is high-quality and that it truly meets the specifications listed. Other watches may say they are rated for 200m but will leak far earlier than that; or their luminescence may not be visible in the dark; or some other shortcoming. With the Seiko Prospex X PADI dive watch, you know exactly what you are getting otherwise PADI would not have put their name on this product.
Orient Ray II
- Orient Cal. F6922 Automatic, Hand-winding, Hacking Movement
- Case Diameter: 41.5mm without crown.Case Thickness:13mm. Power Reserve: Approximately 40 hours
- To change the date, rotate the crown counter clockwise.
Orient have improved the original Ray and have come out with the Ray II. This version provides improvements in several areas, such as an upgrade of the movement to caliber F6922; stop seconds features; hand-winding capability; stronger luminescence; and an improved 120-click unidirectional diving bezel.
It has what you expect from a competent dive watch: 200m of water resistance fortified by a screw-down crown and screw-down case back, luminescent hands and hour markers, a unidirectional rotating bezel with a luminescent pip at the 60-minute mark. It has a date and day of the week display at the 3 o’clock position.
Furthermore, this Japanese automatic watch features hand-winding and hacking functionality. It consists of 22 jewels and has 40 hours in its power reserve.
As far as appearances go, the Ray II has a minimalist design, with a choice of grey, black, or blue sunray dial. The dial is protected by a scratch-resistant mineral crystal and protected by a stainless steel case with a stainless steel bracelet.
Suunto Zoop Novo
- Operating modes: air, nitrox, gauge and freedom modes
- Programmable for 21% to 50% oxygen mixtures
- Imperial or metric programmable, decompression stop data, audible alarms
The Suunto Zoop Novo is a bit different than the other watches recommended here because it is a dive computer watch. It is perhaps one of the most well-known dive computer watches on the market and perfect for both the recreational and professional diver.
Dive computer watches track a wealth of personalized data each time you dive. More than just tracking elapsed time, it will also monitor your depth and speed and notify you via alarms if you are descending or ascending too quickly. It also comes with 5 dive modes: gauge, air, nitrox, freedive, and none, which provide you with different feedback based on the type you select.
The Zoop Novo is waterproof to depths of 100m and can be programmed to support oxygen mixtures of 21% to 50%. The downside of the Zoop Novo is that it is a watch designed purely with diving in mind. It is bulky and not as elegant looking as a traditional dive watch. In other words, it does not provide you with the option of wearing it in your day-to-day life due to how unwieldy it is out of the water.
However, if you are an avid diver and want to have more control over the outcome of your dives, then the Zoop Novo is a great starting point for a dive computer watch. With the amount of information it tracks about your dive, you can learn a lot about how you dive and ways to improve your technique and skill.
You can read our in-depth review of the Suunto Zoop Novo here.
Dive Watch Buying Guide
Choosing a dive watch that is both stylish and practical can be difficult with how many products there are on the market. Some are good, but most of them are nothing special and not worth your money. How do you differentiate what’s good and what’s not?
You need to ask yourself the following questions: How much water resistance does a dive watch have? Does it include a screw-down crown and a screw-down case back for a water-tight seal? How legible is the watch dial? Is it luminous? How accurate and reliable is the unidirectional rotating bezel that dive watches use to track time spent underwater?
The rest of the features come down to your personal preferences, whether you are looking for an automatic, analog, digital, or quartz watch with a rubber strap, bracelet, or whatever you like. There are many combinations when it comes to the aesthetics, but what’s most important is what’s inside the device.
In this section, we will go over these considerations in great detail to help you get the best dive watch under $500.
A dive watch’s water resistance is a number that indicates the depth it can be submerged underwater without water entering its internal components. In other words, how deep you can dive with it before it breaks.
Even the cheapest dive watches should have a minimum resistance of at least 50-100m, which should be adequate for basic activities like washing your hands, swimming, snorkeling, and freediving. You can, of course, use it for diving as well. However with such a low water resistance rating, you will feel very limited during your dives.
Ideally, you should find a dive watch that is water-resistant up to at least 200m to be safe. Another way to see if a watch is suitable for diving is by checking its IP code which should say IPX-8. Some additional terms are ATM and BAR, which are measurements of how much water pressure it can withstand which correlates with how deep one can dive with it.
We consider dive watches with a water resistance of 100m or less to be usable during activities with only the most basic levels of exposure like walking in the rain or washing your hands. If you choose to go swimming with it, then there is a chance it will leak even though it is rated for up to 100m. There are a few reasons for this discrepancy in depth rating vs. actual real-life performance:
First, different brands test their watches differently and have differing standards for margins of error when measuring a watch’s water resistance. You can trust reputable watch manufacturers like Seiko to have stricter standards and more accurate water resistance ratings than an unknown company that is sourcing generic watches from China.
Second, water resistance is not a constant. The rating a watch is given is what the water resistance was at the time it was tested. However, nothing lasts forever and products deteriorate over time, even when properly cared for. As such, the water-resistant gaskets will eventually fail, and the amount of resistance it provides over time may decrease though you will never know by how much.
The ISO certification is a strict set of requirements laid out by the ISO 9000 family, which is the authority in watch management system quality control. These rules are the standard by which all dive watches must adhere to in order to be labeled a “professional” dive watch.
While being ISO certified is something that you will only find high-end watches with, there are still affordable and reliable options from reputable brands like Seiko and PADI.
Unless you are a diving enthusiast, which most people reading this are not, an ISO certification is not necessary. Watches that have not been professionally rated and ISO certified can still be used for recreational diving. Typically, watches with a water resistance rating of 200m should be more than adequate for casual diving.
An important element of any dive watch is a functional dive bezel.
Dive bezels are rotated and they act as a countdown timer to help you track how much time has elapsed. A dive bezel is used to keep track of how much time divers have left before they deplete the oxygen in their tanks and must resurface.
Since dive bezels are just glorified countdown timers, there are many practical applications for it in daily life. Whether you want to track how long the pizza’s been in the oven to how long of a break you want to take, a dive watch can be used for many things outside of diving. In fact, that is often why even non-divers may get themselves a dive watch; they are just useful devices to own.
Sometimes dive bezels can be found inside the watch itself, instead of externally on the case of the watch. This is often referred to as “super compressor” divers.
What good is a watch if you can’t see it? Often, during a dive, the amount of light available isn’t the greatest. If you do any cave, wreck, or night diving, or if you are just deep enough underwater, visibility will be limited. That is where lume comes in.
Lume is a special luminescent paint that is used on various components of the watch like the markers, hands, and even the logo. The lume absorbs light and releases it in dark environments. In other words, it will glow in the dark so that the components it is applied to will be visible no matter the condition.
Depending on the quality of the dive watch, the lume may glow very brightly in the dark and last for a long time, or it may be very dim and not last long at all. You can expect watches from reputable brands like Seiko to have quality lume.
What good is a watch if it isn’t legible? The font, markers, and screen of a dive watch should be clear and easy to read, even at a glance, during a dive. If you have to squint really hard or get confused at its reading, either you need to wear a prescription mask or you need to get a more legible dive watch.
Watches are mechanical devices. In other words, they have moving components inside and the accuracy as well as reliability of these components vary. Do not just focus on what the watch presents on the outside; just as important as aesthetics is the internal build quality which determines how well the watch performs.
Watch movements can vary in accuracy, with quartz movements being the most accurate. How accurate a watch is and specifically what it is accurate about is up to you. For example, if timekeeping is the most important aspect for you, then you want a dive watch with highly accurate movements such as eco-drive/quartz watches as they are accurate down to the second.
However, longevity is yet another important aspect of watch movement. Even if a watch is accurate, its movements should remain accurate over the years.
Best Dive Watch Under $500: Parting Words
While a diving watch provides many benefits for divers, it is not exclusively for them. Dive watches are highly versatile and can be worn both in and out of the water by anyone. Depending on the aesthetic, you can get one that is not only durable, but sleek and stylish. You can just as easily wear it on the beach or in a boardroom meeting and it wouldn’t look out of place.
The primary functional purpose of a dive watch, aside from looking fantastic on your wrist, is to keep track of elapsed time. Underwater, that means tracking how much time has passed so you will know when your oxygen is running low. At the surface, there are numerous applications of a countdown timer. Whether you are cooking, want to take a short break, or need to know when to check up on something, quickly set a timer and let your watch handle the tracking.
Dive watches can get quite pricey and can be packed full of features, but the focus of this article is to narrow down on the good ones within the price range of $500 or less. You can get lots of reputable watches from reputable watch companies like Seiko or Casio for that kind of cash, and many of the best dive watches are often under $300. Depending on your budget and needs, there are surely a few good ones that will catch your eye.
- Francis Flinch, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Last update on 2023-03-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API