The best budget dive watches

As diving watches are arguably one of the most popular type of watch sold, it should come as little surprise that a number of misconceptions surround what actually makes a good example.
Perhaps the biggest cause for confusion is what actually constitutes such a timepiece? Fortunately there is a definition: a dive watch is one that is designed for underwater diving that features, as a minimum, a water resistance greater than 100m. Typical examples these days are good for 200 to 300m or beyond. Note, the very first Rolex Submariner was rated to 100 metres.


Even this minimum standard, however, is overkill. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) states that its Open Water certification will let you submerge to 20 metres. Upgrade to the Advanced Open Water certification and you can go to 40m. Trust us, you will not need the extra 60-plus metres of water resistance – dive below 57m, for example, and the partial pressure of the oxygen in compressed air can become toxic – and, what’s more, you will likely prefer the weight and financial savings from not going for a higher performing model.
Here we have selected nine diver watches than shun bells and whistles for functionality, and as a result represent exceptional value whether you take them wreck diving or merely submit them to a dunk in the bath.
Seiko 5 Sports SRPD93

To say Seiko has dive watch heritage is something of an understatement. After all, this is the only brand that has an association with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), established in 2016. However, if you are looking for a piece with a little more versatility, the Seiko’s 5 Sports range, complete with Caliber 4R36 automatic movement, starts at a preposterously low £280 and, much like the Timex in this selection, represents exceptional value for money.


Seiko has been producing its 5 Sports watches in various guises for more than 50 years, but this new collection offers no fewer than 27 different iterations, each in one of five styles: Sports, Suits, Specialist, Street and Sense. The collection has a range of straps and bracelets from steel mesh to silicone/leather hybrids. This Sports version has 41 hours of power reserve, a silicone strap and 100 metres water resistance.
Price: £280 | Seiko
Certina DS PH200M

Certina, a sister brand of Swatch Group’s Omega, has long had a reputation for crafting extremely competent diving watches. Indeed, its watches were worn by US Navy divers during 1965’s SEALAB II experimental underwater habitats project, selected for use on Nasa’s Tektite II undersea habitat endeavour in 1969, as well as being issued to divers in the Royal Australian Navy.


This latest incarnation of the DS PH200M improves on the 2018 model by adding a ceramic bezel and sapphire crystals front and back, while the movement within features an anti-magnetic Nivachron balance spring for improved accuracy and resistance to shocks and changes in temperature.
The 42.8mm stainless-steel watch is good for 200m submersion, comes with an 80-hour power reserve and has Super-LumiNova on the dark blue dial, the hands and the bezel for when visibility is poor. Wear with a grey-blue NATO strap, brown calfskin strap or Milanese bracelet – thanks to a quick-change system, you can switch between these straps with ease.
Price: £785 | Certina | Jura Watches | Beaverbrooks [/b]
Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 Silicium

For the more serious diver, this automatic Tissot offers a high water-resistance of up to a 300m, along with a screw-down crown and caseback as well as its unidirectional ceramic bezel. The Powermatic 80 movement has a power reserve up to 80 hours, while the stainless steel bracelet has a folding clasp with safety and diver extension, so you can easily secure the watch over a wetsuit.
The final element to consider is the Seastar’s silicon balance spring, which never requires any lubrication, improves accuracy and offers resistance to magnetic interferences and thermal fluctuations.
Price: £720 | Tissot | Beaverbrooks
Doxa Watch Sub 200

This 42mm three-hand diver’s watch is the entry-level model from the Swiss dive-watch company that is best known for its distinctive cushion-case designs first seen on the brand’s now classic Sub 300 from 1967, which was favoured by Jacques Cousteau no less.
Topped by a scratch-resistant bubble-domed sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating, the steel case watch with a solid steel caseback is waterproof to 200 metres and has the obligatory unidirectional rotating bezel. Powered by an ETA 2824-2 Swiss automatic movement, the Sub 200 has a 38-hour power reserve.
But colour choice is the theme with this piece, with “Sharkhunter” (black), “Searambler” (silver), “Divingstar” (yellow), “Aquamarine” (turquoise) and the brand’s signature hue “Professional” (orange) all available. Here you see the “Caribbean” (mid-tone blue) version. At just shy of £1,000, this is a great deal of watch for the money.
Price: £910 | Doxa
Triwa Time for Oceans

After the brand’s Humanium Metal HU39-DA automatic – fashioned from destructed illegal firearms where 15 per cent of the sales (more than €100,000) went to conflict-focused charities – Triwa is once again flexing its worthy credentials.
Some 150m tonnes of plastic pollute and circulate in our oceans, so Triwa’s new Time for Oceans collection upcycles this ocean waste. Both the case and strap are made from 100 per cent ocean plastic produced by Tide Ocean Material in Switzerland. The waste is transformed into a granular material using solar energy, and is then moulded into watch shape.
The watch may not look much like a traditional diver, but with water resistance to 100m, this will serve adequately while at the same time salving your conscience.
Price: £120 | Triwa
Rotate North Atlantic

This Belfast-based new watch brand has an impressive launch lineup, including a good-looking pilot’s watch and this, the Atlantic, a mechanical diver’s watch engineered in Germany and fitted with a waterproof strap made in Italy from sustainably sourced rubber. The build is impressive: water-resistant to 300 metres; hardened mineral crystal; Super-LumiNova on hands and markers.
And despite this watch costing less that £300, it is powered by a shock-proof, self-winding NH35A, 21,600 BPH automatic movement, with a 41-hour power reserve. There are a few colours from which to choose, including the customary black, but WIRED likes the Flare Orange edition with its vibrant, vegan rubber strap. Want something more serious? Rotate North has a 500m diver complete with helium valve coming in the form of the £345 Arctic. Either variant represents excellent value.
Price: £285 (pre-order, shipping from mid-July) | Rotate North
Bulova Archive Oceanographer

Bulova’s tribute to its classic 70s Oceanographer diver features a self-winding mechanical movement housed in a 44mm, shield-shaped, stainless-steel case. There are two versions, one with a blue and yellow unidirectional bezel, and this, the ‘Devil Diver’, in black and red.
Luminescent hour markers and a date aperture at three o’clock complement the 200 metre water-resistance and stainless-steel bracelet with safety bar and extender.
Price: £499 | Bulova | Amazon
Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto

This new addition to Hamilton’s dive range established in 2017 is typically low-key for the line – and that’s a good thing. As green is very on-trend right now, the olive green colour scheme is sharp. With 100m of water resistance, the large hands and indices are lumed and highly legible, as is the date window between 4 and 5 o’clock.
The aluminium unidirectional bezel rounds off the stylishly simple aesthetic, while the H-10 movement (a modified ETA 2824) offers a decidedly decent 80-hour power reserve. And if green is not your scene, there are a few alternatives to try, including an all-black model, black with orange, black with blue, blue with white accents and (also new this year) blue with orange.
Price: £645 | Hamilton | John Lewis
Timex M79 Automatic

We admit this last entry is a cheat, as with only 50m water resistance it does not technically qualify in the dive category. Why it is here? Well, Timex’s new automatic “diver” is, for less than £250, a steal.
An eminently sensible first watch, let alone first diver, the piece channels the timeless style of Rolex’s new GMT Master II echoing its “Batman” blue/black livery, yet costs some £7,500 less then that particularly high-end option. And while you don’t get Rolex’s Oystersteel case and superb COSC-certified 3285 movement, this is still a fully automatic, self-winding 40mm steel watch with unidirectional top ring, day/date window and 40-hour power reserve. The first run sold out quickly, but more are inbound come September, WIRED is told.
Price: £249 | Timex | Mr Porter
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