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10 Best Dive Watches Under $1000 [2024 Full Review]

Mido Ocean Star Captain Blue - Cover for Best Dive Watches under $1000 Article

While the humble diver has hard-working and utilitarian roots, once you pass the $1000 mark, it becomes hard justifying it as a ‘tool watch’. So, what about just below $1000? Perhaps we can find a valuable combination of high-grade materials and construction with some eye-catching designs. Or if you are captivated by daring aesthetics that break the mould of the typical dive watch, I’m sure we can find a few options for you too. Let’s take a look at the 10 Best Dive Watches Under $1000.

The Top Picks

Finding the top three within a list as comprehensive as this is hard, but we’ve managed (somehow). As always, note that all of these are exceptional for their respective price, but the top three on the list offer the most value while each providing something unique. 

The Mido Ocean Star Captain Blue is on the list for most of us as one of the best value options in this segment. You won’t be able to find a classic dive watch design and a bracelet in this price range.

Mido Ocean Star Captain Blue  Illustration for Best Dive Watches Under $1000 Article - Image Credit Amazon
Mido Ocean Star Captain Blue

Moving onto the Baltic Aquascaphe is another fan favourite because of the vintage look combined with exceptional finishing techniques. If you opt for the beads of rice bracelet, you get a diver that can be worn to slightly fancier places.

Baltic Aquascaphe - Illustration for Best Dive Watches Under $1000 Article - Image Credit Baltic Watches
Baltic AquascapheSource

Lastly (and a personal favourite) is the Doxa SUB 200 WhitePearl. Why not the orange dial? Because the white dial option looks badass. Paired with the white strap and the subtle use of black around the hour markers, it looks spectacular (Okay, so, maybe this one is currently $1,060). 

Doxa SUB 200 Whitepearl - Illustration for Best Dive Watches Under $1000 Article - Image Credit Monochrome Watches
Doxa SUB 200 Whitepearl – Source

10 Best Dive Watches Under $1000 

#1: Mido Ocean Star Captain Blue

  • Size: 42.5mm
  • Movement: Mido Caliber 80 (base ETA C07.651)
  • Case and Strap Material: Stainless Steel with matching bracelet
  • Water Resistance: 200m

Mido has been in business since 1919 but in recent years has become to go-to choice for enthusiasts looking to buy something different and unique. The Ocean Star is perhaps the collection that Mido is most famous for.

Mido dove into their rich history to help design the Ocean Star, as the original Ocean Star was introduced shortly after the end of WWII. 

A case size that’s somewhat sustainable yet manageable at 42.5mm but rather thin, measuring a subtle 11.75mm. When considering this option, keep in mind those end links do extend quite a way which will make the timepiece appear larger. 

Keeping with the classic ethos, the case is mainly brushed but features a few hints of polished elements. The star of the show is undoubtedly the bracelet, considering the ‘fit-and-finish’ it offers combined with the technology inside the case is unrivalled at $970.

The no-nonsense blue or black dial, depending on your preference, is protected by a sapphire crystal, and prominent hour markers create a clean and quite legible design with little to no visual pollution. 

Within is the automatic Mido calibre which is based on the ETA C07.651 with a power reserve of 80 hours. 

Is this the best diver’s watch at this price point? Well, that depends on you, but with 200 meters of water resistance, a classic design, and a finish you will not find at this price point, it certainly is a great choice, perhaps even the best.  

Mido Ocean Star Captain Blue
$970.00 $864.95
Pros:
  • Exceptionally thin for a diver with a mechanical movement
  • Fit-and-finish is up there with luxury dive watches
Cons:
  • The lug to lug and lug width reading might throw some smaller wrists off
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07/14/2024 02:45 pm GMT

#2: Baltic Aquascaphe Classic SB01

  • Size: 39mm
  • Movement: Miyota Caliber 9039
  • Case and Strap Material: Stainless Steel with Matching Bracelet 
  • Water Resistance: 200m

Perhaps you want something with a ton of vintage flair but without all the difficulties and limitations of a vintage watch? Well, the microbrand Baltic literally has the slogan “WATCHES INSPIRED FROM THE PAST, MADE FOR TODAY.”, so, you’ll be happy to hear they took this slogan to heart. They might be young, merely 7 years old, but under the leadership of Etienne Malec have released some of the more interesting options we see on the market today. 

The watch Baltic is most famous for has to be the Aquascaphe. Sure, you could get an Aquascaphe GMT for $1,005, but I wanted to keep things truly classic. The SB01 offers a design similar to that of vintage tool watches like the Explorer II and the more modern Black Bay Pro. 

Alright, but what do you actually get for your $650? Well, a brushed stainless steel case that measures 39mm in diameter but a narrow 47mm lug-to-lug. Behind the double-domed sapphire crystal is a grainy textured black dial paired with large and legible hour markers and sword hands, all of which are filled with BGW9 super luminova. In fact, this is one of the most legible dials on the list! Around the perimeter sits a steel bezel with a 12-hour graduation, perhaps not the most accurate for diving, but it does suit the overall look of the watch nicely. 

And finally, the beads of rice bracelet doubles down on this vintage vibe and presents the watch as something rather special yet unassuming. Isn’t that what a diver is supposed to be in the first place? 

Baltic Aquascaphe Classic SB01
Pros:
  • Offers a vintage feel and look; and is available with 'patina' dial options as well
  • A rather snug lug-to-lug measurement makes it extremely wrist-friendly
Cons:
  • Other dive bezels could be used more accurately
  • The crown does lack guards, which could be a dealbreaker for some
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#3: Doxa SUB200 WhitePearl

  • Size: 42mm
  • Movement: ETA 2824-2 Caliber
  • Case and Strap Material: Stainless Steel with Matching Bracelet
  • Water Resistance: 200m

My favourite by far on this list is the Doxa SUB200, particularly the WhitePearl version. Doxa itself is famous for its dive watches as they were tested and used by famous divers like Jacques Cousteau, but to be more specific, the orange dial options are the ones carrying the most historical significance. 

Take your mind back to 2019 and imagine yourself at Baselworld. You walk around the corner to be met with a 42 mm dive watch with a variety of eye-catching dials matched with a similarly coloured strap or a steel bracelet. Upon a short conversation with the attendee, you realize this has quite an affordable price. It features a screw-down crown allowing for a 200m depth rating and features a self-winding movement. All for around $1000 (although the retail price today is $1,060. Again, sue me). 

For some, the orange dial is the one to have, but matched with the white strap and white bezel, the WhitePearl option with the white dial is the perfect choice for someone looking to make a fashion statement while wearing a good dive watch. The black outer linings around the hour markers and hands create a stark and precise dial, by far the most legible on this list of the best dive watches for under $1000. 

You buy a Doxa because you like the brand—the company’s overarching philosophy. You invest because you admire the history. 

With the SUB200, the entry-level piece of Doxa, you get a polished steel case, a reliable ETA calibre, and a look like no other. 

Doxa SUB200 WhitePearl
Pros:
  • Available in different colours and offers a unique design not seen elsewhere
Cons:
  • The power reserve is only rated at 38 hours
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#4: Seiko Prospex SPB317

  • Size: 41mm
  • Movement: 6R35 Caliber
  • Case and Strap Material: Stainless Steel with Rubber Strap
  • Water Resistance: 200m

You might have missed your shot of getting a brand new Seiko SKX, but you could still land yourself an excellent offering from the Japanese giant. Often claimed to be ‘the best first dive watch’, Seiko divers offer outstanding value combined with reputable technology and finished methods. 

The Prospex line is the ‘serious’ dive line within the company, something for the professional diver to wear apart from their dive computers. The SPB317 is heralded as the thinnest Prospex ever, which is something to be said since most divers are relatively thick, just like me in the midst of Sunday lunch. Sporting a recognizable 41mm case shaped in a ‘turtle’ shape, somewhat similar to the Willard, one of the most famous Seikos to date, but still different to the Seiko Sumo. 

The case features brushed elements on the front while the case back is polished and curved to fit better on the wrist. The dial is adorned with large and robust hour markers and a highly subtle colour-matched date window located between four and five o’clock. The clean black dial is matched with a black unidirectional rotating bezel, allowing you to measure your dive time as long as you don’t go deeper than 200m. 

But even if you just wear this with a T-Shirt or to the office, the sleek and thin case design and understated looks will make for an easy-wearing experience. 

Seiko Prospex SPB317
Pros:
  • The curved case and short lug-to-lug distance mean it's a true diver that can be worn even by those with smaller wrists
Cons:
  • There might be better (and cheaper) options from Seiko, but that's down to personal preference
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#5: Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Automatic

  • Size: 43mm
  • Movement: H-10 Caliber
  • Case and Strap Material: Stainless Steel with Matching Bracelet
  • Water Resistance: 300m

Hamilton hardly needs an introduction. The value-for-money Swiss powerhouse is known for making some of the most beloved field and tool watches on the market. Due to this success, the rather impressive Navy Scuba Automatic fails to garner the same limelight. Coming in just shy of $800 you have a Swiss timepiece with four different colour configurations and design that neatly combines the tool watch roots of Hamilton with the dive watch idea. 

If I were to buy a Scuba, I’d go with the blue dial one. Or, if you prefer something less sporty, then the black dial would work perfectly for a Tuesday watch for the office. Regardless, the light blue dial is accented neatly by the stark white hour markers and hand. The tip of the second hand provides that ‘pop of colour’ in contrasting red, while the bezel features a white colour ’till the 15-minute mark before switching back to the aforementioned light blue. 

The case is mainly brushed, with a few polished accents on the sides, and a similar sleek design can be seen on the bracelet. Or, if you genuinely want to double down on the sportiness, opt for a rubber strap. Perhaps not the best diver for formal occasions, but the best for your new summer timepiece. 

Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Automatic
$1,075.00 $707.98
Pros:
  • Features the trusted H-10 calibre (which is really just the Powermatic 80), allowing for an 80-hour power reserve
  • The colour-matched rubber band option provides exceptional value and a striking look
Cons:
  • Most people will ask you why you bought this Hamilton
  • Some may find the additional 13-24 scale next to the hour markers a bit too much, as well as the 43 mm case
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07/14/2024 03:15 pm GMT

#6: Tissot Sideral Blue

  • Size: 41mm
  • Movement: Powermatic 80
  • Case and Strap Material: Stainless steel case with black and blue marbled forged carbon and blue rubber strap
  • Water Resistance: 300m

Usually, we would include the Seastar 2000 here, but since the price increase of 2023, that option now hits slightly above our price range. However, Tissot did make amends with the newly introduced Sideral SBlue with a quirky design which Tissot is actually famous for. Back in the day they even made a watch made from rocks and minerals. 

Embodying the 70s is the Sideral featuring a 41mm forged carbon case with a black PVD unidirectional bezel. The bezel is equipped with both a diver and regatta graduation, something we rarely see at this price point. The dial is a mess of colours with a minute track in blue blocks, a red second hand, and more graduation to allow for regatta timing. The design is certainly more ‘young’ and out there than most on this wrist, and you’ll be looked down upon by someone wearing a Rolex Submariner, but jokes on them, you can go anywhere with your diver and not worry about getting nicks and bruises. 

Finally, behind the sapphire caseback is the Powermatic 80 movement. This calibre has been with Tissot for a long time and is one of the most trusted and reliable on the market (for the price). 

Tissot Sideral Powermatic 80 Blue T145.407.97.057.01
Pros:
  • A whopping 300m water-resistant rating in a watch that hardly 'looks' robust or rugged is a nice combination
  • Offers a regatta timing feature
Cons:
  • The design will scare off those who prefer classic designs
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#7: Unimatic UC3

  • Size: 41.5mm
  • Movement: Seiko Meca-Quartz VK64
  • Case and Strap Material: Stainless Steel with NATO Strap
  • Water Resistance: 300m

If the quirky design and extra features of the Tissot are too much for you, and you deem the best thing about a diver is utility with simplicity, then allow us to introduce Unimatic. This independent Italian watch company only saw the light of day in 2015 but has gone on to produce some of the most peculiar and visually striking automatic watches at a reasonable price. Simple, robust, yet somehow extremely elegant, these timepieces somehow resemble a masculine Italian suit. I can imagine Jhon Wick wearing one of these. 

If Mr. Wick were to go diving, the UC3 would perhaps be the option of choice for the charismatic hitman. Featuring a case diameter of 41.5mm, the watch is snug compared to others on the list. Part of this is because it lacks what some deem as an essential feature for a diver. There is no rotating dive bezel – is what you think. The bezel is actually a unidirectional one, but because of the complete darkness, you hardly notice it. Not that you’d need it because, of course, you have a stopwatch function. Yes, a stopwatch function. This UC3 is powered by the Seiko Meca-Quartz VK64 calibre. 

The steel case is barebones and so is the dial. Some engravings around the bezel, pushers, and crown create some dimension, but the key features of this diver are the elegant and simple design matched with the makings of a reliable dive watch.

Unimatic UC3
Pros:
  • This is one of the most unique designs when considering recreational divers
  • A 300 m water resistance rating isn't half bad
Cons:
  • No automatic movement
  • Not the most accurate quartz movement (-20/+20 s/month)
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#8: Citizen Promaster Dive Automatic NB6021-17E

  • Size: 41mm
  • Movement: 9051 Caliber
  • Case and Strap Material: Titanium with Rubber Strap
  • Water Resistance: 200m

Japan and the many companies that call the land of the Rising Sun home offer some of the best value options when it comes to divers. Seiko SKX, Orient Mako II, or the Citizen Promaster. The Promaster is the serious diver in the lineup and for good reason! It’s built for a reason. A purpose. 

This NB6021-17E is the one we would opt for in the current market and draws inspiration from the design of the 1977 Citizen Challenge Diver that was found on an Australian beach in 1983. It’s also the first watch on the list to delve into the world of different case materials. The brushed case is constructed in titanium, a metal that is not only harder than steel but lighter as well. The black dial means business and is packed to the brim with large hour markers and Mercedes hands. A dainty date aperture is located at the three o’clock position, just in case your dive isn’t going as great as you had hoped… 

Keeping with truly classic designs, the case doesn’t feature crown guards. What it does have is a sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating. Finishing off this virile watch is the 9051 calibre, allowing for 42 hours of power reserve and an impressive antimagnetic rating of 16000 A/m. 

Citizen Promaster Dive Automatic NB6021-17E
$530.00 $490.00
Pros:
  • Offers a light and stylish case while retaining a classic look
  • ISO-compliant
Cons:
  • No bracelet is offered on the black model (this might change in the future)
  • Some clients complain about the inaccuracy of the 9051 calibre
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07/14/2024 03:20 pm GMT

#9: G-Shock GMWB5000GD-9

  • Size: 43.2mm
  • Movement: Tough Solar
  • Case and Strap Material: Gold-tinted Stainless Steel with Matching Bracelet
  • Water Resistance: 200m

If you think we were going to complete a ‘Best Divers’ list without a G-Shock, you are sorely mistaken, my friend. With a G-Shock, you don’t expect a ceramic bezel or a helium escape valve. No, you expect a brute ready to accompany you on any journey you see fit. 

The GMWB5000GD-9 is part of the ‘Full-Metal’ range that became insanely popular as soon as it was released some time ago. And, for once, I’m with the hype. The typical square case measures merely 43.2mm in diameter, features a mineral crystal, a world time function, a 1/100th second stopwatch, five daily alarms, a power saving mode, and, of course, the main attraction being a gold-tinted stainless steel construction. Wow. 

You can also operate your watch with your smartphone, improving its usability and then some. You still, however, get the 200m of water resistance, and the resistance to shock the watch receives its namesake from. Also, you get a solar-powered quartz movement, so you can forget about your battery life ever failing.

This G-Shock might not be the most ‘classic’ design or garner the same respect as an Omega Seamaster. However, those that know will know that you’re either a hardworking person who needs a robust watch, a seasoned collector who actually admires the G-Shock for what it is, or a kid who just wanted a badass watch that looks like gold. 

GMWB5000GD-9
$600.00 $399.00
Pros:
  • Probably the most robust watch on this list
  • You get to operate it with your smartphone via Bluetooth
Cons:
  • It is a wee bit flashy, but there are more subdued options available
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07/14/2024 03:25 pm GMT

#10: Marathon MSAR Quartz 

  • Size: 36mm
  • Movement: ETA High-Torque FØ6
  • Case and Strap Material: Stainless Steel with Rubber Strap
  • Water Resistance: 300m

To round off the list we have Marathon with the MSAR Quartz. Marathon has roots starting in 1904 and is known for producing military spec watches since they create watches for the US and Canadian armies. They also offer a design that you won’t find elsewhere, with most options offering an extremely deep dial thanks to the use of Tritium gas tubes. Unlike the luminova we’re all used to, Tritium does not need to charge in the sun in order to work in the dark. 

The MSAR (Marathon Search and Rescue) was initially developed according to the Canadian requirements for search and rescue missions. Marathon delivered a watch able to withstand extreme conditions and look damn good while doing it. This MSAR Quartz is a ‘Medium’ option, meaning it’s a diver that only measures 36mm in diameter! Small-wrist folk rejoice! 

As mentioned, a deep white dial allows for the use of Tritium tubes on the hands and hour markers, and the polished case and bezel complete the robust look. If you still weren’t convinced, the knurling on the crown is unlike anything we’ve seen so far and almost seems like a design feature rather than a usable feature. To make the price cut, this option comes with a sporty rubber strap, but there is a stainless steel bracelet available as well. 

A great dive watch with roots in the military and luminous hands like no other. 

Marathon MSAR Quartz 
Pros:
  • An extremely robust and reliable tool watch matched with a quartz movement for extra utility
  • Tritium tubes allow for better legibility
Cons:
  • It's remarkably thick. This will not slide under the cuff of a shirt. This is a true dive watch
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Picking the Right Diver for You

The best automatic dive watches in the world might not always be the best option for you. Why? Well, you’re an individual! With emotions, feelings, a particular wrist size, and so much more. Thus, you need to be careful about choosing the right watch for you. Here are some key factors you might need to consider: 

Size and Design

The first thing you notice is how it looks and how that 42 mm lug-to-lug sits on your wrist. Opting for watches that actually suit your wrist is key. However, keep in mind that divers are usually a bit larger and thicker than their dressy counterparts.

Cost and Heritage

If you can’t afford it, well, you can’t have it. What’s more, if the watch is ludicrously priced for no apparent reason (basic materials, no history, lousy quality, etc), then it obviously isn’t a good option

Features

Depending on what you intend to do with your watch, you might need a power reserve indicator. You might need a watch that is water-resistant to 1,000m. Choosing the watch that suits your lifestyle best is obviously a no-brainer. However, no one would be mad at you for having features for the ‘poetic’ idea.

FAQs

Are dive watches suitable for everyday wear, or are they specifically designed for diving activities?

Divers can be worn daily. They might have originally been designed for diving activities, but most options today are extremely wrist-friendly and can easily be worn daily.

Are all dive watches water-resistant, or do they have different levels of water resistance?

Most divers are, however, the extent to which depends from watch to watch. Some might only have 100m while others offer a whopping 10,000m. Would you actually use the latter? Eh… 

What is the purpose of a rotating bezel on a dive watch, and how is it used during underwater activities?

The purpose of a rotating bezel is to mark the point in time when you start your dive. This allows you to track how long you’ve been diving to estimate how much oxygen is left in your tank. 

Final Thoughts

There are a ton of great options on this list. Each brings its own unique spin on a diver, and for around $1000 you couldn’t go wrong with any of these. Again, the top three are merely a suggestion, my own personal taste excluded. When shopping for a diver, take your time. It’s a big chunk of money, so breathe, try a few on, and choose the one that’ll make you smile every time you put it on. 

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