6 of the best 38mm – 40mm Dive Watches
James Elliott15 August 2021 | 7 min read
Divers are one of the most popular genres of watches out there, both for those who take to the water and those who stay on dry land. But one of the biggest complaints is that dive watches are too big, and there aren’t many <40mm dive watches on the market.
It’s true that, in practice, a <40mm dive watch is at a disadvantage in terms of readability in the water. That’s entirely up to you though, whether or not that matters. So if you like dive watches but you’re looking for something a little smaller, you’re in the right place.
In this article, we’re going to pull out our top 6 small dive watches, perfect for those with slimmer wrists. We’ll compare 38-40mm models on their design, specs, and price to give you some inspiration when it comes to diving watches that buck the oversized watch trend.
Let’s dive in!
- 6 of The Best 38mm – 40mm Dive Watches:
- Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto (40mm)
- Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Automatic (38mm)
- Q Timex Reissue (38mm)
1. Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto (40mm)
Why it makes our list – A very classy 40mm automatic watch from a well-respected Swiss brand. It looks great on the wrist, is sturdy, and has some great dive specs too – our favorite sub-40mm dive watch!
We start off with our favorite 38-40mm watch with the Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba. Hamilton is a fantastic Swiss brand that specializes in watches that bridge the budget and mid-range categories and this is a beauty.
The Navy Scuba is a fantastic watch if you want to balance compact size and great performance with a cost-effective price point. As with all Hamilton watches in the Khaki range, the style delivers a slightly military look and feel, with the all-black dial and white markings making for a very sleek and simple package.
Inside the case, we’ve got a super quality automatic movement in Hamilton’s H-10 calibre. If you’re worried about power reserve, don’t be because this watch delivers 80 hours of highly accurate timekeeping. As a more premium watch, you’ll also get features such as a sapphire crystal and a stainless steel bracelet to round off the package.
At around $545, this watch somehow stands out for its price rather than its amazing performance. If you throw the extra 100m of water resistance into the mix too, you’re getting a real beauty of a dive watch too. While every watch on our list is one we’d recommend, this is our favorite and one we’d recommend to anyone looking for a sub-40mm piece.
2. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Automatic (38mm)
Why it makes our list – A real luxury sub-40mm watch from one of the world’s best brands. A timeless, high-spec design wrapped up in a gorgeous deep blue package.
If you’re shopping in the luxury watch market, one of the best 38-40mm watches around is the Omega Seamaster. Omega is renowned for its high quality and is seen by many as one of the key competitors in the watch market to Rolex.
While this watch is closely linked to the sea, it doesn’t have an immediate dive watch look and feel to it. Instead, you get a dress watch that incorporates many sports/dive watch themes. With the arrow-tipped markers matched with the dauphine/arrow hands, you’ve got a simple and clean overall dial, even with the secluded date window at 6 o’clock.
Inside the case, you’ve got Omega’s 8800 automatic movement, which vibes at 25200vph, has 55 hours of power reserve, and 35 jewels. With this watch, you’ll also get a high-quality sapphire crystal, 150m water resistance, and a sturdy and stylish rubber band.
A premium watch like this comes with a premium price tag. If you like the look of this piece, you’re going to be paying out just shy of $4,000. For that, you’re getting an incredibly stylish and high-quality 38mm watch, that’ll look great on the wrist and have your friends and family turning their heads.
3. Q Timex Reissue (38mm)
Why it makes our list – A stylish 38mm dive-inspired watch that strikes a balance between looking great and being tough, all on a very affordable budget.
We’ve pulled out a recent homage to a classic with the Q Timex re-issue for our next small dive watches. Based on their original watch from the late 1970s, Timex has created a piece that delivers excellent dive characteristics and retro stylings in a small package.
The first thing you’ll notice with this watch is the excellent design. The deep blue dial looks great at all light angles. The lume-covered circle markings and baton/lollipop hand combination delivers a popular design theme similar to what we see with far more premium watches.
The whole thing is power by quartz with the movement inside the case driving a day/date window found at 3 o’clock. With this model, you’ll also get a rotating top ring bezel, a woven stainless steel bracelet and an acrylic crystal, but don’t get too excited about the water resistance. At just 50m, it’s a diving watch that’s more for style than serious underwater adventures, but saying that it’ll still be safe to wear for casual swimming.
Price-wise, you can get your hands on one of these Reissue models for around $175. Whilst the specs aren’t super high, the design of this watch is stunning. At 38mm, it’s also a perfect size for those with smaller wrists and delivers a dive watch look and feel on a tiny budget.
4. Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600 (38mm)
Why it makes our list – A small and compact diver from a leading British watch brand. 600m of water resistance means it’s a high-performing diver that looks great on the wrist.
For our next pick, we come to a brand some outside of the UK may not have heard of in Christopher Ward. The brand was founded in 2004 and sought to bring high-quality Swiss watches to the masses by removing high markups and intermediaries.
One of their most popular ranges is the Trident, a range of dive watches that deliver impressive specs at pretty affordable prices. The C60 model shown below does just that, alongside looking great on the wrist with its black and silver finish.
The 38mm piece is another excellent size for those with smaller wrists whilst delivering 4hz, 38-hour automatic performance thanks to the Sellita SW200-1 movement. This really is a premium watch, so expect to see features such as Grade X1 GL C1 Super-LumiNova®, a sapphire crystal and a staggering 600m of water resistance thrown in there too. Yes, you read that right, 600m!
Price-wise, we’re into four figures, with this watch retailing directly from Cristopher Ward at $1,050. For that price, you’re getting a high-quality watch from a brand dedicated to bringing luxury specs to more modest budgets. Do also keep an eye out on the Christoper Ward website, as they often launch flash sales where their best watches are available at an even better price than normal!
Why it makes our list – One of the most popular dive watches on the market wrapped up into a sub-40mm package – what’s not to like?
With the Longines HydroConquest, we get to a watch that’s one of the most popular dive models in the mid-market category. Seen by many as a gateway watch to more luxury pieces, the HydroConquest’s appeal goes far and wide.
The reference pictured below has been added to the range to create a smaller, 39mm version of the classic. The blue sun-ray dial looks great on the wrist, with the combination of large numbering, lume hands and uni-directional bezel, making it functional as well as gorgeous.
Brands like Longines don’t put out bad movements. That’s no different here with the automatic L888 calibre found inside this watch delivering 25’200vph performance for up to 72 hours. A sapphire crystal, a date window, Swiss Super-LumiNova® and 300m of water resistance ensure it’s robust for taking on adventures.
Retailing at around $1,250, the HydroConquest is a hefty investment but more than worth it for the high-quality specs on show. When heading out to buy one of these, be sure to go for the L3.7188.8.131.52 reference, as it’s easy to miss the slight differences in size until it’s too late. If you’re looking for a diver under 40mm, though, this is one of the market’s nicest and most popular models!
6. Tudor Black Bay 58 (39mm)
Why it makes our list – Tudor is up there with one of the best luxury brands, including Rolex, Hublot and AP. The Black Bay delivers a high-quality dive watch at just under 40mm.
What better way to finish up than with the little brother of the most famous watch brand in history. Famed for being the sister company to Rolex, Tudor offers high-quality luxury watches to those who are just short of racing the Rolex leagues.
The Black Bay is one of the most popular ranges from the Swiss brand, with the Black Bay 58 model slimed down to a 39mm size that’s perfect for those with smaller wrists. The black and gold colourings look fantastic at all angles, with the proportions, design themes and build quality matching up very closely to a Rolex.
Of course, a watch of this level has all the premium features you’d expect. The COSC-certified MT5402 movement delivers 70 hours of highly accurate timekeeping, with everything protected behind a sapphire crystal. If you’re planning to take it diving, you’ll have 200m of waterproof capability here too!
Depending on where you go, you’ll be able to find a Tudor Black Bay for anywhere around $4,000. At this price, you’re heading into the luxury watch bracket, but it’s well worth the investment given the great specs on offer. If you’re after a luxury black dive watch that’s under 40mm in size, there aren’t many better than the Tudor Black Bay 58.
Dive watches have a reputation for being gigantic in size, alienating those with smaller wrists for fear of looking and feeling awkward. Luckily that myth isn’t true, with several 40mm dive watches on the market, with a range of models even smaller than that available too.
So, whether you’re looking for a budget option from the likes of Timex or splashing out on a luxury Tudor piece, there are lots out there for those looking for a small divers watch. Overall, we’d recommend the Hamilton Navy Scuba Auto as the best sub-40mm model on the market – one we’d recommend if you want a small dive watch that looks as good as it performs!