Disclaimer: Some prices may have updated since publishing the post and maybe over the mentioned price limit.
Yes, diving watches can handle considerable depths, but they’re highly durable pieces anyone can wear. Those that can handle the most water tend to be expensive – or so you’d think. We ran through a list of 6 to help you find the best diver’s watch under $500.
We summarized our most notable picks in the following table.
If you’re looking for a very luminous piece, the Luminox 3001 is the one for you. We’ve never seen a watch as bright – it’ll work great when you’re deep underwater. It has lume not only on its markers but its hands as well.
It is water-resistant up to 660 feet (200 meters). It is ISO 6425 certified, so you don’t have to worry about water seeping inside. It’s waterproof – you’re getting a thorough plastic body. It not only keeps water off but all kinds of muck and dirt are repelled.
Its crown and case screwed well, and there are gaskets within its buttons. They prevent substances from clogging its insides.
The 3001 is big. Its case stretches 1.67 inches (43 mm) across, so make note if you have smaller wrists. Although plastic is super waterproof, wearing it is not fun – you’ll sweat. Unfortunately, the Luminox has a thick band.
The crystal on it is mineral. It’s not as durable as sapphire or Hardlex, but it can handle a beating. What can handle a beating is its case. Its thick plastic that is carbon-reinforced. You’ll find it interesting that the watchmaker’s pieces are so durable that they’re Navy SEAL approved.
Luminox is a Swiss brand. The 3001 comes with a Swiss quartz movement. It’ll last you a lifetime. Do we know the name of its specific mechanism? Not really, but it’s reliable.
Being a dive watch, it’s not surprising to see a rotating bezel. As it turns, it ticks. It helps you time yourself underwater. It’s easy to rotate as it has edges to it.
We love calendar features – they make watches more functional. The one on the 3001 is in the 3 o'clock position. It only reads the date, though.
What makes it special:
It’s highly luminous
Like Luminox, Victorinox is a Swiss brand. The 241782 rocks a Swiss quartz movement – it moves like butter. You’re looking at an anti-magnetic watch. When you’re deep underwater, you’re exposed to quite a few magnetic waves. They wreak havoc on watch movements.
It is made of quality stainless steel. This makes it super resistant. You’re also getting ample water-proofing. Victorinox wants the best for you which is why its steel is hypoallergenic; it won’t irritate your skin.
There is a super durable crystal on it. It is sapphire. When you dive with the device, having such an impact-resistant window is what you want.
So, how much water can it handle? 660 feet (200 meters). The 241782 comes with an extension that fits over wetsuits – it makes getting ready to dive easier.
There is ample lume on it. The I.N.O.X’s markers are rhomboid and pretty fat, they make for fabulous canvases. The pigment is on its hands too.
If you have smaller wrists, you might not be a fan of it. Its case stretches 1.77 inches (45 mm) across.
A calendar is in place. It’s in the 4 o'clock position, so you’ll probably be straining your neck trying to read it.
With your purchase, you’re getting a rotating bezel. It ticks loudly. There are edges, helping you grip it better.
What makes it special:
It is an anti-magnetic timepiece
The Deepest Diver
The watch is our favourite looking entry. It’s a vision in blue – Tissot nailed the shade as it looks luxurious. It has a metallic effect too, making it more interesting.
It’s not too big or too small. Its case stretches 1.69 inches (43 mm) across. Even though you’re getting such lengths, its dial isn’t very big. Its bezel takes up a lot of space. Yes, you can rotate it – we’re looking at a dive watch after all.
There is ample lume on its dial. The pigment is bright and is on its hands and markers. You’ll easily be able to read it underwater. It is resistant up to 1000 feet (300 meters). From all the entries on our list, it can handle the most depth.
Like the other two, Tissot is a Swiss brand. The Seastar hosts a swiss automatic movement. Unfortunately, we don’t know the name of the specific mechanism used. We do know its specs, though. It has 23 jewels and an 80-hour power reserve. Before you get too excited, the jewels are pieces of glass placed between gears. The more present, the smoother a timepiece will run. 17 is the standard, so 23 is not too bad.
You’ll have a hard time trying to scratch its crystal. It’s made from tough sapphire. Its body is also tough, it is high-quality stainless steel.
Being an automatic device, we love that it comes with an exposed back. Hard glass or plastic makes it up, letting you peek inside.
When you’re 1000 feet (300 meters) underwater, you don’t have to worry about your Seastar falling off your wrist. It comes with a secure fold-over deployant clasp.
What makes it special:
It is the most water-resistant watch on our list.
We love solar powered watches – you don’t have to worry about replacing their battery. The BN0150 is an eco-drive that is known as one of the best solar-powered pieces around. Any light source charges it, but be careful of halogenic lamps, they get really hot.
As it was made for the pool, it’s no surprise that it comes with a rubber strap. It’s polyurethane to be exact. It flings water off easily. It is ribbed, making it more comfortable to wear. We have a complaint, though – it’s thick.
Of course, there is ample lume on it. The pigment is on its hands and markers. When underwater, you’ll find it easy to read also due to its red hand. It contrasts sharply against the black dial.
So, how much water can it handle? It offers 660 feet (200 meters) of resistance.
It has its crown in the 4 o'clock position. We’re fans of timepieces with their crown like this – you won’t be slamming them into your wrist. Something else that’s in the 4 o’ angle is its calendar. It only reads the date. We’re not a fan of it being at this angle - you know why.
The crystal on it is mineral. You’re familiar with how durable it is. However, the mineral on it is special – it’s anti-reflective. When it’s sunny out, light bounces off the water like crazy – you won’t be making your timepiece a disco ball.
Its bezel rotates. There are firm grooves on it, helping you grip it. Its ticks are pretty loud. Its bezel is especially strong as it isn’t made from stainless steel - it is aluminum. If you didn’t know, aluminum is great at being waterproof.
As it’s solar-powered, it’s a quartz unit. Sunlight powers its Japanese quartz movement.
It’s definitely on the larger side. Its case stretches 1.73 inches (44 mm) across.
What makes it special:
It’s an Eco-drive.
If you’re a watch enthusiast, you’ve probably heard of the SKX007 before. It’s easily one of Seiko’s most famous pieces. The device is durable. It comes with a hard rubber strap. Its case is made from high-grade stainless steel as well.
You’re not getting mineral on its dial. No, you’re not met with sapphire either. It is hardlex which is Seiko’s improved version of mineral. You’re probably wondering how water resistant it is – the answer is 660 feet (200 meters).
The SKX007 is paying tribute to the Rolex Submariner. It has a similar bezel and dial. The only real difference is the strap. Of course, the Submariner is much more water-resistant.
If you have smaller wrists, the SKX007 won’t look awkward on you. Its case is 1.65 inches (42 mm). To many, such a length is in the ‘goldilocks zone’ of case sizes. That being said, its strap is thick.
Its dial is full of lume. The luminous pigment Seiko uses is LumiBrite. It lasts almost 10x longer than other pigments. When you’re underwater for a long time, you want such a thing.
There is a calendar on it. This time around, it reads the day as well as the date. It’s in the 3 o'clock position, so your neck won’t be sore.
Seiko is known for its affordable yet high-quality automatic units. They didn’t disappoint with the SKX007 – it has the 7S26 movement inside of it. It’s known as a workhorse – it comes with 21 jewels and a 40-hour power reserve. We explained what jewels were, let us now tell you what power reserves are. They are how long automatic devices can work while off your wrist. The movement from your arms powers their gears after all. 40 is pretty standard.
What makes it special:
It’s a Submariner homage piece.
The Most Affordable
The SNE435P1 is a multi-toned device. There are several shades of blue on it. We love the hues on its dial, they almost look like a gradient. Its face is blue while its body is a shiny silver – this is as it’s made from stainless steel. If you look at its crown, you’ll see a red band. It adds a pop of colour. The red on its hand has the same effect too.
Like most of our entries, it can handle 660 feet (200 meters) of water. The Padi watch is ISO 6425 certified. This means its body is screwed down well.
It’s on the larger side. Its case stretches 1.71 inches (43.5 mm) across. Its band isn’t that thick, though.
Yes, it is luminous. The pigment on it is LumiBrite. Its markers are especially wide, so they are perfect canvases.
Although the SKX007 was automatic, the SNE435P1 is not. It’s a solar-powered Japanese quartz device. We know the name of the quartz mechanism used – the Caliber V157 is present. Seiko says that all kinds of light sources charge it.
Not only is its calendar in the 3 o'clock position, but it’s magnified. When you’re underwater, this is appreciated. It only reads the date, though.
The crystal on it is Hardlex. It’s widely seen in Seiko’s affordable pieces.
Being deep underwater, you’ll love how secure its clasp is. Not only is it a push-button deployant clasp, which works exactly as its name suggests, but there is an additional safety mechanism on it.
If you’re wondering, yes, its bezel rotates.
What makes it special:
It’s a Seiko solar-powered piece.
Now that you know which affordable dive watches are worth your time, we ran through a couple of things you should know. Sadly, our entries didn’t include any women’s pieces. Our article on the best women’s dive watch might be something you’re interested in.
In general, the following are features that make up any good dive watch.
It can get dark underwater, especially if you’re diving. If your watch isn’t luminous, you’ll find it hard to read. There are countless types of lume out there – Tritium, LumiBrite, and Swiss Luminova are good choices. The markers and hands of your timepiece should be fat, so they can host enough pigment.
Unless your timepiece is made of plastic, rubber, carbon, or stainless steel, it is not waterproof. Whenever you get in the pool, it’ll be damp. Waterproof materials make it impossible for all sorts of things to stick to them, including dust.
To handle such depths safely, dive watches need to be ISO 6425 certified. This will result in them being sealed up well.
Pieces that are resistant up to 660 feet (200 meters) can be dived with as long as they’re ISO certified. However, going for ones that are resistant up to 1000 feet (300 meters) lets you deep dive.
Air can build up in a watch, so a valve lets it all out. This is true if you’re diving at considerable depths. You don’t usually see the feature in cheaper pieces.
If its dial has less clutter, you’ll be able to read it better. Along with ample lume, this is what you want. However, bigger cases may eat your wrist up.
An expensive diving watch will come with a more durable build. You’ll likely see superior sapphire and stainless steel on it. It’ll also have powerful luminous pigments – like tritium. The more expensive ones tend to handle the most water, like 1000+ feet (300 meters) of resistance. They also come with features like helium valves and pressure gauges.
You really shouldn’t. If your timepiece says that it’s resistant to 660 feet (200 meters), it was built to handle the pressure of such depths. If you go deeper, the pressure would be too much to handle and water would seep inside.
Check out our other top watches
You now know what the best dive watches under $500 are. Without a doubt, the Luminox 3001 is the best for the price range. It’s super luminous – we’ve never seen a timepiece as bright as this. Not only can it handle considerable depths, but it comes with a quality swiss movement. Of course, it’s very durable – much of Luminox’s pieces are Navy SEAL approved.
The Victorinox device in our number two spot is a close second, but it doesn’t perform quite as well. The watches below it certainly go neck-in-neck with each other.
You also know what you should make note of when buying diving watches, regardless of their price. Even if you’re not interested in any of these pieces, making use of our points will help you find something similar.