6 Best Dive Watches for The Money
This list comprises some of the best budget dive watches that offer the perfect balance of performance and style. Focusing on watches that were all around the $200 - 300 price range, these watches have some of the best value on the market today. This list includes our most favorite inexpensive dive watches.
1: Seiko SKX Series
This is one of the most infamous and popular budget dive watch for many reasons. First starting with the movement, the 7s26 movement is a bulletproof reliable 21 jewel automatic movement that will last nearly a lifetime with proper care. This Seiko movement is used in many of their dive watches including various other entry level automatic watches. Secondly, the superior build quality gives the SKX a competitive edge on many other watches in its category. The Seiko SKX watches have a super smooth and premium unidirectional rotating bezel available in black or the popular Pepsi red and blue two-tone finish. Also, there are many variations available in a plethora of colors. The case is designed for the crown to be placed at 4:00 compared to the traditional 3:00 which is an interesting added bonus. This allows for increased wrist mobility without the crown digging into your wrist. It's something that’s hard to notice until you actually put one on. The rear plate screws down with the signature Seiko SCUBA logo, showing Seiko’s extreme attention to detail. This allows for the watch to be rated to 200m which is relatively standard amongst dive watches. Although the two straps offered from the factory tend to be rather... eh, there is a huge aftermarket community that customizes these watches to various needs. For example, many users replace the original uncomfortable rubber strap with an upgraded NATO strap. Even if you're not hugely into dive watches, the Seiko SKX is a watch that every watch enthusiast can get behind.
2: Citizen Men's Eco-Drive Promaster Diver Watch
The Citizen Men's Eco-Drive Promaster Diver Watch is oddly similar to the Seiko SKX series. Alike the Seiko SKX series, this Citizen model is something that has earned its well deserved respect in the dive watch world. The Citizen brand is known to make very high quality timepieces at reasonable prices. To the eyes of a non watch enthusiast, one might confuse them for the same watch. But, there are a few characteristics that set these two iconic watches apart. In my opinion, the biggest thing that sets these two watches apart is the movement. The Seiko SKX rocks a full automatic movement that will stop working after several days of inactivity. The Citizen Eco Drive Promaster has a movement that is fueled by the sunlight. The movement is very efficient and never needs outside energy like batteries. IMO, this is the most interesting thing about this watch. From here, the distinct Citizen bezel looks comparably different to the Seiko counterpart. The Citizen Eco Drive Promaster is offered in its most iconic black and navy colors. Also similar to the Seiko SKX, the Citizen Eco Drive Promaster has a crown located at 4:00 as an added design bonus. Lastly, similar to the Seiko SKX (surprise) and other dive watches in this price range is the low quality, uncomfortable stock strap. These watches tend to get a lot of complaints about the uncomfortable thick rubber strap that comes with the watch. Regardless of the strap, this is another rock solid watch at an absolutely unbeatable price.
3: Hawaiin Lifeguard Association Watch Series
If you couldn't tell by the name, well you guessed it, these watches were designed for Lifeguards in Hawaii. Sporting a sleek rubber strap and many different colors including a vibrant yellow and mellow navy and black, HLA watches are definitely a head turner. Furthermore, it is one of the few watches on this list that give the option of a silver or black metal case which is a huge added bonus for style points. Because the brand is lesser known than other watch companies, the Hawaii Lifeguard Association watch is always an interesting piece to any collection. Just because the company isn't as well known as other larger manufactures, doesn't mean the build quality and precision is inferior. Equipped with a standard 200M pressure rating, the HLA dive watches are about as rugged as it gets. Also, the rubber strap is much more comfortable compared to the standard rubber straps on competing watches such as the Seiko SKX and the Citizen Eco Drive Promaster Diver.
4: Aulta Aquatica Line
A modern take on the traditional dive watch. With aspects of the Seiko SKX, the Citizen Eco Drive Promaster and other popular dive watches, the Aulta uses these major watches as an influence to develop a new and unique model. Aulta is heavily influenced by the surf culture and lifestyle and it is clearly prevalent in their design. Not only does this watch look more casual and less flashy, it has a nautical feel to it. With a full automatic movement and depth rating of up to 200m, the Aulta Aquatica is an ocean lovers best friend. Aulta is a very new brand coming into the watch scene just a few years ago, but this young age does not negatively impact their design. Beautifully constructed with premium materials and a one directional bezel, these watches radiate excellent quality. Coming in silver/white, black/black and silver/blue (with oyster bracelet) the Aquatica is a true contender for any watch enthusiast.
5: Luminox Quartz 3001 Navy Seal Dive Watch
This watch just looks tactical. Designed for Navy Seal Divers, this watch has superior visibility with extremely bright lume. With a simple, less flashy design, this watch sports the essentials. With a typical one way rotating bezel and a pressure rating of up to 200M, this watch has everything a precise dive watch should. With a Swiss quartz movement, this watch does need as much attention as it's automatic or mechanical competitors. The durable black rubber strap ties the rest of the watch together and completes the design as a truly tactical piece of equipment.
6: Orient Mako II
Standing at the most inexpensive of our list of entry level dive watches, the Orient Mako II has a ton of value for what you pay. Selling on amazon for roughly $140-145 depending on the color scheme, this watch packs a major punch. Typically, with more inexpensive watches, you start to see cheaper components. With a full automatic movement, this is one of the few watches with a true automatic movement at this price range. Another huge plus from the Orient Mako II is the strap. With most of the other watches on this list most of the investment goes toward the watch body with cheaper and often inferior straps are included with the stock product. Many watches are designed this way with the thought that the user will just replace and customize the strap immediately. That is simply not the case with the Orient Mako II. This watch comes standard with a traditional oyster band that is perfect for a formal business or casual environment. Not to mention, it is just as customizable as any other dive watch. Certified for up to 200m, this watches value definitely runs deep.