15 Best Dive Watches Under $500

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A dive watch used to be an important part of a diver’s equipment when it first emerged in the early 20th century. Despite the decline in essentiality, mainly due to the introduction of a dive computer, it is still used for the activity to this day.

However, only a fraction of the wearers of dive watches uses them as tool watches for professional submersion. Hence, it’s not the main reason why they’re bought and worn.

Instead, the popularity of dive watches is to do with the way they look and act – they are sporty yet elegant, appropriate for various attire, and utterly durable. 

And the number of such watches is in thousands. 

Given the long hours (and days) of researching it usually takes to find a watch that ticks all the boxes, we’ve come to aid you in your journey by listing the best dive watches under $500.

best dive watches under 500

The budget of $500 will get you a top-notch diver’s watch that looks magnificent, offers excellent quality levels, and allows you to wear it for serious water activities as much as for business meetings.

How Did We Come Up With the List?

So, how did we choose the watches? 

Besides the most obvious of not exceeding the $500 line, we took into account five core factors that determine the top dive watches.

1) The prestige of the brand – a watch manufacturer doesn’t succeed without providing top-notch timepieces that wearers actually wear and like. That is how the prestige is earned – with quality products that look stunning. Therefore, our list consists of watches from brands known for their reliability and trustworthiness. 

2) Acknowledged watch movement – a timepiece is as good as is its movement ticking inside. Without a quality caliber, you won’t get much out of the timepiece besides being a nice decor on your wrist. Therefore, the movements in these divers are accurate, durable, and acknowledged by the community.

3) Overall construction – besides being water-resistant for marine activities, a proper dive watch should also sport a sturdy case and bracelet, a fully functioning bezel, and a bright and long-lasting luminosity. These watches have it.

4) Comfort of wearing – another factor that shouldn’t go under the radar is the comfort of wearing. It means it has to be of decent size (not too large or too small), with a comfortable bracelet/band, and with aesthetics supporting its use for more than just heavy-duty sports.

5) Buyers’ feedback – lastly, we considered the general feedback of other wearers. As a result, these dive watches come with high Amazon ratings and have not been a disappointment for the wearers.

Dive Watches Under $500

Now that everything’s clear and settled, here are the timepieces.

Seiko “Samurai” SRPD23 Save the Ocean

Caliber: 4R35
Case Size: 43.8mm
Water Resistance: 200m ISO-certified

Classic Seiko automatic dive watch with sea-blue dial

Seiko was the main lobbyist behind implementing the ISO 6425 standard for professional dive watches, which shows the scope the brand is willing to take its wristwear. And the truth is that there’s no better brand than Seiko when it comes to highly reliable yet affordable dive watches. 

Therefore, our first entries on this list of the best divers belong to the Japanese great.

The first one to feature is also probably the best overall for the money. It’s the Seiko “Samurai” SRPD23.

The watch is a professional-grade diver with 200m (660ft) of water resistance backed by ISO 6245 certification. The water resistance is coupled with a one-way rotating bezel and screw-down crown, which means this Seiko Samurai has everything you need for diving to depths of up to 200m.

Seiko is known to equip its dive watches with bright and long-lasting luminosity. This model is no exception. The luminous paint is on every hour marker and watch hand, and also as a small dot on a bezel.

Seiko Samurai luminosity
Seiko Samurai luminosity

When it comes to the caliber powering this Samurai, it’s the tried and tested 4R35 that hacks and hand-winds. It is a pleasant upgrade compared to the 7S26 caliber the previous Seiko divers featured due to the inclusion of the mentioned hacking and hand-winding capabilities.

In terms of appearance, this Save the Ocean series Seiko boasts a magnificent wave blue dial, which is the highlight of this dive watch. The tone blends well with the overall metallic appeal and is a real eye-catcher. 

Furthermore, due to the 43.8mm case diameter, the Seiko SRPD23 will look commanding on a wrist and will not go unnoticed. 

If there’s one thing to complain about, it would be the fact that it doesn’t come much down from the $500 mark. But then again, it’s a sign from Seiko that they’ve made a magnificent dive watch worth every dollar spent.

Seiko “Monster” SRPD25

Caliber: 4R36
Case Size: 42.4mm
Water Resistance: 200m ISO-certified

self-illuminating dive watch from Seiko

Our next dive watch that costs below $500 is the Seiko “Monster” SRPD25. The watch earned its nickname from the 12 o’clock hour markers that remind the monster’s teeth. Also, the overall appearance is very “monster-like,” especially the scalloped bezel. 

The SRPD25 is the 4th generation Monster that, in fact, is not as rugged as the previous watches. However, it has been upgraded quality-wise. As a result, you’ll not find the non-hacking and non-windable 7S26 caliber but a 4R36 caliber that hacks and hand-winds and features a day-date function.

What differentiates the 4R36 from the 4R35 found from the Samurai watch is the day-date function instead of simply the date.

When it comes to the size, the Seiko SRPD25 is a little smaller than the SRPD23 Samurai we covered above, standing at 42.4mm in diameter. The case, in fact, is even smaller because the bezel on top of it stretches over the edges, giving this watch its unique appeal. 

The bezel turns with nice clicks in terms of operation and is comfortable to handle, thanks to the scallops. Maybe even too comfortable because the bezel sort of slides under the fingers. However, it’s a minor con. 

The best part with this Seiko Monster, though, is the luminosity. Compared to several other Seiko watches, the SRPD25 has a bluish lume instead of green

Moreover, it is very bright and lasts long. It is due to the larger indexes that feature multiple layers of Lumibrite. All that results in the Seiko Monster being one of the best luminous timepieces you can get. 

Appearance-wise, the only letdown is the magnifying lens on the day-date window. It just looks out of place and is not an appropriate addition on a professional diver, especially for the reason of stretching over both day and date. If it were just the date, it wouldn’t bother.

Seiko Automatic SKX009K1

Caliber: 7S26
Case Size: 42mm
Water Resistance: 200m ISO-certified

Seiko watch with red and blue bezel and rubber band

The Seiko SKX009K1 is a modern dive watch icon with a hard-to-beat reputation at the given price range. Unfortunately, Seiko has discontinued the famous SKX line. Therefore, you’ll have a couple of years left to acquire one of the watches before they’re gone from the sale.

The SKX009 model is a Pepsi bezel watch with a blue-and-red color combination. It’s a design that stands out from the crowd and catches the attention. The bezel is combined with a dark blue face and standout white hour dots. The dial is free of unnecessary elements, looking clean and providing exactly what’s needed. 

You’ll find the day-date function (without the cyclops, fortunately) and superbly glowing watch hands and hour markers. 

The watch wears wonderfully on a vast array of wrists due to its decent 42mm case diameter and a comfortable black rubber band. The crown’s placement at the 4 o’clock position also adds to the overall convenience by staying away from the wrist’s bend.

Seiko watch with Pepsi bezel and black band

The heart of the Seiko SKX009 belongs to the 7S26 caliber. It’s a legendary caliber known for being a workhorse that rarely lets down. 

Unfortunately, it comes with a considerable con in comparison to newer calibers. Namely, it doesn’t hack and hand-wind. It means you cannot halt the second hand for time synchronization and manually wind the watch for the maximum exploitation of the power reserve.

However, if you can look past that and appreciate the excellent advantages instead, the Seiko SKX009 will not disappoint you. It is still one of the best Seiko timepieces for professional diving that offers a wonderful value-for-money proposition.

The SKX009 has a cousin that has swapped the Pepsi bezel for a black version. It’s the Seiko SKX007. If you’re not a fan of Pepsi bezels, the SKX007 is an excellent alternative with similar specs.

Seiko Prospex PADI Solar SNE435P1

Caliber: Solar V157
Case Size: 43.5mm
Water Resistance: 200m ISO-certified

One of the best Seiko solar watches

The fourth and last Seiko among the top divers under $500 is the Seiko Prospex PADI Solar.

The watch has become one of the new wave iconic solar pieces that is to remain for a long time. The timepiece that also features on our list of the top solar wristwatches a man can buy is entirely powered by any light, making it an entirely carefree watch to own.

What it means is that whenever the watch is exposed to natural light, it charges itself. When the accumulator is full, the watch can run for up to 10 months without any additional light applied to it.

Furthermore, since the timekeeping is based on quartz, the Seiko SNE435P1 will keep accurate time. 

Equipped with a unidirectional elapsed bezel and luminous hands and markers, this stainless steel dive watch works out as a complete professional diver’s watch that stands up to 200m (660ft) of water pressure. Additionally, it is backed with ISO certification for deep diving.

Despite its professional characteristics, the Seiko SNE435P1 is a perfect watch for a man who doesn’t necessarily exercise water sports, but above all, appreciates the watch’s craftsmanship and looks. 

In addition, the comfortably sized 43.5mm case and eye-catching blue dial determine its versatility to various walks of life.

Citizen Promaster BN0151-09L

Caliber: Solar E168 
Case Size: 44mm
Water Resistance: 200m ISO-certified            

Professional Citizen tool timepiece

Intensely challenging Seiko in providing durable and affordable dive watches is another Japanese powerhouse, Citizen. The frequent comparisons between Seiko and Citizen are conducted for a good reason – they both offer superb quality for the money paid. 

However, the most significant discrepancy between the two is that when Seiko divers are mostly automatic, Citizen has them equipped with mostly solar quartz calibers. And this solar technology, called Eco-Drive, is the best and most reliable in the world.

The Citizen Promaster Diver BN0151-09L is a solar-powered professional dive watch that comes ISO certified to 200m (660ft) and with all the essential features, including a unidirectional bezel, screw-down crown, and luminosity.

Like the Seiko PADI watch, this Citizen timepiece doesn’t sacrifice the looks for functionality. The watch sports very tool watch-like looks when the dominant blue dial and polyurethane band provide aesthetics different from typical everyday wristwear.

Citizen BN0151 on a wrist

The polyurethane band is durable but a little stiff in the beginning. Eventually, it will get better over time.

A bit unusual feature is the crown’s position at 4 o’clock instead of the standard placement at 3 o’clock. This particular difference helps to protect it against hits better as well as provides comfortable wear for staying out of the wrist’s bend.

Citizen watches are thought to be one of the most accurate on the market. So you can expect the quartz that’s ticking inside the 44mm stainless steel case to deviate only bare seconds a month.

A very similar model to that particular watch is the Citizen BN0150-28E. In fact, it is an identical diver but comes in black instead of blue. Therefore, consider the BN0150-28E as an alternative for the blue version.

Citizen Eco-Drive BN0191-55L

Caliber: Solar E168
Case Size: 45mm
Water Resistance: 200m ISO-certified

One of the best dive watches under $500 from Citizen

Dive watches tend to sport very tool watch-like aesthetics, as we’ve seen with the earlier entries. However, not all of them are that strict. 

Our next entry, the Citizen Promaster BN0191-55L, is a great example – it is meant for professional use but goes perfectly well with casual and smart attire, too. 

You’ll find the watch standing at 45mm in case diameter, which is pretty big. However, the large size houses a beautiful blue dial and the same-colored bezel that combine perfectly with an all-metal construction. The case and bracelet are well-finished and add a pleasant weight to the watch (6.2 oz). 

The dial of this Citizen is easy to read and comprises a three-hand set where the second hand comes in distinctive orange. Most certainly, they’re filled with a luminosity that glows for several hours and provides a bright glow.

Although the watch seems flawless, there are still a couple of things worth pointing out. One of them is the date window that is too small. It seems to be a common problem with Citizen watches as it is not the first watch with the same letdown. 

The second thing to look out for is the pins inside the bracelet, as they are not the best around. So, in order not to break them when resizing, you better take the watch to a professional who knows exactly how to do it without breaking anything.

Regardless, the Citizen BN0191-55L is a spot-on wearable that will turn heads and serve you for years to come.

Citizen Promaster BJ8050-08E

Caliber: Solar B873
Case Size: 48mm
Water Resistance: 300m ISO-certified  

Large-faced Citizen piece for diving

The combination of solar power and ISO 6425 establishes the basis for a convenient tool piece in this Citizen Promaster Diver BJ8050-08E. And considering this top dive watch costs under $500, even better it gets. 

This Promaster piece is informally called “Ecozilla” for its oversized 48mm case and a very bulky build (19mm height), making it a sought-after timepiece for large wrists. So anyone with slender wrists, consider something else – this watch is not for you.

What makes it visually enormous is the thick one-way rotating bezel that leaves less space for the dial. But no need to worry – the hands and markers are large and filled with top-quality bluish luminosity. So, capturing the time in any lighting condition is effortless.  

The watch is guaranteed with a 300m (1,000ft) water resistance, eclipsing most of its competitors at this price range. Although the resistance is magnificent, I doubt 99.9% of you will ever test its functionality in greater depths than 100ft. Regardless, it’s a clear sign the watch is extremely durable in various conditions.

What’s even better with this Citizen is that you can totally forget the battery replacement because the solar Eco-Drive technology ensures the charge from any kind of light while storing the excess in the capacitor that holds a charge for up to six months.

For many, the size of the bezel, as well as the whole dimensions of the Ecozilla, are certain dealbreakers. Another con to point out is also the miniature date window that takes a sharp eye and quite a lot of concentration before getting the information. 

Other than that, the Citizen BJ8050-08E watch offers heaps of quality for the sub-$500 price.

Citizen NY0040-17LE Automatic

Caliber: Miyota 8204
Case Size: 42mm
Water Resistance: 200m ISO-certified

Blue automatic Citizen watch with luminosity

The Citizen NY0040-17LE is a special watch because the brand doesn’t offer too many automatic divers. Similar to the SKX series, the NY0040 is unfortunately discontinued. However, at the time of its prime, it was considered among the best alternatives to the Seiko SKX watches. The recognition says about it all. 

Moreover, the NY0040 is one of the most affordable ISO-certified divers you can currently get and is much cheaper than the SKX series. 

The watch runs on a Miyota 8204 caliber. It is an acknowledged movement that enables one to halt the second hand and manually wind the watch. You’ll also get a 6-step a second movement and about 42 hours of power reserve.

In terms of appearance, the watch case is mainly polished, providing a shiny appeal. The bezel on top of it is partially coin-edged, which helps for a better grip. In addition, the ratchets are firm and come with 120 clicks. 

The dial comes in a blue tone, as does the rubber band. The watch hands are short, especially the hour hand. Maybe even too short. On the other hand, they are thick enough to be noticed on a dial. Moreover, the green lume is fantastic and is comparable to Seiko’s luminosity in terms of brightness and longevity.

The Citizen NY0040-17LE has a unique crown position on the left side of the case. This design suits left-handed people who wear watches on their right hand. Also, most right-handed wearers find it convenient as the crown stays away from the wrist’s bend. 

However, the placement is not everyone’s cup of tea since it is difficult to operate it with the right hand.

Another thing to watch out for is the band. Although it is of decent quality, it takes some time to get used to it and may not be the most suitable for everyone. 

The problem is that the ribbed sections the band has press against the skin, causing a bit of an unpleasant feeling. The solution would be to either wear it until the rubber gives in or to go for another type of strap.

Orient Kamasu Red

Caliber: F6922
Case Size: 42mm
Water Resistance: 200m

Red automatic watch under 500

The best price-quality ratio divers come from Japan because besides Seiko and Citizen divers we’ve already covered, there are also Orient watches. Although they’re not heavy-duty professional divers, they still come with unbelievable quality for the money.

One of the recent success stories for the brand has been the introduction of the Kamasu line of watches, with the Orient Kamasu Red being a standout model due to the combination of unparalleled quality and appealing burgundy red dial.

Read more: Orient Kamasu review.

The Kamasu watch is an upgrade to the highly popular Mako and Ray models. The most noteworthy change is the inclusion of a sapphire crystal instead of mineral glass. For a couple of hundred bucks, it’s a real treat.

Besides the scratch-resistant sapphire, the Orient Kamasu is also equipped with an appreciated hacking and hand-winding F6922 caliber. It is precise, offers 40-some hours of power reserve, and comes with a neat day-date function. 

Orient watch with a box next to it

In terms of dive capability, the watch is 200m (660ft) water-resistant but, unlike the Seiko and Citizen divers, without the ISO 6425 certification. However, the resistance is more than enough for other serious water sports, including recreational diving to depths of 100ft. You will also get a sub coin-edge unidirectional bezel, screwable crown, and excellent luminosity.

When it comes to appearance, this Orient Kamasu is a standout model. Besides the professional dive watch-like looks, it comes with an eye-catching burgundy red dial that only a few offer. The beautiful face combines wonderfully with the black bezel ring and silver-tone bracelet.

You can check out the magnificent color in various lightings from the video below.

However, one of the minor cons you get with this Kamasu is the rattling noise of the bracelet, which is due to the hollow end links. But if worn tightly around the wrist, the noise is barely noticeable. 

The Kamasu line offers several other wonderful models besides the red version that are worth checking out. For example, you’ll find the green Kamasu and gold-and-black Kamasu that offer uniqueness similarly to the red model. 

Orient Mako II Auto Diver’s

Caliber: F6922
Case Size: 41mm
Water Resistance: 200m

Orient watches review on Mako II line

Not many automatic timepieces cost as little as Orient watches do. Mainly owing to the close relationship with Seiko, the price is not the onliest similar characteristic when the looks and quality levels are also comparable. 

The Orient Mako II costs a little less than the Kamasu and sports a mineral glass, not sapphire. Still, regardless, it holds a steadfast reputation among watch enthusiasts for its ultimate reliability.  

The watch stands at 41mm in case diameter, which surely fits the bill for a wide array of wearers. Although it may not be an ideal professional diver’s watch for missing the ISO standard, it delivers an admirable quality and protection from water pressure.  

The timepiece beams a classic touch with a polished steel bracelet and deep blue dial. However, the classic aesthetics is not the onliest feature beaming. Instead, it is the luminous dial that takes all the attention and is probably the most significant selling point for this Orient Mako watch. The lume is strong and glows brightly for several hours. 

On top of the quality and dive watch-like, the watch comes with an F6922 caliber, which is another strong statement from the brand due to the caliber’s reliability and precision. What’s even better is that it hacks and hand-winds.

Although this Orient is not ISO-certified, it provides water resistance up to 20 atmospheres, meaning you can freely use it for serious water activities. In addition, the typical features, such as screw-down crown and bracelet’s push-button safety, are also available. 

However, the watch is not flawless. First off, it doesn’t come with a sapphire crystal as the Kamasu does. Secondly, the crown is a tad too small for a convenient operation. And finally, the bracelet tends to squeak. However, these are still minor cons for the sub-$200 price the Mako II is sold. 

Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba Auto

Caliber: H-10
Case Size: 40mm
Water Resistance: 100m    

best dive watches under $500 from Hamilton

Although the Swiss-made former American brand Hamilton is not in the leading pack when it comes to diving wearables, the watch manufacturer still has some appealing water-resistant pieces that suit serious water sports. One of them is the Khaki Navy Scuba Automatic watch.  

The charming blue-and-white dial is the first thing you’ll notice in this timepiece. A well-balanced coloring that fits nicely with the stainless steel band makes it suitable not only for water sports enthusiasts but a broad segment of men who wish to express themselves. 

The core of this 40mm dive watch is the H-10 automatic movement with a power reserve of 80 hours – twice the capacity of a typical self-winding movement. And not only is the movement high-class but the sapphire glass as well. The substance is almost impossible to scratch and takes a very hard impact to shatter.

The water resistance up to 100m (330ft) is probably the most significant disadvantage this watch has compared to others on this list. To include Scuba in the name and equip it with only 100m is a little baffling. Then again, how many of you will actually use it for submerging to deeper than 10-20 feet?! 

Leaving the somewhat low water resistance aside, the overall impressions are overwhelming. When many watches ooze luxury but don’t physically feel like one, this Hamilton Navy Scuba has them both. Wearing it is comparable to the feel of a Rolex or Breitling sitting on your wrist.

Victorinox I.N.O.X. Professional Diver

Caliber: Ronda Swiss quarz
Case Size: 45mm
Water Resistance: 200m ISO-certified

A Victorinox watch with blue dial and blue rubber band

Formerly famous for the Swiss Army knives, the Victorinox brand has successfully entered the watchmaking market, providing ultimate quality for military personnel and civilians alike while selling timepieces for very appealing prices.

The Victorinox I.N.O.X. Professional Diver conveniently falls to the brackets of a versatile tool watch that is not only highly durable but very appealing in terms of appearance. It fits the bill for numerous occasions and attire.

The watch that has passed more than 100 rigid endurance tests, including water, temperature, corrosion, and magnetic resistances, comes in a 45mm stainless steel case with a unidirectional rotating bezel. The bezel is easy to grip and turns with firm clicks.

There are several additions that complement the overall sturdiness of this Victorinox. For example, the crown comes with protectors that almost cover it entirely, which drastically enhances the watch’s wellbeing. Also, the crystal is sapphire that is utterly resistant to scratches. And, of course, the watch is also water-resistant to 200m (660ft) and backed with ISO 6425. 

Victorinox I.N.O.X. Professional Diver

In terms of overall readability, the Victorinox I.N.O.X. is good – the hands and the background offer decent contrast, while the hands and hour markers contain luminous paint. However, the SuperLumiNova lume isn’t as good as in previous divers we covered – it’s not as strong, nor will it last as long.

A neat little addition that many quartz watches don’t possess is the battery’s end-of-life indicator that starts to skip seconds when running low on energy, thus providing not only accurate timekeeping but also the convenience of knowing when to change the battery.

All in all, genuine Swiss quality and features for such a low price are the key factors why this Victorinox watch is so coveted.

However, if you prefer all-metal divers, Victorinox has several to offer. First, there’s the blue dial Victorinox diver that is probably the most famous out of the I.N.O.X. line. Also, you’ll find the black dial Victorinox. They all come with the same specifications as the one covered here. 

Luminox Navy Seal Pacific Diver 3120

Caliber: Ronda Swiss quartz
Case Size: 44mm
Water Resistance: 200m

A Luminox watch with blue dial and carbon bezel

Another affordable Swiss-made brand offering ultimate durability is Luminox. Their timepieces are meant for military activities that often take them to deep waters. Thus, it’s no wonder the watches come water-resistant.

The Luminox Pacific Diver 3120 we’ve chosen to feature on this list can stand water pressure for up to 200m (660ft) while maintaining perfect functioning. It is also sealed with ISO certification, meaning you can actually dive with it.

However, the diving capability is not the only reason we chose this Pacific Diver to feature among the affordable divers. There are several other excellent additions not found from other watches. 

First off, when talking about Luminox, one can’t get past the luminosity. It’s not anything you find from Seiko or Citizen divers because the technology is entirely different. Namely, Luminox uses tritium-filled gas tubes instead of luminous paint. 

Luminox Men's Navy Seal Pacific Diver 3120 Series Silver Stainless Steel Oyster Band Blue Dial Quartz Analog Watch

What this technology does is that it constantly glows for up to 25 years without the need for a charge. A minor downside to tritium luminosity is the somewhat weaker glow compared to electro-luminescent paints. However, it’s only a minor con in comparison to the convenience and the length of the glow.

Another unique addition is a bezel made from a carbon compound. As a result, it doesn’t scratch as easily as aluminum, nor does it react to temperature changes. Moreover, it looks way more luxurious than aluminum.

Appearance-wise, the watch looks expensive, no doubt about it. The bracelet doesn’t squeak and is well-made, the dial has nothing to complain about, and the caseback has beautiful ornaments. Furthermore, the sapphire crystal is enhanced with an anti-reflective coating, eliminating glares and reflections.  

Although the Pacific Diver is quartz-driven, not automatic, it is still one hell of a watch for the money.

Tissot Seastar 1000

Caliber: ETA Swiss quartz
Case Size: 45.5mm
Water Resistance: 300m

Ocean blue dial and steel watch

The Tissot Seastar 1000 is an eye-catching dive watch with impeccable quality. 

The oversized 45.5mm timepiece is equipped with 300m (1,000ft) water resistance, though it’s not ISO-certified. Regardless, the Seastar 1000 is a highly capable watch for water sports.

But not only. Since it features a handy chronograph function, the watch makes it a spot-on timepiece for various occasions and clothing.

Due to the stopwatch feature, you’ll find extra pushers on either side of the crown. Unlike typical chronographs, the pushers are screwable. It means you have to first unscrew them before using the stopwatch. The reason for the screw design is quite simple – to be better protected against water intrusion. 

Quality-wise, water resistance is not everything this Tissot Seastar offers. There’s also the sapphire crystal that is further covered with double-sided anti-reflective coating. In addition, you’ll not find the bezel made of aluminum but instead a much more expensive and durable ceramic.

So, in terms of durability and materials, the watch is arguably one of the best for the money. When it comes to appearance, though, even better it gets.

The Seastar 1000 has a smooth blue dial that sports three stopwatch windows and thick watch hands. The dial is surrounded by a coin-edge bezel that stretches the perceptible size of the watch and, eventually, makes the timepiece a prominent presence on a wrist.

The bracelet is durable with polished center links and brushed end links. Furthermore, it features a folding clasp and a diver extension, being more than just a beautiful metal band. 

So, overall, the Tissot Seastar 1000 is a magnificent timepiece with the excellent build quality and expensive looks. The only downside of the watch is the size that limits its suitability for every wrist size and shape. Therefore, consider buying the watch if your wrists measure above 7 inches. Otherwise, it would look out of place.

This timepiece should not be overlooked if you’re after an affordable and striking dive watch from world-famous Swiss manufacture because the Tissot brand sure knows how to combine quality with an appealing design. 

Bulova Oceanographer 98B320

Caliber: Miyota 821D
Case Size: 44mm
Water Resistance: 200m ISO-certified

A vintage Bulova dive watch with Pepsi bezel

Bulova is an American watch manufacturer that was acquired by Citizen in 2008. Known for featuring in the first-ever TV commercial in 1941 and visiting the Moon in 1971, the Bulova watches have many legacies to offer.

One of the legacies Bulova offers from its storied history is the reissue of the 70’s Devil Diver watch. The Bulova Oceanographer 98B320 Devil Diver is a vintage timepiece with a “666ft” water resistance (the sixes refer to the devil) that is sealed with ISO certification.

The watch resembles a bit of the Seiko Turtle due to similarities in case design. However, the dial and intrinsics are totally different. 

The Oceanographer runs on a Miyota 821D caliber that hand-winds but doesn’t hack. Although the missing of a hacking feature might seem a bit of a letdown for some, it means, at the same time, that the price is much more affordable. Therefore, this Bulova fits perfectly into the $500 limit.

When it comes to the dial, it beams vintage style from the 1970s. The watch hands are thick and short, the hour markers are square-shaped, and they’re filled with decent luminosity. The lume isn’t spectacular but will glow enough to read the time in the dark.   

However, what the Oceanographer has that others on this list don’t is the boxed sapphire. It means that the edges of the crystal are tucked beneath the Pepsi bezel, providing better protection against hits and knocks.

This Devil Diver comes in several other eye-catching versions that you can lay your eyes on. If the Pepsi design isn’t what you’re looking for, make sure to check out the orange dial Oceanographer and the emerald green version that offer a similar wow-effect that the 98B320 model does. 

Professional Dive Watches vs Dive-Inspired Watches

Diving watches are not limited to divers or serious water sports enthusiasts only. Due to the timeless and versatile design, they suit various walks of life in every age group.

Whether you prefer accurate quartz or enjoy the craftsmanship of a complex automatic movement, you can be sure to find the most suitable timepiece according to your taste.

However, if you plan to use your timepiece in underwater activities, you should make sure it can withstand the conditions. Luckily, many brands have their dive watches available below the $500 price mark, so even the most sophisticated timepieces are more than affordable for professional diving.

Professional Diving Watches

Using the watch for professional diving requires it to carry the ISO 6425 standard. Most ISO-certified divers have 200m water resistance, while some come with 100m (the minimum required for the certification).  

Look out for the specific classification on the dial with the marking “Diver’s XXX m.” That means it’s suitable for scuba diving and stands the pressure.

Professional dive watches also include:

  • unidirectional bezel
  • screw-down crown
  • screwable caseback
  • luminous hands and hour markers

Some heavy-duty divers also come with a helium release valve that releases the gases trapped in the case during decompression.

Note: Not all the watch manufacturers implement the ISO standard, but have opted to work out their own procedures for determining the requirements for dive wristwear, which they later conform with the ISO equivalent. The prime examples include the brands from the Swiss and German industries.

Dive-Inspired Watches for Surface Sports

If you never plan to use your dive watch for serious diving to great depths, you have a much broader selection of great dive watches available for under $500. 

Typical recreational diving is limited to a maximum of 40m (130ft), which, for the most part, doesn’t require a certified watch. Therefore, a timepiece with water resistance of at least 200m (660ft) would do the job just perfectly.

A minimum of 100m (330ft) water resistance is more than acceptable for serious surface sports, such as swimming, snorkeling, sailing, rowing, etc. If the watch has the appearance of a diver as well, it is unofficially called a dive-inspired watch.

These watches come with the same characteristics as professional ones, including the one-way rotating bezel, screw-down crown, watertight caseback, and luminosity. However, they don’t have ISO-certified water resistance and are mainly resistant to 100m.

You can read more about the different levels of resistances from our water resistance guide.

Final Words

Choosing the right dive watch is not an easy task due to the vast selection of attractive and stylish pieces available. However, we hope we’ve made your job a whole lot easier by presenting you with the list of the best dive watches under $500. 

If you’re after professional divers, the best selection comes from the Japanese brands of Seiko and Citizen that provide the highest number of ISO-certified timepieces for desirable prices. 

However, if you just want a timepiece with dive watch aesthetics that is also highly water-resistant, you can check out Orient watches and anything that comes from the Swiss production.

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Carl Pender

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