When they were first created, dive watches were based on a simple concept. Divers needed a water-resistant tool to tell them how long they have been underwater with a display that they could see in the darkness.
Now, these watches are just as much a fashion accessory as a diving tool. They have sleek and powerful designs with features such as helium escape valves, solar powered batteries, and atomic time accuracies.
Depending on the features, dive watches range anywhere from $50 to $40,000. The higher end of that price range is geared towards commercial divers.
This buyer’s guide is focused on the best dive watches under $1,000. The following five watches were chosen based on their function, style, user experience, and price. They are ideal for divers, water sports enthusiasts, and outdoorsmen alike, regardless of skill level.
Why should I buy a dive watch?
Waterproof and Rugged
If you wear a watch on a daily basis, chances are you don’t want to worry about it getting wet or beat up, having to remember to take it off or cover it at every turn. Dive watches solve that problem.
Inherently, a true dive watch is water resistant to at least 100m, so wearing it in the pool or while you’re washing the dishes isn’t a problem. These watches also have to pass shock resistance tests, so it can handle the bumps that come with daily life.
Dive watches are designed to be read in total darkness underwater, so you can bet they are easy to read above water too. Luminous hands and markings display the time boldly no matter what light you have.
Most people that buy dive watches don’t use them for their intended purpose, which is a testament to their style and quality. There is a dive watch to suit your style whether you want something classy, casual, or bold. Since you will most likely be wearing your dive watch in and out of the water, you might as well buy something that fits your personality.
Top 5 Dive Watches Under $1,000
|Casio Men’s Black Analog Anti Reverse Bezel Watch|
|Casio G-Shock Digital Dial Resin Quartz Men’s Watch [GWF-1000-1jf]|
|Citizen Watches Men’s BN0151-09L Promaster Professional Diver|
|Victorinox Swiss Army Men’s I.N.O.X. Pro Diver Watch|
|Orient Men’s ‘Mako II’ Japanese Automatic Stainless Steel Diving Watch|
1. Casio Men’s Black Analog Anti Reverse Bezel Watch – Most Affordable
The Casio MDV106-1A is the most affordable dive watch on this list and one of the most highly rated. It is perfect for users looking to try something out on a budget. The changeable black resin flexible band and stainless steel case give this watch a classic look matched with comfort for everyday use.
Just because the Casio MDV106-1A is not as expensive as other dive watches, doesn’t mean it lacks in quality and durability. This watch is ISO certified to 200m.
It has a screw-down crown and a screw-lock back as well as an anti-reverse bezel. The 3-hand analog with date display appears underneath durable mineral glass.
Featuring an SR626 battery, the Casio has an estimated battery life of 3 years. With quartz movement, the Casio is rated to be accurate +/- 30 seconds per month.
2. Casio G-Shock Digital Dial Resin Quartz Men’s Watch [GWF-1000-1jf] – Most Durable
The Casio G-Shock Frogman is the only analog-digital watch on this list, but it is one of the most durable on the market. Military and law enforcement professionals as well as outdoor enthusiasts commonly wear it because of its extreme durability and long list of unique features.
This watch looks hardcore and has a black resin band with a stainless steel case and bezel. It is shock resistant and ISO certified to 200m. Additionally, this dive watch has atomic timekeeping, receiving radio signals to keep the time display accurate.
The display options on this watch are impressive. It has tide and moon data as well as dive time and surface interval measurement. The 1/100-second stopwatch measures elapsed time, split time, and 1st and 2nd place times. The Frogman also has a countdown timer, hourly time signal, and daily alarms. And of course, the display has full auto backlight for use in the dark.
The Frogman runs on a solar rechargeable battery, so you never have to worry about replacing it. The watch has a battery power indicator and a power saving function if you get low. There is 8-months of battery life on full charge without further exposure to light.
3. Citizen Watches Men’s BN0151-09L Promaster Professional Diver – Best Intermediate Option
The ProMaster is powered by Citizen Eco Drive Technology. This technology uses both artificial and natural light to generate power, which is then stored in a rechargeable titanium lithium ion battery.
Daily exposure to ambient or direct sunlight should be enough to keep the battery charged, meaning you will never have to replace a battery like you would with other dive watches.
The anti-reflective mineral crystal, luminous hands, and one way rotating elapsed time bezel make this watch ideal for underwater use. If you’re looking to upgrade to an intermediate watch, this could be the one for you. Users agree that the Citizen ProMaster is an excellent choice for the price.
4. Victorinox Swiss Army Men’s I.N.O.X. Pro Diver Watch – Most Versatile
The Victorinox Swiss Army I.N.O.X. Professional Diver Watch is a premium option from one of the biggest names in the watch game. This is the only Swiss watch to have endured and passed 130 extreme safety and technical tests, setting it apart from others in terms of quality control.
The I.N.O.X. is ISO certified to 200m with quartz movement and anti-magnetism. It has scratch resistant triple-coated anti-reflective sapphire crystal and a screw down crown.
The I.N.O.X. even has a stainless steel strap with an extension option to fit over a wetsuit as well as a translucent protective bumper for optimum durability.
This watch has military time and date options as well as an end of life battery indicator. The Victorinox I.N.O.X. is a big step up from introductory dive watches, giving you a premium tool to explore the open water without spending a fortune.
The Orient Mako has been a notable name in the dive watch industry for over a decade. The Mako II is the most recent upgrade in this family. The stainless case and band give this watch a more refined look all around.
It is water resistant to 200m with a screw down crown and a 13mm thick case. The Mako’s automatic, hand-winding, and hacking movement means no batteries. It also has approximately 40 hours of reserve power.
The Mako II has a 120-click bezel for maximum accuracy along with a day and date calendar on the dial. This watch is another affordable option with great looks that can carry you through from the water to everyday use.
Things You Should Know Before Buying A Dive Watch
Finding a watch made out of non-corrosive material is critical, especially if you’ll be wearing it in and out of salt water. Titanium, stainless steel, silicone, and rubber are all quality materials that will lead to a long lasting watch.
ISO 6425 Standard
You will see phrases like “ISO certified” or “meets the ISO 6425 standard” in your search for dive watches, and it’s important to know what ISO 6425 is. Testing for watches to gain this certification is voluntary and costly, so not every manufacturer completes this step. However, the standards set by ISO 6425 are meant to ensure dive watches are as safe and reliable as possible, so be sure the watch you purchase is certified.
Watches that meet this certification must have the following:
- Water resistant to 100m
- A unidirectional bezel with markings at least every 5 minutes
- Clearly distinguished markings every minute
- Adequate readability at 25 cm (9.8 in) in total darkness
- Ability to see some sort of indicator that the watch is running in total darkness
- Magnetic resistance – this is to ensure the watch will maintain its time accuracy despite the magnetic field
- Shock resistance
- Chemical resistance
- Strap and band durability
- Battery life indicatory
Read the reviews to make sure you’re getting an accurate watch. There is no better source on this feature than other users.
Your watch needs to be accurate to tell you how long you’ve been underwater. Some watches are inaccurate from day one and others lose 15 +/- seconds every few months.
See what other users have to say before buying your watch. Most importantly, check your watch before diving and re-adjust if necessary.
Dive Watch FAQ
How water resistant should my dive watch be?
According the ISO 6425, a certified dive watch is water resistant to 100m, which is what most divers will need. 100m is well beyond the depths that most recreational divers will go.
You will see most dive watches are water resistant to 200m, but that is not necessarily accurate. This could be because during testing, the watch was brand new and in calmer water it would face in an actual situation.
What key features should I look for when buying a dive watch?
Most dive watches have a screw down crown and a screw in back for enhanced water resistance. A rotating bezel for time keeping and luminous hands are also necessary to qualify the product as a dive watch.
An often overlooked feature is the strap or band. You will have to choose the look and feel that you prefer, but be on the lookout for an extendable option that allows you to wear the watch over a wetsuit. It’s a handy bonus.
Why do dive watches have unidirectional rotating bezels?
The bezel is designed to keep track of time underwater. It only turns in one direction so it won’t accidentally get bumped into another position and mis-calculate elapsed time.
Why are dive watches so popular?
Dive watches are so popular because of their versatility. Many users don’t want to worry about whether their watch gets wet or gets jostled around a bit. Dive watches can take the beating of day-to-day use and transition to the water seamlessly. Plus, they’re not bad to look at.
Our Final Take
We hope this buying guide was helpful in your dive watch decision-making. Whether you are a beginner diver, expert diver, swimmer, or just want a durable watch at a reasonable price, any of the watches listed above would be excellent choices. Your priorities in durability, style, and function will ultimately narrow it down to your final decision.