2016’s Best Dive Watches Under $500
Need a new watch and have a budget of under $500?
You’re in luck since the best dive watches under $500 but above ~$250 are the ultimate sweet-spot for features vs. cost.
Unlike the sub-$200 watches, here you’ll start seeing sapphire crystals, automatic watches with higher quality movements featuring longer power reserves and hacking seconds, and just better fit and finish overall, from the case to the bracelet.
I’ve spent many hours reading others reviews and the various watch forums to hunt down the most often recommended dive watches available new in this price range.
What’s my top pick out of these ten?
Be aware my ranking order and selection here is mostly subjective, based on my own personal preferences.
#10 may just be your perfect watch!
Did I miss any great ones? I’d love to see other suggestions or critiques down in the comments.
Ten Best Dive Watches Under $500 Quick CompareClicking the model name will take you to a full description down the page.
|Image||Model||Movement||Water Resistance||Crystal||Case / Bezel Material||Case Diameter||Case Thickness||Lug to Lug||Strap Width||Buy Now Link||Search eBay|
|Seiko SRP777 'Turtle'||Automatic – Seiko 4R36||200m / 660ft||Mineral – Hardlex||Stainless Steel||45mm||13mm||48mm||22mm|
|Citizen BJ8050 'EcoZilla'||Quartz – Citizen Eco-Drive B873||300m / 990ft||Mineral||Stainless Steel||48mm||19mm||48mm (round watch)||29mm|
|Christopher Ward C60 Trident 300||Quartz – Ronda 515 Swiss||300m / 990 ft||Sapphire||Stainless Steel / Aluminum||38mm / 43mm||11.75mm||45.5mm / 51.5mm||20mm / 22mm||Buy Now|
|Seiko SRP639 'Baby Tuna'||Automatic – Seiko 4R36||200m / 660ft||Mineral – Hardlex||Stainless Steel||47mm||12mm||48mm||20mm|
|Helson Shark Diver 42||Automatic – Seiko NH35||500m / 1640 ft||Sapphire||Brass||42mm||14.5mm||51.5mm||22mm||Buy Now|
|Seiko SUN019||Quartz – Seiko Kinetic 5m89||200m / 660ft||Sapphire||Stainless Steel||48mm||15mm||51.5mm||24mm|
|Victorinox I.N.O.X. Pro Diver||Quartz – Ronda 715||200m / 660ft||Mineral||Stainless Steel||45mm||13mm||51mm||22mm|
|Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba||Automatic – ETA 2834-2||100m / 330ft||Sapphire||Stainless Steel||41mm||14mm||?||20mm|
|Momentum M50||Quartz – Miyota 2S60?||500m / 1640ft||Sapphire||Stainless Steel||44mm||14.5mm||51.5mm||22mm|
|Bulova 96B175 Precisionist||Quartz – Bulova Precisionist||300m / 990ft||Mineral||Stainless Steel||46.5mm||17.5mm||53mm||24mm|
And the best dive watches are…
#1 – Seiko SRP777 ‘Turtle’
- Seiko 4R36 automatic movement with hand-winding and hacking seconds
- Certified ISO diver’s watch
- 200m (660ft) water resistance
- Unidirectional bezel with 120 clicks
- Hardlex crystal
- 45mm case diameter
- 13mm height
- 48mm lug-to-lug distance
- 22mm band width
- 50hr power reserve
- Day / Date window
- Lumibrite hands and markers
6309’s were produced for 12 years, from 1976 to 1988, so they’re not exactly rare. But finding ones in good condition that haven’t been heavily modified has become a bit of a chore. So when Seiko announced they’d be reissuing the Turtle as the SRP77x and keeping it as part of the regular lineup it made a lot of people very happy.
What features make the Turtle stand out?
Many people just love the unique ‘cushion’ shaped case, which helps the somewhat large watch sit comfortably on the wrist.
The 4R36 automatic movement is also a nice step up from the 7s26 found in Seiko’s less expensive divers. It features a longer power reserve, as well as hacking seconds and the ability to hand-wind.
Seiko SRP77x Series
|Black and white dial, black silicone strap||Gilt bezel, hands, dial. Metal bracelet||Blue dial and bezel||'Pepsi' Red and Blue Bezel||PADI Limited Edition|
#2 – Citizen BJ8050 ‘EcoZilla’
- Eco-Drive B873 quartz movement
- Certified ISO Diver’s Watch
- 300m (980ft) water resistance
- Unidirectional bezel
- 6mm non-reflective curved mineral crystal
- 48mm case diameter
- 18mm height
- Lug-less design (strap adapters available online)
- 29mm band width
- Eco-Drive solar powered battery
- 177g weight (with rubber strap)
- Date window
- Luminous markers and hands
The Citizen EcoZilla is quite a large watch, showing up with a 48mm diameter. However, it also doesn’t have any kind of overhanging lugs, so it’ll wear comfortably on smaller wrists than you may think.
If you’re looking for something big and bold to make a statement (or just for very practical use while diving), the EcoZilla is for you. With my somewhat small wrists, I don’t think I could actually pull this thing off for daily wear but I love the look of it, and could make use of it while diving.
What makes the Citizen BJ8050 stand out?
Definitely designed as an extremely practical tool watch for divers, the dial and bezel are very, very legible. It’s like looking through a porthole attached to your wrist. You won’t ever end up confusing the hour and minute hands on this thing, and the markers will stay visible in any light conditions.
Citizens Eco-Drive watches are powered by the sun, so you will never have to worry about running out of battery power as long as you expose the watch to a bright light source on a semi-regular basis.
Citizen BJ Series DiversThe Citizen BJ series features some very unique looking dive watches. If the 8050-08E doesn't quite fit your tastes maybe one of these will.
Only complaint I've read about them is of the rubber band breaking within in a year, but there are aftermarket bands available.
|Large, port-hole type look. Extremely legible dial.||Depth gauge, chronometer, power reserve indicator.||Depth gauge, chronometer, power reserve indicator.||Depth gauge, chronometer, power reserve indicator.|
For those looking for something a little less bold, be sure to check out the Citizen BN0150-28E ProMaster Diver, with a case diameter of 43mm, and a more classic dive watch look.
#3 – Christopher Ward C60 Trident 300
Christopher Ward is a smaller watch brand out of the UK that has made quite the name for themselves by producing beautiful watches at very reasonable price points.
Their watches are so affordable due to their refusal to sell through 3rd parties (all watches available directly through their own website) and a lack of expensive marketing campaigns.
The C60 Trident 300 is their entry-level dive watch, positioned below the C60 Trident Pro 600. It’s available in two different sizes, 38mm or 43mm. The 38mm would be excellent for anyone who’s tired of the trend of divers to get bigger and bigger.
What are you missing out on by buying the less expensive version?
As the name suggests, the Trident 300 is rated to ‘only’ 300 meters of water resistance, while the Pro 600 has twice that. The bezel is also aluminum vs. the ceramic available on the higher-end model.
But the biggest difference comes with the movement. The Trident 300 features a highly accurate quartz movement, while the Pro 600 comes with the well regarded ETA 2824-2 mechanical automatic movement.
Worth the difference in price (almost twice the cost)? Only you can decide.
#4 – Seiko SRP639 ‘Baby Tuna’
The Seiko Prospex SRP6xx series watch, or ‘Baby Tuna’, is the latest in Seiko’s long line of unique shrouded dive watches.
Featuring the same automatic movement as the Seiko Turtle above, the 4R36, the Baby Tuna is highly accurate and has the ability to be hand wound.
Why the nickname ‘Baby Tuna’?
The nickname comes from the circular shroud that protects both the watch and the bezel. It reminded people of a standard can of tunafish, and the name stuck. ‘Baby Tuna’ is used since this watch is positioned below the Marinemaster ‘Tuna’.
What makes the SRP6xx series stand out over other divers?
While it’s a large watch with a 47mm case diameter, the nearly circular shape with a short lug-to-lug length makes it wear comfortably and not look absolutely huge.
The shrouded case itself makes the watch stand out quite a bit from all the Rolex Submariner clones you’ll see around, and it’s sure to draw the attention of other watch enthusiasts.
Seiko SRP6xx Series
#5 – Helson Shark Diver 42
The Helson Shark Diver is available in a number of different variations. Both a 42mm and 45mm are being produced, in either brass, stainless steel, bronze, titanium, and carbon. Each case also has a selection of different dial colors available.
If that’s not enough of a selection for you I don’t know what would be.
The only version available for under $500 though is the 42mm brass cased diver featuring the Seiko NH35 automatic movement. From what I understand this is actually the exact same movement as the 4R36, just sold unbranded for non Seiko watches.
Why should you think about getting a brass-cased Shark Diver?
Brass, just like bronze, develops its own unique patina over time. Brass isn’t quite as tough as bronze, but still makes for a beautiful watch material.
The main reason I love the Shark Diver? They’ve done an amazing job with the lume on this watch. The whole dial and bezel glows like crazy, and it’s quite beautiful to see.
#6 – Seiko SUN019
What makes the SUN019 unique?
Instead of a mechanical automatic movement, the SUN019 features Seiko’s proprietary ‘Kinetic’ movement. The Kinetic movement is an interesting mix between quartz and an automatic.
The movement of the wearers wrist charges the watch, just like an automatic, but instead of winding a spring it charges a small battery. All the benefits of a quartz watch, such as reliability and accuracy, without the drawbacks of having to change a battery.
The extra button on the top right of the watch triggers a power reserve indicator.
The SUN019 also has a sapphire crystal unlike most of Seiko’s divers, which use Hardlex mineral crystals.
Seiko SUN0xx Series
#7 – Victorinox I.N.O.X. Pro Diver
They’ve got a large range of models, from business and leisure watches to pilots and divers.
The I.N.O.X. series from Victorinox are aimed to be their most durable watches. The term INOX is either borrowed from the French word for stainless steel ‘inoxydable‘, or stands for ‘Impact Neutralizing Object for the X-tremes’, which is quite the mouthful. Take your pick I guess.
Why would you want an I.N.O.X. Professional Diver?
Feature wise they honestly don’t stand out that much, and probably aren’t actually anymore durable than any other well made quartz diver.
They sure are pretty and well made though, and are definitely worth their asking price. The blue dialed ref. #241734 is my pick.
Victorinox I.N.O.X. Professional Diver Series
|Red dial and strap||Black dial and strap||Blue dial and strap||Yellow dial and strap|
#8 – Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba
The Hamilton Khaki Navy line of watches encompasses quite a variety in styles of watch.
From the Pioneer Auto (inspired by vintage marine chronometers) to the industrial looking BelowZero (featured in ‘The Martian’), the only thing tying this line together is that they’re ‘water inspired’.
The Navy Scuba Auto is designed to function like a classic tool diver, but look just as at place on your wrist while you’re wearing a suit and tie.
Why get a Navy Scuba Auto?
Powered by the ever accurate ETA 2834-2 automatic movement, it also shows it off with a display case back.
Personally I like how Hamilton managed to include a 24 hour dial and full day display while keeping the watch extremely legible.
Hamilton Khaki Navy Series
#9 – Momentum M50
What makes the Momentum M50 stand out?
Well lets see. 500m water resistance? Check. Sapphire crystal? Check. Super long life battery (8-10 years)? Also check.
The Momentum M50 is an unassuming, feature-rich, extremely well made tool diver that many, many people are happy to own and love.
Momentum M Series
|M30 1M-DV30B0||M50 1M-DV52L0||M50 1M-DV52B0||M50 DSS-34 1M-DV51B1|
|Automatic version with black dial.||White dial.||Black dial.||Small, 34mm case diameter version. Discontinued, but still available.|
#10 – Bulova 96B175 Precisionist
The Bulova 96B175 is an interesting hybrid of a watch. Featuring chronometer functions, a tachymeter scale around the chapter ring, and 300m of water resistance it’s hard to know exactly what this watch was designed for.
The bezel looks like that of a diver, but is actually fixed. I honestly went back and forth on whether or not to include it on this list. A lot of people love it, and it’s a cool looking watch for sure, but is it a diver?
Well, the 300 meters of water resistance finally made me decide that yes, it can be considered a dive watch. You can always use the chronometer for timing your dives right?
The 96B175 probably has the busiest dial of all the watches on this list, but still seems to be quite readable.
Why would you want a Bulova Precisionist watch?
The coolest thing about Bulova’s Precisionist quartz movement is that it makes the second hand of the watch smoothly beat like an automatic. There’s only a few quartz movements around that do that, most of them simply jump second to second.
If only Bulova hadn’t fixed the bezel in position I would’ve put the 96B175 much higher up this list…