2018’s Best Dive Watches Under $1000
In need of a new watch? The thousands of options too much to sort through? Dive Watches Blog is here to help. This is a short-list of the best dive watches under $1000 that are currently available.
This guide will save you a ton of time and energy while on the search for your perfect watch!
Best Dive Watches Under $1000
|Image||Model||Movement||Water Resistance||Crystal||Case / Bezel Material||Case Diameter||Case Thickness||Lug to Lug||Strap Width||Buy Now Link|
|Longines HydroConquest||Longines L6129 (ETA 2892) automatic||300 meter||Sapphire||Stainless Steel / Aluminum||39mm||10.2mm||48mm||21mm|
|Seiko SBDC029 'Shogun'||Seiko 6R15 automatic||200 meter||Seiko Hardlex||Titanium||44mm||13.3mm||50.75mm||22mm|
|Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro||Sellita 200-1 automatic||600 meter||Sapphire||Stainless Steel / Ceramic||38mm||13.3mm||45.5mm||20mm||Buy From Chris. Ward Watches|
|Glycine Combat Sub||Glycine GL224 (ETA 2824-2) automatic||200 meter||Sapphire||Stainless Steel||42mm||10.6mm||50mm||22mm|
|Squale 50 Atmos 1521||ETA 2824-2||500 meter||Sapphire||Stainless Steel||42mm||14mm||48.5mm||20mm||Buy From Squale Watches|
If you’re looking for great watches for less money, be sure to check out my other price guides:
Got a smaller wrist? My guide to the Best Women’s Dive Watches may also come in handy.
How I choose these watches
This price guide is compiled from my own personal preferences combined with reading a lot of others feedback. I don’t claim to know everything about watches, and I haven’t personally handled many of the watches on this list.
What I have done is spend many hours reading detailed reviews of all of these watches, from professional watch journalists, bloggers, and watch forum members, so that you don’t have to.
My guide will save those looking to purchase their next watch all of that time and effort, and put them on the right track to their perfect time-piece.
Advantages of the $600 – $1000 price range
It’s extremely easy for me to explain the differences between a $500 watch and a $200 watch, or a $200 watch and a $50 watch. There’s definitive breaks there, where you start seeing quality automatic movements, sapphire crystals, or comfortable steel bracelets.
Differentiating between a $500 wrist watch and one that’s $1000 starts to get, well, a little bit more down in the weeds.
When looking at the watch market as a whole, so much of what starts making up the price differences is the brand name and its history, not necessarily higher quality materials or useful/interesting features.
There’s cases where a $1000 watch from one brand is objectively lower quality than a $500 watch from another brand, but the higher priced brand commands more respect.
However, there are usually still differences in the quality of these watches. These differences are often subtle and easily overlooked, especially if you don’t get a chance to hold two different watches in your hands at the same time.
What makes one watch worth more than another is a combination of the brand, materials used, movement / complications, other features, and the overall precision with which the whole watch is assembled.
With a thousand dollar watch there are generally improvements in the bezel action, lume brightness, bracelet fit & finish, dial decoration, and automatic movements over a five hundred dollar piece.
In this round-up I’ll illustrate exactly why you’d want to buy one of the watches in this price range, instead of choosing a less expensive option.
As always, I’m open to suggestions to improve this list!
#1 – Longines HydroConquest
- Longines caliber L619 (based on ETA 2892) automatic movement
- 300m (990ft) water resistance
- Unidirectional aluminum timing bezel
- Anti-reflective sapphire crystal
- 39mm case diameter
- 10.20mm height
- 48mm lug to lug
- 21mm band width
- 64hr power reserve
- Date window at 3 o’clock
- Luminous hands and markers, bezel
Longines is a rather old Swiss company, original founded in 1832. Their logo (a winged hour-glass) is actually the oldest trademark registered with the World Intellectual Property Organization still in use in it’s original form.
The HydroConquest is their only proper dive watch, with timing bezel. The Conquest also has 300 meters of water resistance however, so if you’d prefer a watch without the rotating bezel that may be an option.
Introduced in 2007, the Longines HydroConquest was a near instant hit. It’s release coincided with Omega raising the price of their flagship Seamaster diver, and the HydroConquest fell perfectly into the now empty price bracket it had occupied.
What makes people love the Longines HydroConquest so much?
Firstly, it’s design makes it suitable to wear as both a dress watch and as a sporty tool diver. I’ve picked out the 39mm version here, but 41mm and 30mm versions are also available. Even the 41mm version is small and thin enough for most people to wear as a dress watch, fitting nicely under long sleeves.
The clean and readable dial makes it perfectly usable as an actual tool diver at the same time. The only nitpick I have here is that the second hand does not have a lume pip on it, which is important for making sure that the watch is still running in low visibility.
The heavy-weight bracelet is expertly crafted. The outer links have a satin brush finish, and the center links are highly polished. This high contrast brushed & polished finishing is also applied to the case, making it stand out nicely. The bracelet is equipped with a double security clasp and diving extension – important for wearing over a thick wetsuit.
The (relatively) thin case has a ‘modern retro’ look to it. Sharp-cornered crown guards evoke an art deco feel. Deeply curved lugs let the Hydroconquest sit comfortably on the wrist. A solid stainless steel caseback features an engraving of the Longines logo.
The dial is immaculate – unfortunately the sunburst dial doesn’t show up in pictures, but in person it dances in changing light. Superluminova is applied to the indexes, numerals and Tudor-style snowflake hands so that you never have to worry about being able to read the time in the dark. Everything is perfect – the bezel marks align flawlessly with the markings on the dial.
To wrap it all up, Longines delivers the Hydroconquest in a nicely finished presentation box. You simply won’t go wrong with a purchase of the Longines Hydroconquest.
Longines HydroConquest Variations
|39mm Automatic Black Dial||39mm Quartz Black Dial||39mm Automatic Blue Dial||41mm Quartz Blue Dial||41mm Automatic Blue and Gold|
#2 – Seiko SBDC029 ‘Shogun’
- Seiko 6R15 automatic movement
- 50 hours power reserve
- Hacking seconds and hand-winding
- 200 meter (660 feet) water resistance
- Unidirectional titanium timing bezel
- Titanium case and bracelet with diashield coating
- Seiko Hardlex crystal
- 44mm diameter
- 50.75mm lug to lug
- 13.3mm thick
- 22mm lug width
- Date window
- LumiBrite hands, markers, bezel pip
- 113 grams total weight (including bracelet)
Seiko is a Japanese brand that I’m sure needs no introduction. The company was founded in 1881, with the Seiko brand created in 1924. Their first dive watch appeared on the scene in 1965, and Seiko has been one of the top producers of divers ever since.
The SBDC029 was released in 2015 as a replacement for the SBDC007 ‘Shogun’ – originally released in 2009 and a favorite among watch enthusiasts.
There’s only superficial changes between the two watches. Seiko focused their adjustments mainly to bring the watch in line with the rest of the Seiko Prospex brand.
As you can see in the image above, the main change is to the text at the bottom of the dial, with the Prospex ‘X’ logo added. Seiko also upgraded the LumiBrite paint on the hands and markers to a stronger version.
If you end up buying a SBDC029, don’t be surprised if you’re first reaction when picking it up is ‘this thing is a fake!’. Many people associate weight with quality, and for a big stainless steel diver it’s usually a good indication.
But titanium throws that whole equation off. At only 113 grams total, the Seiko SBDC029 may at first feel more like a cheap plastic toy than a serious tool watch. Once putting it on though, it’ll astonish you with the level of comfort that a well designed, light weight watch can deliver.
You might even forget you’re wearing it until you glance down at your wrist and see this beautiful time piece.
At first glance the hour and minute hands seem to be the same as on the Seiko Monster – which throws some people off. However the finish is completely different and much higher end with beautiful gilding. The dial is deep black, and has a texture that tends to not show up well in photographs.
About the only complaint I’ve read about the SBDC029 is that the crystal is still Seiko’s Hardlex material, instead of sapphire. Most of their other Prospex watches in this price range now feature sapphire crystals but the Shogun didn’t get that upgrade. I know from personal experience that Hardlex can take some extreme abuse, but it just doesn’t have the same draw as a good sapphire crystal.
Overall, if you’re looking for a watch in this price range the Shogun should not disappoint you. Once you have it in your hands you’ll see the amazing finish and detail work that went into the titanium case and bracelet – things that are difficult to capture with a camera but easily apparent to the naked eye.
#3 – Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro
- Sellita 200-1 automatic movement
- 600m (2000ft) water resistance
- Unidirectional zirconia ceramic timing bezel
- Wave patterned dial
- 3.4mm anti-reflective sapphire crystal
- 38mm case diameter (43mm also available)
- 13.30mm height
- 45.5mm lug to lug
- 20mm band width
- 38hr power reserve
- Hacking seconds
- Anti-shock system
- Date window at 3 o’clock
- SuperLuminova hands, indices, and bezel marker
Christopher Ward is a relatively new brand, started in 2005. They do things a little bit differently than most brands, handling sales themselves through their website, instead of trusting a network of retailers. They also avoid all the sponsorships and other advertising attempts of the big brands.
This allows Christopher Ward to lower costs compared to bigger name brands, leading to their watches having features and finish of a much higher price level.
Featuring a zirconia ceramic bezel, deeply stamped case back, engraved crown, and a wave patterned dial, the C60 Trident Pro will definitely stand out on the wrist.
The deep stamped ‘3D’ case back features the brand and model name circling the Trident logo. The centered trident is also surrounded by a wave pattern, reflecting the pattern on the dial of the watch.
An engraved crown features the Christopher Ward logo of a cross and 4 squares. This is a combination of Swiss and British flags – representing the British design and Swiss manufacturing that goes into Christopher Ward watches.
Looking at the front of the watch, the trident shows up again as the counter-weight on the second hand, nicely tying the watch together. The hands overall are a point of contention among reviewers. Many people think the design of the hour and minute hands clash with the baton hour markers. I can see why some would hate it, personally it doesn’t bother me. It’s not my favorite handset by any means, but I think it blends in well enough with the rest of the design.
Reviewers and watch fanatics greatest complaint about the C60 Trident Pro, and Christopher Ward watches in general? The Christopher Ward branding on the dial. Previous generations had ‘ChrWard’ printed at 12 o’clock, and many people hated it. Then they changed it to the full name, printed at 6 o’clock, and people still love to hate on it.
I think it leads to a nice, minimalist style for the dial, and balances out the date window at 3 o’clock. I can’t help but wonder if the watch would look better with a day/date window taking up more space on that side though. So I’m sure this might be a controversial pick for best dive watch under $1000, but with how often it shows up being recommended around the web I just had to include it here.
Christopher Ward offers the Trident Pro 600 with 4 different face options, and you can purchase it to come with either a bracelet (most expensive), leather, NATO, or rubber straps. Oh, and did I mention you can select either a 38mm or 43mm case size?
If you don’t mind the branding, there’s an option for just about anybody here.
Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600 Variations
|Trident Pro Black||Trident Pro Red||Trident Pro Orange||Trident Pro White|
#4 – Glycine Combat Sub
- Glycine caliber GL224 Swiss automatic movement
- 38 hour power reserve
- 200 meter water resistance
- Unidirectional divers timing bezel
- Stainless steel case, satin and polish finish
- Flat sapphire crystal with antireflective coating
- 42mm diameter
- 10.6mm thick
- 50mm lug to lug
- 22mm lug width
- Super-LumiNova paint
- Date window at 3 o’clock
- Silicon strap
Glycine is a well established Swiss brand founded in 1914. Not as well known (read: heavily marketed) as other Swiss brands, they still have quite the following among enthusiasts.
They’re mostly known for their aviation watches, such as the Airman 24-hr watches that become popular among the military during the Vietnam War.
The ‘Combat’ line is a further development of that early military market, expanding into field watches and dive watches, and as been around since the early 1960’s.
One thing to be aware of however, is that Glycine was acquired by the Invicta Watch Group in 2016. Invicta has a less than stellar reputation in the watch world, but supposedly they haven’t messed with the Glycine brand yet, still leaving it to act independently.
The Combat Sub is now one of Glycines most popular watches. With a 42mm diameter and being only 10.6mm thick, it’s a sleek, perfectly sized diver for most people.
Powered by Glycine’s caliber GL224 automatic movement (a modified ETA 2824-2), most reports I’ve seen have been of less than +5 seconds / day variation.
Personally I like the well designed 24-hr markers on the dial, they don’t make the dial nearly as busy as other attempts I’ve seen at this. I also love divers that have big, usable crowns.
One of the best parts of the Combat Sub? Glycine has made available many variants, in just about any color and strap combination you could want.
Have fun looking through them! (Not all are in the table below)
#5 – Squale 50 Atmos 1521
- Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic movement
- 38 hour power reserve
- Sapphire crystal
- 60 click unidirectional divers timing bezel
- 500 meter water resistance
- Polished stainless steel case
- 42mm diameter
- 48.5mm lug to lug
- 14mm thick
- SuperLuminova markers and hands
- Date window at 3 o’clock
- Rubber dive strap
Squale (Italian for shark) is a small Swiss brand that exclusively makes dive watches. They have a rather rich heritage when it comes to divers. The founder Charles Von Buren first started assembling watches in 1948, under his own name. When he got into the new sport of diving he started producing dive watch cases in the late 50’s. The Squale brand was officially launched in 1962.
Many well known Swiss brands sub-contracted out to Squale for their cases, such as DOXA and Blancpain. Squale also produced watches for French and Italian military units.
Like a lot of traditional manufacturers, Squale was hit hard when quartz movements came on the scene. They limped along, moving production to affordable quartz models, but the brand shrunk drastically.
The Maggi family, Squales longtime Italian distributor, ended up purchasing the brand and reviving it in 2010, reintroducing automatic movements.
Which brings us to today, with Squale being one of the most talked about brands among dive watch collectors.
The 50 Atmos 1521 is the modern revamp of Squales classic 500 meter dive watch. It is a study in how to perfectly size a dive watch – large enough to stay supremely legible, small enough to wear comfortably day to day.
With a lug to lug length of only 48mm it wears smaller than many other 42mm diameter divers. Sitting 14mm tall, it’s not exactly svelte, but with a significant amount of that height taken up by the thick bezel it looks thinner than it really is. The short lugs have a nice curve to them, hugging the wrist very nicely.
Generous amounts of SuperLuminova paint on the hands and markers ensure that you’ll never have a hard time reading the current time, no matter the light conditions.
The 50 Atmos comes in several variations, with a variety of dial and bezel colors, as well as case finishes. Don’t like the perfectly polished, mirror finish of one style? Take a look at the matte case, or the blackened PVD case.
Powered by a top-grade ETA 2824-2 movement (becoming rarer among non-Swatch brands) you won’t ever have to worry about accuracy and reliability with most reports showing the watch keeping within +5 s/day time.
So bottom line – if you want a diver with rich history from a brand you don’t see everyday, definitely consider the Squale 50 Atmos 1521.
With so many amazing diver’s in this price range, it’s difficult to pick just 5 of them. The watches above don’t fit your fancy? Check these ones out:
- Marathon Diver’s Automatic GSAR
- Jenny Caribbean 300
- Certina DS Action Diver Titanium
- Tag Heuer Formula 1
- Limes Endurance II
- Seiko Marinemaster Quartz
- Seiko SPB051
- H2O Kalmar 2
- Hamilton Khaki Navy Frogman
- Zelos Helmsman 2