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If you wear a watch that isn’t a smartwatch, there’s a pretty good chance that watch is a diver. Dive watches are far and away the most popular traditional watch style among men, having long ago supplanted dress watches as most guys’ daily driver. Their mix of casual, sporty good looks and rugged tool watch utility make dive watches the perfect everyday companion. But with practically every brand offering at least one diver, it can be difficult to find the perfect one. That’s where this guide comes in.

Whether you’re a professional diver looking for a legitimate tool watch to take on your next icy plunge or you’re an office drone who simply wants a solid desk diver, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for here. We’ve grouped together 20 of the best dive watches currently on the market, from budget picks to high-end luxury and everything in between. You’ll find plenty of dive watch icons, some mega-cool vintage reissues, and the best of what modern watchmaking has to offer. But enough talk, let’s dive in.

What Is A Dive Watch?

Below The Surface

The style of watch that we think of as a dive watch first came about in 1953 with the introduction of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and Zodiac Sea Wolf, followed by the Rolex Submariner the following year. While submergible watches had existed since the ‘30s, these were the first purpose-built dive watches, with high (for the time) water resistance in the neighborhood of 100m or more, large luminous indices, and uni-directional marked bezels for dependably timing dives. Today, these are still the hallmarks of the dive watch. A unidirectional dive time bezel is a must, as are high-contrast dials and hands with great lume. Modern dive watches also have greater water resistance — typically at least 200m — as well as a screw-down crown, which aids in the watches’ water resistance. While these are the bare minimum requirements, it’s not uncommon for divers to feature even more professional features, like a helium escape valve — this allows helium atoms to escape from inside the watch to prevent destructive expansion when decompressing after a saturation dive — or ISO 6425 professional dive watch standard certification.

ORIENT KAMASU

Japanese brand Orient has been cranking out budget-priced mechanical watches since 1950, and the brand’s divers have long been the budget entry point for watch enthusiasts. Following in the footsteps of the iconic Ray and Mako comes the more recent Kamasu, which adds a sapphire crystal to Orient’s classic formula of a stainless steel case and bracelet, automatic day-date movement, and 200m water resistance.

Case Size: 41.8mm
Water Resistance: 200m
Movement: Automatic

PURCHASE: $228+

LORIER NEPTUNE

Darling of the microbrand world Lorier’s first model was the Neptune, and the retro diver is still the NYC-based brand’s handsome flagship. Designed to duplicate the experience of buying a brand-new dive watch in the mid-twentieth century, the Neptune looks like the lovechild of a vintage Rolex “Big Crown” Submariner and original Omega Seamaster 300 thanks to its thin aluminum bezel, domed plexiglass crystal, and broad arrow handset.

Case Size: 39mm
Water Resistance: 200m
Movement: Automatic

PURCHASE: $499

BALTIC AQUASCAPHE

Another favorite microbrand diver comes from Lorier’s chief (friendly) rival from Paris, Baltic. Like the Neptune with Lorier, the Aquascaphe is the beloved flagship of Baltic, but it takes a slightly different approach in its retro design. Here, you’ll find more modern materials and touches — like a sapphire crystal and bezel insert and a quick-release bracelet — accompanied by a commensurate price increase.

Case Size: 39mm
Water Resistance: 200m
Movement: Automatic

PURCHASE: $656+

CHRISTOPHER WARD C60 TRIDENT PRO 600

Arguably the best bang-for-your-buck diver over the past decade is CW’s flagship, now in its highly impressive third generation. The watch boasts absolutely killer features that were previously unheard of at this price point; features like a fully-lumed ceramic bezel, a whopping 600m water resistance, myriad contrasting finishes on the “light-catcher” case, and the brightest lume on the market at the time of its inception.

Case Size: 38mm, 40mm, 42mm
Water Resistance: 600m
Movement: Automatic

PURCHASE: $895+

CERTINA DS PH200M

Recently making its return to the U.S. market is classic Swiss brand Certina, and its DS PH200M diver is leading the way. A knockout vintage reissue of one of the brand’s very first dive watches from 1968, the DS PH200M mixes retro flair with modern touches, incorporating a gilt-accented black dial, a unique rounded ceramic bezel that’s fully graduated, and a stainless steel mesh bracelet.

Case Size: 42.8mm
Water Resistance: 200m
Movement: Automatic

PURCHASE: $990

SQUALE 1521

Squale is one of the most recognized names in the dive watch space, having crafted dive watch cases for many big-time brands — including Blancpain — in the ‘60s and ‘70s. These days, the family-owned brand exclusively makes its own watches, and the 1521 is a veritable icon. Especially popular in this Ocean Blue variant, the 1521 features Squale’s most classic dive watch case, 500m water resistance, contrasting hour and minute hands, and a coin edge bezel.

Case Size: 42mm
Water Resistance: 500m
Movement: Automatic

PURCHASE: $1,014

TISSOT SEASTAR 2000 PROFESSIONAL POWERMATIC 80

Long a forgotten member of its catalog, Tissot recently revamped the Seastar dive watch and it’s now threatening to steal CW’s crown as the best bargain in the industry. The watch’s list of features is long for a ~$1,000 diver: it’s got a chronometer-certified movement with an 80-hour power reserve, a ceramic bezel, 600m water resistance, a helium escape valve, ISO 6425 dive watch certification, and an exhibition case back… all from a Swiss heritage brand.

Case Size: 46mm
Water Resistance: 600m
Movement: Automatic

PURCHASE: $1,025

ZODIAC SUPER SEA WOLF 53 SKIN

Zodiac’s Sea Wolf was one of the very first dedicated dive watches released back in 1953, and it was the first diver made for more budget-oriented shoppers. The brand is still cranking out Sea Wolves today, and its new 53 Skin is a delightful throwback skin diver take on the series. Boasting an in-house STP 1-11 automatic movement, DLC-plated stainless steel construction, and a ceramic bezel insert, this Sea Wolf has the modern bona fides to complement its vintage styling.

Case Size: 39mm
Water Resistance: 200m
Movement: Automatic

PURCHASE: $1,095+

SEIKO PROSPEX SPB143

Obviously, no best diver list can exist without Seiko. The brand has at least a dozen divers in its back-catalog that can be categorized as icons, ranging from the budget-based to the very high-end. For this guide, we’ve landed in the middle with the striking SPB143. It may not have as memorable of a name as the Turtle or Tuna, but this modern reinterpretation of the brand’s original diver, the 62MAS, is like a chronicle of Seiko’s entire dive watch history up to this point.

Case Size: 40.5mm
Water Resistance: 200m
Movement: Automatic

PURCHASE: $1,200

LONGINES HYDROCONQUEST

Longines’ vintage-style dive watches — the Legend Diver and the Skin Diver — get the lion’s share of attention for the brand, and rightly so. But the nearly-200-year-old brand’s take on a modern diver is certainly no slouch either. The Hydroconquest is low-key one of the best divers on the market under $3K thanks to its luxury-level finishing and construction, and you’ll find everything you’d expect at this price, including an AR-coated sapphire crystal, available ceramic bezel insert, and 300m water resistance.

Case Size: 39mm, 41mm, 44mm
Water Resistance: 300m
Movement: Automatic

PURCHASE: $1,275+

MIDO OCEAN STAR DIVER 600

A far less celebrated member of the Swatch Group roster when compared to popular stablemates Omega, Longines, and Tissot, Mido often flies under the radar. But if it keeps making watches like the Ocean Star, that’s bound to change soon. Here we have an excellent modern diver with an 80-hour COSC-certified movement with a silicon balance spring, a luxe curved-end rubber strap, 600m water resistance, a helium valve, and a ceramic bezel insert that’s infilled with uber-bright Super-LumiNova Grade X.

Case Size: 43.5mm
Water Resistance: 600m
Movement: Automatic

PURCHASE: $1,700

RADO CAPTAIN COOK

Rado gained a whole new identity a couple of years ago when it reissued its obscure ‘60s diver, the Captain Cook, and the Swiss-based brand has rebuilt practically its entire catalog around the suddenly red-hot diver. The watch’s numerous quirks, such as its swinging anchor logo on the dial and concave ceramic bezel, help set it apart from the dive watch crowd, but it still maintains the specs and build quality you’d expect from a $2K+ luxury diver.

Case Size: 37mm, 42mm
Water Resistance: 300m
Movement: Automatic

PURCHASE: $2,000+

DOXA SUB 300

A legendary name in the dive watch space is Doxa, the favored brand of famed undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau. But even if your uses aren’t nearly as grand as Cousteau’s, you’ll still find plenty of value in Doxa’s signature offering, the Sub 300. An icon in its “Professional” orange guise, the Sub 300 was introduced in 1967 with 300m water resistance and a unique unidirectional bezel featuring a dual scale for depth and dive time. Today’s version throws in a domed sapphire crystal and a COSC-certified movement.

Case Size: 42.5mm
Water Resistance: 300m
Movement: Automatic

PURCHASE: $2,490

TAG HEUER NIGHT DIVER

James Bond has worn a few iconic dive watches in his day, most notably the Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster. But the fictional superspy also briefly (and unceremoniously) donned an ‘80s TAG Heuer diver in 1987’s The Living Daylights. The watch featured a fully-lumed dial and a blacked-out case, and it’s long been a bit of a legend among Bond aficionados. For 2021, TAG resurrected Bond’s “Night Diver” as part of its revamped Aquaracer line, and the modern version brings contemporary luxury to the watch’s ‘80s spy movie heritage.

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