Dive watches under $1,500

Today we’re going to dip our toes into the world of well-priced vintage-styled dive watches. It’s a category with a lot (a LOT) of options, and a comprehensive overview of all the possible choices would be as exhausting as it would be exhaustive. So I’ve whittled it down to three watches that not only bear more than a passing resemblance to each other, but also three watches that I’ve spent a decent amount of time with: Mido, Doxa and Baltic. What are the differences, and which one is for you? Read on to find out.

The Mido Ocean Star Tribute, $1150

Mido Ocean Star Tribute

What’s to like about this watch?

It’s weird to think of a major release from a Swatch Group brand as under the radar, but here we are. The Mido Ocean Star Tribute is a familiar-looking 40.5mm diver that owes a stylistic debt to Mido’s archive (the Ocean Star design turned 75 last year). There’s a blue and a black dial (blue please), an old-school handset and a day-date window that’s neatly integrated into the design of the dial. The steel bracelet, while not quite full beads-of-rice, offers a solid vintage style. The other nice feature about this watch – and one of the major benefits of that Swatch affiliation – is the movement, a COSC-certified automatic that offers a solid 80 hours of power reserve.

What do you need to be aware of?

First of all, this is the most expensive watch of the three, but not by a lot. On top of that, the day/date display might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s quite unobtrusive — especially when it’s color matched on the black dial option. The design is also the ‘safest’ of the three. Finally, the lugs are an irritating 21mm wide.

Who should get it?

Are you excited by three days of power reserve in an affordable package? The Mido’s also a solid contender if you’re after those straight-up heritage sub vibes.

The Doxa Sub 200, $990

Doxa Sub 200

What’s to like about this watch?

Doxa has been having a bit of a run of late, and the latest member of their dive family is the Sub 200, which eschews the brand’s distinctive cushion-y shaped case in favor of a more commercially-friendly round watch. Good news though: the bright dials are still there, from classic Professional Orange to an eye-wateringly bright Aquamarine. Otherwise, it’s a pretty package: ETA 2824, blocky hands and a thick beads-of-rice.

What do you need to be aware of?

There’s not a lot to dislike about this Doxa, but there are a few points worth bearing in mind: it belies its professional roots with some finishing that a little lacking on the polish front. Also, the lugs. 19mm. Frustrating. I mean, why can’t the Mido and Doxa split the difference and both end up with 20mm straps? Is it that hard?

Who should get it?

Fans of color and/or fans of the swashbuckling world of dive watches.

The Baltic Aquascaphe, $724

Baltic Aquascaphe

What’s to like about this watch?

This stylish little Frenchie has a lot of points in its favor. The 39mm case is on the petite size for a modern dive watch, and the entire ensemble — from the box and packaging down to the quick-change spring bars on the slender beads-of-rice bracelet — is thoughtfully designed, and made with the enthusiast in mind. To my mind, it’s the most understated and dressy of the three. There are a few dial options: black with crisp white lume or with creamy vintage-y lume, or blue with the same old-school option. Bonus points for the purists? No date.

What do you need to be aware of?

The entire package is neat, tidy and lovely on the wrist, but like all watches — especially ones in the competitive sub-$1,000 price range — there are a few compromises. For one, the movement is the Miyota 9039 — perfectly serviceable but not Swiss, and for some, that’s an issue. Also, the lume is a little on the light side.

Who should get it?

If you’re looking for a stylish, throwback, everyday wearer that offers all the ruggedness of a modern dive watch, the Aquascaphe from Baltic is worth checking out.

We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.

Comments

comments