It’s been a while since we looked at affordable divers under the $500 mark, so we have taken a fresh look at what’s out there. In addition to the old faithfuls of Seiko and Citizen, we have discovered some exciting perhaps lesser-known brands that are doing cool and unusual things at this price point. There’s always a justifiable reason to squeeze another diver into the collection when it’s at these prices, and here we provide you with no less than 9 new excuses. Here then is the latest list of divers under $500.
CITIZEN BN2038-01L AQUALAND
Do you love a Citizen Pepsi diver? Of course, you do, and the good news is you can buy a beauty for under US$500. US$469.12 to be exact. The Promaster Aqualand Diver has all the toys you’d expect from an ISO-compliant Citizen dive watch. With water resistance to 200 meters, there’s a 120-click one-way rotating bezel, a built-in anti-magnetic core, a stainless-steel anti-shock case, a screw-back case and screw-down crown, depth display to 70 meters, rapid ascent alarm, water sensor, auto start dive mode, and a power reserve indicator. You can also use the extender clasp to fit over your wetsuit. The watch is powered by Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology which will charge using any light source and never needs a battery.
TIMEX NAVI XL 41MM FABRIC SLIP-THRU STRAP WATCH
Timex has raided the archives to produce this good looking and affordable entry-level diver. It’s priced at a very modest $129, and comes in three different colorways. The new model is made from stainless steel, and has water resistance to 100 meters. That may not seem much to get excited about, but even half that distance is deeper than 90% of amateur divers ever venture. The case is complemented by a ballistic nylon strap, a high strength material also used for military spec equipment including parachute cords. All told, this is one of many solid vintage-themed releases we’ve seen from Timex of late.
SEIKO PROSPEX PADI SOLAR SNE435P1
If in doubt with $500 or less to spend on a diver, always take a look at Seiko. Seiko’s 43.5mm PADI-edition diver is water-resistant up to 200 meters. It runs on an energy-efficient solar cell, and a full charge can keep the power reserves within the watch going for 10 months. Not only is it ultra-efficient in terms of performance, but it also looks great with a blue multifunction dial and a 120-click rotating bezel, luminous dots at every hour and broad stick indices, with three luminous hands, magnified date window and the Seiko and PADI logos at 6 o’clock. It runs on a quartz movement which may or may not be a deal-breaker for some, but you just know it’s going to be reliable. For a Seiko with the Prospex badge, US$291 represents excellent value for money.
ORIENT ‘RAY II’ JAPANESE AUTOMATIC
Orient has long been a WUS favorite, and this 41.5mm diver from the Japanese brand is tipped to be a hot new bestseller. Called the Orient Ray II it’s now powered by a 22-jewel, Caliber F69 automatic movement. That’s right, a reliable automatic dive watch for just US$128.97. With 200 meters of water resistance, this new movement is self-winding and it hacks. With the choice of a black or marine blue dial, it also has a day-date complication at 3 o’clock. Described as the best value diver in the under $500 range, all in all, it’s a lot of bang for the buck.
JACK MASON DIVE WATCH 42MM
Founded in 2015, Jack Mason is a Texas-based brand founded on the principle of creating watches at the highest quality at an attainable price. And it has to be said the quartz-powered 42mm Jack Mason Dive watch at US$315 is not only good looking but has all the essentials you would look for in a watch for which most Swiss brands would charge considerably more. These include a 316L stainless steel case, a screw-down crown, water-resistance up to 300 meters, Swiss Super-Luminova® markings for ease of reading even in poor light conditions. If you don’t like the watch strap you can change it with the quick release pins. Quality is assured with a ten-year warranty.
SPINNAKER CAHILL 5033-02
Spinnaker has looked to currently in vogue 1960s stylings to produce an unusual vintage dive watch collection. Water-resistant to 200 meters, the watch features a luminous Hardlex unidirectional bezel and see-through exhibition case back. Hardlex or mineral crystal is what is most frequently on offer at this price point, you have to spend a little more for a sapphire crystal. The Mercedes diver hands and indices are Swiss, but the Miyota 21 automatic movement with a date display at 3 o’ clock is Japanese. This is a 43mm vintage look diver offering robust performance for US$410.
TISSOT SEASTAR 1000 POWERMATIC 80
You can stretch to a Swiss dive watch for under US$500, and Tissot offers one with the excellent ETA Powermatic 80 with an 80-hour power reserve. With water resistance to 300 meters, the watch features a blue sunray dial face with both stick and dot index hour markers and a date display window at 6 o’clock. Priced at US$455.05, the dial ring features a seconds’ track and the bezel features a minute track. For just that little bit more than the Spinnaker, this watch offers a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal window.
CASIO G-SHOCK ANALOG-DIGITAL GA700SK-1A
It’s enshrined in the dive watch Magna Carta that every low-cost dive watch list must include a G-SHOCK. It makes perfect sense. For a start, the watch has water resistance to 200 meters. This new model is made from a cool semi-transparent resin with metallic colors to create an updated retro 80’s look, and all for just US$120. The base model is GA-700. This model features two-tone coloring that matches bright hues with semi-transparent resin for the case and band. This model also comes in white, blue/black and black/orange.
ALPINA SEASTRONG HOROLOGICAL SMARTWATCH
We know this last selection isn’t strictly a diver, and it’s a little over the US$500 limit, but it has water resistance to 100 meters and it certainly has a dive watch aesthetic. Being a smartwatch, the features will do more for you on land than any dive watch can dream of. Some of these abilities include Activity Tracking, Sleep Monitoring, Sleep Cycle Alarms, Get-Active Alerts, Dynamic Coaching, World Time 24 Time Zones, Cloud Backup and Restore and Mobile Notifications. All functions are quickly and easily adjustable via the crown. This 44mm smartwatch comes on a green rubber strap and costs just a shade over US$500 at US$595
Main picture by Jason Chamberlain on Unsplash.com