Imagine. You brace yourself on the side of a boat. Your dive watch buckled to your wrist. Your feet already in the water. The water’s current is gentle, and so is the wind.
The world seems tranquil, and the weight of your watch reminds you why you’re here. You’re an explorer. Prepared for any adventure with the dive watch you trust.
Your dive watch isn’t just any piece of gear. It goes everywhere you go. So choose the best dive watch for you. One that lives up to the task of keeping you safe. Let’s check out this list of the best dive watches under $500. Care to join me?
Features to Look For When Buying a Dive Watch Under $500
So you need a dive watch you can rely on. There are some key features that you want to make sure you get. Some of these are essential and can make or break the function of your diving watch. After all, no one wants to buy a dive watch that cracks on your first trip.
To avoid that, you need a watch that can handle the pressure. The two factors to look for here are the dive watch’s depth rating, and what the case window is made of. All of the diving watches in this list have a depth rating of 200m. This is a reliable depth rating for the price range, and it’s usually a little more than casual divers need. The case window also makes a difference. These are made using different types of crystal so they don’t scratch or crack easily. Mineral and Sapphire crystals are considered the two best materials for your case window, but there are also proprietary materials out there.
Now usually, whether or not you can read your watch, isn’t something you think about. But water is only clear in shallow depths. A dive watch needs to be read where there’s a lot less light. So look out for luminous hands and readings.
Once you’re under water, the dive watch’s bezel is how you measure time lapse. If you’re a serious diver you know how vital this is. Since the bezel’s function is so crucial, the way it moves is also important. Some of the bezels in this list are unidirectional, and some are stationary. The stationary bezels can’t be adjusted, so it’s up to you if that’s a big loss. But I recommend the unidirectional bezels. These are usually stainless steel, and it should be tight enough so that it doesn’t rotate in the water’s currents.
Now that we know what to watch for, let’s take a look at these 5 best dive watches under $500.
5 Best Dive Watches Under $500
1. Casio GWF1000-1 Dive Watch
This quartz dive watch from Casio has a digital display and luminous readings. The case diameter is 50mm, which is bigger than most watches. This dive watch is readable, but the display is a little cluttered with information in different places. If you’re used to a digital display, you might feel comfortable with it right away. I prefer analog displays, so it would take me some time to get used to it. When it comes to utility, this watch has it covered. It has a depth rating of 200m, and the case window is made of Mineral crystal. Mineral is great, and suitable for a lot of diving. But some prefer case windows made of sapphire crystal, which are much more scratch-resistant. Both of these, however, will withstand a lot of pressure and keep from cracking.
This dive watch’s bezel doesn’t move at all, but it does have digital time lapse functions. Since this diving watch requires the use of buttons to measure time lapse, it’s more difficult to use underwater and with gloves on. This is a pretty big loss for this watch, especially considering its price. To add to that, it’s not a pretty watch to look at. It may be comfortable to wear each day, but it won’t match your suit. The resin wrist band is durable but put simply, it feels like it belongs to a less expensive watch. Overall, this dive watch isn’t the best bang for your buck, but it’s definitely worth looking into. You can read a full review on the Casio GWF1000 dive watch here.
2. Seiko SKX173 Automatic Dive Watch
Now we come to the Seiko SKX173 Dive watch. While this diving watch is less expensive than the Casio, it doesn’t lose any of the key features you need. At first glance, it has a simple looking watch face with an analog display. Simple, but it has class.
This dive watch has a case window made of Hardlex, Seiko’s proprietary type of mineral crystal. Unlike your average mineral case window, however, Hardlex provides a scratch-resistance similar to that of sapphire. For a diving watch in this price range, this is something to get excited about.
The Seiko diving watch does have luminous hands and readings. And with a simple but elegant watch display, this dive watch is easy to read and to look at. Its synthetic wristband is nothing special, but it is comfortable and easy to adjust with a buckle closure.
The two best features of this dive watch is it’s unidirectional bezel and its screw-down style case and crown. The bezel can be adjusted so that you can accurately measure time lapse. It’s stainless steel, sturdy, and doesn’t move too freely. The screw-down style crown has to be pressed in, rotated clock-wise, and released, before you can adjust the dive watch’s hands. This ensures that you’re not winding back the watch without realizing it.
This Seiko diving watch is fantastic for its price, with all the right features. It’s simple, sturdy, and dependable. You can read a full review on the Seiko SKX173 dive watch here.
3. Citizen AT9010-52E Eco-Drive Dive Watch
In comparison with the Seiko we just reviewed, this dive watch from Citizen’s line of Eco-Drive watches has a heftier price tag. Let’s see what this diving watch has to gain over the others.
This Citizen dive watch first impresses us with its looks. With its silver-tone, stainless steel bracelet and bezel, it’s not only suited for diving, but for the office too. It’s a professional looking watch, but its readings are also technical. Its stainless-steel bezel is fixed, rather than adjustable. This is unfortunate, and on a diving watch at this price, you would think a unidirectional bezel is a given. However, depending on your needs for a dive watch, this may not be a big deal.
What it gains from the other dive watches in this list, is a sapphire crystal case window. Resistant to both scratches and pressure, sapphire is a material you want for a diving watch’s case. The Citizen dive watch also as a simple “push-pull” crown, meaning you can wind the hands just by pulling the crown outward. This can also be a downside, and sooner or later, you’re going to wind the watch by accident. The only way to minimize this is to be careful.
This diving watch wins people over with its good looks, and it still has most of the key features you need in a dive watch. At this price point though, it has its disappointments. You can read a ?full review on the Citizen AT9010 here.
4. Citizen Eco-Drive Men’s BN0151-09L Promaster Diver Watch With Blue PU Band
The Promaster, another diving watch from Citizen is the least expensive watch on our list. Based on its price, you may not expect it to have the same great features as the other dive watches on our list. But this watch is one of the best deals here.
To start, its simple, analog display has larger than average hands and the bezel’s readings are also easy to see. The readings on this dive watch are luminous so they can be easily seen when you’re in darker waters. Overall, the look of this diving watch is simple and professional. It doesn’t overwhelm you with gadget-like features, but as we’re about to find out, still has what it takes to be an excellent diving watch.
The watch has a screw-down style crown as well. As mentioned before, this makes sure you don’t adjust the watch’s hands by mistake. This seems like a minor feature, but you would be surprised how often you can accidentally adjust the time on push-pull style crown.
The Promaster Citizen dive watch has a mineral crystal case window and a unidirectional bezel. This diving watch is an excellent bargain. For $20 less it has a very similar list of features to the Seiko SKX173. There’s still one more dive watch on this list, but so far this Citizen BN-0150-28E looks like an amazing deal. You can read a full review on the Promaster Citizen dive watch here.
5. Citizen BJ7000-52E Nighthawk Watch
The last watch on our list is the Citizen Nighthawk BJ7000-52E. While it is a pilot-style watch, with a thin bezel and larger face, the Citizen Nighthawk has a lot of the key features of a diving watch. But first, let’s appreciate the aesthetic of this watch.
With a stainless steel bracelet and case, this dive watch would look great on your wrist for any event. It has a thinner bezel and larger face than the other watches on this list. In spite of it being a pilot-style watch, it does have a depth rating of 200m and would be suitable for less serious diving ventures. The case window on this watch is made of mineral crystal, and the bezel is stainless steel. One feature that sets this watch apart from the others is its dual-time feature. This can be useful if you fly a lot and want to keep track of two different time zones, but you may not need it on your snorkeling trip. Thi20s is a nice watch, but for around the same price, the Seiko SKX173 and the Citizen Promaster are much better suited for water. You can read a full review on the Citizen BJ7000-52E here.