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The Best Dive Watches Under $2,000

From resurrected heritage brands like Alsta to blue chip companies like Longines, these are the best in sub-$2k divers.

silver yema watch with blue dial resting against map
Yema

For less than $1,000, you can buy an array of pretty wonderful dive watches — timepieces whose recommendation we fully stand behind. Double that figure, however, and you can nab yourself something so good so might never feel the temptation to buy another watch again.

Why $2,000? At this price, the materials used in watches' construction tend to enter the "premium" range: regulated Swiss movements, well-constructed bracelets that mirror those from blue-chip brands, sapphire crystals and functions that used to be reserved for watches that cost much more money.

All of which begs the question — why would you spend more than $2,000 on a simple dive watch? There are admittedly plenty of good reasons: you do get better quality and finer tolerances the more money you spend (up to a point), and some of these are worth the price of admission to certain consumers. (And certain consumers value a dial that's signed by a big-name brand.) But ask us, and we'd be the first to tell you that any of the watches listed below will serve you well for many years to come.

What to Look for When Buying

At $2,000, you can be reasonably assured that the watch you’re receiving will be well built, have ample water resistance, and likely come with the backing of a strong brand with serious after-sales service. That said, there are some things to look out for:

Materials

Most watches in this price range will likely be made of stainless steel, though the price of titanium divers is coming down, and more affordable options are hitting the market every year. But it doesn’t hurt to be cognizant of the case material for the simple fact that titanium, ceramic, and other hi-tech materials often come with a correspondingly higher price tag, so if you find a watch that seems unusually affordable, considering its materials, this might be something to investigate.

Movement

Watches at this price point usually feature well made automatic Swiss movements from the likes of the big movement makers like ETA, Selitta, STP, and others. Of course, there are more affordable options as well, such as within the $1,000 range, with great options using movements from Miyota and Seiko. Do some research on the type of movement you’re buying, as certain less expensive calibers are known for finicky timekeeping — and less recognizable ones might be difficult to source parts for.

shinola automatic movement
Shinola
back of a c60 sapphire watch
Christopher Ward

Bezels

Ceramic bezels are trickling down into the realm of the affordable dive watch, which is fantastic, as they don’t scratch easily. However, the bezel itself on more affordable divers is often a telltale indicator of price — in many cases, the 12 o’clock “pip” or marker won’t line up perfectly with 12 o’clock on the dial, especially on a diver whose bezel resolution is 60 clicks, rather than 120. If you’re the type of person who’s bothered by this, it’s best to try on the watch in person before buying.

zodiac watch bezel detail
Zodiac

Strap Options

Maybe your watch comes with a great-looking steel bracelet, but then it shows up and you realize you’d prefer to wear it on a NATO strap — only to discover that the watch’s lug width is 19mm, and your choices are thus limited. So look at lug width to head this problem off, as well as the type of bracelet/strap the watch ships on to make sure it’s right for you. (While you’re at it, check out the lug-to-lug distance as well — the vertical distance between farthest lug points. This, more than anything else, determines how the watch will sit on your wrist.)

Water Resistance

Though ISO standards require 100m of water resistance in a “proper” dive watch — and this is plenty for almost any sport diving application — it’s worth double-checking your potential purchase’s water resistance, just to make sure you’re not buying something that’s merely “splash-proof.” Shoot for at least 100m of water resistance in something you plan on taking in the water, even if you’re not a diver.

Warranty

Many of the larger brands are offering 5- and 10-year warranties these days, but even if this isn’t the case with your particular watch, you should look up the terms and conditions of your warranty. The last thing you want is that beautiful new $2K diver you just bought crapping out on you the first month — and finding that you have no recourse to service it.

Terms to Know

Water Resistance

The depth, in feet, meters or "bar," at which you can reasonably use your watch while underwater. (For a much more nuanced definition, see here.) ISO 6425 standards stipulate 100m of water resistance for a dive watch — which is usually more than enough — but most serious dive watches today start at 200m.

Bezel

A ring of metal surrounding the dial — on a dive watch, this part often rotates and is capped by another piece, the bezel “insert,” that is printed with a timing scale. The rotating bezel is used to time decompression stops, bottom time, and more. (Or, how long your laundry’s been in the dryer, how long your chicken has been in the oven, etc.)

Crown

A round knob that protrudes from the watch case and is used to set the time, wind the watch (if applicable), set the date (if there is one), and more. On a dive watch, the crown often screws down to prevent water from infiltrating the case.

Bracelet

The watch strap connects the watch “head” to your wrist. Often on a dive watch this is a steel bracelet — such as the Oyster bracelet on a Rolex Submariner — while in other cases, it’s a rubber strap, or even a NATO strap made of nylon.

Markers

Also referred to as “indices,” these are the numerals, dots, or other symbols on the dial that indicate the time. The larger and more filled with luminescent material they are, the more useful they’ll be to a diver underwater.

Lume

A colloquial term for the luminescent material that (hopefully!) coats the indices and hands of a dive watch. In the 1950s, this material was (highly radioactive) radium, while in the ‘60s, brands began using (less radioactive, but still radioactive) tritium. These days, compounds such as Super-LumiNova are completely safe — and completely non-radioactive. (Tritium tubes still contain tritium, but in tiny amounts and completely enclosed.)

Movement

The engine of the watch — the bit inside that powers the hands and makes it go “tick tock.” This could be a mechanical caliber powered by the movement of your wrist (an “automatic” movement), or it could be hand-wound (very rare on a dive watch), or it could be powered by a battery and a quartz crystal (a “quartz” movement). These are the chief categories, but other niche movement types exist, such as Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive.

Lug Width

The width, in millimeters, between the lugs of the watch. This determines the strap width, with 18mm, 20mm, and 22mm being most common and 19mm being less common. On modern dive watches, 20mm and 2mm lug widths are often found — meaning there are lots of aftermarket strap options available.

Diameter

The width of the watch from the left side of the case flank to the right side of the case flank. (This number typically does not include the crown.) Common sizes for modern dive watches range from (roughly) 39mm to 44mm — but much larger watches are sometimes seen from the likes of Panerai, Citizen, and others. This number is important but shouldn’t be considered in a vacuum, as it’s not the only thing that affects wearability and comfortability.

Lug-to-Lug

The measurement from the tip of an upper lug to the tip of the corresponding lower lug. While this number is rarely published on spec sheets and brand websites, it’s important — often even more so than diameter — in giving you an idea of how a watch will wear on your wrist. After all, a watch that’s 50mm wide but only 20mm long — though it would make for a hell of an odd watch — wouldn’t necessarily be all that uncomfortable. But you can bet your behind that a 38mm watch that’s 90mm from lug to lug would not make for a fun time!

The Best Dive Watches Under $2,000

Certina DS Action Diver

Certina DS Action Diver

Certina hodinkee.com
$1,050.00

As we've said, finding a serious titanium diver for less than several thousand dollars was once a difficult proposition. Today, these watches are much more common, as is evidenced by Certina’s DS Action Diver. This particular DS is a truly remarkable piece considering its price point just north of $1K: it features an ETA automatic movement with 80 hours of power reserve, a 43mm titanium case, 300m of water resistance, and a matching titanium bracelet. The dial — a highly legible affair with a date window at 3 o’clock — matches perfectly the case and bracelet color and makes for an attractive, cohesive package.

  • Movement: ETA Powermatic 80.111 automatic
  • Diameter: 43mm
  • Water Resistance: 300m
  • Manufacturer Info: certina.com

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    Mido Ocean Star Tribute

    Mido Ocean Star Tribute

    Mido midowatches.com
    $1,200.00

    This special edition of Mido's Ocean Star celebrates 75 years of that line in a tribute based upon a model from the 1960s. Featuring an old-school aluminum bezel insert, handsome sea blue dial and an ETA-based movement powering a day-date display, the Ocean Star Tribute is just as cool as its big brand brethren but much less expensive. It doesn't hurt that it ships on an awesome steel bracelet — sort of a cross between a beads-of-rice and a Milanese.

    • Movement: Mido Caliber 80 automatic (base ETA C07.621)
    • Diameter: 40.5mm
    • Water Resistance: 200m
    • Manufacturer Info: midowatches.com

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      Christopher Ward C60 Sapphire

      Courtesy

      Christopher Ward C60 Sapphire

      Christopher Ward christopherward.com
      $1,170.00

      If you're looking for something completely different, well — look no further. The C60 Sapphire dial is made of a thin sapphire wafer so that you can see the automatic movement ticking away beneath. It's also water-resistant to a whopping 600m, meaning you will be crushed long before your watch will. With its mix of modern tech and looks with old-school dive watch cues, this has to be one of the most unique divers below the $2k mark.

      • Movement: Sellita SW200 automatic
      • Diameter: 40
      • Water Resistance: 600m
      • Manufacturer Info: christopherward.com

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        Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Watch Collection

        Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Watch Collection

        Zodiac zodiacwatches.com
        $1,295.00

        Thin, handsome and available in countless different colorways and variations, the Super Sea Wolf has been in production since 1953, the year that saw the debut of classics such as the Rolex Submariner and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. Powered by an automatic movement made by STP (a brand that's also owned by the Fossil Group, which now owns Zodiac), featuring 200m of water resistance and a well-proportioned 40mm x 11mm case, the Sea Wolf is easily one of the best buys in modern dive watches.

        • Movement: STP 3-13 automatic
        • Diameter: 40mm
        • Water Resistance: 200m
        • Manufacturer Info: zodiacwatches.com

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          Seiko Prospex SPB143

          Courtesy

          Seiko Prospex SPB143

          Seiko seikoluxe.com
          $1,200.00

          Seiko has reinterpreted its classic 62MAS dive watch from 1965 numerous times over the past few years, but it's the SPB143 (and its brethren, each of which features a slightly different dial color) that's proven to be the best-loved. With a modern diameter of 40.5mm and Seiko's in-house 6R35 automatic movement, the 143 is an incredible value at around $1,200. In fact, given its premium features and badass looks, we reckon folks are likely to mistake it for a much more expensive watch.

          • Movement: Seiko 6R35 automatic
          • Diameter: 40.5mm
          • Water Resistance: 200m
          • Manufacturer Info: seikoluxe.com

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            Marathon Large Diver’s Quartz (TSAR)

            Marathon Large Diver’s Quartz (TSAR)

            Marathon marathonwatch.com
            $1,200.00

            No dive watch list — at any price — is complete without a selection from Marathon, the family-owned Canadian watch company that’s been producing mil-spec timepieces for the armed forces since World War II. The Large Diver’s Quartz (TSAR) has become a modern classic in its own right: With its 41mm stainless steel case, oversize, knurled crown, highly grippable bezel, and reliable, hi-torque quartz movement, it’s as tough as a Sherman tank. Add in Marathon’s tritium tube illumination, and you have a recipe for a dive watch that can take a serious beating — and live to tell the tale.

            • Movement: ETA FØ6 quartz
            • Diameter: 41mm
            • Water Resistance: 300m
            • Manufacturer Info: marathonwatch.com

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              Yema Superman Heritage Blue

              Courtesy

              Yema Superman Heritage Blue

              Yema windupwatchshop.com
              $1,249.00

              If you were to take this watch back with you several decades in a time machine, chances are you'd fit right in. Upgraded with modern features such as the SW200-1 automatic movement and a sapphire crystal, the Superman Heritage Blue is otherwise a faithful recreation of a French dive watch that saw use by the French military in the 1970s. Available now in two sizes and on your choice of bracelet or strap, it's a wildly good watch for the money and one you can take with you on the deepest dives.

              • Movement: Sellita SW200-1 automatic
              • Diameter: 39mm/41mm
              • Water Resistance: 300m
              • Manufacturer Info: yema.com

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                Shinola Ice Monster Automatic

                Shinola Ice Monster Automatic

                Shinola shinola.com
                $1,950.00

                Shinola may have begun its watchmaking activities with inexpensive quartz movements, but its move into the mechanical realm has yielded some surprisingly tasty offerings. Powered by the workhorse, Swiss-made Sellita SW-200 automatic movement and featuring an impressive 300m of water resistance, the Ice Monster Automatic may be larger at 43mm, but it has a trick up its sleeve — a titanium case and matching titanium three-link bracelet. Add to that a handsome, glossy white dial with plenty of Super-LumiNova, a carbon gray dive bezel and a handy date window at 4:30, and you’ve got yourself a serious tool watch in the mold of the 1960s classics.

                • Movement: Sellita SW-200 automatic
                • Diameter: 43mm
                • Water Resistance: 300m
                • Manufacturer Info: shinola.com

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                  Longines HydroConquest

                  Courtesy

                  Longines HydroConquest

                  Longines longines.com
                  $1,700.00

                  Want premium looks from a serious brand without paying premium money? Then the HydroConquest may be the watch for you. Available in several colors and sizes, it's got classic, midcentury dive watch cues and an oversize typeface that lends some interest to the dial. Water-resistant to an impressive 300m, it also features a sapphire crystal, a unidirectional dive bezel and a date window.

                  • Movement: Longines cal. L888 automatic
                  • Diameter: 41mm
                  • Water Resistance: 300m
                  • Manufacturer Info: longines.com

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                    Benrus Type 1

                    Courtesy

                    Benrus Type 1

                    Benrus Hodinkee.com
                    $1,695.00

                    Originally, the only way to get your hands on a Benrus Type 1 was to get yourself shipped to Southeast Asia with a machine gun in your hands. Not so anymore — Benrus is back, and this time, the clandestine Type 1 is available to the general public. With its asymmetric, brushed steel case, sterile dial, 300m of water resistance, 12-hour bezel and nylon strap, this watch is all business. Built to last, it's far and away one of the best dive watches under $2k.

                    • Movement: ETA 2681 automatic
                    • Diameter: 42.5mm
                    • Water Resistance: 300m
                    • Manufacturer Info: benrus.com

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                      Titoni Seascoper

                      Titoni Seascoper

                      Titoni titoni.ch
                      $1,870.00

                      Titoni may be little known amongst today’s watch lovers, but the Swiss-founded brand has been at it since 1919 and boasts a storied history — in fact, it supplied the U.S. military with 30,000 watches during World War II. The brand’s Seascoper dive watch boasts equally impressive stats: clocking it at 42mm, it features 600m of water resistance, a helium escape valve, a steel bracelet with a diver’s extension to match its hardy steel case and an in-house movement, the chronometer-certified T10. A modern iteration of a watch in production since 1963, this under-the-radar pick is one of the best values we could find for under $2K.

                      • Movement: Titoni T10 automatic
                      • Diameter: 42mm
                      • Water Resistance: 600m
                      • Manufacturer Info: titoni.com

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                        Doxa Sub 300T

                        Courtesy

                        Doxa Sub 300T

                        Doxa Doxa.com
                        $1,890.00

                        The Sub 300T is all the proof you need that you can get a wildly good watch — with history and a serious brand behind it — for not a ton of money. Its decompression bezel, highly visible handset, colored dials, cushion case, beads of rice bracelet and absurdly deep water resistance rating are made with serious divers in mind. If you're the type of person who enjoys life beneath the waves, you'd be remiss not to give one of these a try. (It also comes in six different colors.)

                        • Movement: ETA 2824-2 automatic
                        • Diameter: 42.5mm
                        • Water Resistance: 1,200m
                        • Manufacturer Info: doxa.com

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                          Bulova MIL-SHIPS-W-2181 Limited Edition

                          Bulova MIL-SHIPS-W-2181 Limited Edition

                          Bulova hodinkee.com
                          $1,990.00

                          The MIL-SHIPS-W-2181, which was issued U.S. Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team divers for testing in the 1950s, might have become a dive watch classic — had it ever been put into production. However, Bulova ceased development of the watch before it entered official service, and as a result, only 12 of the original pieces are known. Thankfully, the contemporary Bulova company resurrected it as a limited edition, giving it a 41mm sandblasted, stainless steel case, a black dial featuring vintage-style Super-LumiNova lume, an automatic Sellita movement, and black nylon, NATO-style strap. It even features a paper strip on the dial that will change colors to indicate the incursion of moisture into the case — a feature of the original watch.

                          • Movement: Sellita SW-200 automatic
                          • Diameter: 41mm
                          • Water Resistance: 200m
                          • Manufacturer Info: bulova.com

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                            Oris Divers Sixty-Five

                            Oris Divers Sixty-Five

                            watchesofswitzerland.com
                            $2,000.00

                            The Divers Sixty-Five may be one of the best watches at the $2,000 mark — period. This 40mm version with a beautiful black dial and "maxi"-style indices ships on a brown, vintage-style leather strap — but don’t let that fool you. Throw it on a NATO or a rubber strap when you’re near the water, and away you go! A crown guard-less case, a thin, rotating dive bezel with just a tad of exposed bronze, and a vintage-colored lume mimic the look of old watches. Classic in proportions and look and fitted with a screw-down crown for 100m of water resistance, the Divers Sixty-Five is a watch that deserves to be on your radar.

                            • Movement: Sellita SW 200-1 automatic
                            • Diameter: 40mm
                            • Water Resistance: 100m
                            • Manufacturer Info: oris.ch

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