Whether you want to keep track of your freestyle time at your local pool or you simply like to go snorkeling at a nearby ravine a quality (yet inexpensive) dive watch is a great way to track time when submerged.
To help you out, we went ahead and rounded up some of the best inexpensive (i.e. cheap) dive watches that money can buy.
Here’s a round up of the best:
Best Inexpensive Dive Watches
Casio makes great watches that are both functional and relatively inexpensive, which rings true for this handsome looking watch. It features a black resin band and a stainless steel case decorated by a matte black dial.
The face is black, decorated by silver-colored markings around the outside. It has large, easy to read markers with wider arms so you can see the time just by looking at the watch at a glance. Additionally, a small date window gives you another reference point for when you need to know the date as well as the time. The resin band is ideal for being outside in the wilderness, as it’s sturdy and won’t break under extreme pressure.
This is a diving watch, meaning it’s capable of being underwater for a great amount of time.
This particular watch is capable of withstanding 200 meters of water pressure, a very respectable amount that will get you through swimming, diving, snorkeling, and other water sports. It does need a battery, but the screwed on backing keeps it incredibly safe. The mineral window is scratch resistant, and the one way rotating bezel makes this watch incredibly durable and easy to use.
This heavy-duty looking watch is everything that it appears to be. It is big, it is bulky, but most of all, it does a lot for a watch and is a valuable asset on the field and off.
The black resin case is marked with the names of the buttons present all around the sides, and it is further decorated with notches and decorations to make it look really official. The band is extremely militaristic, and feels super good around your wrist. The face is decorated with two different digital displays, three small dials, and around the outside of the face is a plate with the minute markers printed on. It’s definitely a busy watch, with a lot of information to process.
This watch features a stopwatch accurate to 1/1000th of a second, and also has a speed indicator for keeping track of your best times. It is outfitted with an anti-magnetic structure and an auto LED light with an afterglow feature. Shock resistance, as well as a world clock with 24 different time zones are additional features that you may find useful.
However, the selling point of this watch lies in the fact that it has a water resistance depth of 200 meters, perfect for diving, swimming, snorkeling, or other water sports.
Great looking watches don’t have to be extremely expensive. This Henry Jay watch looks fantastic, works like a charm, and is incredibly affordable for what it offers. It features a cool blue face and dial, made out of stainless steel for maximum durability.
The hands, hour markers, and the case outer is gold in color, offering a complementary contrast that makes the watch stand out. It is dressy and casual, but if you’re looking at this watch, chances are you want the water resistance this watch offers.
This Henry Jay masterpiece is resistant up to 330 feet, great for snorkeling and even some diving. It has a push button deployment clasp for easy on and off wearing, but it won’t come undone while you are outside in the field. It uses quartz movement to keep it accurate, and the watch is good for several years of use when treated right.
40 mm across, handsome brushed stainless steel, and perfectly weighted for your comfort. Everything that you want out of a diving watch, you do get with this fantastic looking timepiece.
Invicta watches are sturdy timepieces that stand up to pretty much anything you can throw at them. From casual to dress settings, if you have an Invicta watch, you are sure to look good doing whatever you do best.
Invicta dive watches take their reliability to the water; with 990 feet of water resistance, you can swim or dive for long periods of time without needing to worry about whether or not your watch will work. As an added bonus, this watch employs automatic motion, so there isn’t a need for a battery. Instead, the watch operates off of the motion of your own wrist, keeping time while you move.
This Invicta watch also looks fantastic, featuring a stainless steel band and case accented by black around the outside as well as on the face itself. A date window is carefully placed on the 3 o’ clock mark, giving the watch a slightly asymmetrical look to it.
The face glass is made from mineral crystal, an exceptionally sturdy material that helps to resist scratches and scuffs. As for size, this watch is 47 mm across, a fairly bulky accessory for sure, but it never gets in the way while you partake in any activities.
The Invicta line of men’s watches are all very stylish and sophisticated, but did you know you can take that style to the beach with you?
This watch comes from their Pro-Diver collection, meaning that you can take this watch in and out of the water with you without worrying about whether or not it will work at the end of the day. It is water resistant up to 660 feet, which ideal for diving, swimming, and snorkeling.
The watch case and band are both made from stainless steel, and the watch itself utilizes quartz movement to keep on time. A small date dial on the 3 o’ clock mark allows you to quickly reference the date, and the crystal glass present over the face not only protects the watch, but also slightly magnifies it for easier reading. Besides function, this watch looks very good on any wrist, as it features a simple color scheme with just enough embellishments to make it interesting.
For under $100, you are definitely getting a great deal on a watch that looks this good.
Diving watches are phenomenal pieces of technology both in and out of the water, but if you’re in the market for a watch of this type, you want to ensure that it can perform in either scenario flawlessly. The Phoibos diving watch can withstand up to 300 meters, or 1000 feet of water pressure, which enables you to not only swim, but dive, snorkel, or partake in other surface water sports as well.
It also looks fantastic, with a brushed stainless steel case and band surrounding a matte black face. The black outer ring present on the case is also a very nice touch. In short, whether you are wearing this on land or in the water, you’re going to look good either way.
Features of this watch include Swiss Ronda 515 movement with a wide, easy to read analog display. A date dial present at the 3 o’ clock marker allows you to quickly reference the day as well. The watch weighs a paltry 160g, making it weighty enough to be noticed, but not so much to weight down your wrist while you are walking or swimming.
The sapphire crystal class is scratch and scuff resistant, perfect for putting it through rough play while out and about.
Stuhrling watches are top of the line watches, capable of doing so much more than tell the time. They aren’t overly complicated, but they aren’t so simple either. This Stuhrling Original timepiece is beautifully crafted with a bright blue face, dotted with stainless steel markers all around.
A magnified date window is also present for quick reference. The band is brushed stainless steel, making it just bright enough to stand out, but not exceptionally shiny. For as handsome as this watch is, it was designed with water in mind, and that’s where this piece really shines.
This watch is water resistant to 200 meters, ideal for diving, swimming, and snorkeling. When under the water, you can see this watch perform just as well as if you were on land, and the bright blue is fantastic underwater. It is powered by Swiss quartz, and is protected by a sapphire crystal window that helps to resist scratches while you are outside.
A unidirectional bezel decorates this watch, and the coin-cut case makes this unique timepiece really stand out. Whether you want this watch for it’s water-resistant capabilities, or just to wear around, you can’t go wrong with a Stuhrling.
This watch is a work of art, with a functional design that is also sleek and handsome. It features a large digital display that is exceptionally easy to read and quickly reference.
The black silicone band is flexible, and it fits on the wrist exceptionally well. No sliding off or around the wrist, and it is very comfortable. The strap is also incredibly waterproof, which makes sense for a water-resistant watch like this.
The watch itself is water resistant up to 100 meters, making it a great watch for swimming and diving. It is powered by a lithium battery, one that’s good up to 5 years of good use. It also functions as a stop watch, and has a world clock feature built right in. For dark nights, the watch is luminous, making it easy to read even in low light conditions.
This watch can be calibrated through GPS, making it exceptionally accurate and efficient. Overall, if you’re looking for a great looking watch that is both comfortable and functional, this incredibly stylish watch may just be what you’re looking for.
What Is A Dive Watch?
To be classically considered a dive watch, a watch must have a water resistance body that can withstand depths of up to 100M (or 330 feet) and have accurate time keeping (no easy feat).
Therefore, all the watches in this article adhere to this definition.
Mechanical vs. Quartz vs. Digital – Which Is Best For Your Next Dive Watch?
If you ask 10 different watch enthusiasts what the best ‘movement’ is for a wristwatch, you are likely to get 10 different reasons on why one movement may be considered superior to another.
While respecting everyone’s option and not pushing our own agenda, here is a simple overview of the movement mechanism of all the dive watches that we compared:
Quartz Dive Watches
One of the most popular of all movement mechanisms found within wristwatches today is quartz. It’s prevalence is so widespread, in that some folks estimate that 90% of all watches on the market are quartz based.
These battery powered time pieces are what many men are likely already familiar with. When it comes to affordable diving watches in particular, quartz is a sound choice when making a selection.
Mechanical (Self Wind & Automatic) Dive Watches
Mechanical watches come in two varieties self-winding and automatic. As you can see in our table above, we only outlined one Automatic watch – the Invicta Men’s Diver Automatic Watch. Automatic watches, by their very nature are more complex instruments when compared to Quartz. During our research, we were able to only find very few Automatic watches that not only were considered diving watches (per IOS 6425 standards), but more importantly affordable.
So what is automatic movement?
Automatic watches are designed in a way to be self-wound by the simple movement of your body while wearing the watch. Therefore, there is no reliance on a battery that may suddenly die while taking a dive.
However, there’s a catch (albeit a small one):
Automatic watches are widely considered to be less accurate than their quartz counterpart. While some people prefer time keeping down to the millisecond (like an atomic clock), automatic watches will generally keep within a few seconds of the actual time.
Secondly, and more importantly:
When your automatic watch isn’t being worn, it will slowly lose track of time. Therefore many men who own automatic watches will invest in a watch winder. This device mimics the movements of your body in order to ensure accurate time keeping between wearings.
Digital Dive Watches
Much like quartz, digital dive watches will rely on battery operation for accurate time keeping.
However where digital dive watches largely differ is their face display. Instead of a traditional hour and minute indicator, digital watches will often have some customization as to the data that can be displayed to the user.
However, many digital watches go beyond the realm of ‘affordable’ making only the XONIX Men’s Sports Watch the only viable option for an inexpensive digital dive watch.
Hand Wound Dive Watches
Hand wound dive watches are those that require regular winding of the crown (about once every 48 hours) for accurate time keeping. Commonly found on more luxury watches and pocket watches – you likely won’t find them in the affordable dive watch category.
Does The Watch Crystal Matter With A Dive Watch?
In short, yes.
If you are planning on keeping a dive watch around for more than a few months, then the type of crystal you choose can have a large impact on a watch’s life span.
When researching dive watches, or any wristwatches for that matter, you will often find that they come in primarily three different grades/options (ranked from best to worse):
According the the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness, sapphire is the second hardest natural substance on earth behind diamond. Therefore, when it comes to deep sea dives or a casual snorkeling where you may be sifting through rocks, clams, and foreign objects, sapphire will undoubtedly be the best watch crystal you can rely on to withstand casual scuffs and hits.
This not only will all but ensure that the watch crystal doesn’t break, but a sudden scuff or scratch on the face will not be off-putting should you decide the wear the watch on a daily basis.
Should your budget allow, we would strongly recommend paying a few extra dollars more for a dive watch that has a sapphire crystal.
Inexpensive Dive Watches That Feature A Sapphire Crystal:
Behind sapphire crystal, you will find mineral glass watch crystals. This crystal is simply a hardend glass that will withstand most situations. While not as resistance to scratches as sapphire, this is a terrific choice for men who are price sensitive.
Mineral glass should last you for several years, however, won’t be ‘heirloom’ quality should you want to pass it down to your son one day. But for casual dives, with mineral glass you can’t go wrong.
This crystal is the last option you will want to consider for a watch. Simply put, this crystal is made out of plastic and will scuff, scratch, and break rather easily compared to sapphire and mineral glass.
Acrylic faces are often reserved for those who plan on doing extremely casual dives, novelty uses, and for men out there on a shoestring budget.
If you plan on diving only a few times yet want to have some time keeping abilities on you, then acrylic can make a decent choice – but only after you have exhausted the other mineral glass options that exist on the market.
Shawn Burns is the founder and senior editor of Tools of Men. He started this site with the goal of teaching men proper grooming habits and sensible style. Shawn’s expertise includes in-depth product reviews and how-to articles. Shawn was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal for his expertise.