Updated: Apr 10, 2020
A dive watch can be an excellent first purchase if you are just getting into watches or a nice addition to an existing collection. I think the main two reasons this is true, is that they are generally more robust than other options out there and their water-resistance gives you that extra peace of mind even if you aren't going deep-sea diving. If you want to find out more about dive watches in general, I recommend checking out 10 Reasons Why a Diver Watch May Be Your Perfect Fit. Once you have decided that a dive watch is the right choice for you, you will quickly realize that there are almost an endless amount of options out there. While your decision will be largely driven by the price range in which you are searching, you can be confident that there are good choices for any budget. For this post, I wanted to focus on a shorter list, three watches that are at three different price points. If these three don't tickle your fancy than I recommend checking out Divein's recently published Top 25 Best Dive Watches of 2020.
1. The Entry Level - Seiko SKX
Let’s say you’ve set your budget at around $500 and this is the first time you are considering buying a mechanical diver. The undisputed champ in this range is the Seiko SKX. My two personal favorites are the reference SKX 002, with the blue and red bezel or the SKX 007 with the black bezel. The SKX has several things that make it stand out from the crowd. You are getting an iconic watch with a unique design. The watch features the crown at the 4 o'clock position, which is one of those stand-out features that makes it instantly recognizable. You are getting a day & date complication, as well as 200 meters of water resistance. The watch also gains credibility as a true dive watch through its certification to ISO standards for underwater legibility.
Is this watch perfect? No, and if you'd like to know a few of the reason's why it isn't, I'd recommend checking out 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Buy a Seiko SKX . That being said, I find it to be an excellent choice for the money and I know there are a lot of people out there that agree. I've seen the watch worn and appreciated by everyone from college students to corporate executives.
Movement: Seiko 7S26 Automatic
Case Size: 42mm
Bezel Material: Steel
Water Resistance: 200 meters
Complications: Day, Date
2. The Mid-Tier - Oris Aquis
If you are prepared to spend a bit more money, let’s say around $1,500, I would highly recommend taking a look at the Oris Aquis. If you are not familiar with Oris, I would encourage you to explore the brand. Not only is Oris one of the few still independently owned Swiss watch manufacturers, but they have been exclusively producing mechanical watches since 1904.
My personal favorite is the Green Dial Oris Aquis, with its distinctive deep green coloring. At 39.5mm it has the smallest case size of the three watches and maybe the perfect fit for those of you with smaller wrists. The watch carries an Oris Calibre 733 movement, which is a modified Sellita based automatic movement. Oris made a good decision, placing the date window at the 6 o’clock position, which adds balance to the dial. I also love that Oris added a green ceramic bezel at this price point and an open case back to enjoy the red signature Oris rotor. I haven't seen many reviews on this watch and I think it is a bit overlooked. Some reviews have suggested this as a more accessible alternative to the Rolex Hulk, but I do think that the design and the color intensity are very different. Overall the Oris Acquis provides a compelling package at this mid-tier price point.
Movement: Oris Calibre 733
Case Size: 39.5mm
Bezel Material: Ceramic
Water Resistance: 300 meters
3. The Professional Diver - Omega Seamaster Professional 300m
If you can stretch your budget to around $5000 or you are prepared to save a little bit longer for the right watch, I highly recommend the Omega Seamaster Professional 300M. I own one of these myself and I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase it again. There are numerous reviews online about how this watch is an ideal first luxury timepiece and how the most recent iteration (reference 188.8.131.52.03.001) even beats its longtime rival, the Rolex Submariner.
When you hold the Seamaster in your hand you can feel the quality. Both the bezel and the stunning wave dial are made of ceramic, but the real magic begins inside of the 42mm case. The watch houses an in-house automatic movement, the Master Co-Axial 8800. Not only is the movement chronometer rated by COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres), but it also undergoes more rigorous certification by METAS (Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology). It is amagnetic to at least 15,000 gauss, has a 55-hour power reserve and its Co-Axial escapement designed by George Daniels will undoubtedly prolong the watches' service intervals. In addition to this, Omega gives you the ability to admire this outstanding movement through a sapphire case back, while still maintaining 300 meters of water resistance.
If you want to find out even more about the Seamaster lineage and an in-depth look at the just the Seamaster Professional then please go check out Roger Ruegger's recent post, Renaissance Diver: Reviewing the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Master Chronometer.
Movement: Omega Master Co-Axial 8800
Case Size: 42.5mm
Bezel Material: Ceramic
Water Resistance: 300 meters
So, which one is the right choice for you?
While I will, of course, recommend the Omega Seamaster, it is not necessarily the right choice for everyone. There is no doubt that both the Oris Aquis and Seiko SKX are also great choices. At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide which of these watches you want to take on life’s journey.
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