Is the dive watch, de facto, the best watch style? It’s versatile, rugged, reliable, practical, stylish, has heritage, and is home to some of the most killer timepieces available. It’s no surprise that it’s the most popular style of watch. (Even Gucci is in on the act, now.) We’re here to cut through the radiowaves and select only the best dive watches for you.
The dive watch is arguably the most versatile. Is it the only watch you’d ever need to own? Its vintage roots give it verve and sophistication to pair well with tailoring and black tie, but its inherent ruggedness and simplicity make it perfect for everyday wear too. Plus, the bezel is a supremely practical tool. It acts as a useful timer, and compass, and even can show a second timezone. Owning a dive watch is critical to building a worthy watch collection.
We’ve compiled the eight best dive watches for every budget, style, and inclination. Read on below.
This deep dive into the best dive watches took me through some murky parts of the internet. It opened my eyes to rare species of YouTube videos and I found coves of HTML filled with dive watches. Sadly, I couldn’t choose more and had to stop at just 8 pieces.
Overall, the best dive watch is the DOXA SUB 600T. I love the idiosyncratic 80s case, the orange dial, and its 600m water resistance. My second choice goes to Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms Automatique. It’s one-two punch of being the first watch in 1953 to feature the now ubiquitous uni-directional bezel combined with its exquisite luxuriousness, makes this an irresistible choice.
Why it’s great: DOXA (est. 1889) is a brand of diving heritage. In 1967, it added “no-decompression times” to the bezel, further enhancing the practicality of dive watches. The 600T is a rarer choice than its SUB 200, SUB 300T (which had direct input from the French King of Diving himself, Jacques Cousteau), or even SUB 1500T cousins. But it has that vibrant, popping orange dial that DOXA has become synonymous with. This brings a real collector’s “IFYKYK” edge to it.
How it looks: The 600T was released in the 80s and so has a little vintage panache streaking through its pedigree. You can see that in the extra bracelet edge around the outer edge of the bezel. This gives it a masculine rugged feel that’d lure city-dwellers and deep-sea divers alike.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: That bright orange dial isn’t going to be for everyone. Thankfully, DOXA does the model in black, stainless steel, blue, and yellow versions too.
Case Size: 40mm | Movement: Automatic | Thickness: 14.15mm | Material: Stainless Steel | Water Resistance: 600m
Why it’s great: Everything about this watch is micro. It is a micro brand, named after a micro sea, making a diving watch that’s only 39mm in diameter. For a style renowned for its bulky size, this is a micro dive watch. A large case can come across as arrogant and tasteless, so the French brand is
How it looks: The double dome sapphire gives it a sleek old-school appeal. For this reason, this watch could spend its whole life paired with various impeccable loose-fitted suits sauntering around various European metropoles, rather than diving for rare species of fish. Less scuba-diving, more thrift-shop-diving.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Perhaps a little twee and antique looking for the more machismo men out there.
Case Size: 39mm | Movement: Automatic Miyota 9039 | Thickness: 13mm | Material: Stainless Steel | Water Resistance: 200m
Why it’s great: Casio watches are known for their tough as beef jerky digital watches. But not for their diving capabilities. So, there are several reasons as to why this dive watch from Casio is surprisingly good. The classic stainless steel dial paired with the modern wavy resin strap is a fusion of luxury and sporty. Plus, the watch comes with diving capabilities: 200m waterproof, rotating bezel, screw-down crown, and a small date display at 3:00. Lastly, we can’t ignore its Casio-like price tag. We hate to admit it, but this is a really good purchase.
How it looks: Its conventional and sleek black design means it has the versatility of use. It could be an everyday wear, smart-casual champion, or a humble diver’s companion.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: When you’re comparing watches that have a price variability of 1000x difference, corners are inevitably cut at the lower end of that spectrum. Be realistic with this watch’s ability to last a lifetime.
Case Size: 44.2mm | Movement: Quartz (SR626SW) | Thickness: 12.1mm | Material: Stainless Steel | Water Resistance: 200m
Why it’s great: This is the best watch for if you fear societal collapse. The solar-powered quartz movement can be powered purely by the light emanating from the lick of a candle alone; it’s that sensitive. And from just 6 hours of direct sunlight, it will charge a reserve battery for six months. So even if the nuclear winter blocks out sunlight for a while, you’ll be all good. Dark humor aside, this is one of the best men’s dive watches on the market. It is made in Japan and comes with scratch-resistant AR (anti-reflective) coated sapphire crystal plus a surgical-grade steel (316L) frame. If that wasn’t enough, the brand is a “1% for the planet” member.
How it looks: This Vaer DS4 watch has a beautiful and classical dive/military look that can be tweaked by interchanging the two straps that come as standard. This is for the rugged outdoorsman, be it hiking for weeks into the mountains, or diving around the coral reef.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Its conventional masculine aesthetic is somewhat predictable in the current climate. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing; it will please a lot of people. It also lacks individual minute dials on the first 15 minutes. This is quite useful for a dive watch to feature.
Case Size: 38 or 42mm | Movement: solar-powered quartz | Thickness: 10.6mm | Material: (316L) Stainless Steel | Water Resistance: 200m
Why it’s great: Seiko has an official association with PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). The “Prospex” model by Seiko proves diving watches used for diving aren’t obsolete at all. The name is a portmanteau of “professional specifications” and them aplenty. It comes with clear luminescent hands and markers, a magnified date window, single-minute intervals around the whole bezel, and a robust waved strap to soak up impact. “Prospex” indeed.
How it looks: I think this is a brilliant general adventure watch. Style this with a pair of indigo jeans, a white t-shirt, a Belstaff jacket, and a grunting Harley Davidson for maximum effect.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The shock-absorbing strap subtracts a little formality from the overall look.
Case Size: 44mm | Movement: Automatic | Thickness: 12.81mm | Material: Stainless Steel | Water Resistance: 200m
Why it’s great: 2023 marks the 70th anniversary of Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. In 1953, Jean-Jacques Fiechter introduced the first uni-directional bezel dive watch. If the bezel got knocked accidentally, it could only move in one direction. The direction only lengthened the perceived time for the diver. That way, the diver would begin the ascent “early” and the oxygen wouldn’t run out. This was a revolutionary safety feature. Once Blancpain’s patent ran out all watch brands adopted this style of bezel. But, if you think this brand is resting on its laurels, check out this Blancpain x Swatch collab released in 2023.
How it looks: Its heritage gives it an authentic, vintage aesthetic. The large 45mm titanium case, sapphire crystal, and in-house automatic movement bring luxury. The combination of these two qualities makes this Blancpain a fantastic dress watch and a chic talking point at dinner.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: While its heritage makes this Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique the dive watch to own, your bank account must also be 300m deep and stretch the full width of the Pacific Ocean. Also, with a case size of 45mm and a thickness of 15mm, it’s a ChunkyBoi.
Case Size: 45mm | Movement: Automatic Caliber 1315 | Thickness: 15.0mm | Material: Titanium | Water Resistance: 300m
Why it’s great: The chronograph capabilities of this Tissot Seastar 1000 give it extra timing functions. A diver could use the various chronograph functions to time multiple things at once. If that didn’t indicate that this watch wasn’t serious enough, it also has Superluminova lighting, 300m water depth, and it has a helium valve release (read below on what that is). It has incredible functionality. But, it’s the beauty of the object that brings this model to the article on the best men’s dive watches.
How it looks: The light gray and orange combination is one I love on a watch and the “seastar” seahorse engraving on the back is a lovely flourish. Though extremely functional, I find this an extremely alluring and stylish object. Well played Tissot.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: The chronograph functions might over-complicate the dial for some. Plus, the 45.5mm case size is large.
Case Size: 45.5mm | Movement: Automatic | Thickness: 14.15mm | Material: Stainless Steel 316L | Water Resistance: 300m
Why it’s great: The TAG Heuer Aquaracer range is a young one for such a heritage brand. It has a very recognizable dodecagon (twelve-sided) case shape in stainless steel. This design is strong, but the rounded edges give it an important approachability. The quartz movement, 300m water resistance, and AR sapphire crystal make this a dependable timepiece. The expandable bracelet isn’t the sexiest feature, but it is important for wearing with a wetsuit.
How it looks: If you are a man who loves having lots of information blasted at you, then you will love this watch.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: It’s one of the lesser-known dive watches despite hailing from a famous brand. This gives it allure.
Case Size: 43mm | Movement: Quartz | Thickness: 14.15mm | Material: Stainless Steel | Water Resistance: 300m
Buying Considerations for Men’s Dive Watches
This is one of the key parts of a dive watch. It works when the diver sets the top mark of the bezel to the time on the minute hand of the watch. Then, as time passes, the minute hand moves and the bezel reading indicates the amount of time passed. This helps divers time various stops, working out when to begin resurfacing, and to help time various decompression stops.
If you’re operating the watch in cold waters you will want a bezel that is easy to operate. Cold fingers and potentially neoprene gloves will make dexterity more challenging. Avoid bezels operated via crowns for this reason. A brand would house a bezel inside the case and operate via a crown to mitigate the risk of knocking the bezel. The crowns then make the watch bulkier, but it does give a different aesthetic and a point of difference. The Seiko Divemaster 1000 (known colloquially as “Tuna” for its bulk and circularity) put a bulky external shroud over the bezel to protect it from accidental knocks.
Titanium is lightweight, hypoallergenic, highly corrosion resistant, and is fine in extreme temperatures. Stainless Steel (316L) is standard practice these days for its almost perfect suitability for watch casing. It can’t withstand the same intensity as titanium, but for the average scuba diver, it’ll do just fine. Sapphire Crystal revolutionized the watch industry. It is made by crystallizing aluminum oxide. The result is a material far superior in strength to glass.
Any movement is equally valid but just has different strengths and weaknesses. The ISO 6425 states that if battery powered, it must have a low battery indicator as a necessity for obvious reasons. A Quartz movement is slimmer, more accurate, and lightweight, but does eventually run out of battery. An automatic mechanical movement is extremely long-lasting, automatically winding, a feat of engineering, but can be chunky. A manual dive watch is rare (or even non-existent?) due to inherent reliability issues.
Why you should trust us
I’m a fashion and watch writer at FashionBeans. I clothe myself daily in the latest products, Instagram posts, and URLs of the fashion/watch industry. I also consider myself very lucky to own a small but eclectic watch collection. For this review, I got my dive watches out and inspected them with new knowledge from the Internet. I found fascinating histories, and unique features, and focussed on the most important watch models/brands. I began with what seemed like an endless list of contenders and chopped it down to just the top 8 of the best men’s dive watches you see above.
The DOXA SUB 600T is the best overall dive watch. I picked this watch for its inimitable 80s style and charm. It has a robust, angular stainless steel aesthetic that is dripping with vintage panache. Then there’s the bright orange dial and the depth readings on the bezel, but moreover, it has an impressive 600m water resistance. You know it’s tough.
The best dive watches are the most versatile type of watches. They are designed to withstand deep depths submerged in water. This makes them comfortable withstanding the trials and tribulations of everyday modern life. Also, they have a heritage. The first dive watches were launched in 1953. This gives the style of the modern dive watch a vintage DNA and origin which is still referenced today. This also means that the less outrageous-looking diving watches can even be used as dress watches. Also, the bezel is a practical and ergonomic gizmo to have on your wrist. It can be used for timing anything, using it as a compass, and as a reminder of time zones. Why are diving watches so popular? They are stylish, extremely robust, versatile, and highly practical for everyday use.
The rotating bezel acts as a clear timer underwater. Simply set the bezel to the minute hand. This essentially starts the timer. You can read off the bezel for the length of time. Underwater you might need to time the descent time, the bottom time (time spent at the bottom of your dive), or decompression times. However, this timer function can be used for whatever purpose the wearer sees fit.
A dive watch is all about giving its diver clear and precise time readings underwater. It must be able to resist water entering its frame. It does so by using water-resistant gaskets and a sturdy frame. It must be able to track time elapsed. It does so via the rotating bezel. The diver must be able to read this information in sometimes darkness and murky water. The clear, luminous hands and markers assist with this.
Helium atoms are the smallest natural gas particles. They are small enough to squeeze through a watch’s waterproof seals under pressure. When the watch returns to normal pressure, the atoms return to normal size, increasing the pressure inside the watch. This can destroy a watch from the inside out by either damaging the movement or even the crystal can pop off. Do you need one? Unless you are a saturation diver, then no, you technically don’t need one.