Every diver knows the importance of a reliable dive watch. It allows them to time their dive and calculate how much air they have left. And instead of battery-powered ones, many prefer automatic watches since it doesn’t run out of power. For this post, I reviewed the best automatic dive watch under 500 out of 30+ options I’ve tried in the market.
Diving is a highly calculated activity. Everything has to be accounted for, especially the diver’s time underwater. The length of each dive impacts the safety of the diver as well as the potential side effects later on.
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While you can always refer to your dive computer for the time, depth, and air supply, a dive watch remains convenient for many divers. It’s easier to access, and it keeps your hands free. You can also utilize the rotating bezel to time each plunge accurately.
Unlike other watches, dive watches are made to endure the underwater pressure. It’s also very durable and packed with features for every diver. Most of all, it has illuminated faces for excellent visibility underwater.
With hundreds of dive watches in the market, it can be challenging to find the best one. To help you out, I reviewed five of the best automatic dive watches under 500 that you can consider:
1. Seiko Prospex Automatic Dive Watch
If you’re looking for a reliable dive watch, you’ll never go wrong with the Seiko Prospex Automatic Dive Watch. It’s made with a stainless steel case complete with a black bezel to time your dive.
This has a black dial that displays the date calendar as well as lumibrite hands and markers. This is highly visible underwater, even during night dives.
Moreover, this uses an automatic Japanese movement with self-winding capabilities. It also features 21,600 vibrations per hour for accurate and reliable time. This is also equipped with 23 jewels, so the parts don’t wear out fast. It guarantees years of service!
The Seiko Prospex has a 12 mm thick case with a 43.80 mm diameter. Its dial window is made of hardlex material paired with a buckle clasp.
As a dive watch, this is rated for up to 200 meters of water-resistance. It also sports a silicone strap that remains comfortable to wear underwater. This Seiko watch is equipped with a single crown for straightforward control.
Overall, this is a gorgeous dive watch with top-notch illumination. Seiko hit the nail right on the head with this dive watch. For its price, this dive timepiece is already a steal.
- 21,600 vibrations
- Uses 23 jewels
- Bright markers and hands
- The bezel is a bit stiff but becomes smoother eventually
2. Pantor Sealion Automatic Pro Dive Watch
Another automatic dive watch I recommend is the Pantor Sealion Automatic Pro Dive Watch. It has a Japanese automatic movement on its stainless steel construction. It has a 42 mm diameter with a Helium Valve that works automatically.
Like the Seiko Prospex, this has 21,600 vibrations per hour for accurate and reliable time readings. It has sapphire glass and a stainless steel case rated for up to 300 meters of water resistance.
Aside from that, this has a green face and bezel that are easy to read. It also comes with illuminated and Swiss-made C3 Super LumiNova hands and markers as well as a date calendar. This has a screw-down crown that lets you wind the watch easily.
One thing that I like the most about this dive watch is that you’ll both get a metal and rubber strap. It also comes with a tool that lets you remove and replace the straps as you wish.
If you’re a professional diver looking for a top-notch watch, you should consider the Pantor Sealion. It’s well-made and guaranteed to perform well on deep dives.
- 21,600 vibrations per hour
- Rated for up to 300 meters underwater
- Swiss-made C3 super LumiNova hands
- The polish is a bit low, but not a biggie
3. Stuhrling Original Automatic Dive Watch
For those who are looking for a stylish look, the Stuhrling Original Automatic Dive Watch is a good catch. It boasts a smooth accuracy, thanks to its Swiss automatic movement.
Moreover, this has an exhibition case back with the sophisticated Depthmaster Heritage’s inner-workings. It’s a dive-ready watch with a 120-click, unidirectional bezel for accurate timing.
Aside from that, this has a screw-down crown that ensures an air-tight seal while giving straightforward control over the watch. This is paired with a polished stainless steel bracelet. It doesn’t come with a rubber strap, but it’s not really a deal-breaker.
This Stuhrling dive watch spots a Krysterna dial window material as well as a 15.5 mm case with a 42 mm diameter.
I also like that the bezel of this watch rotates smoothly like a Rolex. It also looks like a Rolex, which is a big plus, considering that it’s in a lower price range. It also has excellent customer service, although I don’t have major complaints about this.
Overall, this is a nice watch, but I wish that the hands are much brighter. It works well, but it may be challenging on murky waters at night.
- 120-click unidirectional bezel
- Swiss automatic movement
- Exhibition case back
- I wish that the hands have a brighter illumination
4. NEYMAR Automatic Diver Watch
The NEYMAR Automatic Diver Watch offers reliability and style for a reasonable price. It has a 44 mm x 52 mm case made of polished 316L stainless steel. This is paired with a 120-click unidirectional ceramic bezel complete with anti-reflective coating.
Moreover, this has a Japanese NH 35 automatic movement with a date calendar. It’s also rated for up to 1,000 meters underwater and made for the professional diver. Aside from that, this has a Helium Escape Valve at 9 indexes to endure the deep-sea pressure.
This diver watch weighs 250 grams and very comfortable to wear. It’s very convenient to wear for men up to 160 lbs. It also has the Swiss BGW9 blue luminous hands and markers. This is paired with a sapphire crystal glass that’s 5 mm thick.
Overall, this has a minimalist style that also doubles as a business watch when you’re not diving. It has a double butterfly buckle with safety, which remains intact even as you move your hands and wrist.
For this price range, I can say that this gives Seiko Prospex a run for its money. This dive watch is ridiculously accurate, even for weeks without turning it up. However, I noticed that this NEYMAR watch is a bit beefy, which can be an issue for those with thin wrists.
- Rated for up to 1,000 meters underwater
- 120-click bevel with AR coating
- Swiss BGW9 blue LumiNova
- Customer support can make use of improvements
5. ORIENT Japanese Automatic Diving Watch
My last recommendation for this roundup is the ORIENT Japanese Automatic Diving Watch. It’s a budget find but tried and tested by thousands of users. It has a premium look, which is surprising for its price range.
This dive watch has a 41 mm case with a mineral crystal bezel. You can upgrade this to be a 120-click type if you want better precision.
Aside from that, this has a Japanese automatic movement for accurate and reliable readings. It’s paired with a date and day calendar.
As a diving watch, this is rated for 200 meters underwater. While it’s not the deepest water resistance, this dive watch suits recreational divers. Besides, this is already a steal for its price.
Moreover, this has a 13 mm thick case with a push-button fold-over clasp paired with a safety feature. It offers the best bang for the buck if you don’t have the budget to splurge on an expensive timepiece for your water activities.
It’s a non-pro diver watch, but I’m confident that this will last long for recreational dives. It covers the basics and does it right. For beginners, this is an excellent option.
- Japanese automatic movement
- Date-day calendar
- Premium look
- For shallow dives only
How to choose an automatic dive watch
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of dive watches in the market. Choosing the best one can be challenging, so I listed some important aspects to check so you’ll find the one that suits your needs:
When it comes to automatic watches, the first thing you should check is the movement. This refers to the winding mechanism of the clock that’s responsible for its performance.
For the most part, automatic dive watches use either Swiss or Japanese movement. Both are excellent options, but each one has differences.
The Swiss automatic movement is popular and esteemed by timepiece makers. Aside from high-caliber hand assembly, this movement has added flair. It’s more aesthetic than the Japanese movement, and it can be a tad pricier.
On the other hand, the Japanese automatic movement is focused on reducing the degree of error. It’s not as aesthetic as Swiss, but the mechanical parts’ raw appearance has its own appeal.
Comparing Swiss and Japanese movements in terms of performance is like comparing apples to oranges. Both are excellent options.
Next, consider the case size of the dive watch. This is very important, especially if you have a very thin or large wrist. Most dive watches have case sizes of around 40 to 45 mm in diameter. The wider your wrist, the bigger the case should be. But in the end, it’s all about preference and ease of use.
In general, the dive watch’s diameter should be a bit smaller than your wrist. That way, the watch face won’t look too bulky while wearing it.
When it comes to diving, the water-resistance of the watch is very critical. This dictates how useful the watch will be, especially for professional divers.
Automatic dive watches can be rated for 200 to 1,000 meters underwater. Professional divers should opt for at least 300 meters for guaranteed performance. However, the price of the watch is directly proportional to its depth range. So if you’re just a recreational diver, a lower depth rating might be enough.
The bezel of the diving watch is made for a very important purpose. It serves as a timer so divers will know when to ascend. This prevents them from running out of oxygen or staying too long on very deep distances.
With this, the bezel of the watch should be unidirectional and has 120 clicks for top-notch accuracy. It should also have an anti-reflective coating, so the bezel remains visible even as light shines on it.
The strap of the dive watch is responsible for keeping the timepiece in place on your wrist. You can choose between a rubber and metal strap/band, whichever suits your preference.
Rubber straps are ideal if you’re diving on cold water. It’s also non-corrosive and easier to maintain. But if you want a dive watch that doubles as a casual or business timepiece, a metal strap is a fitting choice.
Some dive watches are bundled with both a rubber and steel band together with a replacement tool.
You should also look for well-illuminated hands and markers. This will ensure visibility underwater, especially in low-light or murky environments. Many dive watches I’ve used have the Super-LumiNova technology, which is tried and tested for years. Aside from the hands, the bezel should also be illuminated.
Automatic timepieces are not the best options for scuba dive watches with a depth gauge. Still, you can enjoy a few extras like a date-day calendar. This feature makes the dive watch double as a business timepiece.
Some even have an exhibition case where the mechanical parts are in display using a clear back material.
The best automatic dive watch under 500 is a must-have on your dive kit. It lets you time your dive so you won’t overstay underwater. It’s a handy tool that pairs well with your dive computer. The best part is that you can use your dive watch as a casual timepiece, so it’s definitely worth the price.
What do you think of these dive watches? Let us know below!