The Best Dive Watches under $500

Lets cut to the chase. You want a dive watch. You have around $500 (lets assume USD to keep it simple, so around $720 AUD) and you want to squeeze out as much value as possible. Lets go!

1. Seiko SKX007 / SKX009

I don’t care, I’m putting this first and for good reason! This is the one. You don’t actually need to scroll down any further. If you don’t own this watch, stop what you’re doing right now and jump on eBay. And if you already own this watch, do you need anything else?

Just in case you’ve been living inside a cave with no watches, the Seiko SKX is the quintessential affordable diver. It’s an actual ISO certified diver, with a 200m water resistance rating, screw down crown, killer design and all around strap monster. In my years of collecting, I’m convinced that this watch is all a person needs. It’s not going to stop me from continuing to hoard as many watches as possible, but if I had to go down to one watch, this would probably be it.

What about the new Seiko 5 SKX reissue? Sure, when on sale these can be had at under $250 USD, but I still prefer my original SKX. And should you get a J or a K? Personally, I’d go J all the way.

Manufacturer: Seiko
Model / Reference: SXK009J
Case size (not including crown): 42.5mm
Lug to lug: 47mm
Lug width: 22mm
Caliber: 7S26 Automatic, self-winding, 21,600 vph
Crystal: Hardlex
Lume: LumiBrite
Strap / Bracelet: 22mm Seiko Jubilee Bracelet, hollow end links, branded fold over clasp
Price: $200 – $250USD

Seiko SKX009J, featured on a Strapcode aftermarket bracelet

2. Steinhart Explorer 39

Okay so this isn’t a certified dive watch. This is a dive style watch, with 100m water resistance. It comes with a screw down crown though, so that always helps me sleep a little better. Of all the watches Steinhart produce, this has to be my favourite. I’ve handled the OVM and GMT, but there’s something special about the Explorer 39.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing one in the metal, Steinhart watches are finished to a high standard. For a watch in its price range, it feels incredibly solid. The brushed finishing is done so well and the domed sapphire crystal is a nice touch. The bracelet is done superbly as well, with a nicely signed fold over clasp and solid end links.

This is my second choice because I can’t really tell much difference between my Black Bay and this in terms of the way it feels in the hand. I’m not saying its the same as the Black Bay, I’m just saying that Steinhart have done an amazing job and finishing wise, its on point. You’re getting an ETA and a Swiss made watch for around $499. Granted it doesn’t have original design, but if you’re reading this you probably don’t have the 80k to buy an original Rolex 5513 Explorer dial.

Link to Gnomon Watches here:

Manufacturer: Steinhart
Model / Reference: Explorer 39
Case size (not including crown): 39mm
Lug to lug: 47mm
Lug width: 20mm
Caliber: ETA 2824-2 Automatic, self-winding, 28,800 vph
Crystal: Sapphire (anti reflective coating on the inside)
Lume: “Old-Radium” SuperLuminova
Strap / Bracelet: 20mm Steinhart 3 link bracelet, solid end links, branded fold over clasp
Price: $499USD

Steinhart Explorer 39

3. Glycine Combat Sub

I don’t really care if Invicta now own’s the brand, Glycine make cool watches. The Airman predates the GMT by one year – don’t forget that! And the Combat sub is a worthy candidate for your selection, because you can find them for around $300USD on sale, $350 easily, and its a great way to grab yourself a Swiss made diver from a brand with some heritage AND original design, which means a lot to some.

Something important to note is the size of the watch. Comes in at 42mm and a 50mm lug to lug, which means it’s not for the smaller wrist. Always try watches on if you can, but if you’re somewhere in the world that doesn’t have access to seeing these brands in the metal, proceed with caution and compare with other watches in your collection. If a 40mm case / 48mm lug to lug is already troublesome for you, skip over this one. The watch I’ve had personal experience with was the GL0083, which has the black bezel and faux patina lume.

I really loved this watch, but it was on the larger size and like I said earlier, the SKX is really all you need! I’m recommending this watch based on the assumption that you don’t own an SKX or are looking for some variety.

Manufacturer: Glycine
Model / Reference: Combat Sub / GL0083
Case size (not including crown): 42mm
Lug to lug: 50mm
Lug width: 22mm
Caliber: ETA 2824-2 Automatic, self-winding, 28,800 vph
Crystal: Sapphire (anti reflective coating on the inside)
Lume: “Old-Radium” SuperLuminova
Strap / Bracelet: Bracelet and NATO Strap options available
Price: $300 – $499USD (don’t pay retail!)

Glycine Combat Sub, reference GL0083

4. Seiko Divers Continued

I wanted to make a special mention to Seiko more broadly. If you’re in the market for an affordable diver, Seiko have an extensive range that will have most use cases covered. Take a look at the recent Arnie reissue reference SNJ025, or the mini turtle reference SRPC35. Both of these can be had for well under $500 USD and are actual certified dive watches. Both come in a range of styles and honestly you can’t go wrong with either.

Seiko “Arnie” reference SNJ025

Other models like the Turtle, Monster, Tunas are also good value and its a Seiko so you’re going to be fine. I’d hand on heart recommend a Seiko diver any day of the week. And of all the watches I’ve owned, its always been the Seiko’s that exceed my expectations of what an affordable watch can do.

Seiko “Mini Turtle” reference SRPC35k

There are 30+ models that could’ve made the list, but this isn’t a list of dive watches you can buy under $500, its a list of watches that I am personally recommending and have had hands on experience with.

Good luck!