Dive watches are among the most popular and most sought-after timepieces today. Their versatility and tough-as-nails construction make them great everyday watches. Many are just as at home in the office as they are under water. If you take a moment and think about them, the Rolex Submariner is probably the first dive watch that comes to mind. For good reason. It has been the reference point for modern dive watches for as long as anyone can remember. As its popularity has grown – along with its price tag. It’s not the affordable dive watch that many dream of.
Today, buyers are lucky if they can find a Submariner for even 10 percent above retail on the second-hand market, but the truth is that you don’t have to spend Rolex money to get a premium dive watch experience. The Submariner and its harder-core sibling the Sea-Dweller can reach well into the five-figure dollar amounts. Yet, there’s a whole world of quality dive watches below $5,000. Many of the timepieces on this list are from legendary model lines, such as the OMEGA Seamaster and Breitling SuperOcean.
We’ve compiled a list of five of our favorite watches that fall well below the $5,000 mark. Let’s dive in.
OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean
The original OMEGA Seamaster has been in production for decades, and has graced the wrists of some of the world’s most well-known people – both real and on the silver screen. In 2005, Omega pushed the Seamaster’s classic design to the next level with the Seamaster Planet Ocean. It’s a distinct and modern take on the iconic watch.
Today, several versions of the Planet Ocean can be found on sale, each with different features and movements. The latest versions come with advanced co-axial movements and ceramic bezels, along with strong magnetic resistance. In all, the Seamaster Planet Ocean is just a solid dive watch that sports up to a 600m/2000ft water resistance rating.
Panerai Luminor Marina
The funky Luminor collection of watches from Panerai includes several dive-ready timepieces, many of which fall below $5,000 on the price scale. The company isn’t as well-known as Omega or Rolex, but it has been around for over 160 years. Panerai built a name for itself through a collaboration with the Royal Italian Navy, during which some of its most iconic dive models got their starts.
The Luminor Marina series of watches offer superior movements and quirky case designs. They can be had with water resistance ratings that match the best dive options from the more well-known brands and feature a retro design that is almost instantly recognizable to watch enthusiasts and casual observers alike.
With a variety of functions, sizes, colors, and bracelets available, it’s hard to go wrong with the Breitling Superocean. Like the other watches on our list, the Superocean got its start decades ago, and has only gotten better since. Today, Breitling offers the watch in a few different configurations, with case sizes of up to 46mm.
One difference between the Superocean and other watches on our list is the fact that many of the movements in the model line are based on the widespread Swiss-made ETA. It’s far from the most decorated or fanciest movement on the market. However, it’s as reliable as a Toyota Camry and is widely serviceable by nearly any professional watchmaker.
OMEGA Seamaster 300M
No, two OMEGAs on one list isn’t overkill, especially when they’re two different versions of one of the world’s most iconic dive watches. The Seamaster 300M can count James Bond and Prince William among its most famous owners, and it has the specs, style, and technology to be anyone’s “only watch.”
Having been around for decades, there are several “generations” of the Seamaster 300M to choose from. The latest feature ceramic bezels, 300m/1000ft water resistance, and the newest of Omega’s famed coaxial movements. Another major benefit of the Seamaster 300M over other dive watches is its compact dimensions. This allow it to be worn in dress and casual situations with ease. It’s also available in two sizes with various dial and metal combinations.
The Tudor Pelagos is a relatively new entry in the world of dive watches. Tudor released the watch in 2012, and it has only grown in popularity since then. Unlike its parent company, Rolex, Tudor’s flagship dive watch is made almost entirely of titanium instead of high-grade stainless steel. The lightweight metal lends itself perfectly to such a rugged tool watch, as its matte satin finish seems to hide scratches. There’s also the fact that titanium is so feather-light that the watch just disappears on the wrist.
It’s available with a black or deep blue dial and bezel, and two different movement, depending on the year of production. Early models feature ETA-based movements. However, later watches come with a Tudor in-house MT5601 movement that features a 70-hour power reserve.