While premium dive watches used to cost an absolute fortune, the market is a lot friendlier to wallets these days! If you know where to look, you can find some stellar timepieces for a fraction of the cost you’d imagine having to pay. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to all the best dive watches under $500. We’ll explain how to find the real gems in this price range, and tell you why our picks stand out from other midrange timepieces.
Keep on reading to see which reasonably-priced dive watches made our cut, and to learn which is the best one for you!
|Picture||Product Name||Case Diameter||Color Options||Cost|
|Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Promaster Diver Watch With Date (BN0150-28E)||43 mm||Black||$$|
|Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Quartz Diving Watch (BN0190-07E)||44.5 mm||Black||$$|
|Seiko Prospex PADI Solar Dive Watch||43.5 mm||Silver/Blue||$$|
|Seiko Prospex “Samurai” Diver’s Watch||43.8 mm||Silver/Black, Silver/Blue||$$$|
|Seiko Prospex Men’s Diver Watch Mechanical Self-Winding (SBDC033)||44 mm||Metallic/Blue||$$$|
Best Dive Watches Under $500: Our Reviews For 2019
Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Promaster Diver Watch With Date (BN0150-28E)
The Citizen Promaster is our least expensive recommendation in this price range. It costs around half as much as our top pick (the Seiko Prospex, reviewed below) but offers substantial class, quality and accuracy.
It’s very accurate. It’s powered by a solar cell and quartz movement, rather than an automatic movement that needs adjustment.
It’s low-maintenance. As long as you leave it in the sun for a stretch now and again, it’ll keep on ticking with near-perfect accuracy for years. This is a great choice for folks who are more concerned with practicality than prestige.
It’s solid. This is a rugged, well-made watch that feels much more substantial than cheaper options.
It looks great, assuming you like a more intricate face design.
It’s perfect for folks who prefer smaller dive watches. This isn’t tiny by any stretch, but it’s less massive than your average 45mm case. It’s good for anyone with smaller wrists, or those who are looking for something that won’t stand out too much with formal wear.
Quartz movements like this are both accurate and practical, but they don’t have the prestige of automatic movements.
It’s more of a technical model than something refined and elegant like the other Citizen. Size aside, this one might not be ideal for the boardroom.
The lume isn’t as good as Seiko models.
Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Quartz Diving Watch (BN0190-07E)
This Citizen model is our affordable alternative for folks who want a bigger case size, as well as something more elegant. It has a simpler face design than the Promaster, plus increased volume to make more of a statement.
As with the Citizen Promaster, it’s extremely accurate. The low-maintenance solar cell and quartz movement tick right on the money and don’t require any winding or maintenance to stay calibrated.
It’s very well-made and should last for years. This might not have the finesse of a Seiko model like those below, but there’s nothing to complain about with the materials and build quality.
The watch face in particular looks much more expensive than it is. You could easily mistake this for a timepiece costing twice as much.
You can wear it just about anywhere, since it isn’t too technical for a business environment or dress clothes. Despite that, it has the same depth rating and construction quality of the more technical Promaster!
Like the Citizen above, this model’s solar-powered quartz movement won’t be as appealing to watch aficionados as the automatic movements in our pricier recommendations.
The Seiko models below do look better, and have overall better fit and finish. Having said that, you’re mostly paying more for the mechanical movements.
Seiko Prospex PADI Solar Dive Watch (SNE435P1)
This Seiko special edition is our recommendation to those looking to show off their dive pride without splurging on one of the super expensive PADI-endorsed models.
We think the look of this one is really remarkable. It takes the traditional two-tone aesthetic of dive watches and tones it down to suit a more elegant package. It’s distinctive enough to be recognizable as a true diver’s watch without being too much to wear at that important meeting or event.
It’s sized to suit just about everybody, too. This one measures in at 43.5mm, which is right in the middle of most options. It makes a big statement on smaller wrists, without looking too small on larger wrists.
It’s practical enough to satisfy any diver, with 200m water resistance and superb construction quality for the price. It ought to last for years and years of daily wear.
This is fairly expensive for a solar/quartz timepiece. As we’ve noted in our reviews above, something like this is extremely practical but isn’t quite what the aspiring watch aficionado may want.
The two-tone look won’t be for everyone.
Seiko Prospex “Samurai” Diver’s Watch
Seiko’s Samurai is our recommendation to anyone looking for a true mechanical watch under $400. It’s the least we think you can pay for a truly great dive watch that ditches quartz for a real automatic movement.
It’s an authentic automatic. This is the least expensive mechanical dive watch we recommend at present. The automatic movement in this one is self-winding, so it’ll be powered as you walk around all day. This kind of intricate, analog system is what you’ll be after if you’re looking to get into the watch side of dive watches, as well as finding a technical, practical timepiece.
It’s quite accurate. While most inexpensive automatics are all over the place in terms of timekeeping, this is accurate to within a couple of seconds on the day.
It’s rugged. No need to worry about sacrificing ruggedness for prestige here! The Samurai is like a little tank.
It looks absolutely fantastic. Also comes in a rich, deep blue color option
We’re also impressed by the excellent lume on this one! It stays legible well after dark.
It’s very reasonably-priced.
The textured face won’t be for everyone.
If you want a full 45mm model, look at the Prospex below.
Seiko Prospex Men’s Diver Watch Mechanical Self-Winding (SBDC033)
Our top dive watch for under $500, the Seiko Prospex is a stellar timepiece that we think provides phenomenal value. Not only is it a classy looker, but it’s accurate enough to compete with much more expensive options. Get this if you’re after the absolute best for $500 or less.
It’s elegant, sharp, and refined. The watch face is simplified compared to the Samurai, and it loses the textured background for a plain, smooth finish. The combination of brushed and buffed finishes on the case is simply superb for this price.
It makes a big statement. At 45mm, the Seiko Prospex is as big as dive watches get. If you want to make sure everyone in the room takes note of your timepiece, this is the one to get!
It’s built better than a lot of $750 dive watches, not to mention the competition in its own price range. It’s extremely rugged. It also demonstrates exemplary quality control!
It’s accurate and low-maintenance. Like the Samurai, it’s accurate to within a few seconds and generally stays powered without any hand-winding needed.
It’ll cost you right around $500, so this is hardly the most budget-friendly of the bunch.
It’s by far the best under $500, but you can certainly find better dive watches. Have a look at our guide to the best dive watches under $1000 if you want to see how this one compares to more expensive options!
This one’s not the best choice for folks with smaller wrists. If that’s you, you’ll probably want to stick with the Samurai instead.
Which dive watch under $500 is your dream timepiece?
The Citizen Promaster is our budget recommendation to those on a tight budget, who are looking for the cheapest high-quality option that’s out of the budget range. This one’s noticeably better than a $200 watch, without costing even close to $500. It’s also the better of the two Citizen models for those who prefer a smaller case size.
The Citizen Eco-Drive Quartz is our suggestion to folks who are looking to keep their budget fairly low while still ending up with a big, bold dive watch. It’s quite a bit larger than the Promaster and suits those with larger wrists. Its face also has a bolder, more elegant look that can easily pass for a much more expensive timepiece.
The Seiko PADI special edition is the obvious choice if you’re all about dive pride! Its color scheme and PADI endorsement instantly set it apart as a real diver’s dive watch. Plus, it’s simply a fantastic timepiece. Having said that, this is at the pricier end of the spectrum for a solar-powered model. If you want the prestige of an automatic timepiece, you’ll want to spend a bit more for the Samurai or the Prospex.
The Seiko Samurai is our midrange recommendation, for folks who want an automatic movement without spending more than $400. It’s the next best thing to the Prospex model, and has a look and feel all its own. If you’re into a more complex visual aspect, you might even prefer this one! We love the unique face design and the midsize case. This one’s the best under $500 for folks who don’t want a massive 45mm case.
Even though it’s the most expensive model here (and the closest to the $500 mark), we think the Seiko Prospex is the ultimate value, and therefore our recommendation to most buyers. It’s built phenomenally well, provides lots of value, and has a classy aesthetic that could easily be mistaken for a timepiece costing twice the price. Get this if you want the best of the best under $500!
There are a number of candidates for the best dive watches under 500, but we think our top choice is the Seiko Prospex for its stylish appearance and excellent performance.
Know Where To Look
When it comes to finding the best bargains on dive watches, it’s all about knowing where to look! That mostly comes down to picking the right brands. Citizen and Seiko will be your best bets for the under-$500 range. These two makers have been cranking out high-quality, reasonably-priced timepieces for years. Their best models in this price range can easily be mistaken for $1000+ pieces.
Avoid trying to find bargains on more expensive options, such as Omega or Davosa timepieces. That’s asking for trouble with knock-offs. Be realistic! You’re not going to get a premium piece with a Swiss movement for this low of a price. Stick to the Japanese options that feel like Swiss timepieces instead!
Think About Your Preferences
There are lots of things that you can assess objectively when it comes to dive watches, such as the accuracy of the movement or the solidity of the case construction. However, as with anything you wear, choosing the best one is largely a matter of finding what fits best with your individual aesthetic and your own personal lifestyle. The following are some of the key aspects to consider when you’re choosing a dive watch:
Movement: under $500, you’ll find that there are two types of movement available. Between $200 and $350, you’ll find mostly solar-powered quartz movements. These are extremely accurate, reliable, and perfectly suited to active lifestyles. They’re also highly affordable! However, they lack the mechanical intricacy and prestige of automatic movements. From $350 to $500, you’ll find automatic movements, usually clones of Swiss mechanics made by Japanese companies. These are typically very good, combining the prestige and intricacy of a mechanical movement with a wallet-friendly price tag. Which to choose? Quartz movements are the best choice for folks who want a classy, rugged watch that doesn’t require any fuss. Automatic (mechanical) movements are the better choice for those looking to get into watches as more of a collector or enthusiast.
Size: dive watches at any price come in a range of sizes (usually 36mm to 45mm). Think about what’s the best fit for your wrist. How large do you want the watch to be? Do you want it to be unobtrusive enough to wear to work? How will it fit in with your various outfits? Think about how much you want your watch to stand out, and how much you want it to blend in.
Color: consider what kind of color scheme you want on your timepiece. A classic scuba aesthetic is a red/navy pairing. Two-tone bezels are also available in black/gray or other options. Black and navy tend to be the most common options, so consider what fits best with your clothes.
Face design : since you’re going to spend a lot of time glancing at your wrist, you want to choose a face design that’s both attractive and helpful to you. Do you want something with more information or less? Do you like an intricate display or something cleaner and more elegant? This is all a matter of personal preference, so simply choose what’s most appealing to you.
Now that you’ve read through our entire guide, you should be well on your way to choosing your new dive watch! You can learn more about any of the timepieces we’ve recommended here by clicking on the links in our reviews.
You can also check out our other dive watch buying guides, including our roundups of the best Seiko options, as well as the best for under $1000 and the best under $200. Handy links to all our latest content are easy to find on our homepage, at scubalist.pro!