Someone once said, “Diving is a leap of faith plus gravity”.
The said faith in safely exploring the waters is surely boosted by top quality gear. Apart from the obvious essentials such as the oxygen tank, diving suit or rescue devices, over decades diving watches have proven to be a piece of very useful equipment when plunging into the water.
After the release of Marine, the first-ever diving watch produced by Omega in 1932, more brands started developing their own collections for divers.
There’s no getting away from the fact that all the premium brands that specialize in watches for divers, often require us to dig deep into the pockets. Shopping on a budget you won’t find a diving watch from the afore-mentioned Omega or any other luxury brand for that matter.
Not all is lost, though! There are tens of reputable, globally-recognized watchmakers that provide excellent value when it comes to timepieces for diving. To make the task of picking the right product for your next diving expedition, I have prepared a list of the best dive watches under 200 bucks.
The list is divided into two sections.
In the first one, just below, you will find the top 3 models, each selected for different reasons.
Should none of the podium selections cater to your taste, you will find 6 additional divers further down the article. Finally, at the bottom of the article, there’s a Buyer’s Guide in which I explain what are the most important features to look out for when picking the timekeeper on your own.
Without further ado, let’s go!
Best Dive Watches Under 200 Bucks (Top 3 Reviewed)
Citizen has long been known to be a diving watch expert. Since the groundbreaking invention of the Skin Diver decades ago, the Japanese watchmaker has released hundreds of diver’s gems, including Citizen BJ80-50-08e.
- You might also like: Top 3 Citizen Dive Watches
The model belongs to the Promaster Sea series, Citizen’s collection dedicated exclusively to scuba divers. In fact, it has pretty much everything you could ask for in a budget dive watch – and more. That’s why it’s my top overall pick.
Like a huge chunk of Citizen models, the watch is powered by the brand’s proprietary Eco-Drive technology. In other words, it’s fuelled by light and never needs a battery. The movement quartz, with a power reserve of 180 days.
Essentially, the Promaster diver is equipped with a 300m water-resistance.
The watch comes with a 48mm stainless steel, screw-back case, and a uni-rotating bezel. The rugged band is made from urethane and includes an extender with a carrying case for the wetsuit strap extension.
The black dial is equipped with 3 hands and hour markers. All are luminous. The dial window is made from mineral crystal. There’s a date window located at three o’clock.
Get familiar with the brand by reading the Citizen watches review.
Although the presence on the market isn’t as long as in the case of Citizen, Victorinox has needed just over three decades to establish itself as a reputable watchmaker. Coming from Switzerland, it didn’t really have any other choice!
All Victorinox timepieces come with Swiss-made movements. Automatic calibers produced in Switzerland are the most sought-after on the market. Nevertheless, Victorinox 241088 is a quartz model. With a +-15 seconds/month accuracy, it’s an excellent choice for scuba divers who value precision above anything else.
Due to the chronograph and tachymeter functions, the watch is the most feature-rich timekeeper on the list.
Unfortunately, the water-resistance is considerably lower than in the Citizen model above, rated at 10BAR / 100m. If you don’t hit massive depths yet, it’s still a great option to consider at that price.
Similar to the model above, Victorinox 241088 has a standard-sized case, measuring 43mm in diameter. The case is made from stainless steel, just like the orange uni-rotating bezel. The watch comes with a canvas strap. Crucially, it’s equipped with a sapphire crystal dial – the most scratch-resistant glass out there.
The dial features luminescent hands and a date window between 4 and 5 o’clock.
Invicta makes getting a solid diving timepiece at bargain-basement prices a real possibility.
Lately, the American brand has been releasing some excellent budget divers. As of today, Invicta 8926 is one of if not the best inexpensive dive watch on the market. Furthermore, it’s the only timepiece on the list available for less than $100.
The watch is powered by a 24-jewel Japanese automatic movement in the form of NH35A. Because of the super low price margin, it’s slightly less accurate than that in the Orient model discussed above. The precision of this one is -20/+40 seconds per day.
Thanks to the 200m water-resistance, the watch is suitable for professional marine activities like scuba diving.
Design-wise, it’s clear to see Invicta 8926 got the inspiration from Rolex Submariner. Amongst fans of Rolex homages, it’s one of the favorite picks due to the super low price and a good level of craftsmanship.
The watch comes with a 40mm stainless steel case, as well as a black bezel and silver-tone bracelet – both made from the same material. The caseback is transparent, allowing you to view the intricate workings of the movement.
The black dial features luminous hands and hour markers, as well as a date window at 3 o’clock. The dial window is made from mineral crystal glass.
Still Looking? 6 Alternative Picks Below
Since the groundbreaking release of the Professional Diver’s 600m watch in 1975, Seiko has established itself as one of the most reliable watchmakers in the field of dive watches.
Although the very best Seiko divers are priced way above the $200 cap, a list of best dive watches wouldn’t have felt complete without at least one of those timekeepers.
The model we have here is automatic, powered by Seiko’s Japanese-made Caliber 4R36. With an accuracy of -15 / + 30 seconds per day and a 41-hour power reserve, it’s one of the most reliable movements in the Seiko 5 series.
The sole reason why Seiko SRPC59 hasn’t made the podium is the water-resistance level that’s rated at 100m. Had it been at least 200m, it would have probably topped the list. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there are no Seiko dive watches offering a 200m WR available for less than $200.
The watch comes with a stainless steel case measuring 46mm in diameter and a uni-rotating black-and-orange bezel. Just like in the Invicta model above, the caseback is transparent.
The dial features luminescent hands and hour markers. At three o’clock, there’s a day and date window. The window is made from scratch-resistant Hardlex crystal glass.
To learn more about Seiko watches, read my Seiko brand review.
Neymar is a watchmaker with by far the shortest presence on the market. Nevertheless, since the foundation in 2011, Neymar diving watches have been scoring tons of positive reviews across the web.
Even though there’s still lots of prejudice when it comes to Chinese watch brands, Neymar timekeepers provide pretty solid value.
The vast majority of these models are homages of Rolex, Tudor, and other top-end watchmakers. For example, the model described here has been clearly inspired by Tudor Black Bay.
Neymar 11588886 is powered by an automatic movement in the form of NH35, providing a solid accuracy of -20 / +40 seconds per day. The same caliber was used in the top budget selection, Invicta 8926.
Crucially, this is the only dive watch on the list with a 300m water-resistance rating. What also makes it a standout amongst other timepieces on the list is the professional helium valve intended for saturation diving.
The model is all stainless steel. The case measures 41,5mm in diameter and features a black-and-gold uni-rotating bezel. When it comes to this model, the caseback is solid.
The gold-tone dial features luminous hands and hour markers. At 3 o’clock, there’s also a date window. Considering the low price of the product, the presence of a sapphire crystal glass is a huge bonus.
You can learn more about the brand by reading my Neymar watches review.
There aren’t many more underrated dive watches than Orient. With a rich history spanning well over a century now, the Japanese brand is a safe bet when it comes to budget timekeepers for diving.
Orient RA-AA0011B19B belongs to the Kenno collection which is full of affordable models for divers.
Crucially, it comes with a 20BAR / 200m water-resistance, making it perfectly suitable for bigger depths.
With a 44mm stainless steel case, the watch won’t look out of place on both small and large-sized wrists. The uni-rotating maroon bezel and black rubber band definitely add style to the exterior and make the model a good pick for occasions other than diving, too. Protecting the face against cracks and scratches is mineral crystal glass.
The watch is powered by an automatic movement in the form of Orient Calibre F6922, providing +-15/day accuracy and a power reserve of approximately 40 hours. Luminescent, light-tone watch hands and hour markers make the reading underwater extremely easy. At 3 o’clock, there’s also a day and date window.
Stührling provides further food for thought when it comes to budget dive watches under 200 bucks.
The American brand has its own diver-exclusive line called the Aquadiver. The model listed here is one of the best-sellers due to its affordability and features.
Stührling 395.33U16, also known under the name Regatta Champion, is considered a professional diver’s watch with a water-resistance rating of 200m. It’s powered by a reliable Swiss quartz movement, providing a fairly standard precision of -+ 15 seconds/month.
Regatta Champion has a case measuring 42mm in diameter. Both the case and bracelet are made from stainless steel, as is the unidirectional bezel. The caseback is screw-down.
All the hands, as well as hour markers, are luminous. Between 4 and 5 o’clock is a date window. The dial window is made from synthetic sapphire crystal and should be able to withstand a lot.
Phoibos is probably the least known brand on the list. But Hong Kong-based watchmaker, founded in just 2016, scores pretty good ratings on the diving watches front.
Similar to the above-mentioned Neymar, Phoibos watch collections focus solely on timekeepers for scuba divers. It’s pretty obvious that the model listed here is a homage to one of the most iconic diving watch releases to date, Steinhart Ocean One.
With a 300m water-resistance rating, Phoibos PX002C can surely be considered a professional diver’s timepiece.
The watch is battery-powered, using a popular caliber amongst Swiss quartz movements – Ronda 515. It provides a fairly standard accuracy of -+15 seconds/month.
The watch comes with a stainless steel case and bracelet. The case measures 42mm in diameter and includes a unidirectional black bezel.
White watch hands and hour markers, both luminescent, blend in nicely with the black dial. There’s also a date window available at 3 o’clock. Crucially, the dial window is made from sapphire crystal glass – a true rarity when it comes to dive watches with such low price margins.
Closing the list of best dive watches under 200 dollars is this diver-inspired model from the Japanese watch mogul, Casio.
Although the watchmaker hasn’t released a line dedicated specifically to scuba divers, there are some models – like the one listed here – that can do the job at a bargain-basement price.
Like all Casio watches released to date, this one too is battery-powered. The Japanese quartz movement ensures the precision of -+15 seconds per month.
Casio MDV-106B-2AVCF is equipped with a 200m water-resistance, making it a safe bet to take deep underwater.
The model boasts a 48mm stainless steel case and a sea-inspired uni-rotating bezel. The band is made from a form of plastic.
All three watch hands come with luminous elements, just like the hour markers. At three o’clock, there’s a window showing date. Protecting the watch face from scratches and cracks during diving is a mineral crystal glass.
Finding the Best Dive Watch Under $200: Buying Guide
I truly hope that at least one of the models included in the article has caught your eye. If there is anything the above list proves, it’s the fact that it is still possible to find capable dive watches under $200.
For sure, each of the discussed timekeepers can do the job. Now it’s up to you to decide which one caters to your taste the most and how much you are willing to spend.
Nevertheless, in matters of taste, there can be no disputes. If for some reason you don’t fancy any of the dive watch models presented above, not all is lost! Below you will find a Buyer’s Guide that will help you pick the best budget diver on your own.
But first, let’s define what are the main purposes of any dive watch.
Why Use a Dive Watch?
Whatever you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced scuba diver, a proper dive watch can go a long way.
There are multiple benefits of owning a diver’s watch and the two that clearly stand out are:
- the ability to track time spent underwater (which often can be a life-saver)
- the possibility to go at depths impossible for “standard” timepieces (some diving watches can go as deep as 1000m under)
What Makes a Professional Diving Watch?
Being water-resistant alone isn’t enough for the timepiece to be considered a professional diving watch.
The governing body responsible for defining the regulations that help verify whether the watch is suitable for deep water diving is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
The standards for the ISO-certified dive watches are regulated by the international standard in the form of ISO 6425. Before getting the approval, all watches go through testing in static or still water under 125% of the rated water pressure. In other words, a watch with a 100m rating will be considered water-resistant if it’s handling the pressure of at least 125m.
In total, there are six essential attributes a professional diving watch needs to possess in order to pass the ISO 6425 test.
- Water-resistance rating of at least 10BAR / 100m / 330 ft
- Magnetic and shock-resistant movement
- Luminous hands and/or markers for easy reading underwater
- Fully-sealed or properly screwed caseback to avoid water damage to the movement
- Rugged case, ie. made from stainless steel or ceramic
- Rotational bezel to allow you a quick peek at the measured elapsed time
What to Look Out for in a Diving Watch Under $200?
Granted, most top-quality diving watches are likely to set you back considerably more than $200.
Nevertheless, as proven in this article, it’s possible to find a capable diving timepiece on a budget.
Should you want to hunt for the product on your own, below find the list of essential attributes the watch should come with in order to serve you well during years of diving expeditions.
Due to frequent contact with water, diving watches need to be first and foremost durable.
Consider timepieces that use stainless steel, ceramic or rubber/plastic bands. At all costs avoid leather or velcro straps. Apart from wearing off quickly, they also tend to start producing unpleasant odor after months of exposure to water.
Another essential element is glass. The window needs to be made from durable material in order to withstand the pressure and protect the dial from cracks and scratches.
Two types of glass you would like to consider are mineral crystal and sapphire crystal. The first type is seen in most watches in the < $200 price range, although – as proven with some models on the list – it’s also possible to find a timepiece equipped with a sapphire crystal dial. Avoid watches with an acrylic lens or any other form of plastic.
Finally, make sure the case is made from either stainless steel, ceramic or rubber. These are the most suitable materials for regular contact with water. Also, confirm that the watch comes with a screw-down caseback.
If possible, don’t go after watches with oversized cases – even if your wrist is huge.
Most watches for diving (or surfing) come with fairly standard case sizes for a reason. The timepiece should be easily able to fit under your wetsuit if needed. Target models with cases that don’t exceed 50mm in diameter.
Also, you would want the watch to be as light as possible when scuba diving. Actually, you should be able to forget you are wearing it at all and only check it when necessary.
Naturally, the stronger the water-resistance rating, the safer the watch is to take for scuba diving.
As explained before, for a watch to be considered a “diver”, it needs to be able to resist the pressure of at least 100m.
The suitable WR rating will purely depend on your level of skill and the depths you plunge into. If you are making your baby steps as a scuba diver, a solid timepiece with a water-resistance up to 100m should do the job. If you consider yourself an intermediate or a professional diver, target models with at least a 200m rating.
Firstly, a diving watch needs to offer some kind of luminescence. Make sure the model you want to buy comes either with a backlight or luminous hands and hour markers. Reading time underwater needs to be as easy as possible and shouldn’t require more than a single click of a button.
Rotational, uni-directional bezel is another must-have. It allows for easier reading of the elapsed time of under one hour from a specific point. Quite frankly, isn’t equipped with one, it can’t be considered a diving watch.
Additional features that you might want to have onboard for everyday use are: