A dive watch on a stainless steel band is a rugged, classic timepiece that can be worn with everything. From a t-shirt and jeans to a suit and tie, it just looks right. And unlike watches on leather straps, you never have to worry about matching your dive watch’s stainless band to your belt and shoes. Funny how these things, which were originally developed to be worn with scuba gear, somehow ended up becoming the “anchor” of many a well dressed man’s wardrobe.
Here’s what we’re looking for… A simple, classic dial. Links that aren’t too shined up or delicate (which can lead to the watch looking more like flashy jewelry). 100m of water resistance is the minimum. 200m or more is preferable. Why? Because you want something that can hold it’s own in the pool/lake/ocean in the morning, while also looking great on your wrist when out to dinner later that night. Know of a watch that should have made this list, but didn’t? Send those tips in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Secret Agent looks on a cubical worker’s budget. Good feel and solid, 200m water resistance too. Nice stainless steel band and case. Automatic movement. Exhibition case back. 40mm case dial. Also looks great on a rubber/silicone or leather strap. High end Swiss watch makers? They should subsidize Invicta’s production of this particular watch. This son-of-a-gun is a dangerous gateway drug if there ever was one.
One of Seiko’s much beloved divers. 40mm case diameter that wears a bit larger. Nice weight to the watch, wears nice and comfortable on the wrist, and at its heart is a dependable Seiko 5 automatic. 100m meter water resistance instead of the usual 200m most divers come with. No screw down crown here. Doesn’t hack or hand wind either. But for those who dream of one day owning a Submariner or another high end dive watch? This is a great way to get some of that style satisfaction without taking out a 2nd mortgage. Comes and goes on Amazon.
There might not be a better bang-for-the-buck diver on the market. Automatic movement that hacks and hand winds (the previous incarnation did neither). 200m water resistance. 120 click bezel helps keep track of elapsed time. Classic dive-watch looks. Not everyone will like the shined up inserts on the bracelet, but it’s more subtle than many other competitors.
This thing has a lot of things going for it, yet has one major drawback. The stainless steel metal band is hot garbage. One of the worst I’ve ever felt, and it has no business being attached to an otherwise fine timepiece for the price. 42mm case, 200m water resistance, screw down crown, and a dependable Seiko automatic movement beating inside. Seiko’s own Hardlex crystal protects the dial. Good lume. Doesn’t hack or hand wind, but it’s really quite comfortable on the wrist (assuming you’ve changed bands) and the 120 click bezel is good and solid. A great all around watch… just get a new bracelet on it, or, if it’s going to be a casual “beater” in your rotation? Opt for a NATO or rubber strap.
Orient Mako USA II – $262.50 w/ DAPPERED30 ($375)
Hacks, hand winds, has a sapphire crystal, a 120 click bezel, solid end links, and the best of both the Mako and Ray worlds when it comes to the looks on the dial. A little tough to find sometimes, but is available at post time direct through Orient. 41.5mm case size is wearable by most. Full review can be found here.
Starting to get on the high side as to what most would consider “affordable” (just wait…), but the Japanese automatic movement does hack and hand wind. The sapphire crystal, overall robust size, and simple layout is more in line with many more expensive, no-nonsense divers. 300m water resistance instead of the usual 200m. Big ol’ cyclops window magnifies the date. Pretty sure these things are still assembled in Vancouver?
Just wish they hadn’t changed the logo. Here’s what it used to look like. But perhaps I’m allowing my own personal tastes to creep in here. Anyway, plenty seem to like the spade-style hand, the trident counter balance on the seconds hand, and the ability to pick from a 43mm or a 38mm diameter case is a welcome option. Stats? Oh it has stats. Swiss automatic movement that hacks and hand winds. 6oom (!) water resistance. Incredible feel and build quality. Christopher Ward’s Trident sure feels like the last, best-bet stop before we hit the 4-digit threshold.
Often called a Baby Rolex, Tudor is actually a subsidiary of Rolex, and the Black Bay is one of their most iconic models. No date here. Functionality through and through, albeit wrapped up in one hell of an eye catching package. “Snowflake” hour and seconds hand. 200m water resistance. Big, winding crown helps power the Tudor made certified chronometer movement. And now might not be a bad time to remind everyone about the risks of buying from a non-certified dealer (such as “grey market” dealers). Buying direct from the brand, or, a certified dealer, means you get the manufacturer’s warranty. That’s good. What’s not good is the high price, compared to some grey market sellers. The bad news with those grey markets? You don’t get a factory warranty. So any potential issues and you might be on the hook for a big, big bill. So do your research. Your wallet begs you.
These are actually a slightly older model than what Omega is offering right now (the newer 8900 changed a few things, including but not limited to the Arabic numerals font), but the Omega Planet Ocean is known for being a bit of a refined beast. Extremely solid feeling. 600m water resistance. Gorgeous domed crystal. Offset crown at 10 o’clock is a Helium release valve (probably never gonna use that). Terrific lume. The orange tipped seconds hand and Seamaster script are nice, subtle touches. And the band/bracelet? It’s the kind of thing that could change the mind of a guy who swears he’d only ever wear leather or rubber straps on his watches. Available in either a standard 42mm, or, a larger, 45.5 mm diameter (which is shown above). Same style of watch that Daniel Craig wears for much of Skyfall.
The one that started it all. Movement developed and manufactured by Rolex. Virtually scratch proof bezel. 40mm case diameter and water resistant to 300m. Instantly recognizable. Timeless and then some, but costs an arm and a leg. (Fancy pants image via the Rolex Instagram.)