Desk Diver: A dive style watch that may carry with it significant water resistance and classic good dive-style looks, but rarely if ever is submerged in water. Due to their versatility and overall toughness, they get worn to work (hence, “desk”) as well as during the owner’s leisure time. Here are ten of the best affordable options out there, right now.
Still almost certainly the best bang-for-the-buck watch on the market today. For about $50 you get 200m of water resistance, a stainless steel case, and a rotating bezel which feels much more expensive than many other watches in the under $100 category. Plus, at a glance its classic good looks make it look like it cost a heck of a lot more than you shelled out for it. Even the stock rubber strap that it comes on is decent (soft-ish, not rigid plastic). Throw an aftermarket strap on it and you’ll get more style points.
Many a man has fallen victim to watch collecting thanks to this gateway drug. Good feel and solid, 200m water resistance. Nice stainless steel band and case. Automatic movement. Exhibition case back. 40mm case dial. Also looks great on a rubber/silicone or leather strap. 4/5 stars on Amazon after more than 2400 reviews.
Corgeut Diver – $97 (ali express) | $137.25 (ebay) | $155 (amazon)
An obvious (some would say shameless) homage to the Tudor Black Bay. Every aspect of the watch aside from the movement and the branding is clearly inspired by/lifted straight from the Black Bay. 41mm wide with 22mm lugs. The machining is accurate, the colors are great, and the dial looks extremely well done. Unlike most Chinese mechanicals, this watch uses a Japanese Miyota 8215 movement, which makes it more durable and accurate than the cheap Chinese movement. Full review here.
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.
A legend and for good reason. 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 and the 120 click bezel is good and solid. Shown above on a stainless bracelet, which’ll run you a bit more. Also available, as the 009, in a red and blue scheme.
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. Orient just did away with their codes and promos pricing strategy. So if you’re buying direct through them, no more of that business. Just $315 out the door. That’ll please some, not others.
These things are a total break from Seiko’s usual curvy designs, and has a really unique geometry that makes it both round and square. In addition to its neat lines, it’s also a bigger watch, so it definitely makes a statement. The automatic movement is hand-windable and hacking, and has that great sweep you get from a mechanical movement. Blue option has a wave pattern to the dial that gets darker the farther down you go. Black has a really intricate waffle texture pattern to the dial. Full review here.
It’s heavy (some would say too heavy, at almost half a pound on the bracelet which also happens to be hard to find), it’s built like a tank, and it’s ISO certified as a dive watch. Yes it’s a quartz, but the Marathon SAR watches are all built on government contracts and designed for search and rescue/salvage diving, so don’t be afraid of it getting broken or damaged, and it still looks classy enough to wear to dinner.
Swiss automatic movement. 300m water resistance. Double gasket screw-crown. Sapphire crystal. Of course it’s an homage. But most dive watches are. Has gone on sale for 20% off in the past during a pre-order event.
We’re obviously on the high end here, but compared to the luxury market, Christopher Ward watches are downright affordable. Oozing with retro-goodness. Swiss made Automatic GMT movement. 41mm case, 150m water resistance and deep-stamped Trident backplate. And since the movement is only 4.1mm high – the C65 Trident GMT measures in at just 12.05mm tall. Should slide under shirt cuffs with ease.
We’ve all had one. Maybe it’s that Invicta we started this post with. Maybe it’s a brand like the Wenger shown above. Maybe it’s something you picked up off eBay or a at a flea market. The point is, if you like the looks of it, it feels good, and it tells the time? Who cares what the watch snobs say. Wear it and wear it well.
Huge thanks to contributor Zach S. who contributed quite a bit to this post. Click here for Zach’s 5 Favorites. Also, before some of you guys out there (you know who you are) start complaining about the price range of the ten options above, keep in mind that luxury watches can run thousands upon thousands of dollars. Is that absurd? Most around here would say yes. But that’s also the reality of the wristwatch market. So one could argue that $42 – $1100 is actually “affordable” in a relative sense.