Best Dive Watches For Small Wrists - That You Can Actually Afford
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I know the pain. Wanting to try a cool looking dive watch only for your small wrist to let you down. Small divers are as hard to come by as a realistic Fast & Furious movie. There are so many pieces that I love the look of but can’t realistically wear due to the obvious size disparity.
Unfortunately, lots of existing articles on this subject feature predominantly luxury watches that retail for thousands. The wife wouldn’t be too happy if I spent that much on a wristwatch.
So, I figured I’d hunt down some of the few smaller dive watches that most of us can reasonably afford. I’ve narrowed it to pieces that are currently readily available for around £400 or less, so you have half a chance of grabbing one if you find this post later down the line.
First up, let’s run through a few I’ve mentioned on the blog before and then we’ll take a look at some fresh offerings that might be of interest.
Two of the very smallest affordable divers take very different design approaches.
The unisex Invicta Pro Diver 9204OB is far from the most original watch on this list, with a look stripped straight from the Rolex Submariner. Nevertheless, it’s a dream for slim wrists, with the smallest diameter of any I’m featuring today, at just 37.5mm; meaning it will likely fit even the slimmest of you out there.
Upsides include the fairly good case finishing, the surprisingly low price and the decent bracelet. I’m not a fan of the side engraving and the watch does only utilise a quartz movement, but for around $50 in the US, it’s great value nonetheless. It’s priced higher in the UK, though we do tend to pay more for watches in general. This is also the thinnest watch on the list, at just 11.2mm, which is unheard of for a dive watch and surprisingly, this does not come at the cost of aquatic performance, with this Invicta still boasting a 200m water resistance rating.
If you’re after something similarly sized but more creative, it’s hard to look past the Vostok Amphibia. There is a seemingly infinite pool of these crazy Russian watches, in all sorts of shapes and sizes. This turquoise ‘scuba dude’ variant is probably the most popular that utilises the 39.8mm ‘420’ case shape. No joke, that’s genuinely the case designation.
Naming schemes aside, this case variant is the smallest they offer, with a stubby lug to lug length that makes it wear much smaller than the diameter suggests. Even the thickness is misleading, as it incorporates the domed crystal; resulting in an overall experience closer to that of a 37mm watch. There is a range of cosmetic variants that utilise the same case too.
It is to be noted that the cosmetic quality control of these units is shaky and the steel finishing throughout is incredibly basic.
Vostok prioritises water resistance above all else, with a legendary reputation for exceeding their rated designations, sometimes well over 50bar. Surprisingly, I’ve also seen many commenters praise the accuracy of the automatic movement fitted in these Amphibias. Obviously, your mileage may vary, but an automatic movement of any type is decent for a watch at this price point.
It may also be worth considering the 120 case variant offerings, as the advertised 41mm width actually includes the crown guards; so its wrist presence is likely comparable to the 420 case shape.
Maen Hudson 38
For something more upmarket, the modestly sized Maen Hudson that I reviewed back in March should be on your radar. Topping out the price range on this post, it is more expensive than some of the alternatives, however, it more than justifies the higher cost.
Not only is the case finishing some of the best I’ve reviewed on this blog, but the dial is handsome and it looks very classy on the wrist. Once more, it has great dimensions for smaller wrists, with a diameter bang on 38mm and a compact lug to lug of 45.5mm. That article is somewhat outdated when it comes to the thickness of the Hudson. They’ve since changed the movement from an STP1-11 to the comparable but slightly slimmer Ronda R-150 and have made the case thinner as a result.
If you’re willing to spend that bit extra, it’s a great watch and it’s one I’ve kept in my collection since the review as the rather minimalist style suits my wardrobe perfectly.
Now let’s get onto some fresh offerings that you won’t have seen before on Ben’s Watch Club.
San Martin SN004G
Out of all of the dive watch ‘homages’ out there, one of those I quite like is the San Martin SN004G. Unlike many homage designs, it doesn’t strip its design from current luxury watch models and instead emulates a much older Rolex design from the 1950s. Those models are unobtainable in new condition, so I’m happy to recommend this one as it doesn’t feel like a lazy money grab.
In fact, in many ways, the SN004G offers excellent value. For below £200 the level of finishing puts most larger brands to shame, with well-executed brushing and precise polishing across the steel case and bracelet. It also has a stacked spec sheet, including a sapphire crystal, a solid link bracelet, 200m water resistance and a Seiko automatic movement.
I briefly mentioned this watch in my Invicta 1953 review, suggesting that the San Martin could pose as a better retro-inspired diver due to its smaller size, darker-toned lume and domed crystal.
Having now tried the piece, I can thankfully say that my prediction was correct. While the gilt dial is nothing spectacular, it certainly looks more like a 50s watch than the Invicta and I’ve been particularly impressed with the bezel action and alignment.
The 38.5mm width is the key factor. It makes the piece wear in a rather vintage manner; incidentally making it a good fit for small wrists. The only real downside is that the bracelet, while well-built and housing solid links throughout, houses protruding end links that effectively increase the lug to lug length. While curved and not too obstructive, an alternative bracelet could be the way to go if you’re aiming for the smallest diver possible. Nevertheless, if I can pull it off on my 15.5cm wrist, I imagine most of you reading this can too.
Luminox Sea Turtle XS.0301.L
A piece I’ve been split on but felt compelled to include is the Luminox Sea Turtle. To be straight up, at the retail price, I’m not convinced it’s particularly good value for money when compared to rival offerings. For around £200, this XS.0301.L only offers a mineral crystal, quartz movement, 100m of water resistance and isn’t even constructed of metal.
Even the tritium radioluminescence that they market so heavily was a big let-down. It’s not nearly as bright as in the stock images and is barely visible unless under bright UV light. I’d go so far as to call it a gimmick. Perhaps other tritium tubes do a better job than those fitted here.
That being said, this Luminox does offer a totally different approach to most others. Most notably, it has a polycarbonate case, based on a material that they’ve branded ‘Carbonex’. It appears to be a type of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer, that initially feels a lot like typical resin, that you might find in cheaper watches. Luminox is quite tight-lipped about its production though it has some niche properties that might make it a viable choice for your needs.
First up, the watch is incredibly lightweight. True, it does not give you a sense of weighty quality, but it is extremely comfortable on-wrist, probably the best of the bunch in this post. Additionally, this material is harder and much more scratch and scuff-resistant than any of the regular plastic watches that I’ve covered before. Even the best steel watches accrue a substantial amount of scratches over time, whereas I bet this will stand up slightly better in the long run, especially with the dark colour scheme.
My ultimate conclusion is that this watch could be worth a pickup, should you manage to find it for a decent price. I love the look of this unisex 39mm model and it’s a great fit for my skinny wrist too, not to mention it’s Swiss-made and does have good movement alignment. It’s one of those that I find myself wanting to pick up and wear. However, I still can’t say I’d be willing to spend more than about £100 on it at most, without an appropriate specification upgrade.
Seiko Mini Turtle
A timepiece that narrowly squeezes its way onto this list is the often overlooked Seiko Mini-Turtle. The smaller brother of the popular ‘Turtle’, this diminutive piece can now be found for similar prices to the lesser-specced and discontinued SKX series. When looking at the 42mm diameter on paper, it’s hard to picture this model on a slimmer wrist, however, you’d be missing the whole story. You see, it’s the incredibly short 43mm lug to lug length that gives the Mini Turtle its distinctive rounded profile and surprising wearability.
Sure, it looks notably wider than many of the alternatives on this list and it is the biggest watch here, however, the case doesn’t extend past the edges of even my tiny wrist; meaning it should be viable for just about anyone. Part of this is down to the flexible end links, which conform well to the wrist.
Unlike some of the cheaper Seiko divers of days past, this one comes with a solid link 20mm bracelet and a half-decent clasp that should suffice for the lifetime of the watch. Inside is the 4R35 movement, which is like a Seiko branded version of the generic NH35, which they also produce. It’s a reliable option that hacks and hand-winds, unlike the venerable 7S26 found in the budget 5 series.
Outside of the shape, the main pull factors are here are the unique marker arrangement, excellent luminescence and brand prestige. You’ll likely get a higher percentage of the £350ish retail price back, should you decide to resell it, when compared to other options on this list.
The main downsides here are the disappointing lack of sapphire crystal at this price point, the fiddly pin and collar link system and Seiko’s questionable quality control.
Overall though, if you’re looking for the largest-looking diver that your skinny wrist can get away with, then the Mini Turtle is a popular choice in this category.
A quick nod also goes to the 38mm Seiko SKX013, but there are some major caveats. Since the SKX line was discontinued a couple of years back, prices have shot through the roof. Tracking down unused pieces for anywhere near their original RRP is now near-impossible thanks to greedy scalpers after a quick buck.
For a watch with comparable specs to many £80 Seiko 5 watches, I’d personally avoid overpaying and consider the other options on this list. If you must get your hands on one, I’d recommend scouting out the best pre-owned deal you can, to avoid disappointment. Alternatively, you could look at the Islander dive range by Long Island Watch, which features an upgraded SKX013 clone at a slight price premium. I cannot comment on the build quality as I’m yet to try one, but the concept seems self-explanatory.
San Martin SN045-G
While not as distinctive as the Seiko Mini Turtle and certainly from a less prestigious brand, San Martin nonetheless offers a restrained version of this stocky design in the form of the SN045-G.
Originally, I never considered this watch as a candidate for this article; the brand had reached out separately intending to send across some watches for review. When browsing their catalogue, I saw that they had finally released some non-homage models which didn’t rely on the infamous CTRL+C CTRL+V technique.
While both watches turned out to be built ridiculously well for the money, I was surprised to discover that it wasn’t the 38mm model that fitted me better but rather the 40.5mm one. Yeah, despite the wider diameter, the lug to lug was significantly shorter, comparable to that on the Seiko Mini Turtle.
While a little top-heavy, it wears really well on slim wrists and looks much more expensive than the sub-£200 retail price would indicate. While I like the quirkiness of the Seiko, as a whole, I think this San Martin is a higher quality product, despite lacking the acclaimed name.
The action and alignment of the bezel are much better. The case finishing is equally well-executed, while the bracelet and clasp are at least two steps above. To cap it off, this one has a lightly-domed sapphire crystal and a more defined engraving on the case rear.
If I’m honest, this ‘original’ design does have a dirty secret. I initially thought it looked very Seiko-esque, but struggled to pinpoint it. After some quick Googling, I found the Prospex 1970 and voila, the mystery was solved. Indeed, it didn’t take Poirot to work out that the dials are virtually identical outside of the branding and although the handset is slightly different, the resultant look is virtually the same.
So, it’s not a totally original watch as they may claim though ironically, across the three watches I’ve tried from this brand, the quality control has been better than I’ve come to expect from Seiko themselves.
Timex Navi Depth
Many of you may have heard of the Timex Navi Harbor, which is a rather popular and affordable military watch hybrid that comes in a couple of different sizes. Well, I found myself browsing through the rest of the Navi ‘archive’ range and spotted a rather obscure piece that I thought would make for an interesting addition to this post.
Introducing the 38mm Timex Navi Depth. This retro quartz watch is a bit of a Q-Timex killer, with a comparable case size, colour scheme and theme. As the name suggests, this model certainly has a striking marine aesthetic; with a thick arrow hour hand, diver-style bezel and high-contrast dial that provides clear legibility. You’ll also notice the unusual inner Arabics, a throwback to the decompression stop system used before wrist-mounted diving computers became standard.
That being said, deep-sea diving won’t be on the agenda here, as the 100m water resistance rating wouldn’t quite cut the mustard. Despite that, it’s still great for day-to-day usage; double that on the Q-Timex and unlike some of their low-cost brass offerings, this one is thankfully fully stainless-steel.
The Navi Depth doesn’t boast the spec sheet of some of its rivals but it does offer a quirky, charming design; which includes a raised, domed mineral crystal and a clickless, bidirectional bezel; not too dissimilar from that on the Vostok. It’s also amongst the slimmest on this list, with a mere 11.6mm thickness, including the domed crystal; partly down to the compact quartz movement within. This means it sits flush to the wrist, without being as tiny as some ladies’ watches.
There are a couple of 38mm versions of this available. Right now, the silicone-banded ones are about £135, whilst the fabric strap version is about £20 less.
Is the silicone band worth the price premium? Well, it's honestly far better than I expected, so I would say yes, though if your wrist is extremely small like mine, it’s probably going to be too small; so if you like the blue dial variant, get the cheaper fabric one; you can always switch it at a later date.
The next watch on this list is one I discovered by cheating. I leant on you, my viewers, for some suggestions via a community post on YouTube and got several interesting responses. One of my favourites was this, the 39mm Odyssea diver from Richard LeGrand, suggested by Dave from Just The Watch.
I took a look at their site and saw a decent, albeit run-of-the-mill, Blancpain lookalike. Still, the specs were very strong, so I emailed them to see if I could try one out. The brand kindly obliged, the Odyssea arrived in the mail and it quickly proved to be much more than just a well-specced homage.
The first thing that struck me was the gorgeous sunburst dial. This model has a deep green tone, fading to black at the circumference, which is executed as well as any watch at double its price point. It looks fantastic under almost any lighting conditions and legibility is never an issue thanks to the bold numbering and bright markers. This is aided further by the outstanding luminescence provided by a generous application of C3 Super-LumiNova that makes the watch visible in almost any environment.
As you’d expect from any £300 diver, this one is made of steel throughout, has a domed sapphire crystal and houses a 200m water resistance rating, however, it’s the finishing touches that help the Odyssea set itself apart from the sea of generic Fifty Fathoms clones on the market.
The case is not only completed to a great standard but features narrower shoulders than some other options on the market, as well as a chamfered edge at each corner. The bezel is also slimmer, with a minimalist set of markings to match. I’m happy to report that the bezel performance is also excellent, with no back-play and flawless alignment – something that the big brands often fail to deliver.
By default, this comes fitted on a solid link steel bracelet, with a milled clasp and 3 micro-adjustment holes.
Within this version is even a high-beat Miyota 9000 series movement (9039) that is often reserved for much more expensive watches elsewhere. Honestly, I think this piece is ridiculously good value as it stands. It even comes in a leather pouch with all the tools for adjusting your bracelet and a replacement rubber strap should you prefer to wear that instead.
Due to the rather straight lugs, this piece doesn’t wear quite as compactly as other options on the list, so is best suited to those who have a smaller-than-average wrist, rather than a super-skinny one. If that sounds like you, the Odyssea is well worth a plunge.
Before we move onto the next watch, it’s worth highlighting some of the well-specced diver ‘homages' from Chinese wholesale sites such as AliExpress. This includes popular brands such as Pagani Design, San Martin, Steeldive and others. The reason I’m not particularly into these pieces is that, unlike the RLG, most aren’t actually ‘homages’ in my opinion. You’ll notice that the majority of their designs are complete copy and paste jobs of existing luxury watches, with a different stamp on the dial. Part of the joy I find in watches comes from the discovery of fresh, original designs that offer a unique artistic flair and invoke particular emotions when on-wrist.
I don’t find such a connection with these imitative designs, as, without a unique twist, they feel soulless. Like a shell of a watch with little substance.
Nevertheless, should your opinion differ, they could be worth considering, as many do provide unparalleled specifications for low prices. I’ve covered a couple of these before and generally been impressed with their physical construction, aside from some notable QC issues. That being said, there are currently very few options below 40mm, so at the time of publishing, I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time searching.
Lorus Sports Dive-Style RRX89FX9
What’s that? You can’t afford anything else on this list and your wrists are too small for any of them too?
Well, I’ve crafted up a rather handy super-budget option that may be worth knowing about. Meet the £20 Lorus RRX89FX9. While the name is a mouthful, the watch itself is surprisingly acceptable. Ok, at some outlets it’s marketed as a ‘boys’ watch, but hear me out. First up, outside of the miniature proportions, you’d never guess it wasn’t targeted at adults. It looks like a mini version of the Luminox mentioned earlier, with a matte black colour throughout and only minor white detailing across the dial and bezel.
This extends to the simple black 2-piece nylon strap, that isn’t half-bad for such a cheap watch. Unexpectedly, this Lorus has a 120-click ratcheting bezel and a reasonable 5bar water resistance rating.
At a mere 35.7mm across and with a 40.3mm lug to lug length, this is undoubtedly the smallest watch on this list and would probably fit a stick insect.
Of course, this is a dive-style watch, as opposed to a true diver but it sure does a meritable job of filling that void, with a lumed handset and a simple, though rather attractive, dial. This Lorus isn’t going to break any records, but I’ve spent £20 in many worse ways than this. Their sister company Pulsar also makes a small 36mm SKX-lookalike diver, which may be worth considering if you can find it at a competitive price.
Signum 38.5mm Cuda
Here’s one you’ve never heard of or seen before. The 38.5mm Cuda, from a new micro-brand named Signum watches. This fresh brand was formed by the owner of the more established Straton Watch Co and they currently have two diver styles available, the Cero and the Cuda, both of which offer some of the most exotic dial options on the market.
For around £300, the Cuda is the more affordable and can also be configured in a smaller case size, making it the better fit for this post. To my surprise, the brand was willing to send me a couple of different versions of this watch, namely the ‘Tigers Eye’ and ‘Opal Mosaic’, which offer two of the most extreme dial concepts in their collection.
As the names suggest, these feature dials constructed from the naturally occurring Tiger’s Eye and Opal stones respectively. As a result, each timepiece is unique to the wearer, something you can’t say about most watches on the market. Other variants include an interesting heat-treated meteorite and a fully coated C3 super-luminescent option for the ultimate low-light experience.
Outside of that, the watches are constructed to a good standard and have all of the specifications you’d expect from a decent micro-brand, including 316L steel construction, a Seiko NH35 movement and 20bar water resistance. The case design takes a little inspiration from the Seiko SKX, with a shielded crown at 4 o’clock, though takes a more angular and aggressive approach that incorporates a brushed finish throughout.
It’s also a thick boy, at just shy of 14mm, but the Cuda doesn’t feel all that imposing on the wrist and tapers off neatly despite the protruding central links.
My main criticism of these pieces lies in the bezels, which currently have noticeable back-play. It’s not the end of the world and they do have integrated lume, which is very cool, though it’s clearly still an area for improvement.
The rest of the watch, including the bracelet, feels very solid and overall, it’s a striking start for this up-and-coming brand. Not something that would suit my restrained wardrobe but it’s interesting regardless.
Seizenn Skin Diver
Earlier in this list, I presented the Navi Depth as a viable Q-Timex alternative with more nautical theming. Surprisingly, there’s another 38mm diver that, at first glance, looks much more similar.
The Seizenn Skin Diver from Chinese manufacturer Merkur is better specced than the Q and the larger M79 automatic, despite costing much less than either model.
Aside from the direction of the brushing, it’s clear that the steel case is a rip-off of the Q, with an identical shape and proportions. While not original, it does mean that the watch fits thin wrists very well, with no overhang despite the hooded lugs.
While the Batman bezel also looks like it’s been carried across from the Timex, this one is instead fully ratcheted, with a 72-click action that is more than suitable for a sub-£100 watch. In several ways, this is an improvement on the watches that inspired it, with a screw-down crown and screwed case rear that assist in providing an advertised 200m of water resistance. This makes it a true diver, as opposed to simply ‘diver-inspired’ like the Timex watches, meaning it can survive whatever aquatic challenges you decide to throw at it. As with the other Chinese brands in this article, whether this one has gone through the official testing to receive this designation is another question entirely.
You’ll notice that there’s no quick-access battery hatch here. That’s because this £90 Seizenn has a Seiko SN36 automatic movement inside; comparable in performance to the Miyota 8000 series within the £250 Timex M79. As if that wasn’t enough, the stock bracelet puts the latter to shame, with solid links and a reasonably good clasp with three micro-adjustment holes. The only drawback to this is that it’s a touch too long for those with super-thin wrists like mine, but as long as you’re wrists are 16.5 cm or over, you’ll be golden.
Across the top is a K1 hardened mineral crystal, which is more scratch-resistant than that in both Timex models, though won’t be polishable.
Luckily, the dial is not a lazy knock-off of an already fairly generic design. This Seizenn is rather the opposite with an experimental look that involves squared markers and a two-tone handset resembling that on some pilot watches. The absence of a GMT hand on a watch with a GMT bezel could be seen as an obvious oversight, however, many larger brands are guilty of that very same shortcoming.
While the lume isn’t great, the build quality is just as good as the Timex watches, which are produced in China anyway, so this feels like a better value proposition for those lusting for a unique twist on the retro sports watch aesthetic.
More Expensive alternatives under 750:
My hunt for the watches in this article led me down a very specific rabbit hole, whereby I discovered many pieces that were just a smidge too expensive to make this list. Given the lack of readily available information about smaller dive watches, I figured I’d tag some of my findings on here too for your convenience. It’ll save you the dozens of hours I wasted over the past couple of months.
Please do your own research though as I haven’t personally tried any of these watches, I just think they could make for interesting avenues to explore. They’re also linked below if you want to take a look.
There are a few extra small divers that could be a dream if one has a wrist on the extreme lower end of the size spectrum.
Marathon MSAR 36mm
While chunky, the Marathon Medium Search and Rescue Diver is one of the smallest MilSpec pieces to see action on the front-lines in recent years. Known for their rugged construction and tritium tubes, these watches are built to endure the harshest of conditions and their aesthetic is certainly tailored to that.
You can grab this watch in either a quartz or automatic configuration, the latter being around £150 more expensive. Aesthetically these ‘medium sized’ versions are virtually identical to their larger counterparts and are incidentally less expensive – a rare perk for those of us with tiny wrists.
Glycine Combat Sub 36mm
For a dressier alternative, you could also consider the more affordable and equally Swiss-made 36mm Glycine Combat Sub. This 30 ATM mini monster comes in a couple of interesting colours, including a brown variant that you’re unlikely to find elsewhere.
Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba 37mm
You weren’t expecting to see a Hamilton in this list, were you? No, me neither. Well during my research I stumbled upon a 37mm watch called the Khaki Navy Scuba. Unfortunately, this one offers little on the specification front, with a quartz movement for around £500. While I wouldn’t spend that much on a non-solar quartz, this one is very well sized and could be an option if you’re a fan of the brand.
Next up, a trio of options that bring those vintage vibes.
Lorier Neptune S3
A popular enthusiast brand, Lorier has seen a good amount of coverage on the YouTube platform in its comparatively short history. Their 39mm Neptune diver offers a striking gilded look in a vintage-inspired package. With a Miyota 9000 series movement for well under £400, it’s a tempting proposition for those with a fitting wardrobe.
The French Baltic brand has seen similar acclaim since it hit the market off the back of a Kickstarter campaign in 2017. Their 39mm Aquascaphe is like a modern reincarnation of a vintage Fifty Fathoms and looks better than it sounds. This one is also very slim for an automatic diver at just 12mm, which includes the domed crystal and it has an interesting array of triangular sandwich hour markers at 3, 6 and 9.
Yema Superman Heritage
Also operating out of France, Yema have some very unique offerings, one of which I’ve already covered on my blog. They recently released the 39mm NavyGraf Marine Nationale, which joins the similarly sized Superman Heritage in their nautical line-up. They offer each model in both quartz and automatic configurations and while the prices are a bit steep, reviews for this brand appear to be very strong.
To wrap it up, a couple of more modern-looking pieces.
Released late last year, the 38mm DS Action Diver from Swiss manufacturer Certina offers a user-friendly 80-hour power reserve in a minute package. Aesthetically, I think this one is a little generic, though it’s not an unattractive watch. Something to bear in mind here is that it appears to have solid male end links, which will increase the effective lug to lug of the watch, making it wear a bit larger.
Seiko 38mm Solar
Japanese giant Seiko recently released a great-looking 38.5mm solar diver, codenamed the SNE57. Thankfully, this one does have a sapphire crystal though and it’s also the thinnest diver on this list at just 11.3mm in thickness; meaning it should wear flush to the wrist. However, at around £500 at the time of writing, I think it’s a steep ask for a watch that doesn’t even feature solid end links or any anti-reflective coating.