10 Best Dive Watches Under £200 – Useful & Affordable!
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Fancy some deep-sea diving? Nah, me neither. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the sub-nautical charm of a good dive watch! Indeed, there are many affordable watches out there that offer great water performance in a durable steel package…but which are best? Well, I’ve selected ten of the best options that typically retail for below £200. In here, we’ve got a mix of sizes, brands and movements; with each of the watches housing a minimum of 100m of water resistance, which should cover you for most aquatic ventures.
First, we’ll go through some quartz options, then we’ll move onto some mechanical divers in no particular order.
Japanese brand Casio offer some of the most affordable dive watches out there, including some that you’ve likely never heard of. They’re always great value, so I have no hesitation in recommending them.
Casio Duro MDV-106
First up is the venerable Casio Duro MDV-106. This legendary watch is known to be one of the best value options on the planet, if you can locate it at retail price. For typically under 50 dollars in the US, you get a stainless-steel watch that boasts a mega 200m of water resistance and a surprising level of finishing, which includes precisely cut lugs and the marlin billfish engraving on the rear. This model also comes with a screw-down crown and unlike other models, there’s a silicone strap fitted by default. The standard colourway is black and silver, though they recently introduced some other colour variants, including the black and gold one I have here.
The Duro is a big boy, with a commanding 44m diameter, it’s not for the slim-wristed out there but certainly has the heft to feel like a quality item; despite the low production costs. Within is a basic quartz movement, to give good accuracy over long durations.
Unfortunately, this model is somewhat hard to come by at reasonable prices in the UK. Therefore, I’ve hunted down a great alternative below, if you’re willing to settle for 100m of water resistance.
This is the EFV-130. I previously covered the EFV-110 and was blown away by the value for money and this watch is from that same Edifice range. While not a true dive watch, with a yacht-timer bezel that lacks a lume pip, I think it’s close enough to make this list. Like the Duro, this features a screw-down crown and mineral crystal. However, the bezel action here is far better, with virtually no back-play to speak of.
Overall, the watch has a notably better level of finishing too, with this version having a beautiful blue sunburst dial that pops nicely when under direct light. Unlike the Duro, it also comes with a very well-integrated steel bracelet, that has a clasp with 4 micro-adjustment holes. It also houses a quartz movement and in low-light both Casio watches provide similar legibility. The luminescence isn’t very bright but does last a long time. At a hair over 42mm and with a slimmer case, it wears smaller than the Duro, though is still fairly large.
It’s another great watch but those with small wrists will need to look outside of the Casio brand to find something more well-tailored.
Invicta Pro Diver 9204OB
The first place I’d stop is, surprisingly, Invicta. This American (formerly Swiss) brand has a mixed reputation in the watch community, due to their experimental designs and questionable marketing tactics.
They’re also famous for making some of the largest watches in history, which makes it all the more the surprising that they are responsible for one of the best small divers. The unisex Pro Diver 9204OB is a dream for smaller wrists, sitting at a mere 37.5mm in diameter and with a 47.3mm lug to lug, it even looks great on my skinny 6.25-inch wrist. I was pleased to find it’s also rather slim, at 11.2mm, which is quite compact for a dive watch, meaning it sits nice and flat on-wrist.
As you can likely tell, this is a straight copy and paste from the Rolex Submariner, incorporating all of the same basic design cues. While far from original, it does pack a punch for the low price, which is often well below £60 in the UK. This includes full steel construction, as well as an advertised 200m of water resistance, with a quartz movement and a solid link bracelet that has no right being on a watch at this price point. Outside of the hollow end links, it’s a beast.
The 9205 stacks up surprisingly well versus the Casio Duro and provides another battery-powered avenue to go down. My only reservation with the watch is the Invicta inscription down the left side, which I think is totally unnecessary. If you can look past that, you’re getting a solid watch that will serve you well.
Automatic Invicta Pro Divers
Funnily enough, there is also a selection of mechanical Pro Divers too, which come in at a slightly larger 40mm width. Arguably, these offer even better value for money, with their Seiko NH35A automatic movements; which are often found in more expensive watches.
The regular series is visually comparable to the quartz watch, with the same Submariner-esque design. These also come with a selection of bezels, I’ve found the coin-edged ones have by far the best grip. There are plenty of colourways available, I went for this blinged-out gold version, as I found the standard black version to be a little boring. Unlike the quartz version, this comes with a screw-down crown to give some extra peace of mind when submerged. You can also flip the watch over and view the movement through the exhibition window, which is pretty cool if you’re new to wristwatches.
Invicta Pro Diver ‘1953’ Special Edition
Invicta released a special version of this watch in 2020, which has proven to be highly popular. This 31290, also known as the ‘1953’, is a direct rip-off of the original Rolex Submariner, released in that same year.
While it features the same movement and materials as the regular Pro Diver, it does look rather different. This has a different handset, bezel and case, the latter no longer featuring any sort of engraving, which is nice. In fact, the finishing on this edition seems to be a further improvement upon the original, with an attractive chamfered edge down each side and an elegant curved side profile.
While the diameter remains the same, the lug to lug sees a slight elongation, to 48.5mm; so it does wear a tad larger than the regular 40mm Pro Diver models.
Even so, the vintage aesthetics have proven to be incredibly popular, with the more subtle branding also being a hit. These sold out everywhere upon release and only around 12 months later are we seeing these make their way back into stock.
WatchShop Depth Charge
The most unexpected entrant to this list is the new Depth Charge brand from British retailer WatchShop. One of you viewers left a comment about this brand a few months ago. I’d never heard of it, so gave it a quick google search. What I found was a dive watch with a cool design and tremendous specifications for the money.
I bought this one a while back. It arrived and I was pleased to discover that everything that commenter had said was bang on. Like the Invicta’s, this features an automatic Seiko NH35 movement and full stainless steel construction; however, for a slight price increase, you also gain some further benefits. First up, this uses sapphire crystal, rather than the mineral present on all of the watches I mentioned previously, which will give unbeatable scratch protection. As well as the screw-down crown and 200m of water resistance, it also comes fitted on a brilliant solid-link bracelet. This not only features solid end links, but it also has a well-machined milled clasp, that would look at home at a watch at double this retail price.
The bezel action is solid, the luminescence is very bright indeed and the design has some more unique design cues with the arrow hour hand and the double marker at the 12’oclock position. It doesn’t just look like another Rolex clone and instead has its own identity. At 41mm it does wear much like a Submariner though and there are currently 3 colours available, my favourite being this ‘Island Green’ variant.
I’m unsure exactly who is producing these, I have a suspicion it could be Rotary. Regardless, they’ve hit on something good here, hence its presence on this list. For just over £100 with a discount code, this is the best value dive watch I’ve come across in some time, with the only caveat being international availability. If you’re outside of the UK, I’m unsure of the shipping costs and import charges, so you’ll have to check for yourself. If you’re in the UK, you’ll do well to beat this.
Aliexpress watches / Pagani Design
Perhaps the only way of beating it is heading to China yourself. By using sites like Aliexpress, you can purchase watches directly from Chinese wholesalers and sometimes you can get a great deal. There are numerous obscure brands out there, offering varying levels of quality. One of the best-known is Pagani Design.
As with most of these Chinese home-brands, their repertoire mainly consists of homage watches; with their most popular divers copying famous Rolex designs.
For barely any money, you can grab yourself an automatic, steel divers watch that looks like a more expensive one from a distance. Over the years, I’ve found that most of these watches have fairly impressive case finishing for the money, with the main trade-offs coming in the way of water resistance and quality control…especially the latter.
The submariner homage I have here has an interesting blue-black dial and at a glance, it looks flashy without feeling too cheap. The case looks good too, it houses a sapphire crystal and it even has the same type of movement as all of the divers I previously mentioned.
Its shortcomings are evident though. The bezel is easily the worst on this list, with a tinny feel and significant back-play, whilst the cyclops is aligned very poorly. The bracelet feels good for the money, though some models have reportedly had instances of separation.
Nevertheless, if you’re not willing to spend much and want good specifications, it’s likely worth a look.
While opinions are mixed on Aliexpress brands, the Japanese brand Orient are widely acclaimed as one of the best affordable wristwatch manufacturers. Not only do they design their watches in-house, but unlike most on this list, they produce their movements too.
Ray 2 / Mako 2
For several years, the Mako 2 and Ray 2 were the flagship affordable divers offered by Orient. The Mako features the arabics, whilst the Ray is essentially the same, just with markers. Until now, I never bothered with either because I didn’t think the dials looked like anything special from the footage I saw online. I decided to try one for this post and I feel like I have been reverse catfished. Whether the lighting in those videos was just too poor, I’m not sure, but in person, this Ray II looks a hell of a lot better.
Despite being wider than the regular Pro Diver, at 41.5mm, it retains the same lug to lug length and is slimmer. When paired with the narrower lugs and less bulbous design, it makes this a more viable choice for slimmer wrists.
The Ray 2 has similar specifications to other pieces on this list, including 20bar water resistance, mineral crystal and steel construction. Don’t make the mistake I did though. I got sent the version on the silicone strap. While I like the matte black dial and the way the strap compliments it, unfortunately, this option is simply too long for my wrist, rendering it useless. As such, if you’re watching and have a smaller wrist, say below 6.75 inches or 17 centimetres, I’d stick to the metal bracelet options, which you can adjust to the appropriate size. Otherwise, even if it fits, you’ll be left with a huge excess poking over the top.
Even though I like the Ray 2, my favourite Orient diver has to be the Kamasu. This model, released in 2019, takes things to the next level, with an even better-looking dial and a sapphire crystal, in place of the mineral found on the Ray and Mako watches. While the case is very comparable in both design and size to its predecessor, at 41.5mm wide, 12.9mm thick and 46.5mm lug to lug; the polishing and brushing appear to have been completed to a slightly higher standard. From what I’ve seen online, the Kamasu bracelet is also better finished than that you’d get with the Ray and the watch also comes in a more interesting variety of colours too.
I was torn between this teal-dark green colour and the equally attractive burgundy option, which also features a nice pop of colour. In the end, I went with this option, as it might be a little more versatile.
The only real downgrade from the previous Ray & Mako offerings is the bezel. This has a less precise click to it and also features increased back-play that doesn’t inspire confidence. The unit I have here was also misaligned, which was a shame on a watch that otherwise feels very premium for the low cost.
Still, should you land on a unit that avoids this issue, you’ll be met with a glorious dial that features a beautiful sunburst effect and a selection of applied markers that are probably the best looking on this list. I also really enjoy the handset, which includes a sharp pointed second hand and a bold arrow hour hand that make the watch look piercing and aggressive. A bit like a shark or something.
This is my favourite looking watch on the list and in the hands, it certainly feels like a more premium piece. I really appreciate the original design, so I’m frustrated that the Kamasu doesn’t fit me, or I’d be keeping it.
One dive watch that does fit me is the Vostok Amphibia. This whacky Russian brand pumps out some of the most unusual wristwatches on the market. With origins dating back to World War 2, it’s unsurprising that this brand has a reputation for pumping out some of the most rugged, yet dirt-cheap divers on the planet.
While there is an infinite number of these Eastern Bloc babies available, the most popular budget options normally fall under the ‘Amphibia’ and ‘Komandirskie’ ranges. Typically, the Amphibia watches are their diving models, as the name would suggest. These were developed in the 1960s, using the lessons learned from the earlier Komandirskie army watches to expand the water-resistance to 200m.
These days, the range names are used more interchangeably; for example, last year I covered a Komandirskie branded 200m dive watch, which was somewhat of a homage to the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms diver.
The one I’m featuring in this post is the famous Amphibia, which comes in all sorts of colours and in a variety of mod-able cases. This turquoise ‘scuba dude’ option is one of the most popular and features many of the unusual features that Vostok are known for.
First up is the famous wobbly crown. When unscrewed, this flops about, almost looking like it has broken; though is supposedly a design choice. This is marketed as being able to better withstand impacts, to avoid damaging the movement within.
It also has the free-rotating bidirectional click-less bezel, which is very unusual and not the most useful in real diving situations. Whether this tightens underwater, I wouldn’t know, as I can’t test it. Supposedly, you can remove these and tighten them, but I’m not enough of an accomplished modder to try it.
Due to the low production costs, the case unsurprisingly has very basic finishing, with a fully polished look, aside from the case rear. This is carried onto the bracelet too, which feels and looks awful.
Why would you ever buy one of these then? How have they made the list?
Well, not only do they have a very distinct look, but these watches are known to have some of the best seals on the market. Someone on the TZ-UK forums decided to test a Vostok Amphibia in a pressure tester and cranked the machine up to 40bar without any seepage or damage to speak of. I doubt any other watch on this list could thrive in such an extreme environment.
While they may have skimped on the finishing, Vostok sure didn’t when it comes to pure functionality, hence the inclusion here. It’s also worth pointing out that because of the extremely short lug to lug length, this model fits skinny wrists particularly well; something that I can’t say with most dive watches on the market.
If you can put up with some sloppy cosmetic quality control, you can grab a great performer for a very low price indeed.