A friend asked me to recommend a watch for her significant other. Christmas is coming and she wanted to get him something special. This is the sort of question watch nerds live for, so I jumped at the chance. I asked what kind of watch he liked and she sent me link to a large diver's watch made by a certain high-volume, Florida based brand. She thought I could come up with something that would be a better value for the money. Value for the money? Hell, that's why The Time Bum exists! My marching orders were to select a big, bold, diver's style watch with a steel bracelet. Ideally, it would be between $300-700 with at least 100m water resistance, a sapphire crystal, and a durable movement. Here are my choices for her, and for you my dear readers, for all those affordable dive watch enthusiasts on your list. Enjoy!
DeepBlueWatches.com does some nice diver's watches at good prices and they tend to be on the big side at 44-48mm wide. They offer both quartz and automatic movements. I dig my quartz Sea Ram, but my current favorite has got to be the new Deep Star 1000. It is a real looker with Miyota 9015 mechanical movement inside. The full price is $665 but you can get 40% off right now with code FORTY.
Seiko diver's watches are among the best in the world. I reviewed a Seiko Prospex SUN019 last year and absolutely loved it. This 200m brute has a Kinetic movement that uses a swinging rotor to charge a battery, which is a very cool combination of the two technologies. It's a big sucker too - over 47mm wide. They are all over Amazon for about $550. Really, you can't go wrong with a Seiko.
Hagerwatches.com makes some amazing watches for the price. The Hager Commando series I reviewed is a great value with top notch construction and materials, a modified ETA 2824 automatic, and has the added bonus of being assembled in good old, crab-lovin' Maryland. It is 42mm, which is a good size without being over the top. I particularly dig the midnight blue dial. It is a relatively conservative design but undeniably sharp and smart enough to wear with a suit. They start at $600.
ArmidaWatches.com in Hong Kong does great affordable divers. I own an A6 and have reviewed the A8 brass case, which is one of the only watches my wife has actually complemented me on. It is 43mm across the bezel, runs a Seiko NH35 automatic, and is rated for 300m. The brass is something different as you can polish it to keep it bright or let it tarnish to develop a brown patina over time. They have 15% sale through 12/20.
Singapore's ZelosWatches.com offers the nifty Helmsman – like this stainless and silver-grey model I reviewed. The channeled case sides, multi-layer dial, and dual-crown design create a distinctive package that houses a Miyota 9015 automatic movement. It measures 43mm wide and is rated for 100m. Prices start at $490.
BorealisWatch.com from Portugal does a range of very cool divers and sport watches. I have the Scout Sniper, a tough, 44mm watch with a Seiko mechanical movement for just $300, which is a steal for this rugged, 300m, military style diver. Tritium tubes offer the added benefit of a decades-long glow for excellent nighttime visibility. I wear mine on the steel bracelet and have no qualms wearing it on weekend adventures with jeans and a t-shirt or to the office with a suit and tie. An excellent all-a-rounder for very little money.
For those looking for a bit more flair, I'd suggest LewandHuey.com. Their Seiko-powered, 42mm Orthos is slick dress-diver with all the specs you want from a 300m tool watch, along with a refreshing sense of fun. I just wore mine out to a fancy dinner, delighting in the fact that the red sun ray dial matched my tie, cufflinks, and socks. You can buy more sedate color combinations too, but life is short. Live a little! You can get one now for $450.
Finally, AnsteadWatches.com makes the Oceanis for $650. I have the first version of this watch and it has become one of my all time favorites. Like the original, the new Oceanis has a 44mm case, 300m water resistance, and a neatly configured dial. Version 2.0 has been slightly upgraded with a cog-tooth bezel, stainless steel bracelet, and a high-beat Miyota 9015.