As smartwatches continue to grow more sophisticated and add more features, one of the most impressive applications they’ve been able to take on is diving.
Why? The most obvious answer to that question is the required feature set, i.e., the ability to work underwater at serious depth levels, not to mention supplying divers with the information they want.
They’re looking for a high-end product that can deliver the goods when it comes to clean readings and accuracy, which isn’t an easy combination for a smartwatch company to pull off at all.
But it can be done, and with aplomb at that. Dive watches are expensive items, but dedicated divers are willing to pay for what they want and need, so let’s take a closer look at how it all works and answer the most important questions: What are the best dive watches for under $2K?
Table of Contents
Essential Dive Watch Features
We’ll start with the basics. What makes a good dive watch, and what are the features that divers absolutely have to have?
This is the sexiest feature that every serious diver looks at first, and in some cases it has a great deal of meaning. The basic benchmark for a good dive watch is water resistant to 200-300 meters, but some watches — including one reviewed here — are resistant to 1000 meters.
Even the best technical is useless at depth unless you can access the information, so the display matters. You may find little quirks here and there, but to be a real dive watch, a high quality display is essential.
Look and Feel
Paying up to $2K for a watch that provides nothing but diving info is a bit of a bite for all but the most dedicated divers, so many of these watches double as status jewelry. It’s a luxury product that screams “rugged and adventurous,” which is why many casual divers remain eager to pay the extra freight it takes to sport one.
It almost goes without saying, but having a dive watch freeze up at serious depth is not a good thing at all. Many of the best dive watches are battle-tested, both literally and figuratively, and they’ve shown the ability to keep working under some of the toughest circumstances imaginable.
The Top 3
Best Overall: Tag Heuer BA0843
This is the company that sent its watches into space, and they’re used at F1 race, too, for precision measurements. You’ll see them at formal events as well, so to say they offer the best of both worlds is both accurate and a bit of an understatement. (Best Overall)
Best for Diving: Oris Divers Sixty-Five 73377204055MB
The diver’s diving watch. This company has been in the underwater watch business for a long time, and divers swear by them.
Best Value for the Money: Citizen Eco-Drive BJ8050-08E
It’s hard to leave a watch that provides reliability to 300 meters off any top three list, especially at such a low price. While Citizen is not as well-known as some of the luxury watches, their reputation is still strong.
Nine Dive Watches for Under $2000
Davosa Ternos Professional GMT
Longtime watch lovers of all stripes will doubtless recognize the Davosa name. The company’s been making high-end precision time pieces for decades, but their price points also uncut a lot of other luxury watch sellers.
Davosa has also done and excellent job of tailoring the Davosa Swiss product line for divers. The one represented here is the Davosa Ternos Professional GMT, but there are actually seven watches to choose from, and they all offer a slightly different take on what divers want.
The general outline includes an attractively rugged look, excellent visibility, the ability to handle a wide array of depth requirements, and some stylistic variations that aren’t typically offered in diving watches.
Some models also include an Auto Helium Escape Valve for commercial divers, and they’re designed to be worn with a wet suit. The Davosa Swiss product line is also versatile; these watches can handle scuba diving, snorkeling, and just about any other marine activity you can think imagine or do.
Seiko PROSPEX 3rd Gen “Sumo”
The “Sumo” is sold under the Seiko brand, which may not inspire confidence among those old enough to remember Seiko’s history as a discount watch seller that occasionally put some shoddy products on the market.
This particular watch may erase those memories, though. The case diameter of 45 mm is excellent, and the accuracy of the automatic movement is unquestioned.
The sapphire crystal dial window prevents scratches, and you can wear the PROSPEX 3rd Gen “Sumo” to a depth of 200 meters with confidence.
However, there is one sticking point. The straps and bands for some of these watches have drawn complaints that include buckles coming loose and bands that stick to the skin to the point of irritation. At this price point, those things simply shouldn’t happen.
Tag Heuer BA0843
Like Davosa, Tag Hever has been in the watch making game for a long time, and they’re considered an innovator when incomes to advanced sports timing measurements. Tag Heuer also made the first Swiss watch to make they journey into space, and the watch that’s represented here is the Tag Heuer Men’s Formula 1 Swiss Quartz Stainless Steel, which tells you all you need to know about what the auto racing community thinks of their products.
Given all that, it’s not exactly surprising that they can handle the diving game, too. These watches—there are several variations—are water resistant down to 300 meters, and they can be used for just about any sport.
Moreover, they’re attractive enough that you can shift gears and add them in with a formal suit or even a tux, so if that kind James Bond versatility is important to you, you should definitely put Tag Heuer on your shopping list.
One minor quibble—you will need to wind the watch manually if you go a couple of days without using it, which is old-school in a not so attractive way.
Oris Divers Heritage Sixty-Five 73377204055MB
Veteran divers will instantly recognize the Oris name, and divers of all experience levels should definitely put this company on their shopping list.
The Heritage part of the name refers to the fact that Oris is a veteran when it comes to designing diving watches, and they’ve capitalized by emphasizing the vintage aspect of their rep in the Divers 65.
The crystals are heavy but still easy to read, but don’t be completely fooled by the vintage aspect—these watches have modern materials that perform in a way that stands up to the best choices on the market.
There are handsets that complement the high-level performance, and the precision hand movement gives you fantastic accuracy, too.
Citizen Eco-Drive BJ8050-08E
Citizen is a well-known name in the diving community, and this watch is no slouch as it can handle a depth of 300 meters. They’ve also been innovators, having made the first solar-powered watch back in 2017, so they’re not afraid to push the envelope with it comes to cutting edge tech.
This watch is definitely a hardcore diving watch for the price. It can handle serious depth and pressure conditions, and can accurately measure elapsed time under water.
It may not be designed to shift over and be worn with a suit or tux, but Citizen has over-engineered its watches with safety in mind, and the fact that you can find them for such a low price is a major selling point if you’re looking for a diving-specific watch.
Hamilton H78585333 Khaki
Hamilton is a familiar name for watch shoppers, and its hard not to be impressed by the fact that this watch can perform down to 1000 meters.
This watch is designed to meet military specs, but is more comfortable and less clunky than many military-style watches. It’s got a great feature set that includes a sapphire crystal, an automatic helium release valve, and options for both straps and bracelets.
The hand placement and style may be a little awkward for some divers, and other users have reported issues with the sharp edges on the steel watches. They’re also a little pricey for those looking for some style features, so think accordingly if you fall into that category.
Garmin Descent Mk1
As the brand name suggests, this is a genuine smartwatch with fitness features that extend well beyond diving applications. The fancier features include a compass, a gyroscope and a barometric altimeter, and you can measure things like heart rate along with the underwater pressure.
It’s not a seamless effort straddle the diving and fitness line, however. The Descent has been known to restart and freeze during use, which may be a big black mark for serious divers.
Like Garmin, Suunto has cuts its teeth in the smartwatch world, and Suunto watches have an excellent reputation among those who basically live for outdoor activities, cyclists especially.
That means you’ll get an excellent array of combination features that includes a heart rate monitor, a stepper function and the ability to measure water pressure.
For serious divers, though, the water resistance to 200 meters may not be enough, and the lack of GPS capability may be off-putting for some smartwatch fans. Compromises inevitably occur when you try to be all things to all people, and you’ll find a few here.
Shearwater Research Perdix AI
The fact that this watch is labeled as a dive computer should tell you all you need to know about the target audience. It has plenty of extras for divers looking for tech measurements, but it’s attractive enough to be worn in both casual and formal settings.
Given the intended function, the compromise here is the screen size, i.e., you can’t always get all you want when it comes to measurements displayed. This is a good watch for the tech crowd, but keep the computer vs smartwatch compromises in mind.