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ROLEX BLOG

The Best Dive Watches You Can Buy for Under $5k

December 18, 2020

BY Paul Altieri

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Although having a budget can feel like a weight around your neck, it can actually be pretty good fun trawling through pages of online listings, searching for you perfect wrist-bound companion that ticks all your boxes, including price. Luckily, we have plenty of luxury dive watches at many different price points and tailored for all wallets.

But what if you came here looking for a Rolex Submariner and realized it is out of your current price range? No problem. The Submariner is famous and revered because it is perhaps the archetypal dive watch. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only dive watch. We have lots of different options from similarly well-known brands that might pique your interest. So here’s our top five pics for under five thousand dollars.

Panerai Luminor Marina PAM005

Best Dive Watches Under 5k Panerai Luminor Marina

Luminor Marina PAM 005 Features:

Case Size: 44mm

 Materials: Stainless Steel

Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds

Dial: Black w/ Luminous Hour Markers

Bezel: Fixed. Stainless Steel, Smooth Style

Crystal: Sapphire (Domed)

Movement: Caliber OP II

Water Resistance: 300 Meters / 1,000 Feet

Strap/Bracelet: Leather Strap

Click here for our Ultimate Buying Guide on the Panerai Luminor.

Panerai Luminor

This one sneaks inside the$5k bracket. And while it may be the most expensive on this list, you certainly get a lot of watch for your money. Panerai is known for its frankly enormous cases and clean, clear, legible dials. This one has the Officine Panerai OP logo between six and center, and while some Paneristi (the name given to lovers of Panerai watches) might actively eliminate OP dials from their search lists, the OP logo brings a bit of character to an otherwise rather minimalist watch.

It is part of the Luminor collection, which followed the vastly successful and perhaps even more iconic Radiomir collection. Both models are named after the luminous compounds on the dials. The original Radiomir models used radioactive radium and the Luminor models use a special compound with the same name created by Panerai that was activated by tritium.

By many standards, this Luminor Marina is not a dive watch (it has no rotating timing bezel, which is a requirement of ISO 6425, the agreed-upon checklist that must be met for a watch to be certified as suitable for use while diving). However, this company’s history of marine activity and naval service is indisputable. Real-world frogmen used Panerai for decades and the brand’s pedigree is the stuff of legend. Why let ISO 6425 spoil your fun? If you want a watch that recalls the charm and romance of life beneath the waves, but you have no intention of living down there yourself, this could be the watch for you.

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Chronograph

Best Dive Watches Under 5k Omega Seamaster Diver 300M

Seamaster Diver 300M Chronograph Features:

Case Size: 44mm

 Materials: Stainless Steel

Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, 12-Hour Chronograph

Dial: Blue or Black w/ Luminous Hour Markers

Bezel: Unidirectional. Ceramic Insert w/ 60-Minute Scale

Crystal: Sapphire (Domed)

Movement: Caliber 3330

Water Resistance: 300 Meters / 1,000 Feet

Strap/Bracelet: Stainless Steel Bracelet

Click here for our Ultimate Buying Guide on the Omega Seamaster.

Omega Seamaster

A few years ago, Omega released a wave of Seamaster watches with plain, gloss ceramic dials. However, they were not the prime focus of the long-established family for long. The current iteration of the Seamaster Diver 300M swept into town in 2018 and completely stole the show with updated movements, an etched wave pattern on the dial, a conical helium valve, and overall perceived superiority. But here’s the thing: those gloss ceramic dials were criminally underrated. They hung around for just a couple of years, and yet the look is an enduring one.

One area of the catalog that got even less attention was the Seamaster Co-Axial Chronograph line powered by the Caliber 3330. The blue gloss ceramic dial (and bezel insert) version from this era is an absolute under-the-radar show-stopper in the sub-$5k range. In fact, it is astonishing that you can pick one up for anywhere near five thousand, let alone for around $1.5k under the top end.

For the money, you get a 44mm dive-timer with a chronograph function neatly picked out by Ferrari red hands. If you thought the plain dials didn’t get the respect they deserved at the time, take another look at this chronograph and marvel at the fact that it can be had (New/Unworn) for less than the price of the modern  Seamaster Diver, which itself is regarded as one of the industry’s best bargains hiding in plain sight.

Breitling Superocean Heritage 42

Best Dive Watches Under 5k Breitling Superocean Heritage

Superocean Heritage 42 Key Features:

Case Size: 42mm

 Materials: Stainless Steel

Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display

Dial: Black or Blue w/ Luminous Hour Markers

Bezel: Unidirectional. Aluminum Insert w/ 12 Markers

Crystal: Sapphire (Cambered)

Movement: Caliber 17

Water Resistance: 200 Meters / 660 Feet

Strap/Bracelet: Steel Bracelet (Rubber Strap Available)

Click here for our Ultimate Buying Guide on the Breitling Superocean. 

Breitling Superocean

2020 saw the release of the Breitling Superocean Heritage ‘57 and it was a barnstorming success. That model was based on an oddball “diver” from the late fifties that sported a concave bezel and a pathetic water resistance. The Superocean Heritage We’ve picked out here has excellent water resistance. In fact, with this versatile and vintage inspired beauty, you can go down as far as 200m without worrying about your watch.

There’s a lot to like about this 42mm piece beyond its amazing price tag of just over $3k. The release of its slick younger/older brother has drawn some of the attention away from this “beach-to-boardroom” beater that is enviably chameleonic. That’s a good thing if you’ve had your eye on it for a while. Now, as those susceptible to recency bias gravitate towards the Heritage ’57 and maybe even offload these Superocean Heritage 42 models, you have the chance to strike.

The Breitling Superocean Heritage 42 is an impressive piece. It seems to fit both with the idea of the old Breitling and also with the notion of the new Breitling brand. This model could easily stand side-by-side with the older, glitzy Navitimer and Chronomats watches or even a Breitling for Bentley. Similarly, it looks just fine within the modern Superocean range and the more pared-back, heritage-inspired era through which we’re living.

When you get the chance to analyze a watch during an obvious stylistic transition, it gives you a chance to assess how likely its design is trend-proof. Our feelings are that the Breitling Superocean Heritage 42 passes that test with flying colors.

Oris Divers Sixty-Five

Best Dive Watches Under 5k Oris Divers Sixty-Five

Divers Sixty-Five Key Features:

Case Size: 42mm (36mm and 40mm Available)

 Materials: Stainless Steel

Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display

Dial: Multiple Options Available

Bezel: Unidirectional. Aluminum Insert w/ 60-Minute Scale

Crystal: Sapphire (Domed)

Movement: Caliber 733

Water Resistance: 100 Meters / 330 Feet

Strap/Bracelet: Steel Bracelet (Leather, Canvas, and Rubber Straps Available)

Click here for our Ultimate Buying Guide on the Oris Divers Sixty-Five.

Oris Divers Sixty Five

Even though this watch is also 42mm (although both 36mm and 40mm sizes are also available from the brand), the Oris Divers Sixty-Five wears a lot smaller than the other 42mm models on this list. It is a relatively subtle choice that works just as well on a strap (leather or rubber) as it does on the supplied metal bracelet.

The dark green dial is a treat under natural and artificial light and presents a fantastic yet seldom-seen base from which you can assemble pretty much any outfit you please. This watch is sleek enough to work with cuffs and robust enough to hang with shorts.

While some see the Oris Divers Sixty-Five range as too modest compared to other dive watches, this kind of modesty results in longevity. Tastefulness never goes out of style, and what we have here is one of the most self-confident, relaxed, and ready-to-rock divers on the market. And best of all, with prices significantly below $2k on the open market, the Divers Sixty-Five comes in well under budget.

Tudor Black Bay

Best Dive Watches Under 5k Tudor Black Bay

Black Bay Key Features:

Case Size: 41mm

 Materials: Stainless Steel

Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds

Dial: Black w/ Luminous Hour Markers

Bezel: Unidirectional. Aluminum Insert w/ 60-Minute Scale

Crystal: Sapphire (Domed)

Movement: Caliber MT5602

Water Resistance: 200 Meters / 660 Feet

Strap/Bracelet: Steel Bracelet (Leather and Canvas Straps Available)

Click here for our Ultimate Buying Guide on the Tudor Black Bay.

Tudor Black Bay

The Tudor Heritage Black Bay is an incredibly popular watch in all of its various colors and configurations. Between its rock-solid construction and vintage-inspired design, its easy to see why the Black Bay has been such a success  for the brand – there is simply a lot to love here. However, perhaps the best thing about this watch is that it’s available.

Unlike the famous dive watches from its big brother (Rolex), Tudor has been able to manage the demand for its watches relatively well. However, this summer’s release of the Black Bay 58 in blue presented Tudor with such a rush of orders that the brand has been forced to put willing purchasers on the waiting list. Even still, the price premiums on the secondary market for Tudor Black Bay watches aren’t nearly as steep, so the collection as a whole is significantly more attainable, and readily available for under $5k.

With an in-house, chronometer-certified movement and a design that consists of a number of different successful design elements from Tudor’s past, the Black Bay collection offers users a lot of value for the money. Although Rolex and Tudor are, when it comes to manufacturing facilities, totally distinct entities, it would be mad to assume that the invaluable know-how accrued by Rolex throughout its existence isn’t available to Tudor in one form or another. As such, this Black Bay is not just a looker, but no doubt a watch whose quality far outweighs its price tag.

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