Hundreds of lists are hyping the best dive watch under $300. I am adding another to the pile, but my list is different because I actually own or have owned every watch on this list! Take some advice from a guy with real-world experience with the watches he is recommending.
Why Under $300?
If you are going to spend around $300 on an automatic dive watch, you are right at the sweet spot for value, quality, and good looks. You can even get a few watches with some history behind them. And really, after the $300 mark, you are buying more prominent names and fancier watches, but not always a better watch.
One note about my choices is that I decided to stick to only one watch per brand. It was tough, but if you start hunting around, you will see that Orient and Seiko have several models that will fit the bill. I thought it would be more fun to limit the choices.
My Top Picks For The Best Automatic Dive Watches Under $300
The king of all value divers has to be the Orient Kamasu, there are a few under the Mako name, but I have to throw down the gauntlet for the best one with the Orient Kamasu (my first choice would be the Mako USA, but it’s out of stock all over).
Of all the major watch brands, orient is the king of value while still having some legit history behind the brand. You can be proud to wear and number or orient watches on you wrist.
The watch has a 41.8mm stainless steel case with a unidirectional rotating bezel and a screw-down crown. It also features a sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating, providing excellent durability and scratch resistance.
The black dial on the Kamasu is clean and easy to read. The hour markers and hands have a nice touch of lume, so you can see the time even in the dark. The red-tipped second hand adds a bit of color to the design, which I think looks great.
One thing I appreciate about the Kamasu is the 200-meter water resistance. I’m not a serious diver, but it’s nice to know the watch can handle getting wet without any issues. The unidirectional bezel is also useful for timing things, even if you’re not diving.
Inside the watch is Orient’s in-house caliber F6922 automatic movement, which has a power reserve of up to 40 hours. The movement features hacking and hand-winding functions and is fairly accurate with a +/- 20 seconds a day range.
The stainless steel bracelet is comfortable and has a secure clasp. It might not be the highest quality bracelet, but it’s good enough for the price. You can also swap it out for a different strap if you want to change the look. If you want to really up the ante here get yourself a StrapeCode aftermarket bracelet.
The Kamasu has a clean and attractive design. You can pick up other models with a sunburst dial and in other colors, including blue, black, green, and orange. I like the new vintage styled ones recently released.
Aquatico Ocean Star
I recently got the Aquatico Ocean Star with a beautiful green dial, and I think I have fallen in love with another watch. This timepiece is visually striking and offers a reliable performance that has exceeded my expectations. Here are some of the standout features that make this watch fantastic and why I love it.
First and foremost, the green sunburst dial is truly stunning. The way it catches and plays with light adds a unique, dynamic element that sets this watch apart from others. Paired with the brushed stainless steel case and bracelet, the Aquatico Ocean Star offers a captivating balance of elegance and modernity.
The watch’s performance is equally impressive. It’s powered by a reliable Seiko NH35 automatic movement, ensuring accurate timekeeping and reliability. The 300-meter water resistance is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or recreational diving, making this timepiece a versatile choice for various occasions and activities.
Legibility is essential for any good watch, and the Aquatico Green Dial Watch does not disappoint. The applied indices and hands feature Super-LumiNova, providing excellent visibility in low-light conditions. The sapphire crystal offers a clear view of the dial and provides superior scratch resistance, ensuring the watch stays pristine.
Long Island Watch ISL-01
I own no less than eight Islander watches, and they have to be one of the best all-around values out there. In recent years, Marc, the owner, has expanded his line to include some really cool original designs.
The ISL-01 was their take on what the Seiko SKX should have been, sapphire crystal, a better bracelet, and a hacking movement. The Islander takes it a step further in improving the beloved SKX with a ceramic bezel insert and applied markers. The watch has several color options and they are all our beauties.
I will note here that the only weak spot is the bracelets. Every Islander I have ever bought has bracelet issues with the screws being stripped or nearly impossible to remove. Marc was always very responsive and has excellent customer service.
The Fluess will always be special to me as it was one of the first “nice” automatic watches I ever bought. This was back when Spinnaker sent many watches to influencers on Instagram. I earned a few with my account, but now they pretty much shun influencers. I wasn’t going to put them on the list because I’m still bent out of shape about how they treated me when I wouldn’t post a pink dial watch. But to be fair, the Fluess is really a freaking awesome watch.
The Fluess is a vintage-inspired dive watch that captures the essence of maritime adventures and pays homage to the classic diving timepieces of the past, such as the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. The Fluess has a distinct design, and Spinnaker definitely paid attention to detail. The Fluess delivers a perfect blend of style, functionality, and durability for those seeking an affordable yet high-quality dive watch.
I have one complaint: the bracelet is subpar, very jangly, and their pin system is on the weak side. This was true on the second Fluess I bought in 2021 and a few other Spinnakers I have. But, at sub $300, it’s going to be tough to find an excellent bracelet.
Seiko 5 SRPD51
The SKX reissues have irked some Seiko fanboys, me included, but they are a good value and after all it’s a Seiko. I am talked at length how I’m irritated that it dosen’t have a screw down crown, but let;s get over that just for a minute.
The design of the SRPD51 is classic and understated, with a clean blue dial and silver-tone hands and markers. The day and date function is helpful for everyday use, and the watch is easy to read at a glance.
One of the best things about the Seiko 5 SRPD51 is the automatic movement. It’s not the most accurate movement out there, but it’s reliable and trouble free. The 4R36 movement is known for being robust, which is great for a watch that gets worn every day.
The Hardlex crystal on the SRPD51 might not be as scratch-resistant as sapphire, but it’s still pretty durable. I haven’t had any issues with it so far, and it’s held up well to daily wear.
The stainless steel bracelet is comfortable and looks nice with the watch. It’s not the highest quality bracelet, but it’s decent for the price. There are a ton of aftermarket bracelets out there. Any watch part or modding kit that fit a SKX will for this watch, including bezel inserts, crystal, hands, etc.
Overall, I think the Seiko 5 SRPD51 is a solid choice for anyone looking for a reliable and classic everyday watch. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done and looks good doing it.
The watch has a 100-meter water resistance, which is enough for splashes and light swimming. It’s not meant for diving, but it’s nice to know that it can handle a bit of water.
If you want a super solid watch that will impress you then the Proteus is what you need. I am linking to the green dial version because my black meteorite dial is no longer available.
The Proteus features a striking green dial with bold, easy-to-read indices and hands. The contrast between the green dial and the white markings ensures excellent legibility in various lighting conditions. The use of Super-LumiNova on the markers and hands further enhances visibility in low light, making it a practical choice for daily wear, adventures, and diving.
At the heart of the watch is the reliable Seiko NH35A automatic movement. This movement is known for its durability and consistent performance, making it an ideal choice for an affordable dive watch. While it may not be the most accurate movement available, it provides a reliable timekeeping experience for most users.
The Phoibos Proteus offers a stylish design, reliable performance, and key dive watch features, all at an affordable price. Grab one while you can, as Phoibos often refreshes it’s models or brings out new watches and doesn’t make second batches of older models, kind of like Zelos.
When you delve into the more budget-friendly area of $300 and below, you start to get into heavy homage and knock-off models. That may bug you, but if you want a decent watch, you should het over it.
Why do I say that? Because the AD2102 is what happens if a Seiko Sumo and Save The Ocean Seiko Samauri had a baby. I actually like it, and the watch looks pretty good. The bracelet is OK, and the watch has all the specs of a model costing twice as much.
I absolutely love my Seiko Sumo! It took a long time to save up for it. Start here if you want the Sumo look and feel at half the cost.
I reviewed the ADDIESDIVE “Williard: here and was impressed enough to buy another ADDIESDIVE.
The Pantor Nautilus is a straightforward dive watch with a unique look and reliable features at an affordable price. The Nautilus stands out with its distinctive aesthetics and reliable performance, all powered by a Seiko NH35.
This is really a stand-out watch for the money; not only do you get a Seiko movement, it’s got a sapphire crystal, screw-down crown, and case back, and the dial markers are coated with Swiss Super LumiNova.
The one negative here is the 24 MM lugs. I don’t understand why these brands do stupid stuff like that. They look fine, but it does make buying additional straps a pain because of the weird size.
Invicta Pro Diver
Yes, I included an Invicta, if you don’t like it get your own watch blog. You can hate on Invicta all you want, but this watch is inexpensive, has a Seiko movement, and really doesn’t look all that bad. I swapped the crystal on mine to get rid of the ugly cyclops.
The Invicta Pro Diver closely resembles the iconic Rolex Submariner, which can lead some watch enthusiasts to view it as a “copycat” or “homage” watch. This similarity may be seen as lacking originality and creativity, which can be a point of contention for some collectors. Remember what I always say, 99% of the people in the world have no idea what watch you are wearing, so the only haters are other watch snobs.
Despite these criticisms, the Invicta Pro Diver has many fans who appreciate its affordability, classic design, and solid performance.
Pagani Design 1671
Don’t hate me because I included a Pagani! As I said above, nobody knows what’s on your wrist. I bought this because I had my heart set on a Black Bay 58 for several years. I wanted to know if I made the extra effort to save and sell off my toys that I would love the Black Bay. Buying the Pagani homage gave me an extended chance to wear the watch and solidify that I indeed wanted a Black Bay. Homages are great for this.
The Pagani Design 1671 is a budget-friendly dive watch that has a design inspired by a well-known Tudor. Although it’s less high-quality than luxury brands, it offers some decent features for its price. The funny thing is the bracelet is better than what comes on the Spinnaker.
Overall, the watch has excellent lume, the fit and finish are well above the $135 you will spend, and it’s got a hacking Seiko movement inside. You get a lot of watch for the money. While not as well-established or prestigious as some micro-brand watchmakers, Pagani Design has gained a following among budget-conscious watch enthusiasts who appreciate its value and style.
Vostok Amphibia 710
For what’s it worth, I bought this well before Russia invaded Ukraine. The Vostok Amphibia 710, also known as the “Scuba Dude,” is a unique and affordable dive watch with a rich history. While it’s true that some individuals may have concerns about purchasing a Russian product due to political reasons, it’s important to assess the watch on its own merits and consider its features and performance.
Vostok has a long history of producing reliable watches for the Soviet military, including watches designed for naval divers. The Amphibia line, introduced in the 1960s, has a reputation for its innovative engineering solutions specifically designed to withstand the pressure of deep-sea diving. They build better watches than reactors.
The watch is powered by a Vostok in-house automatic movement, which has a reputation for being robust and easy to maintain. While the movement may not be as accurate as its Swiss or Japanese counterparts, it is known for its durability.
If you appreciate the Vostok Amphibia 710’s unique design, historical significance, and affordable price, it could still be a worthwhile addition to your watch collection despite any reservations about its country of origin.
The $300 Price point Is A Good Place To Start Your Watch Habit
When shopping around for the best budget automatic dive watch, I would recommend looking at reviews from other people who have purchased the same model. It’s also worth checking if any warranties are available on the product before making a purchase. This can provide extra peace of mind knowing that if something goes wrong with your watch then it is covered by the manufacturer’s guarantee.
Let’s Talk About Cheap Automatic Dive Watches
It’s no secret that dive watches are a serious investment. With prices ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when choosing the perfect timepiece for your needs. But it doesn’t have to be this way – there are plenty of automatic dive watches out there that won’t break the bank. It was harder than I thought because prices have gone up so much, but I think I listed some of the best budget automatic dive watches and how you can find one that fits your lifestyle and budget.
Definition Of An Automatic Dive Watch
An automatic dive watch is a type of timepiece that is designed for use underwater. It typically has a water-resistant case, luminous hands and markers, and a uni-directional bezel to measure elapsed dive time. These watches are powered by an automatic movement, meaning the wearer does not need to manually wind the watch. Instead, the motion of the wearer’s arm serves as an energy source for the mechanism.
Automatic dive watches are distinguished from quartz watches in that they have more intricate mechanisms and require less frequent battery replacements. Additionally, they tend to be more reliable and accurate over a longer period of time than quartz watches. They also come with various additional features such as helium escape valves or pressure gauges that enable them to operate at deeper depths than other types of timepieces.
What Is The Difference Between A Quartz And An Automatic Watch?
When it comes to watches, there are two types of mechanisms that power the timepiece: quartz and automatic. Both have their differences, making them suitable for different needs. Let’s take a look at what sets them apart.
Quartz watches are powered by a battery and usually offer more precise timekeeping than an automatic watch. They don’t need to be wound up, so they can be very convenient for everyday use. On the downside, quartz watches tend to cost less than their automatic counterparts.
In contrast, an automatic watch is powered by a mainspring that winds up as you move your arm throughout the day – this is referred to as “self-winding”. These watches offer good precision when kept in motion but require regular winding if left still for extended periods of time. Automatic watches tend to be more expensive than quartz options due to the complexity of the movement inside them.
No matter which one you choose, both quartz and automatic watches can make great additions to any wardrobe or collection. While quartz may provide convenience, an automatic watch offers a classic way to tell time while also providing sophistication and style. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on personal preference and budget.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights, and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his client’s websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.