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Affordable 1000M Divers - The Best Deep Dive Watches

Posted on September 23 2020

Over-sized and over-engineered. That would be a fair assessment of divers watches rated to 1000M water resistance. Like mechanical chronographs, you’re probably unlikely to use the technology. Again, like the chronographs, you would be missing the point if you judged these watches on the daily use of their features.

We don’t buy analogue, and often mechanical watches, because we expect to use all their features. Our phones have replaced our watches if we were to judge them on accuracy and range of functions.

That’s not why we buy and wear watches.

We like watches because of the design, the brand’s story, the workmanship and importantly, the technology. These factors are all interlinked. The history may influence the companies ethos, or in this case, the functionality influences the design.

We like that the watches can go to 1000M, even though we may have no intention of taking the watch on a deep dive. What also appeals to us is the way the watch has been built in order to withstand watch pressure at these depths. The technology and build quality interests us, as do the designs that incorporate the thick glass, robust case and screw-down crown. At these depths there’s even the common inclusion of a helium release valve - a feature we’d not see at all if we didn’t pick up a deep diver.

Those are the two main aspects that I want to tease out in this list. The watches on this list have been built to a high specification in order to function in these depths. Their designs have all been influenced in some way by the technology needed to achieve this - often producing heavy, brutal styling.

Crucially, I’m always interested in watches that are realistic purchases, so I’ve hunted out the most affordable examples. There's an expected overlap with these models - they share very similar specifications and movements. It's the nature of ten watches all being designed to perform the same function at a similar price-point. But still, there's still a fair degree of variety, and remember, most models are available in different colour and strap variations.

 

Pantor Seahorse 1000M Watch

 

Hong Kong based Pantor has carved out a niche producing rugged dive watches, with a hint of vintage-styling. Their range is all powered by reliable Japanese movements and the watches are substantial builds.

The 1000M Seahorse is no exception.

It’s a relatively straight forward design, with an emphasis on the small details and the specs. So there’s nothing unique in the dial layout - but it’s legible and clear, illuminated by superluminova.

As I mentioned, 1000M divers are often beasts and the Seahorse is 45mm by 16mm thick. With the 24mm bracelet that makes for a reasonably big watch. There’s a helium escape value subtly placed on the case at 9 o’clock. Pantor has opted for a Japanese Miyota automatic movement.

  • Pantor Seahorse 1000M
  • 45mm Diameter
  • 16mm Thick
  • 24mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Miyota 9015 automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 1000M Water Resistance

 

MWC Depthmaster Automatic Watch

 

MWC stands for Military Watch Company. As Authorised Dealers, we’re a little biased towards this Swiss brand. They’re primarily known for producing classic military watches, from the British Army G10 to their remakes of US watches from the Vietnam era (more here).

The Depthmaster is a more recent offering and part of their extensive Divers range. This particular variant is at the top of the specs they produce. It has the 1000M water resistance and a helium escape valve, the type used on watches provided to saturation divers.

The case is thick and heavy. The depth is 18mm and the width 44mm. Like most MWC watches this model is delivered with an easily replaceable canvas Nato strap and like all their automatics, is powered by Seiko’s NH35A movement. The ceramic bezel is a nice touch, as is the neat date window at 4 o’clock.

  • MWC Depthmaster 100ATM/12/SS/AUT
  • 44mm Diameter
  • 15mm Thick
  • 24mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel Case
  • Seiko NH35A Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 1000M Water Resistance

 

Zelos Abyss 3 3000M Watch

 

The first thing you’ll notice about this piece is that it has the ridiculous water resistance of 3000M. This is by far the best water resistance that you’ll never need. But Zelos are that type of company. They experiment and play around with watch design - making use of bronze and titanium cases for example.

Founded in 2014 by Elshan Tang, this Singapore based microrand has gained a cult following. It’s watches like the Abyss that have gained the brand such positive feedback. Although it’s a thick 18.5mm, the diameter has been kept down to 43mm, making it very wearable.

The design is well thought through, with the teal coloured dial providing a little flair in what is otherwise a utilitarian design. The helium valve at 2 o’clock is designed to match the crown, creating a dual crown effect similar to a super compressor divers watch.

Importantly, it is powered by a swiss-made automatic movement, making it very good value for money.

  • Zelos ABYSS 3 3000M
  • 43mm Diameter
  • 18.5mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel case
  • Sellita SW200 Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 3000M Water Resistance

 

OceanX Sharkmaster Watch

 

There’s not a great deal of information available about the history and founders of OceanX, but they do get good reviews among watch aficionados.

The Sharkmaster 1000 clearly takes its inspiration from the Rolex Sea Dweller - the case, the bezel and the dial are all similar. There’s some minor differences, such as the hands, meaning that it’s not a full homage.

There’s a bold use of colour in the design, with the tangerine touches being rather unique. The dial contains quite a bit of text, but for a watch that’s marketed as a tool, it works. The impression is that the text is explaining important information.

It’s not over-sized, although it is a reasonably heavy watch. Where some of the other featured watches have 24mm straps, this is s modest 21mm - overall, it is a practical watch. It can in theory be used for saturation diving, but in reality it can also be a comfortable desk diver.

  • Ocean X Sharkmaster 1000 SMS1081B
  • 44mm Diameter
  • 17mm Thick
  • 21mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel Case
  • Seiko NH35 Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 1000M Water Resistance

 

Chris Benz 1000M Watch

 

Chris Benz watches are Shark Proof. I mean that literally. Like Timex, who used to put their watches through torture tests, Chris Benz has tried something similar. Tests were carried out in South Africa’s Shark Alley, which involved a shark biting the watch. It's definitely a unique selling point.

Therefore it’s no surprise to learn that this company tackles watch production from a diving background. The founder, Chris Benz, had previously created his own Ocean sports team, and then coupled this with his families watchmaking history. Diving and ocean sports came first and watches were then built to fulfil a need. 

The result is a series of functional divers watches, very much with a sports styling and a preference for rubber straps.

This model has a functional feel to it, particularly when contrasted with the colourful Zelos and OceanX models. I get the impression that this would be worn by a surfer and designed to take knocks.

  • Chris Benz CB-1000A-S-KBS
  • 43mm Diameter
  • Stainless Steel Case
  • Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 1000M Water Resistance

 

 

Deep Blue Pro Sea Diver Watch

 

Deep Blue makes watches for taking into the ocean. That’s it. Divers watches are their niche. Specifically, they have made water resistance the centre of their offerings. Their mission is to provide watches that can withstand submersion from between 300M to 3000M.

They attempt to do this while making use of the latest watchmaking technology, but without sacrificing their modern clean aesthetic, so they were an obvious place to look for an affordable 1000M rated watch.

You’ve heard it a thousand times. It’s what so many companies aim to achieve, a balance between form and function. Watches to be taken on extreme dives, but with a construction that remains pleasing to the eye.

The Pro Sea Diver is the brand's 1000M rated model. It’s available in numerous, dial, bezel and strap options - with this classic styling being among my favourite.

This model is quite conventional and is a success because of this. 45m isn’t particularly oversized and a 24mm bracelet is a good choice. The dial is legible and a popular style on divers watches, as are the hands. The large lumed indices are very clear. The bezel is easy to read and the helium valve is where you’d expect.

The finished design is that of a neat watch, designed to withstand deep diving, but equally at home on land.

 

  • Deep Blue Pro Sea Diver 1000M
  • 45mm Diameter
  • 15mm Thick
  • 24mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel Case
  • Seiko NH36 Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

Marc and Sons Professional Dive Watch

 

Aside from some aviation models, Marc and Son’s are known for their range of divers watches. This newer German microbrand tends to focus on functional, tough divers with Japanese movements. Over the last couple of years they’ve expanded the range to include more dial and case options, limited-edition releases and some simple customisations.

The MSD-028 is substantially bigger and heavier than my two other Marc and Sons - an MSD-037 and the Submariner styled MSD-024. This is a beast with a water resistance of 1000M and a prominent helium valve. The dial is an appealing blue, with important words ‘Made in Germany’ at the bottom. With the ceramic bezel, this is a very eye-catching watch. It’s powered by the microbrand favourite, the Seiko NH35A automatic movement and includes high spec’s for what is a very affordable watch.

  • Marc and Sons Professional MSD-028-25S
  • 46mm Diameter
  • 17.5mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel Case
  • Seiko NH35A Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 1000M Water Resistance

 

Seapro Scuba Dragon

 

Seapro is another young brand. Founded in California in the early 2000s, they now offer quite a range of watches. As the name suggests, most of the watches are designed for use in water.

The Scuba Dragon is a limited edition piece available in a number of variations. I’m quite taken by this green version that comes with a choice of a rubber strap or stainless steel bracelet. Like a number of the Seapro models, it’s equipped with 1000M water resistance.

The styling is less formal than some of the others - it’s quite a contrast, for example, with the Marc and Sons. But that is the appeal with this model. The dial is textured, with a wave effect. The logo and dial text is dynamic and sporty. The bezel has the styling seen on the Omega Seamaster and adds another design feature that maybe is apparent at first glance. It's a fun watch.

It’s also a big watch though. 48mm to be precise. That’s one reason that you may want the light rubber strap rather than the stainless steel bracelet. This model has a quartz movement.

  • Seapro Scuba Dragon SP8318S
  • 48mm Diameter
  • 18mm Thick
  • 24mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel Case
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 1000M Water Resistance

 

Oceaneva Deep Marine Explorer

 

Like the OceanX, this is another model that more than hints at taking inspiration from Rolex - this time the GMT Master II Batman (see the affordable alternatives here).

The water rating in this case is 1250M, so again, needlessly excessive but fun. The Deep Marine Explorer is advertised as the highest water resistance rated GMT watch on the market.

Oceaneva is another US based company, founded by a veteran of the watch industry that has released a number of collections.

Compared to some of the others on the list, this is a modestly sized divers watch. Stylistically, it does resemble a Submariner, but that is now an accepted iconic design used across the board. What you are getting here is a very well-made and high spec quartz watch - with the additional GMT feature. It works great as a desk diver too.

  • Oceaneva Deep Marine Explorer GMT 1250M
  • 42mm Diameter
  • 14.5mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel Case
  • Swiss Made Ronda 515.24H Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 1250M Water Resistance

 

Spinnaker Overboard Watch

 

The final watch is from Spinnaker, a newer watch brand based in Hong Kong and owned by Dartmouth. I’ve already featured Spinnaker in a couple of posts as they offer quite a selection of watches at the price-point I like to shop in (see Panerai alternatives here)

You’ll also be aware of a couple of other brands in their stable, the likes of Balast, Dufa and Avi-8 (more here). They’re affordable watches, produced in the far east, but readily available in the UK and US.

The Spinnaker range initially began as a series of designs based around sailing and the ocean. Although they’ve expanded that somewhat, the majority of their watches are still focused on this niche.

The Overboard is a bold watch that won’t be to everyone’s tastes. There’s a lot going on here. There’s the black ionic plated case and the matching silicone strap. The textured dial, with the cut-out showing the Seiko movements balance wheel. There’s also the use of gold to contrast with the black - and although not immediately noticeable, there’s also a subtle use of red.

And it’s another big watch - 46mm wide and a chunky 20mm thick. The strap is a monster at 28mm and is bolted into place. Where the Oceaneva was a typical desk diver, the Spinnaker is more of a head-turning fashion piece - albeit it with the full deep sea diving credentials.

  • Spinnaker Overboard
  • 46mm Diameter
  • 20mm Thick
  • 28mm Lug Width
  • Ionic Plated Stainless Steel
  • Seiko NH38 Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 1000M Water Resistance

 

Conclusion

If the question was, can you buy an affordable 1000M divers watch? Then the answer is yes. More than that, you actually have a nice choice of reasonably priced deep sea divers. As I’ve demonstrated, there’s a healthy mix of established brands, microbrands and smaller companies, all producing these types of watches.

Within this niche, there are also a spread of styles and movements. Theoretically, there’s something here for everyone who decides that they’d like a watch with massive water resistance. Add your own thoughts in the comments below.

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