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The 5 Most Exciting 38mm Dive Watches (For Small Wrists)

Posted on May 05 2021

38MM Dive Watches

Watch buyers get what they want. And they want larger watches.

Not too large. Most watch fans have a cut-off point. A point that is tested by the likes of Aragon and Invicta.

But for the most part, modern watch buyers like larger watches.

That's a stark contrast to the last century of watchmaking. Even until relatively recently, smaller watches were the norm. If you've any interest in vintage watches you'll have noticed their modest size.

But not everyone wants a massive chunk of steel on their wrist. If you're like me, you'll appreciate the features of a smaller watch. The comfort, the subtly and the clarity of purpose.

Nowhere are these traits more important than when wearing a dive watch.

Are Small Dive Watches Coming Back Into Fashion?


Let's not jump the gun.

Yes, Tudor released the Black Bay Fifty Eight. And that is a popular 39mm watch. But this hasn't been a massive trend. Some influential companies have built their own small models - the Oris Sixty-Five being a notable example.

But many of these are reissues. Modern releases of classics from the brand's own back catalogue.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of reissued watches. It's why I'm writing this post. I've got slim wrists and recently picked up the Bulova Hack - a 38mm remake of their own WWII era piece.

I've found it to be really comfortable and it's renewed my interest in smaller watches. What it's also done is make me question other purchases - you may have experienced this yourself.

I bought the 42mm version of the Seagull 1963 Chronograph. After wearing the Bulova, I'm now wondering if I should have chosen the 38mm Seagull instead.

Why Should You Consider a Smaller Dive Watch?


Like the Seagull pilot's watch and the Bulova Hack -  issued to soldiers - dive watches are tools. They're designed to be worn in challenging environments.

It makes sense that a dive watch shouldn't be intrusive or a nuisance. Of course, it needs to be highly legible, but that doesn't mean large.

So I've been on the lookout for a modestly sized dive watch. Something similar to my Bulova, but built for diving.

Here are five of the best watches that fit these criteria. As you'll notice, they're mostly vintage-inspired.

San Martin 6200 Watch

San Martin is a Chinese brand that specialises in producing homage watches. I recently took a look at their Seiko 62MAS homage.

This model is also a homage. It's very similar to a vintage Rolex Submariner, a watch that also had a 38mm case. The styling is familiar and includes Mercedes hands and a vintage-style domed crystal.

The gold accents on the hands, dial and bezel contrast beautifully with the black background. They reinforce the vintage aesthetic.

Like most San Martin watches it uses a Seiko automatic movement.

It's an inexpensive watch and comes in at around £200. That's good value for money, considering it's a legitimate dive watch and has a dependable Japanese movement.

San Martin 6200

  • 38mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 


Invicta Pro Diver 33258

I know Invicta get a lot of stick online, but don't skip this watch. There is more to this brand than online gossip.

Firstly, they're American owned. For a lot of buyers that is important. Here's an Invicta that I own - looks good doesn’t it?



The second point that you should also consider is that the corporate headquarters are in Switzerland and their current president is a fifth-generation watchmaker. The company's customer service centre is also based in Switzerland.

They also own Swiss heritage brand Glycine. Invicta has history and authenticity. They're not a Chinese brand that popped up overnight.

Considering that this is a watch from a US company and that it uses the same NH35A movement as the last two models, it definitely warrants a closer look.

The aesthetics are there. The Pro Diver also resembles a Rolex Submariner. Although the bezel is also similar to a Rolex GMT-Master II.

It’s a slim, attractive watch with 200M water resistance. And the crystal is mineral rather than the sapphire used on the San Martin. But for well under $100 bucks? It's still a great deal.

This is a great choice if the budget is a big deal. It’s also listed a woman’s watch - ignore that.

Invicta Pro Diver 33258

  • 38mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance


Timex Q Reissue

This is a remake of a diver’s watch that was released at the tail-end of the 1970s. It's a great watch if you want a 38mm case and an eye-catching design.

The original watch was made at a time when quartz movements were all the rage. I like that you would wear this design now because of its dated look.

Remember, there was a point in the 1960s where a third of all watches sold in America were Timex. This type of watch was insanely popular.

This angular cased remake was re-released in 2019. Both sports watches and Pepsi bezels were again popular.

It is a faithful recreation of the original.

It has the same domed acrylic crystal, the same woven stainless-steel bracelet and a functional battery hatch. It also has the all-important 38mm case. It was released to some fanfare and seems to have lived up to the hype.

Timex Q Reissue Pepsi

  • 38mm Diameter
  • 11.5mm Thick
  • 18mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Quartz movement
  • Domed Acrylic Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 


Armida A12 62MAS Homage Watch

I recently included this watch in my piece about Seiko's debut dive watch. If you're after a modest-sized dive, with an authentic vintage vibe, this could be your best bet.

Hong Kong-based Armida has created a gorgeous 62MAS homage. It even has a Seiko automatic movement.

It's all here. The grey sunburst dial, the large crown and the bold rectangle markers. And it's all in that smaller case.

It's not the cheapest watch on the list, but it's still very affordable. Particularly, given the specs. They're impressive and include plenty of water resistance. Like the San Martin, it has a vintage-inspired domed sapphire crystal.

Although it's a small watch, the bracelet is chunky.

If you want authenticity, this is the watch for you.

Armida A12

  • 38mm Diameter
  • 13.8mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance


Rado Captain Cook 38mm Watch

This is the most expensive watch on my list - but you're going to love it.

It’s a large Swiss manufacturer faithfully recreating one of their own 1960’s watches. What’s particularly interesting is that Rado isn’t renowned for their diver's watches. They made their name with modernist ceramic designs.

Yet, this is an upgraded reproduction of a watch that they did initially release in 1962. Like the Timex, the emphasis has been on maintaining that authenticity.

It has little in the way of lume, but it does have water-resistance of 300M.

But that’s the beauty of it. It’s just what a divers watch was actually like in the 1960s.

Like most reissues, there are some nods to modernism. There should be. Modernism is what Rado is famous for.

So they've included an inward sloping ceramic bezel. There is also a domed sapphire crystal and a curved dial. It’s a quirky piece of nostalgia, priced towards the top end of what I highlight in this blog.

If your budget can stretch to it. Try this Swiss-made stunner.

Rado Captain Cook R32500153

  • 37.3mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • Stainless Steel Case
  • Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 


Conclusion


Go big or go home is the slogan.

I'm not sure that applies to watches. More often, it takes a brave man to wear a small watch.

In a world where the recent trends have been for bigger and bolder watches, smaller tasteful pieces are uncommon. When I looked at 38mm dive watches I found very little.

But those that I did find?

I'm sure you'll agree that there are some cracking watches. From the Swiss-made Rado to the cheap Invicta quartz. Despite the lack of choice, I'm confident that there is at least one on this list that you'll like.

Try it. I'm loving my 38mm Bulova military watch. I'm also now wishing that I'd went for the smaller Seagull chronograph.

As ever, pop your thoughts in the comments below. I'd love to see any 38mm dive watches that you'd recommend.

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