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The 7 Best Affordable Orange Dial Dive Watches

Posted on February 02 2021

Orange Dial Dive Watches

Are you searching for the best affordable orange dive watch and tired of Seiko or Orient models?

Fancy taking a closer look at inexpensive and exciting orange dive watches that aren’t the Seiko Monster or Orient Mako?

I promise you that I have 7 attractive and functional dive watches for you that aren’t from those Japanese giants. The Doxa Sub 300 isn’t on this list either.

Before we get into the list, a quick word about why I want to show you something a little different.

The Doxa Sub 300 and Other Orange Dive Watches


You’re probably already aware that the history of orange dial divers watches began with Swiss manufacturers Doxa. The story of dive watch development began earlier, with each manufacturer building upon previous innovations. Before the Doxa 300 there were a number of groundbreaking dive watches.

In 1953 Zodiac launched the Sea-Wolf and Blancpain the Fifty-Fathoms. The following year Rolex presented the Submariner to the world. These iconic timepieces, each innovative in their own right, were the result of incremental improvements in watch design and building.

Doxa approached the problem from a different perspective. They began with a blank canvas, an open mind and a nearby lake.

The resulting watch had an over-sized tonneau or cushion case, slightly unusual but very legible hands and a bright orange dial. And the dial is the first feature that you notice.

By merely taking prototype watches with different colour dials into Lake Neuchatel they were able to determine that Orange was the easiest colour to read underwater.

The fact that the finished watch is a stunning design is a bonus. But I don’t want to include it here. It’s neither affordable nor new to you.

Why No Seiko or Orient Orange Dive Watches?


I’m a big fan of both brands. But every list of colourful dive watches includes at least one of each - when I did a list of my favourite white dial dive watches I included both - because they are among the best.

But it’s lazy to include them repeatedly, especially when that isn’t what I bought last time that I wanted an orange dial watch.

I bought this Luminox military watch.

Luminox Orange Watch

Part of the appeal of watches is the brand stories, the history of individual models and discovering new and intriguing pieces. I blog because I love to share this passion and I always want to show you the best.

Not what is the bestseller on Amazon.

I have a list of 7 interesting and eye-catching divers watchers with an easily readable orange dial. I’ve selected the watches based on aesthetics, price and technical elements.

There’s no Seiko, no Orient and no Doxa.

Rotary Scuba 7 Dive Watch

The Super 7 Scuba is an impressive watch - there are a couple of colour variations, with this orange dial being particularly attractive. Rotary may not be an obvious choice for you, so let me give a little of their backstory.

Like many watch fans in the UK, I see Rotary as a bit of a home brand. Their head office is in London for example. The British connection goes back to the early days of the brand. They opened their first British office in the late Victorian era.

Despite this link to Britain, Rotary actually has a Swiss heritage stretching back more than 125 years. Indeed, they still manufacture some of their watches there. You’ll probably be aware of them from shops on the high-street, but you may not have seen their more interesting - often limited edition - watches.

They’re a brand that I grew up with but, until recently, neglected.

When reacquainting myself with the Rotary line, the Scuba 7 was one of the first watches to grab my attention. Aside from the attractive design - slightly reminiscent of the Rolex Submariner but with its own unique edge - it has good specs and build quality for the price.

For a little over £200, you get a watch powered by a Japanese Miyota automatic movement and equipped with a sapphire crystal. It’s a legitimate dive watch with 300M of water resistance.

This Rotary model does the basics well.

It’s a great all-rounder. It’s probably one of the first places I’d start if I wanted a modern, bold and orange diver.

Rotary Super 7 Scuba S7S002B

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 13.8mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Miyota 8205 Japanese Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance

 



Bulova Snorkel Dive Watch

This is the watch to choose if you want your orange diver to be a reissue of a classic retro-watch. It’s a high-spec model with its roots in 1970s American surf culture.

At the time, Bulova was pushing the existing water resistance limits of their watches. They managed to get their dive models to 666ft. The watch that they created was jokingly referred to as the Devil Diver.

This current watch is described by Bulova as a tribute to that 1970s Oceonographer model. It is a slightly modern twist on the original Devil Diver. What appeals to me, aside from the retro surf-chic - is that it’s a chunky workhorse of a watch.

There is plenty of colour and flair, but at heart, this is a tough dive watch. It just happens to look like the watch a cool surf kid would have worn in 70s America.

With the retro cushion case and dial, this ticks the boxes for a faithful reissue - something I particularly like. The orange and black work well as a contrast to each other - it’s bright without being gaudy.

The sapphire crystal has a box magnifying lens over the date window which isn’t a common feature and it reinforces the Devil Diver’s distinctive appearance. The same can be said of the lume filled tubes that are used for the hour markers. Both are nice features that catch the eye.

It has good specs, including a reliable automatic movement and 200M water resistance - or 666ft if you’d prefer.

If you’re looking for an affordable retro-styled diver with a colourful back story and a cushion case - this could be a contender for you.

Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver 98B350

  • 41mm Diameter
  • 14.5mm Thick
  • 19mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance



Zeno Army Diver Watch

Again, two words I always like to see together. Retro and Diver.

This time it’s a slightly more conventional-looking diver, more suited to wear to the office than the Bulova. It’s from a brand that is often under-rated and not one that you’re likely to see on the high street.

As a brand, there are similarities to Bulova. Aviation influences are evident in Zeno’s range, and like Bulova, there is also a strong military aesthetic. And of course, they both do retro dive watches.

Zeno-Watch Basel, however, is an independent, family-owned Swiss watch manufacturer with a history that goes back to the mid-1800s. They now specialise in pilot watches and don’t have a large range of divers.

The Navy Retro Diver does remind me of the original Doxa, despite not having the same signature cushion case. The colour palette, dial and bezel all draw comparisons on what would otherwise be a very distinctive watch.

At 40mm wide, this is the ideal size for me. With 300m of water resistance, a Swiss automatic movement and a retro acrylic crystal, it ticks all of the boxes that it should.

The real inspiration for this model isn’t Bulova or Doxa. The design comes from Zeno’s own back catalogue. This is a remake of a Zeno diver from 1970. Still, I can’t help judging this watch against the Devil Diver.

It’s authentic, colourful and functional and has definitely earned its place on this list - but you’ll probably want to go for this or the Bulova. Not both.

Zeno Navy Retro Diver 465N-a5M

  • 40mm Diameter
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic Movement
  • Acrylic Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance

 



Spinnaker Amalfi Dive Watch

If you’d prefer a modern styled watch, around the same price-point as the Bulova, the Spinnaker Amalfi could be a very good choice. It’s distinctive, reliable and quite large.

I’ve already featured Spinnaker in a couple of previous posts as they offer a good selection of watches at the price-point that I like to shop in. They are a young watch brand, based in Hong Kong.

Like Dufa and Avi-8 they are owned by Dartmouth Brands. They’re all affordable watches brands, 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 maritime themes, so naturally, there is a strong emphasis on dive watches. They’ve expanded that somewhat, but the majority of their watches are still focused on this niche.

The first point to note is that the Amalfi is a big watch. At 46mm wide and 15mm thick, this could be a deal-breaker. In comparison, the Zeno is 40mm - much more in keeping with my tastes.

Technically, it’s a good watch for the money. The movement is a reliable Seiko NH35A engine, with a signed Spinnaker rotor and an exhibition case back. There is also 200M of water resistance and a sapphire crystal.

Stylistically, the case is relatively straightforward - although the dial is reasonably unique. It’s certainly far from a Submariner homage and uses large indices and prominent hands to create a layout that is highly legible. Part of the appeal is the dial layering - three layers if you include the chapter ring.

Between those two elements - good specifications and a distinctive design - Spinnaker has successfully created a notable watch, definitely a candidate for your first orange diver.

Spinnaker Amalfi SP-5074-44

  • 46mm Diameter
  • 15mm Thick
  • 24mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 



Zodiac Grandhydra Dive Watch

The Grandhyrda is an affordable quartz retro-inspired watch. A great choice if you want the retro styling, but with the ease of a quartz movement and the corresponding reduced cost.

As I noted in the introduction, Zodiac has great heritage when it comes to dive watches.

History may remember that Rolex introduced the Submariner to the world at the 1954 Basel watch fair. However, at the same fair a year earlier Blancpain had launched the Fifty Fathoms and Zodiac had displayed its diver, the Sea Wolf.

Both Blancpain and Rolex would remain as large popular brands whilst Zodiac would disappear. Having American murderer the ‘Zodiac Killer’ reference the companies watches had only added to their problems.

Fashion brand Fossil bought the Zodiac name in 2001 and once again began watch production. Central to their current range is the Sea Wolf collection, which includes cushion case models.

Some of these can be quite pricey, but at the more affordable end of the Zodiac range is the Grandhydra. A very affordable quartz-powered watch.

Essentially, it’s a quartz version of Zodiac’s Sea Dragon watch from the 1960s-70s - so yes, another reissue.

The case is described by the manufacturer as a barrel style, but I tend to lump all of these cases under the cushion-case banner. It’s quite angular and has no crown guards - entirely as you’d expect from a 1970s sports watch.

Obviously, the bright orange dial is the central feature of this watch that you’re interested in and it is in keeping with Zodiac’s back catalogue and current range. They do place an emphasis on colourful models and it works well here.

The hands and indices are authentic for the period that inspired the watch and the date window is neatly tucked away at 6 o’clock.

With Zodiac now owned by Fossil their watches are quite easy to find and accessible.

Zodiac Grandhydra ZO9952

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 



Timex Expedition Coastline Watch

If the Zodiac is still a little pricey, then have a look at this Timex. This is the ultimate budget orange dial dive watch.

Ok, so there are some caveats. It’s not a true diver - with 30M water resistance it’s only splash-proof. And it has a canvas strap, so it doesn’t feel as substantial as some of the others on this list.

It does, however, cost less £100.

And as I pointed out here and here - Timex still produce some really stunning watches and are always worth consideration.

With this model, there isn’t the history or backstory of some of the others. It’s just an inexpensive quartz watch that has a faint military vibe. But it is from the Expedition line, one of Timex’s real successes.

At 43mm it’s on the larger side, but this is negated by a canvas NATO strap, which keeps the overall heft down. It helps that it is also a slim 10mm.

It’s a great place to start if you’re unsure about orange dial divers. Dip your toe in the water here.

Timex Expedition Coastline TW2T30200

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 10mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 30M Water Resistance

 



Traser P67 Dive Watch

If you want a tool that tells the time, the Traser Supersub is for you. It’s the toughest watch on the list, designed to withstand everything that you can throw at it - and Traser takes legibility to a new level.

Traser is the brand founded by MB-Microtec, the inventors of GTLS - I’ll come back to that in a minute.

Initially, the brand supplied watches to the US military, producing 300,000 of its inaugural model, the P6500 Type 6. Swiss-based, the manufacturer has maintained that strong military heritage and to many that aesthetic will be the first they think of when discussing Traser watches.

They’re about performance and durability.

As I’ve mentioned, a 46mm diameter case isn’t ideal for me - but neither is it a dealbreaker. I’d certainly prefer a 40mm or 42mm version of this watch, but I’m realistic - the point of this model is to be easy to read in all conditions. It’s not meant to be dainty.

Neither is it meant to be a fashionable Submariner clone.

It has some similar styling to a Submariner, but there are other features that differentiate this from the multitude of Submariner watches on the market. Not least, the tritium illumination or GTLS.

GTLS is a technology used to illuminate the hands and markers of watches. Small glass tubes are filled with a radioactive gas that can produce constant light for between 10 and 25 years. It’s central to all Traser watches and ensures, along with the orange dial, that the watch is legible 24hrs a day.

So this is no desk diver. The helium valve, placed at 10 o’clock, confirms this and coupled with the GTLS on the hands and markers, we’re presented with a versatile and practical watch.

If it is a practical orange diver that you are looking for, then the Supersub meets the criteria. The massive 500M water resistance is more than you’ll ever need.

The dial is protected by a sapphire crystal, the movement is a reliable Swiss quartz, and the lume will glow in the dark for a quarter of a century.

Traser P67 Supersub 109377

  • 46mm Diameter
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Quartz Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 500M Water Resistance

 


Conclusion


There’s more to orange dial dive watches than the Seiko Monster and the Orient Mako.

They’re both great watches, but they’re also the easy choice. If you dig a little deeper you can find some cracking orange dive watches. An eclectic mix of rugged tool watches like the Traser Supersub and iconic retro designs like the Bulova Devil Diver.

As stylish as these watches appear, there’s more than just aesthetic considerations that have gone into the designs. The orange dial is a practical feature, proven to aid underwater legibility.

When coupled with good lume and a well thought out dial pattern, the result is a very practical and functional timepiece.

I’ve highlighted the best of these watches - across a range of budgets and specs. There should be at least one that will scratch your itch for an orange dive watch.

If you believe that there’s a watch that I’ve missed, let me know in the comments below.

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