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Dive watches, as many of their enthusiasts know, are not generally known for being understated in their dimensions. This is, of course, by design, and in the service of both legibility and safety. To be used underwater, often in very dark conditions, a watch needs to be sizable enough (as well as luminous enough) for the wearer to discern both the time on the main hands as well as the remaining immersion period as set on the dive scale bezel. For these and other practical reasons, most watches built for diving tend to come in at 40mm and above in diameter. However, as the dive watch has become more a fashion statement and less a wearable tool — for ladies as well as gents — watchmakers have responded by downsizing some of their popular divers to offer more choices for a wider range of wearers, including those who will likely never wear their timepiece underwater. In some cases, the designs of these more modestly sized dive watches are even drawn from the brands’ archives, from historical eras in which smaller sizes were the norm, even for purpose-built tool watches like those made for divers. Using a 40mm diameter as our upper limit of “small,” here are 21 small dive watches, in ascending order of price, all of which combine professional-grade water resistance (at least 100 meters) with unisex appeal.
Price: $99, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 15mm, Lug-to-Lug: 49mm, Crystal: Acrylic, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Automatic Vostok Caliber 2416
The Russian-made, bargain-priced Vostok Amphibia rose to somewhat unexpected fame among dive-watch enthusiasts after it was worn by Bill Murray in the 2004 film The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. The titular character was an oceanographer in the mold of Jacques Cousteau, who famously wore iconic divers like the Rolex Submariner and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms; Murray’s fictional Zissou, a sort of washed-up version of Cousteau, opts instead for a more obscure, and significantly cheaper, timepiece. Russia is not renowned for horological heritage, but many of its Soviet-era dive watches, particularly the Amphibia, have acquired a cult following: enthusiasts love their bayonet-style casebacks, with threaded locking rings that push tightly into extra-large rubber gasket as the water pressure increases, and the thick acrylic crystals that flex under high pressure. In both aesthetics and engineering, the Amphibia is stark, simple, and classically Soviet, right down to the Russian-made movement.
Price: $250, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 13mm, Lug to Lug: 43mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Crystal: Hardlex, Movement: Automatic Seiko Caliber 7S26
Japan’s Seiko is certainly renowned for its dive watches, but many of the most famous models are anything but what could be considered “small.” A notable and appealing exception can be found with the SKX013 model, which offers the rare combo of professional-level water-resistance (200 meters), ISO-certified robustness, and a very accessible price. The steel case measures 38mm in diameter; the crystal over the dark gray dial is made of Hardlex, Seiko’s proprietary acrylic glass; the dial itself has a circle of large geometric hour markers with luminous treatment, a distinctive handset with an arrow-pointed minute hand, and a day/date readout at 3 o’clock. Ticking inside is the automatic Seiko 7S26, an in-house movement lauded for its dependability but (as one might expect from the price point) lacking some useful features like hacking seconds and manual winding. The screw-down crown is unconventionally placed at 4 o'clock.
Price: $395, Case Size: 36mm, Thickness: 9.7mm, Lug Width: 18mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Crystal: Sapphire, Movement: Quartz ETA F05.412
Tissot's ruggedly attractive Seastar family of dive watches debuted in the 1960s and underwent a crowd-pleasing revamp in recent years, which expanded the collection to a plethora of sizes and colorways as well as a choice of movements: either the ETA-based Powermatic 80 self-winding mechanical, as in many of the larger models, or a Swiss-made quartz caliber, as one finds in this smaller, and very budget-friendly, 36mm version of the Seastar 1000 featured here. The Seastar 1000 collection gets its numerical suffix from its depth rating — 1,000 feet, aka the more commonly used 300 meters, half that of its bigger, more robust and water-resistant sibling, the Seastar 2000. The screw-down crown and caseback of the steel models help secure this impressive water resistance. The dial’s big, geometric hour indexes and wide sword hands are soaked in luminous material for underwater legibility, and the rotating dive-scale bezel has a mineral glass insert. The steel bracelet is easily switchable with a rubber strap.
Price: 625 euros, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 12mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Lug to Lug: 47mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Crystal: Sapphire, Movement: Automatic Miyota 9039
Baltic Watches founder Étienne Malec found the inspiration for his France-based watch brand with the discovery of his father’s watch collection, and named the company, launched on Kickstarter in 2017, to honor his father’s roots, after the sea off the northern coast of Poland. Baltic has become most known for its Aquascaphe series of dive watches, which take their design inspiration from mid-20th-century divers and are equipped with automatic Miyota movements. This Aquascaphe Bronze Blue Gilt model in a compact, 39mm bronze case has a nautical blue dial and a brushed bronze dive-scale bezel. The double-domed sapphire crystal over the dial is highly scratch-resistant, and the numerals, shaped hour markers, and pencil-shaped hands, all with luminous coating, pop against the sandwich-style dial. The Miyota 9039 caliber inside has a stop-seconds function and a 42-hour power reserve.
Price: $795, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 12.2mm, Lug to Lug: 44.9mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: ETA Powermatic 80.611
Certina is a watch brand much better known outside the U.S. than within its borders, but that is rapidly changing as the company, which is owned by the Swatch Group, has expanded its distribution and thus the profile of its Swiss-made, value-oriented line of timepieces — particularly the divers’ watches that have put it on the radar of enthusiasts over the years. Perhaps the model with the most unisex appeal is the entry-level Action Diver, which combines a professional-grade 300-meter water resistance with a very understated 38mm diameter and a sub-$800 price point. The steel case has a mostly brushed finish on its surfaces and facets and its 120-click, coin-edged, unidirectional bezel uses an anodized aluminum insert for its graduated dive scale. Baton-shaped hands reveal the time on the dial’s geometric hour indexes, all treated with a high level of lume for underwater legibility. Connected to a three-link steel bracelet with a diver’s extension, and outfitted with a Powermatic 80 caliber, the Action Diver meets the ISO 6425 standard for dive watches, a talking point for serious diving enthusiasts.
Price: $1,095, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 11mm, Lug to Lug: 45mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Crystal: Sapphire, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW200-1
Conceived during a boat ride down the Thames in 2004, U.K.-based Christopher Ward was the brainchild of three entrepreneurial British watch enthusiasts looking for a new challenge in their professional lives. Named for the co-founder with the most “quintessentially British” name, the company set out to make premium Swiss-made watches that could be sold at much lower prices than their competitors by avoiding large marketing overheads and retailer margins. One of the brand’s signature pieces is the C60 Trident dive watch series, which includes a variety of case sizes and either a 600-meter or 300-meter water resistance. This 38mm steel version of the Trident Pro 300 is not only smaller in diameter than the 600-meter models (which start at 40mm) but also substantially slimmer by nearly 2mm and thus lighter on the wrist. The dial has highly luminous markers and a 6 o’clock date window. The case puts the reliable, self-winding Sellita movement inside on display behind a sapphire caseback.
Price: $1,124, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 13mm, Lug to Lug: 48mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Crystal: Sapphire, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW200
Founded in Besançon, France, in 1948 by watchmaker Henry Louis Belmont, Yema has had an up-and-down history in the watch world, with ownership changing several times over the years (including a stint in the 1980s when it was owned by Seiko). In 2005, under new ownership, Yema returned to the scene after a long hiatus and began offering a vast range of watch styles, including a contemporary re-edition of its most famous and emblematic model, the Superman divers’ watch, which first debuted in 1963 and which still boasts a loyal following. The Heritage Superman (pictured) is the modern model most faithful to the original, with a modest 39mm steel case, the brand’s distinctive bezel locking device that’s operated through the crown, and the watch’s impressive 300-meter water resistance. Yema uses proprietary third-party-produced movements in many models, but opts for the tried-and-tested Swiss Sellita SW200 in the Superman and its other dive watches.
Price: $1,215 Case: 36mm, Thickness: 13mm, Lug Width: 18mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water-Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic Sellita SW200
Since its founding in 1939, Canada-based Marathon Watch has been making timepieces for the North American market and since 1941 has been supplying them to the U.S. armed forces; today, the company is the sole supplier. Now manufactured by the fourth generation of the founding family, Marathon watches — designed in Canada, manufactured in Switzerland — have become well regarded for their military durability and mission-ready precision. The brand’s Government Search and Rescue (GSAR) divers' watch is issued not to U.S. forces but to Search and Rescue Technicians in Canada, who specialize in airborne missions in treacherous environments. The “Medium” version of the model (41mm and 46mm “Jumbo” versions are also available) has a 36mm surgical-steel case, machined from a monobloc of 316L stainless steel and rated to 300 meters of water resistance. Its dial uses tritium, rather than Super-LumiNova, on the hands and markers for a high level of sustained nighttime visibility, while the unidirectional bezel’s orientation triangle is coated with bright-glowing Maraglo paint. A Swiss-made Sellita automatic movement ticks inside.
Price: $1,195 - $1,295, Case Size: 39mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic STP 1-11
Zodiac launched its first Sea Wolf dive watch back in 1953, placing it in the same historical company as other pioneering dive watches debuting in that seminal year, like the much more heralded Rolex Submariner and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. Today the company, now owned by U.S.-based Fossil Group, has made that watch’s modern successor, the Super Sea Wolf, the cornerstone of its collection. The Super Sea Wolf model that most faithfully re-creates the original (before “Super” was added to the name) is the Super Sea Wolf 53 Skin Automatic, whose steel case measures 39mm in diameter, larger than its 1953 ancestor’s case but still the smallest in the current collection. The dial features the historically accurate prominent triangle hour markers with accompanying interior numerals and maintains a cleanly balanced symmetry, with no date window at 3 o’clock. The movement inside is the STP 3-13, which is made in Switzerland by the Fossil Group. Shop here.
Price: $1,375, Case Size: 39mm, Thickness: 11.9mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Crystal: Sapphire, Movement: Automatic Longines Caliber L888
The Longines HydroConquest builds upon the design of the company’s sport-luxury Conquest design for a more sport-oriented aesthetic, one aimed squarely at divers and those looking to emulate their look. Now a full-fledged collection in its own right, The Hydroconquest offers case case sizes that range from 39mm (12.9mm thick), to 41mm (11.9mm thick) to 43mm (also 11.9mm), all equipped with automatic movements. The watch’s unidirectional ratcheting bezel has a 60-minute dive-scale insert, with the first 15-minute sector delineated by minute markers and Arabic numerals at each subsequent 10-minute interval. The sword handset of the original (non-diver) Conquest model is here replaced by a short, faceted hour hand with a luminous diamond-shaped bulge, a baton minute hand, and a lollipop-style sweep seconds hand. On this model, an ocean-blue dial and bezel harmonizes with a brushed steel case and bracelet. The 300-meter water resistant case contains the Longines-exclusive Caliber L888, built upon the ETA L31.L11 base movement and souped up with a 72-hour power reserve.
Price: $2,000, Case Size: 37mm, Thickness: 11mm, Lug to Lug: 43mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Automatic ETA C07.611
Rado’s Captain Cook models are based on a heretofore obscure 1960s diving watch and eschew the modernist aesthetic that chiefly defines Rado’s collection in favor of a sporty, vintage look. Like many popular watch families, Captain Cooks are now available in a variety of sizes, from the original, somewhat stately 44mm models to the more midrange 42mm ones to the understated (and most historically accurate) 37mm sizes, as featured above. The unidirectional bezel has a dive-scale insert made of high-tech ceramic, an emblematic material for the Swiss brand. The case has a solid caseback stamped with three seahorses, an aquatic motif that references historical Rado dive watches. The dial hosts a wide arrow hour hand, broad geometrical indexes, and a date window at 3 o’clock. Another vintage touch is the Rado rotating anchor symbol at 12 o’clock with its ’60s-inspired ruby-colored background. The watch featured here comes on Rado’s retro-styled beads-of-rice bracelet.
Price: $2,300, Case Size: 36.5mm, Lug Width: 18mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic Oris 733 (Sellita base)
The Oris Aquis collection of sporty dive watches is one of the Swiss brand’s most popular, even though it traces its history back just over a decade, to 2011, and has expanded to become a tentpole collection of the independent, value-oriented Swiss brand. In 2021, Oris wowed the growing community of green-leaning watch aficionados with the Aquis Upcycle, whose colorful dials are made of PET plastic waste recovered from oceans, in a process that produces random patterns of color that make each dial unique. While most Aquis models are fairly masculine in their case dimensions, the Upcycle models speak to both men and women, offered in either a 41.5mm (above, right) or 36.5mm size (left). Like the standard Aquis Date models, the Upcycle versions feature a unidirectional dive-scale bezel, here with a gray ceramic insert, luminous-coated hands, and a 3 o’clock date window. The automatic Sellita-based Oris 733 Caliber powers the watch and holds a 38-hour power reserve.
Price: $2,500, Case Size: 36mm, Thickness: 11.9mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Automatic ETA 595/592
The Longines Legend Diver is a modern re-issue of a compressor-style dive watch that Longines produced in 1960, with a 300-meter water resistant steel case that replicates the shape and design of the original’s, including the vintage model’s two crowns — one for winding the watch, the other for operating the internal rotating divers’ bezel. The inner rotating bezel can be locked into place via its dedicated crown, helping to ensure a diver wearing the watch how long he or she has been underwater. The watch featured here sports a period-appropriate 36mm steel case and a supple Milanese steel-mesh bracelet. The black lacquered dial has silver-polished hands and blocky, luminous-coated Arabic numerals at 12, 6, and 9 o’clock, plus a date display at 3 o’clock. Beating inside, behind a solid caseback with an engraving of a diver, is an automatic movement from ETA, with a 45-hour power reserve.
Price: $2,750, Case Size: 38mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 100 meters, Movement: Automatic Oris 733 (Sellita SW 200-1 base)
The vintage-inspired Divers Sixty-Five, based on Oris’ first divers’ watch from the eponymous year of 1965, made a name for itself with its retro tool-watch design, but Oris has since boldly branched out into new, more soft-edged territory with the model in its recently introduced “cotton candy” editions — defined by bronze cases and pastel-colored dials in “sky blue,” “wild green,” and “lipstick pink.” Sized at a 38mm in diameter, dimensions that Oris has described as “intentionally unisex,” the watches are mounted on matching bronze three-link bracelets, with relief dive-scale bezels and domed sapphire crystals over the dials; each offers the 100-meter water resistance characteristic of the mainline Divers Sixty-Five series. Beating inside each model is the Sellita-based automatic Caliber 733, which is hidden behind a steel caseback.
Price: $3,300, Case Size: 36mm, Water Resistance: 300m, Crystal: Sapphire, Movement: Automatic TAG Heuer Caliber 5 (ETA 2824-2 or Sellita SW200-1 base)
TAG Heuer, a brand best known for its racing-inspired chronographs, plunged into the dive watch pool in 2004 with the introduction of the Aquaracer collection, which today claims a significant spot in the overall portfolio alongside classics like the Carrera and Monaco. The three-handed flagship model of the Aquaracer collection, which underwent some subtle evolutions in 2021, is water resistant to 300 meters and now features a faceted, 12-sided bezel with a scratch-proof ceramic insert and a new internal tooth profile that enables smoother rotation. Other recent revamps include wider sword-shaped hands on the dial; the “cyclops” magnifying lens over the 6 o’clock date window incorporated into the underside, rather than the top surface, of the sapphire crystal for an overall slimmer case profile; and a more angular redesign of the caseback’s engraved dive helmet motif. Behind that caseback ticks the automatic TAG Heuer Caliber 5. The steel cases range in size from 43mm to 36mm, the latter models sporting a relief wave pattern on the dial.
Price: $3,475 - $4,400 - $16,825, Case Size: 39mm, Case Thickness: 11.9mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Tudor Caliber MT5402/MT5400
The Tudor Black Bay took watch fandom by storm when it hit the market in 2012 and the sporty, vintage-inspired divers' watch has since grown into an extensive family with something for just about everyone. Hitting the sweet spot for many with its understated case diameter of 39mm (compared to the 41mm of its predecessors) are the models in the Black Bay Fifty-Eight collection, launched in 2018. Named for the year 1958, in which Tudor released the Oyster Prince Submariner Ref. 7924, the most clear forerunner to the Black Bay, the Fifty-Eight sub-family contains the automatic, COSC-certified Caliber MT5402, a slightly downsized version of the MT5602 caliber in the larger Black Bays, and has played host to a number of bold experiments in the areas of color and case materials — including models in bronze, yellow gold and even silver. Aesthetically, the Fifty-Eight models offer all the vintage-inspired elements of the original, 41mm Black Bay that are derived from notable Oyster Prince references of the ‘50s and ‘60s, including the “snowflake” hour hands, large rose-emblem-engraved crown, and big, geometrical hour markers. The water-resistance is a robust 200 meters and the bracelets feature a patented quick-adjustment mechanism.
Price: $3,625 - $3,850, Case Size: 37mm, Thickness: 11.24mm, Lug Width; 20mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Crystal: Sapphire, Movement: Automatic Tudor Caliber MT5400
For true purists, and those for whom even the 39mm dimensions of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight are too overwhelming, Tudor now offers (as of Watches & Wonders 2023) the Black Bay Fifty-Four, which resurrects the original 37mm sizing of the fondly remembered Oyster Prince model from 1954 (Ref. 7922). The vintage model was a dive watch supplied to the French Navy and the granddaddy of all the Tudor dive watches that have lent inspiration to the modern Black Bay collection. At just 11.24mm thick in stainless steel, and topped with a unidirectional bezel sans hash marks — a nod to the early days of SCUBA diving and early watches for divers — Tudor calls the Black Bay Fifty-Four “the purest modern expression of the brand’s first-ever dive watch.” Inside the 200-meter water resistant case beats the automatic Tudor Caliber MT5400, with a COSC chronometer certification and a 70-hour power reserve. Both versions of the watch, on either a riveted bracelet or a rubber strap, feature the same exclusive “T-Fit” adjustment mechanism that enhances the wearing experience of other Black Bay watches.
Price: $4,600, Case Size: 36mm, Thickness: 12.21mm, Lug to Lug: 42.41mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 300 meters, Movement: Automatic Oris 733 (Sellita SW 200-1 base)
Breitling revamped its Superocean dive watch collection in 2022 by channeling the aesthetic spirit of a chronograph model that it made in the 1960s and ‘70s, nicknamed by enthusiasts the “Slow Motion” edition. Like that historical predecessor, the new Superoceans feature a distinctive square-paddle-shaped hand for the minutes, plus new high-contrast minute rings around the dial and thinner ceramic inlays for the dive-scale bezel. The models in the versatile 36mm size speak to both men and ladies with their “beach to boardroom” style, with 300-meter water resistance and a bright array of colorways. The steel cases of the unisex watches contain the Sellita-based Breitling Caliber 17, with a COSC chronometer certification and a 38-hour power reserve, and are mounted on either a sporty, color-coordinated rubber strap or a steel link bracelet.
Price: $6,700, Case Size: 39.5mm, Thickness: 14.2mm, Lug width: 19mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 600 meters, Movement: Automatic Omega Caliber 8800
Starting out as an uncommonly water-resistant gents’ watch in 1948, welcoming its first purpose-built divers’ watch in 1957, and becoming the official watch of James Bond with the introduction of the tough, stylish Seamaster Diver in the 1990s, the Omega Seamaster collection has grown into a diverse product family. In the 21st Century it has added the dressier, more genteel Aqua Terra line and the Planet Ocean models, the latter positioned from the start as modern dive watches that embraced both sporty utility and luxury. Drawing some of its influences from a 1960s Seamaster model, the Planet Ocean is distinguished from the Diver models in several respects: the coin-edged, unidirectional bezel with an aluminum (now ceramic) insert, the matte black dial with Arabic numerals at 12, 6, and 9 and arrowhead hour and minute hands, the helium-release valve at 10 o’clock, and, most significantly from a diving standpoint, a water resistance of 600 meters, double the rating of the Seamaster Diver. The most “unisex” iteration of the Planet Ocean has a 39.5mm case (an even more modest 37.5mm version is also available) and contains the Omega co-axial Master Chronometer Caliber 8800.
Price: $9,500 - $11,900, Case Size: 38mm, Case Thickness: 10.8mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Automatic Caliber 1150
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, introduced in 1953, is regarded as the first modern divers’ watch, establishing the template for all the others. Today it’s the foundation for a vast and versatile collection within the Blancpain portfolio; as of 2013, that collection has included the Bathyscaphe family, named for the undersea vehicle invented by Auguste Piccard and offering a more vintage-style aesthetic as well as a more widely wearable alternative to the rather massive Fifty Fathoms, which clocks in at 45mm. The first 38mm Bathyscaphe, which debuted alongside the main 43mm model, was clearly targeted at ladies with its all-white colorway, but subsequent models, like those with steel cases and either black or ocean-inspired “Abyss Blue” dials, are decidedly more unisex to reflect changing tastes among watch consumers. The automatic movement inside the smaller Bathyscaphe, is Blancpain’s in-house Caliber 1150, which offers a lengthy 100-hour power reserve in its twin barrels.
Price: $10,200, Case Size: 39.5mm, Thickness: 12.15mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 200m, Crystal: Sapphire, Movement: Automatic Caliber 39-11
The SeaQ dive watch hails from Glashütte Original’s Spezialist collection of sport-luxury timepieces inspired by the Spezimatic Type RP TS 200, a watch developed by the German brand’s ancestor, the Cold War-era, state-owned Glashütte Uhrenbetriebe (GUB) for recreational divers and released in 1969. Its stainless-steel case measures a modest 39.5 mm in diameter and has an assortment of polished and brushed finishes. Both the dial and the ceramic inlay of the unidirectional rotating dive-scale bezel on this model are in a rich “reed green” color developed by the brand. Like its brethren in the Spezialist collection, the SeaQ meets the (German) DIN 8306 and (international) ISO 6425 standards for dive watches, and its solid engraved caseback protects the in-house Glashütte Original Caliber 39-11, with its 40-hour power reserve, from water pressures down to 200 meters.
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