Let’s face it: one man’s “best” sub-$1k mechanical dive watch is another man’s you know what? Forget it. I’m buying an Eco-Drive Citizen Promaster Diver for four bills. If you’re going diving, something quartz is the safer choice. Or, you know, a dive computer. But if you want to look at three of the best automatic dive watches under $1000 for ocean, office and infinity pool flexing, here are my choices:
Doxa SUB 200 Sharkhunter ($950)
The new-for-2019 heritage-styled SUB 200 Sharkhunter is clearly one of the best automatic dive watches under $1000. Fashioned from 316L stainless steel, powered by ye olde ETA 2824-2 movement, the 42mm dive watch is waterproof to 200 meters and comes complete with a PMET (Parking Meter Expiration Timer), known in the industry as a unidirectional rotating bezel.
The Sharkhunter’s dial is as easy-to-read as a Times Square billboard and Super‑LumiNova AF. You get brand history feelz for no extra charge: the 1967 Doxa SUB is generally considered the gen pop’s first purpose-designed dive watch. Hence the faux plexiglass scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
The original Doxa SUB was Fanta orange. I recommend buying the black face update, just so you don’t look like an idiot. If you can wait until November, save yourself $40 and buy the Doxa diver on a rubber strap. The bracelet feels kinda cheap and rubber’s waterproof, you know?
You may have noticed that the Yema Navygraf Heritage (click here for the full review) is virtually identical to the Dox SUB 200 Sharkhunter. Same basic design. Same 316L steel construction. And? Feel free to explore the watchmaker’s respective websites for variations on the theme. Meanwhile, let’s do a quick comparo.
Based on the original version, retaining all of its charm, the Yema Navygraf goes one better than Doxa. Rather than relying on an off-the-shelf movement, the French watchmaker fits their diver with a 31 jewel MBP1000 in-house movement. (This is a big deal for watch nerds.) The Yema walks it down size-wise, offering the Navygraf in a period-faithful 39mm diameter.
The Navygraf”s just as luminous as the Doxa. The French entry’s 300m dive rating beats the SUB by 100 meters and surpasses the Doxa’s power reserve by three whole hours (45 vs. 42). More practically, Yema ships the watch in an elegant leather case with a spare leather band and provides some of the industry’s best customer service. And it costs less.
Screw heritage. Screw not looking like an idiot. Seiko’s Prospex dive watches are the workhorses of the sea. The seahorses of work? Whatever.
It’s not clear if orange is the new blue (which is the new black) for traditional watch dials, but the bright hue’s supposed to be the best color for underwater viz — an
excuse explanation you’ll be using ad naseum.
The Prospex line has been updated since the 2105 ad above, but you get the point: the dive watches are built like a submersible tank. Size-wise, we’re back up to 44m and 200m water resistance for the Japanese selection, relying on Seiko’s reliable but not astoundingly accurate Caliber 4R35.
Is any of that important? If you’re one of those people who likes your dental floss dispenser over-engineered, Seiko’s Prospex automatic diver watches will owara seru (git ‘er done). And leave you with major change from your grand-in-the-hand.
Bigger budget? Click here for Affordable Rolex Submariner Alternastives
Significant budget? Click here for Expensive Rolex Submariner alternatives