Five Plus One is our weekly series of buyer’s guides. We pick a specific category and dig up five great options along with one that’s a little outside the norm.
While quartz watches may be inexpensive, accurate, and require minimal servicing, it’s hard to beat the heritage and precision engineering that comes with an automatic. This week we’re exploring one particular style, the diver, but we have to put some stipulations on it.
First, these divers are automatic, meaning they contain a self-winding rotor that will keep them running off of your movement throughout the day. Second, they will be entry level and less the $275. While some watch fans might find this price range to be decidedly low, especially since some automatic diving watches cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is a price range that contains a wide range of brands, styles, movements, or just about any other criteria you can think of.
1) Seiko: SKX007K2
The Seiko SKX007 is probably the most famous entry level diver out there. It is solidly constructed with Seiko’s own 7S26 movement, an entry level automatic movement that has a day/date function but is neither hand windable (it winds only via the rotor) nor hacking (the second hand does not stop when the crown is pulled out to adjust the time).
While these features are common among most automatic watches these days, the SKX007 has a massive modding community that can help make this watch anything you’d like aesthetically. From custom crystals and dials to unique bracelets and bezel inserts, it’s not hard to find parts to make this watch exactly what you’ve always envisioned. This watch comes with a Hardlex crystal, which is a essentially a form of mineral crystal developed by Seiko.
Available for $190 from Joma Shop.
2) Tisell: Sub 9015
Rolex’s Submariner is one of the most iconic watches of all time, but it is sadly out of most of our price ranges at $8,500. That said, many brands make homages to this classic diving watch, Tisell among them. Their Sub 9015 is visually very similar to the Submariner (making it quite divisive), but at a much more palatable price point. These watches are made with the Miyota 9015 movement, a Japanese automatic movement that features hacking and hand winding, and is remarkably accurate overall. This movement is arguably the nicest entry level automatic movement available, and is seen in watches all the up to ~$1000. Other popular features of the Sub 9015 is the ceramic bezel insert, very bright lume pips, and sapphire glass crystal.
Ordering this watch is a bit tricky; due to its popularity the stock never makes it to the website, so you instead need to email the store own (his email is at the bottom of the product page). The general wait time is a couple weeks to a month-and-a-half or so, but you might get lucky (or sadly, unlucky).
Available for $220 from Tisell.
3) Orient: Ray II
Orient is another major player in the entry level watch game, and their Ray II is certainly a great watch. It features their own Caliber F6922 movement, which features hacking, handwinding, and a fairly standard 40+ hours power reserve. This model comes in at 41.5mm wide excluding the crown, a very wearable size for most wrist diameters, and comes with a beautiful gradient blue dial. It features a mineral crystal, which is pretty standard fare for entry level timepieces.
Available for $160 from Amazon.
4) Aulta: The Acuatico
Aulta may be a newcomer to the scene, but the already have a strong following. Their Acuatico is their diving watch, which in this case (no pun intended) features a white dial and rubber strap although other configurations exist. It comes with the sapphire crystal that many entry level watches lack, but its Miyota 8215 movement, while solid, is a bit less refined than the Miyota 9015 or Seiko NH35. That said, it’s design is simplistic and, at least for a white dial enthusiast such as myself, one of the most wearable watches on this list.
Available for $230 from Aulta.
5) Citizen: NY0040-09EE
The Citizen NY0040 has long been suggested as an entry level diving watch and who are we to argue? The first thing you’ll notice about this watch is the crown placement at 7-o’clock, which is perfect if you prefer to wear your watch on your right hand (left-handers rejoice) although you certainly shouldn’t be dissuaded if you don’t. It comes with a Miyota 8203a movement, which is in the same product line as the aforementioned 8215 and is similarly robust. Sadly, the NY0040 is rumored to be discontinued so get this watch while you can or be prepared to stalk the secondary market.
Available for $274 from Amazon.
Plus One – Ventus: Mori Brass M-4
There are a lot of great, inexpensive diving watches out there but Ventus’ Mori Brass is really something different. Brass bodied diving watches are far from a unique concept, but this one managed to achieve a very understated design at a very palatable price. It features a Seiko NH35 movement, which is a step above the 7S26 movement used in Seiko’s own entry level divers, and is a solid choice all around. And if that’s not enough Ventus has included a beautiful domed sapphire crystal on this watch to complete that vintage look.
Available for $349 from Ventus.