Summer is in full swing, and by the looks of it, most of us will be spending it closer to home than usual. Nevertheless, we hope you still get to enjoy a bit of time off and some much-deserved fun in the sun. At the same time, watch enthusiasts will be asking themselves, “What will my everyday watch be during the hot summer months?”
Considering summer is the peak season for all sorts of aquatic activities, we have compiled a list of the best affordable diving watches under $2,000. These watches are perfectly suited for daily wear all year round but prove their added value during the summer months. So, without further ado, here are our picks for the five best diving watches of summer 2020:
1. Seiko Prospex SPB077J1 Marinemaster 200M
The first name on any list of affordable and serious diving watches is always going to be Seiko. This Japanese brand has a rich history of creating iconic diving watches. The current Prospex collection is home to some amazing timepieces that fall within our $2,000 price range.
For this list, we decided on the Seiko Prospex SPB077J1. At $1,200, it is easily within budget. This model puts a modern twist on Seiko’s original professional diving watch, the 1968. Seiko released the Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver’s Modern Re-Interpretation – also known as the Marinemaster 200M or MM200 – at Baselworld 2018.
To date, Seiko has released four standard-edition models: the SPB077J1 with a black dial and bezel on a bracelet, the SPB079J1 with a black dial and blue bezel on a black silicone strap, the SPB087J1 with a black dial and blue and red bezel on a silicone PADI strap, and finally the SPB083J1 with a blue dial and black bezel on a bracelet or strap.
The Marinemaster 200 is as serious as it gets within the indicated budget. The watch has a large 44-mm case, is powered by the automatic Seiko caliber 6R15, has a 200-m (656 ft) depth rating, and boasts some amazing looks. This is probably the best you can get for the money.
2. Baltic Aquascaphe
If you want something a bit smaller but with the same retro appeal, the 39-mm Baltic Aquascaphe might be the perfect watch for you. Baltic Watches is a French microbrand that has quickly made a name for itself in the watch industry. They have released three models so far: the HMS001, the Bicompax, and the Aquascaphe. Of the three, the Aquascaphe has made the most waves.
The Aquascaphe’s looks are inspired by some of the world’s most iconic diving watches such as the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, Rolex Submariner, and Omega Seamaster 300. But don’t be fooled – the Aquascaphe is a very modern watch in terms of its materials and technology.
The Aquascaphe is water-resistant to 200 m (656 ft) and features double-domed sapphire crystal, the automatic Japanese Miyota 9039 movement, and a sapphire bezel with a modern “bakelite” appearance that enhances the vintage aesthetic. At $780, the Baltic Aquascaphe is a very affordable option and a fantastic summer watch. All you have to do is choose your favorite color scheme. Do you prefer black/silver, blue/gilt, or black/cream? The choice is yours!
3. Christopher Ward C65 Dartmouth
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Christopher Ward is a British brand that has been around since 2004. It all started when company founders Mike France, Peter Ellis, and Chris Ward took a boat trip on the Thames and discussed the incredible mark-ups Swiss manufacturers apply to their watches. The three men decided to do something about it and started their own brand. As for the name, they simply chose the most English-sounding of the three.
The Christopher Ward C65 Dartmouth is a retro diver created in honor of the “Senior Service” – a.k.a. the Royal Navy. Its design is inspired by the Omega Seamaster 300 “Big Triangle,” which the British Ministry of Defence commissioned Omega to make in the 1960s. The Ministry of Defence also had a hand in the making of the C65 Dartmouth, as evidenced by a stamp of the Royal Navy’s Naval Crown insignia on the case back.
As with the Baltic Aqauscaphe, the C65 Dartmouth may have vintage looks, but its technology and engineering are very modern. Its power comes from the automatic Sellita SW 200, a COSC-certified chronometer movement. Furthermore, the C65 Dartmouth’s 41-mm case is water-resistant to 150 m (492 ft). This model is available in a variety of configurations and colors. The version on a stainless steel bracelet costs about $1,300, while the version on a strap (leather, rubber, or canvas) demands $1,100.
4. Sinn Diving Watch EZM 3
Serious divers require serious diving tool watches, and I know just the right timepiece for the job. At $1,800, the Sinn EZM 3 is the most expensive model on our list. However, that extra money gets you a world-class diver.
Anyone familiar with Sinn knows that this brand takes their tool watches very seriously. They specialize in creating watches that fully embrace the motto “form follows function.” Located in Frankfurt, Germany, Sinn doesn’t create watches for beauty alone. Instead, they strive to create watches that are the best of their kind. However, that doesn’t mean Sinn isn’t interested in creating attractive timepieces.
The perfect example of this is the Sinn EZM 3. It’s a modern diver that boasts protection against magnetic fields, water resistance to 500 m (1,640 ft), and reliability in temperatures ranging from -49°F to 176°F (-45°C to 80°C). It also comes with DNV GL certification and has been tested according to European diving equipment standards – and those are just some of the most impressive specs. Another practical detail is the position of the crown on the left-hand side to prevent it from digging into the wearer’s wrist. The automatic ETA caliber 2824-2 ticks away inside this timepiece, which you can purchase for $1,800 on either a leather or rubber strap. Oh, and did I mention it also looks great? It’s definitely worth the larger investment.
Unimatic Modello Uno U1-FM
Those looking for something special for the summer should consider the Unimatic Modello Uno U1-FM. At first glance, you might think “What have the guys at Unimatic done?” However, the concept is as simple as it is clever. Unimatic founders Giovanni Moro and Simone Nunziato became friends when they were industrial design students at Politecnico di Milano (the Polytechnic University of Milan). They shared a great love of watches and – combined with their industrial design background – asked themselves if there was a way to simplify the classic diving-watch aesthetic.
Could you clean up the design and make something new and exciting that still felt familiar? The answer to this question is the stunning Unimatic Modello Uno U1-FM. It’s a minimalist take on a diving watch with a black aluminum bezel without any markers except for a raised lume dot. Large hour markers dominate the dial, which is very clean and readable. However, the mix of dot, triangle, and line indices keeps things from getting too serious.
This 40-mm watch is powered by the automatic Seiko caliber NH35A and sells for just under $790 on a beautiful Horween strap. What you end up with is essentially a modern and minimalist version of a classic diving watch that looks amazing and is truly something special for the summer.
If you plan on doing some serious diving, however, this is not the tool watch for you. Instead, you should turn to the Unimatic Modello Uno U1-F. This model is a true diving watch. It sports the same minimalist looks but with all the necessary diving info on the bezel. The U1-F is available for $590 on a comfortable NATO strap.
So that’s it – our list of five diving watches that are perfect for summer 2020. Enjoy your summer!