Here at the Fratello offices, we get a lot of questions from you, our readers. Probably the most-asked questions are centered around the topic of what to buy for different budgets. The most popular budget question is what watch to buy for under €5,000 in different watch categories. That’s why we decided to set up a small series of articles focusing on the best watches that you can buy within that budget. In this installment of the series, we will look at the best modern dive watches available for under €5K. Let’s find out what some of your potential best modern dive watches are.

Dive watches are by far the most popular watch genre nowadays, and that’s not just something we see hear our readers. The sheer number of dive watches that are offered by all the different brands is compelling evidence of their popularity. Because the sheer number of options for a list like this is so massive, we’ve decided to split the topic into two articles. This first one will focus on modern-day, sub-€5K divers, and the second will focus on vintage-inspired dive watches at the same price point. That makes it somewhat easier to put together a small selection of the best options out there. So without further ado, let’s take a look at our picks for the best modern-day dive watches under €5,000.

Tudor Pelagos

Tudor is the first logical pick for quite a few different categories under €5K. When it comes to modern dive watches, the Pelagos is the obvious choice. With the addition of the Pelagos FXD, there is even an extra option that is also a great pick at this price point. But we still prefer the good ol’ regular Pelagos because it is more versatile than the fixed-lug FXD. On top of that, it is the quintessential modern Tudor model that really has its own identity. That leaves the question of which version to pick… Black, blue, or maybe the black LHD version? The most characteristic for us would be the blue Pelagos. The blue-and-white color combination still looks ultra-crisp and is the most recognizable out of the three.

When it comes to specs, the Pelagos is hard to beat. The watch comes with a 42mm titanium case and bracelet and is water-resistant to 500 meters. It’s also equipped with a blue ceramic unidirectional diving bezel and a helium-escape valve (HEV). Inside the case, you will find the COSC-certified Tudor caliber MT5612. It features a date display at 3 o’clock and a power reserve of 70 hours. For a price of €4,470, this is probably the best you can get under €5K. Not only are its specs impressive but it’s also probably the most characteristic model in Tudor’s entire collection.

Oris Aquis Calibre 400

Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400

The second pick is the Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400. The Aquis is the brand’s signature modern diver, and it has a lot of fans in the watch community. With the addition of the Calibre 400 models to the lineup, the brand has added even more value to the Aquis collection. The Aquis Date Calibre 400 comes in 41.5mm and 43.5mm versions. Our favorite, however, is the 41.5mm model because it is great for a variety of wrist sizes. But make no mistake, the 43.5mm version also wears very comfortably due to its relatively short lugs. Currently, Oris offers the 41.5mm version with a blue, green, or black dial. On top of that, you have the choice of a black rubber strap or a stainless steel bracelet. The latter is most certainly the best option, especially considering the price difference between the two is only €100.

Oris Aquis Calibre 400 Pocket Shot

The 41.5mm stainless steel case is 13.1mm thick and has a lug width of 22mm. The watch comes equipped with a ceramic bezel and is water-resistant to 300 meters. The automatic Calibre 400 was conceived in-house by Oris and is produced by a third party exclusively for the brand. The movement operates at 28,800vph and has an impressive power reserve of 120 hours. On top of that, it has an accuracy of +5/-3 seconds per day, and it can withstand magnetic fields of up to 2,250 gauss. It’s an impressive set of specs that fit the modern Oris diver perfectly. Out of the three colors available, our favorite is the blue-dial version, as it has become sort of synonymous with the Aquis. The Oris Aquis Date Calibre 400 can be yours for €3,000 on the bracelet. As mentioned, on the rubber strap, it is €100 cheaper at €2,900.

Seiko Prospex MarineMaster 300 SLA021J1

Seiko Prospex Marinemaster 300

An absolute must on this list is the Seiko Prospex Marinemaster 300. From the moment I first laid eyes on the SBDX001 back in 2015, the Marinemaster has impressed me as a brilliant dive watch every time. The current SLA021J1 in black and SLA023J1 in blue are no different. The Marinemaster 300 is still the best of the premium Seiko divers and for its €3,200 price tag, it is hard to beat in terms of specs, finishing, and looks. The Marinemaster 300 features a substantial 44.3mm case that is 15.4mm thick and 50mm lug-to-lug. Therefore, it’s a pretty significant chunk of steel, and probably not for people with smaller wrists. The watch features a monobloc case construction with a sapphire crystal and is water-resistant to 300 meters.

The watch comes equipped with Seiko’s caliber 8L35, which is based on the Grand Seiko 9S55. The automatic movement operates at 28,800vph, has 26 jewels, and features a power reserve of approximately 50 hours. In terms of accuracy, Seiko promises +15/-10 seconds per day on average, but in reality, we know the movement will perform better. The watch features a date window at 3 o’clock and a ceramic bezel insert in the same color as the dial. When it comes to picking the right color, most people will immediately say, “Black!” But our Fratello team member Thor has the blue version, and I really like seeing that as well. Additionally, it’s always incredible to see the Grand Seiko-level of finishing that really makes this an outstanding piece. It’s hard to beat Seiko’s most hardcore dive watch at this price, but even non-divers can enjoy it as the perfect daily watch.

Breitling Superocean Automatic

Another brand that quickly comes to mind for this list is Breitling. While the brand has the Superocean Heritage line full of vintage-inspired models, the regular Superocean collection offers a wide selection of great, modern dive watches. The wonderful thing about the collection is that Breitling offers the Superocean Automatic in five (yes, five!) different case sizes — 36, 42, 44, 46, and 48mm. The 48mm models are a little over €5,000, so technically, they’re out of scope for this article. But my guess is that these models aren’t big sellers anyway, and our favorites are the 42mm and 44mm versions. These capable dive watches come in a variety of different dial colors and offer the choice of a rubber strap or a stainless steel bracelet.

Other than the size, the main difference between the 42mm and 44mm versions is the water resistance. The 44mm version is water-resistant to 1,000 meters, whereas the smaller 42mm variant is water-resistant to 500 meters. As a result, the case of the 44mm Superocean is slightly thicker at 14.2mm thick, whereas the 42mm version is thinner at 13.3mm. Both watches are powered by Breitling’s automatic caliber 17. As Mike explained, it is an ETA 2824 brought up to chronometer specs. The movement operates at 28,800vph and has a 38-hour power reserve. The 42mm version comes with a black, orange, blue or white dial. The 44mm Superocean comes with a blue, yellow, or black dial. There is no difference in price between these two sizes, and they can be yours for €3,600 on a rubber strap or €3,950 on a stainless steel bracelet.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300

The last pick is the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 that was introduced last year. Our Fratello team member Dave reviewed the regular stainless steel version with a blue dial. Dave stated that it stakes a serious claim to being the only watch you need at this price point. Personally, I had the chance to go hands-on with the limited-edition Night Diver. I absolutely adore that watch because it brings back the allure of the fully lumed Night Divers from the 1980s that I love. But no matter which version you pick, the Aquaracer is a great choice because it looks different than most dive watches out there. The regular version comes with a stainless steel 43mm case and features the characteristic Aquaracer bezel with a ceramic insert. The watch is available with a black, blue, green, or silver dial and comes with either a rubber strap or a stainless steel bracelet.

The thing that impressed me most when I had the Night Diver in for review was how slim the watch is and how comfortable it is on the wrist. The Aquaracer is water-resistant to 300 meters, and inside the case, you will find the TAG Heuer Calibre 5 based on the Sellita SW200-1. The automatic movement operates at 28,800vph, and it has 26 jewels with a 38-hour power reserve. Yes, competitors like Seiko, Oris, and Tudor offer in-house/proprietary movements with better specs in the same price bracket. But in terms of looks, and in the case of my favorite Night Diver, the fun(ctionality) of a fully lumed dial offers something extra over its competitors. The Aquaracer can be yours at €2,850 on a bracelet and €2,550 on a rubber strap. If you can still find the Night Diver, you will have to pay €3,150. And you already know which one I would get!

Final thoughts

This is obviously just a very short list of possible picks for the best modern dive watches under €5,000. There are plenty of other cool options out there, and that’s why I would like to turn it over to you guys. What do you think? Are the five options I mentioned the best ones that are currently available? Please tell us your favorite sub-€5K modern dive watch in the comments section below. We will be back with another list of possible options under €5K soon.

Find and follow me at Jorg Weppelink • Instagram.