Finding The Best Vintage-Inspired Dive Watches Under €5,000 — From Breitling, Tudor, Oris, And More
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 vintage-inspired dive watches available for under €5K. Let’s see what stylish, historically inspired options the industry has to offer.
As I mentioned in last week’s list, dive watches are by far the most popular watch genre nowadays. People love wearing them as great daily wearers, and the sheer number of dive watches 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 decided to split the topic into two articles. This second article will focus on vintage-inspired, sub-€5K divers, whereas last week’s list focused on modern-day 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 vintage-inspired dive watches under €5,000.
Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57
The category of vintage-inspired dive watches is obviously not just driven by specs. The vintage appeal can be found in the style and stories. For me, the Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 is one of your best options under €5K in terms of style. When the re-issue of the original was introduced in 2020, a lot of people praised the new take on this Breitling classic. Fratello’s own Mike wrote a lengthy review about the watch in which he explained why it is such a great timepiece. It starts with the 100m water-resistant stainless steel case, measuring 38mm in diameter with a 42mm dive bezel. It’s this bezel that gives the original Superocean and this current Superocean Heritage ’57 so much character. The concave insert is made of ceramic, which fits the watch perfectly because of its glossy presence, resembling the original watch from the 1950s.
Inside the case, Breitling chose to use the automatic caliber B10, a chronometer-certified ETA 2892 or Sellita SW300. Many of us would have loved or even expected to see an in-house movement. But Breitling currently does not have an in-house caliber that guarantees the very slim profile that this watch has. At just 9.9mm thick, it wears like a charm, and the B10 caliber makes that possible. Once on the wrist, you are greeted by a dial that is very true to the original Superocean — from the “Christmas Tree” hour hand to the “oven-dial” hour markers, to the text on the dial and the absence of a date window. Add the mesh bracelet, and more than six decades after the release of the original watch; the Superocean is still one hell of a stylish statement at €4,570.
Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight
The second watch on the list is a popular pick amongst watch fans. And we here at Fratello are no different. Quite a few Fratello team members own a Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight because it is a great watch. Quite simply put, it is the full package. And within the current Tudor collection, you can choose four different models that all fall within the €5K price bracket. There are the two stainless steel models in black and blue, the silver model with its taupe bezel and dial, and finally, there is the full-bronze version. My personal favorite is the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Navy Blue that I reviewed when it came out in 2020. The watch features a 39mm case that is 11.9mm thick and measures 47.75mm from lug to lug. These dimensions help the watch suit a great variety of wrist sizes, which is a big part of its phenomenal success.
The watch is water-resistant to 200 meters thanks to the screw-down crown and case back. Inside the case, Tudor equipped the watch with the automatic Tudor caliber MT5402. The movement is COSC-certified, ticks at 28,800vph, and has a 70-hour power reserve. Overall, the quality of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight is impressive, and that is also reflected in the bracelet. It also happens to be the only way I can pull off the BB58. With both strap options, the watch wears too small on my wrist, so it’s the bracelet or nothing for me. Either that or I would have to switch it for its bigger brother, the 41mm Black Bay. But that one wears chunkier, and that’s why I prefer the smaller Black Bay Fifty-Eight. At €3,580 on the bracelet, the stainless steel Black Bay Fifty-Eight is the best your money can buy. You could also opt for the 925 silver version at €4,180 or the bronze version at €4,370.
Oris Divers Sixty-Five
From Fifty-Eight to Sixty-Five is only a small step. The Oris Divers Sixty-Five is the brand’s very popular and affordable diver that offers plenty of charm. The Divers Sixty-Five is available in 38mm, 40mm, and 42mm, with the last two being the standard sizes. The regular 38mm models are the Cotton Candy versions, which debuted last year. But we have seen several limited editions recently in 38mm that show the Divers Sixty-Five works very well in the smaller sizes as well. But let’s focus on the regular 40mm model, which is the most popular of the three. What I love about the 40mm version is how it strikes a perfect balance between that vintage charm many of us love and modern specs. It makes the watch an absolute joy to wear.
The watch features a 40mm case that is 11.82mm thick and has a 48mm lug-to-lug length. The lug width is 20mm, and the rivet bracelet tapers down to a very nice 16mm for great comfort. Inside the 100m water-resistant case, Oris equips the watch with its caliber 733, which is based on the Sellita SW200-1. As most of you will know, Oris has used the impressive Calibre 400 series of movements for the 38mm Hodinkee and Chronos Magazine limited editions, as well as the Carl Brashear limited edition. Hopefully, we will see it in the regular model as well in the future. The standard 40mm model comes in a wide array of configurations. There are stainless steel and steel-and-bronze options, different dial colors, and the choice of a strap or bracelet. In stainless steel on a bracelet, the Oris Divers Sixty-Five offers great value for money at exactly €2,000.
Panerai Luminor Base Logo PAM01086
If we are talking vintage-style dive watches, this Panerai Luminor Base Logo cannot be denied a spot on this list. This is the most expensive pick on this list, with a list price of €4,900, so it’s just within the designated price bracket. Additionally, it is the only Panerai model in the current collection under €5K. If you prefer your Luminor with a small seconds sub-dial, unfortunately, that falls just outside of the budget. That said, I assume if you’ve saved up for a Luminor, the difference in price probably won’t hold you back. Anyway, the standard Luminor Base Logo PAM01084 has a 44mm stainless steel case that is 13.05mm thick. The watch features a sapphire crystal and push-in case back and is water-resistant to 100 meters.
The iconic black dial features the iconic Panerai design with its two hands and characteristic numerals and indices filled with Super-LumiNova phosphor for a vintage touch. The lower half of the dial features the famous Officine Panerai logo that many enthusiasts love. Inside the case, Panerai uses its proprietary caliber P.6000. It’s the replacement for the Unitas 6497-based movement that Panerai used for many years before. The hand-wound movement operates at 21,600vph and offers 72 hours of power reserve. I love that the standard model comes with a beige-stitched tan suede strap. I love Panerai watches with lighter straps to add to their overall appeal. For under €5K, it’s hard to find a watch with more character and vintage appeal than this one.
Doxa Sub 300
Another iconic dive watch that deserves a spot on this list is the Doxa Sub 300. If we are talking about instantly recognizable dive watches, the Doxa Sub 300 is one of the first models that comes to mind. The combination of the case design, the dial colors, and the bracelet makes this one of the most recognizable watches, diver or non-diver. As most of you know, this is the watch that put Doxa on the map. The brand also got a little help from an endorsement by famous French explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. The flat tonneau-style case measures 42.5mm × 45mm. It is 13.4mm thick and water-resistant to 300 meters. Something that usually pops up in discussions about the Doxa Sub 300 is the size of the dial. In relation to the 42.5mm case, the 27.3mm dial looks very small.
It might take some visual adjustment when you first put the watch on your wrist. But once you have that covered, you recognize it’s part of the watch’s charm. Inside the case, Doxa equips the Sub 300 with a COSC-certified ETA 2824-2 automatic movement. This well-known caliber offers 38 hours of power reserve and an accuracy of +6/-4 seconds per day. You can get the Sub 300 in various dial colors — black, orange, silver, navy, aqua blue, and yellow. On top of that, you can choose between a rubber strap and a beads-of-rice bracelet. The latter would always be my preferred option at €2,490. And if you want something lighter and more modern, you can always opt for the carbon version of the Sub 300. The aqua-dial version looks like the perfect summer watch, although it is significantly more expensive at €3,790.
This is obviously just a very short list of possible picks for the best vintage-inspired dive watches under €5,000. Some other honorable mentions are the Longines Legend Diver, the popular Seiko SPB143, the Sinn 206 models, and the list goes. That’s why I would like to turn it over to you guys. There are plenty of other cool options out there. What do you think? Are the five options I mentioned the best ones that are currently available? Please tell us your favorite sub-€5K vintage-inspired dive watch in the comments section below. We will be back with another list of possible options under €5K soon.
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