The Best Dive Watches Of 2021 Under €2,000 — Seiko, Doxa, Aquastar, And More!
Who doesn’t love a good dive watch? For many, they are the gateway drug into a life-long passion for watches. And for some, they remain the focus of their collecting for years to come. No wonder then that every single year we are blessed with countless new models, both from microbrands and established luxury brands alike. I’ll be keeping things personal today, and show you some of my favorite picks, which all happen to land under the €2,000 price point. To me, this is where true value can be found. These are watches that you can wear as intended without worrying about their value in ten years. It’s what tool watches are all about.
This is why I’ve put together a list of my top five dive watches released in 2021. It includes watches from Seiko, Doxa, and Aquastar, as well as some of my favorite releases from microbrands that have left quite an impression. As we’ve already covered most of these watches, I’ll only give a brief overview of why they made the shortlist. I’ll also link over to our in-depth article should you want to know more. So without further ado, let’s kick things off with Seiko.
Starting with Seiko seems rather fitting. However, it wasn’t easy to narrow this down to just one watch released in 2021. After having a look through the brand’s releases, I settled on the 140th Anniversary Seiko Prospex SPB213J1. I find myself at a point in my watch-collecting journey where a dive watch with a black dial and bezel doesn’t have the same appeal it once did. These days, a bit of color and quirk is more than welcome. And in this regard, the SPB213 delivers the goods.
An icy-white dial and equally cool blue bezel give this diver a rather unique look. An upgrade to the first SPB watches (with an added lume marker at 3 o’clock to comply with updated regulations), it maintains all the charm of the 62MAS reissue and with a modern twist. The 40mm case hits the sweet spot, and whether you wear it on the bracelet or a rubber strap, it’s sure to be a perfect companion for any adventure you embark upon. For more on this stunning Seiko diver, check out Lex’s article from earlier this year here.
Three years in the making, the Serica 5303 made quite a splash. Its unique dial and two-tone bezel design, twisted lugs, and mesh bracelet got everyone at Fratello HQ excited. For €1,290, there’s not much else out there as interesting and qualitative. At the end of the day, you’re getting a 300m dive watch with a Swiss Soprod movement inside. For me, it’s the white-dialed version that takes the cake. The off-white lume, crisp white dial, black minutes ring and hands, and red text on the dial are a perfect combination. Plus, the twin-scale bezel, with both a standard dive scale and a 12-hour scale, allowing you to track a second timezone, just makes this watch incredibly versatile.
The slim 39mm case is beautifully finished and sits perfectly on the wrist. I think you’ll find that the 39-40mm case sizes will be a recurring theme in this list (with some worthy exceptions though). And speaking of perfectly proportioned, it’s worth noting that the 5303 is just Serica’s second watch. It’s a worthy sequel to an already hot start with the brand’s field watch, the 4512. Now, my personal take on this one was that though the bracelet is unique, it’s not for me. Mesh bracelets look great, but I’ve never found them to sit how I like them to on my wrist. So, that being said, on a NATO, the 5303 is dive watch perfection. Wanna know more? Check out Jorg’s full hands-on review of the Serica here.
Doxa SUB 600T
Having only been released on the 30th of November, the Doxa SUB 600T is one of the latest dive watches released in 2021. I’m sure most of you reading this article are already familiar with Doxa and its brilliant dive watches. The brand came back to life, bringing back some of its designs from the late ‘60s, namely the SUB 300. This time, however, Doxa has gone back to the early 1980s for this design. This was a bit of an odd time for Doxa, as the brand had just been acquired by the Aubry Frères Company in 1978. The design of the SUB 600 was born of this change in ownership and became a cult classic and a fan favorite. Re-introduced earlier this year in its titanium form for Time+Tide in a special shade of blue, I was happy to see Doxa release these as standard production models.
A staple of the Doxa brand is its wonderfully bright dial colors, and no exceptions have been made for the 600T. In fact, the model was made available in not just six different colors — orange, silver, black, navy, yellow, and turquoise (Professional, Searambler, Sharkhunter, Caribbean, Divingstar, and Aquamarine respectively), but also with two bezel options. Doxa’s signature diving scale bezel in steel gives these models a true vintage feel, faithful to the original models from the ’80s, and a ceramic alternative brings a modern twist.
The ceramic bezel insert is black with color-matched markings, except in the case of the Caribbean, where it matches the blue shade of the dial. Available on both a bracelet and rubber, it’s a perfect dive watch that I would love to add to my collection. Priced at €1,390 and perfectly sized at 40mm, it’s honestly hard to resist! For more information check out my coverage here.
Speaking of brands that made a strong comeback with designs from their former days of glory, I would be remiss not to mention Aquastar. Now, the brand made quite the comeback with the Deepstar Chronograph just last year thanks to Rick Marei. Rick also played an important role in Doxa’s return, as well as in the comeback of the Isophrane and Tropic straps, and brought back one of my favorite dive watches, the Synchron Military.
Now, the Synchron didn’t make the top-five list in favor of the Aquastar, but I’d still love to give it an honorable mention. If it wasn’t for how limited its availability was, it would have undoubtedly made the list. So, coming back to Aquastar — what better way to follow up a dive-chronograph than with a reasonably-sized, pared-back yet still undeniably handsome dive watch? I don’t blame you if you don’t have an answer to that question. I don’t either!
So, what makes the new Aquastar Deepstar so special? For one, it maintains the amazing classic skin-diver styling and unique sub-dial configuration. This time, the case shrinks down to 37mm (or just under 37mm). Now, if you’re thinking that 37mm is too small for your wrist, think again! The chunky case and long, straight lugs mean that it wears larger than it is. Therefore, this is yet another pick that lands in the size sweet spot. Currently sold out, the blue, black, and gray-dialed models will return for another batch next year. Both on the stunning beads-of-rice bracelet or the Tropic rubber strap, this is the perfect dive watch for those looking for something with a vintage feel and proportions, yet which is still more than capable. Find Mike’s article on the Aquastar Deepstar here.
Peren Nera Rogue
Last, but certainly not least, a pick that is very close and dear to me — the Peren Nera Rogue. Now, I’ve said it before, but I’m not typically a huge fan of microbrands. Many of them release watches that have clearly not been given as much thought or care as those from long-standing brands. That, or they are far too similar to some of the most popular models out there. After all, nobody wants a Submariner clone (we hope!). That being said, I’ve had the pleasure of covering some excellent microbrand watches this year. They have given me hope and have helped me appreciate what is possible when a brand truly cares. I’m talking of brands like Studio Underd0g, The Tool Watch Co., Gane, and Peren! Now, of those watches, only one is a dive watch, and it just so happens to be my favorite.
Now, the Peren Nera Rogue is an impressive little diver. At 39mm, the Tornek Rayville-inspired case is given a modern treatment, both in finish and design. A beautiful sand-blasted case and black PVD-coated hand-knurled bezel with minimal markings give it a uniquely contemporary look. The petrol-colored dial contrasts with the beautiful white hands and lume markers, which sit nestled into the black rehaut. It took a strap change from leather to a NATO for me to truly love this watch. Nevertheless, I’m very happy to call this one my own. For the CHF 449 pre-order price, there’s nothing better out there. Especially considering the quality of finishing, beautiful design, and brilliant in-house regulated Sellita SW-200 movement inside. For full coverage of the Peren Nera Rogue, check out my article here.
Well, there you have it ladies and gents, the best dive watches of 2021 under €2,000. Let’s wait and see what 2022 will bring our way! There are sure to be plenty more amazing divers coming in at this price point. Personally, I’ll be keeping my eyes on Oris, Seiko, and Aquastar, as well as on the many brilliant micro brands out there. But for now, let me know: did your favorite make the cut? Or was it simply overlooked? Either way, I’d love to hear from you all in the comments below. Let me know what you think of the picks. Also, speak up if I missed any watches you felt deserved to make the cut!