Tudor Black Bay Fifty-EightOf the raft of retro-styled divers out there, the most in-demand has to be Tudor’s Black Bay Fifty-Eight. Not only is it a flawless throwback to the golden era of serious diving, but it has the heritage to back it up. The same goes for the mechanics, with a solid 70-hour power reserve, silicon balance spring and quality finishing. If there’s one watch that proves that Tudor’s no longer just Rolex’s little brother, it’s this.

But because of just those qualities it’s not exactly a cheap watch. It’s worth the money for sure, but then so’s a Ferrari and we can’t all buy one of those on a whim. Fortunately Tudor isn’t the only watch brand to have tapped into the retro zeitgeist; far from it. There are a host of eminently affordable, archival-inspired timepieces out there that match the vintage diver style of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight.

About Vintage 1926 Automatic

About Vintage 1926 Automatic, steel _ black vintage

While it harks back to a slightly earlier time in diving, before Jacques Cousteau changed the game, the chunky, oversized bezel of the 1926 Automatic is full of retro charm. At 39mm it’s the perfect size to replace the Tudor and comes on quick change straps for surprising versatility. Backed by a solid automatic movement, it’s a great value proposition that just a little quirkier than your standard diver.

Case/dial: 39mm diameter, stainless steel   |    Movement: Calibre Miyota 8215, automatic, 21 jewels   |    Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)   |    Power reserve: 42h   |    Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds   |    Strap: NATO-strap (standard), interchangeable   |    Price: €599 EUR, limited to 999 pieces, more details at About Vintage.

Ollech & Wajs P-101 S

Ollech & Wajs P-101 S

Ollech & Wajs take their design cues from the earlier pieces they provided for the US military, hence this model’s more field watchy look. I’s very obviously built to survive with 300m water resistance and the finer details like the lume-laddered minute hand are nothing if not practical. The elongated case makes it feel a little more elegant than most divers, but the highlight is the fantastic bracelet, ripped straight out of the early 1960s.

Case/dial: 39.56mm diameter, brushed 316L stainless steel   |    Movement: Calibre ETA 2824-2 OW3P, automatic, 25 jewels   |    Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)   |    Power reserve: 38h   |    Functions: Hours, minutes, central sweeping seconds, date   |    Strap: Stainless steel bracelet   |    Price: $1,192 USD, more details at OW-Watch.

Seiko Prospex SPB147J1

Seiko Prospex

Value for money? Seiko hears you. Not only is this retro-slanted Prospex the exact colourway that makes the Black Bay Fifty-Eight the charmer it is, the chunkier indexes give it arguably more personality. It’s a little bigger, but part of that is the lozenge case shape. Otherwise it matches the Tudor spec for spec, from the 200m water resistance to the 70-hour power reserve. Sure it’s not COSC certified, but it’s still in-house and is a fraction of the price.

Case/dial: 40.5mm diameter, 316L stainless steel   |    Movement: Calibre Seiko 6R35, automatic with manual winding capacity, 24 jewels   |    Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)   |    Power reserve: 70h   |    Functions: Hours, minutes, central second hand, date at 3 o’clock   |    Strap: Silicone strap   |    Price: £900 GBP, more details at Seiko.

Christopher Ward C65 Trident Automatic

Christopher Ward C65 Trident Automatic

The C60 Trident might be Christopher Ward’s flagship, but for vintage styling the smaller 41mm C65 is the way to go. It’s been stripped back to bare essentials, with a sparsely-numeralled diving bezel and a simple mix of circular and baton lumed indexes in a nice sepia colour. It’s comparatively a little lacking in specs with 150m water resistance and a 38-hour power reserve, but as a dive-to-dress watch it hits the nail on the head. It’s also available in blue, which is nice.

Case/dial: 41mm diameter, stainless steel   |    Movement: Calibre Sellita SW200-1, automatic, 26 jewels   |    Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)   |    Power reserve: 38h   |    Functions: Hours, minutes, central sweeping seconds, date |    Strap: Vintage leather strap   |    Price: £740 GBP, more details at Christopher Ward.

Yema Superman II Maxi Dial

Yema Superman II Maxi Dial

Oversized crown? Check. Oversized indexes? Double check. Maintaining a retro-proportioned 40mm case? Yema’s funky take on their classic Superman has it all, and personality to spare. The maxi dial is more than just quirky though; it helps underwater readability by making the indexes downright unmissable. Combined with 300m water resistance and a solid French automatic movement, it’s a fun take on Yema’s iconic diver.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter, brushed 316L stainless steel   |    Movement: In house calibre MBP1000, automatic, 31 jewels   |    Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)   |    Power reserve: 42h   |    Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date at 3 o’clock    |    Strap: Brushed stainless steel bracelet   |    Price: $749 USD, more details at Yema.

Michel Herbelin Trophy

Michel Herbelin Trophy

If you’re looking for a slightly larger, more modern take on the same formula, look no further than the giant of French watch brands that is Michel Herbelin. Their sporty Trophy has all the requirements of a proper diver – including 300m water resistance – and has the finishing and materials (steel and ceramic) to match and serious watchmaker. The only difference is a Sellita movement, which just makes the Trophy incredibly accessible.

Case/dial: 42mm diameter, 316L stainless steel   |    Movement: Calibre Sellita SW200-1, automatic   |    Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)   |  Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date   |    Strap: Steel bracelet   |    Price: £765 GBP, more details at Michel Herbelin.

Lorier Neptune Series III

Lorier Watches Neptune Series III

A more elegant take on the black and gold look of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight, the Neptune uses pointed indexes and hands a world away from the usual blocky connotations of retro. It’s about as clean as the practicality of a diver allows and sits perfectly in the sweet spot for size, 39mm. It’s a little lower on the specs scale with a Mioyta 90S5 automatic movement, but it still has 200m water resistance and the sharp looks more than make up for it.

Case/dial: 39mm diameter, 316L stainless steel   |    Movement: Calibre Miyota 90S5, automatic, 24 jewels   |    Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)   |    Power reserve: 42h   |    Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds   |    Strap: 316L stainless steel bracelet    |    Price: $499 USD, more details at Lorier Watches.

EMG Nemo Diver

EMG Watches Nemo Diver

If Yema’s indexes are oversized then those of the EMG Nemo are under. Shorter but no less blocky than a lot of others on this list, they leave plenty of room for the incredibly deep black of the dial, a contrast with the slightly greyer 120-click, lume-filled ceramic bezel. Between the unusually domed crown, chain link bracelet and off-kilter proportions, the Nemo’s one of the more unique-looking odes to 60s diving culture – and one of the more accessible.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter, 316L stainless steel   |    Movement: Calibre Miyota 90S5, automatic, 24 jewels   |    Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)   |    Power reserve: 42h   |    Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds   |    Strap: “Beads of Rice” style bracelet   |    Price: $450 USD, more details at EMG Watches.

Second Hour Gin Clear Diver

Second Hour Gin Clear Diver

The basic version of Second Hour’s Kickstarter-smashing diver has a lot aesthetically in common with Tudor, from the oversized crown to the gold-edged indexes. Where it wins out though is colour. The Gin Clear Diver comes in a fantastic selection of blues, greens and reds that pop more than any divers this side of Doxa. Complemented by a solid case, 200m water resistance and reliable Sellita movement, it’s a tool watch you can have fun with.

Case/dial: 41.5mm diameter, 316L stainless steel   |    Movement: Calibre Sellita SW200, automatic, 21 jewels   |    Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)   |    Power reserve: 42h   |    Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date at 3 o’clock   |    Strap: Stainless steel bracelet   |    Price: $800 AUD, more details at Second Hour.

Spinnaker Cahill

Spinnaker Cahill

The most accessible watch of the lot of Spinnaker’s Cahill, a watch named after the famed Scuba pioneer. The textured blue dial is a nice touch and everything else about the watch is practical for a diving watch and wallet both. Perfectly sized at 40mm, it makes for a great daily wear watch backed by a work horse Miyota movement. If you have a hole in your collection for a cool, retro watch but don’t fancy splashing the cash, Spinnaker has you covered.

Case/dial: 40mm diameter, 316L stainless steel  |    Movement: Calibre Miyota 8215, automatic, 26 jewels   |    Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)   |    Power reserve: 38h   |    Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, date at 3 o’clock   |    Strap: Stainless steel bracelet   |    Price: £275 GBP, more details at Spinnaker.