The list author says: "So you're looking for a dive watch? Great! But you're a man with small (<6.5") wrists? Not so great. Unfortunately the problem with modern dive watches is their ever-increasing diameter. While this trend can partly be attributed to practical considerations (e.g. increased legibility), IMO much of it has to do with a "bigger is better" marketing mentality. If the average dive watch looks and feels disproportional relative to your wrist, you should consider a smaller or "midsize" model.
This is a list of watches that meet my (arbitrary) criteria: (1) 40mm diameter or less, not including the crown. Based on my 38mm Aquaracer, which is perfect for my 6.5" wrist. (2) Minimum 200m depth rating. Strictly speaking a true dive watch must be be ISO 6425 "tested", but for recreational diving many would argue an ISO 2281 rating of 200m will suffice. (3) Unidirectional rotating bezel- the fundamental feature of a dive watch. (4) Quality manufacturer. A dive watch is a mission critical piece of equipment. No chinese knock-offs or wannabe dive watches from fashion brands. (5) Available for retail purchase. There are many good boutique brands out there, but not everyone can wait for a custom or limited production watch. A similar argument applies to discontinued watches/brands.
Caveats to this list: (1) This list is based on my personal criteria. Feel free to set your own criteria, but don't take up your disagreements with me. (2) No price cutoff. Everyone has their own budget and ideal price/performance ratio. (3) No distinction between quartz and automatic movements. Again, determine what's important to you. Many of the models here are produced in both movements. (4) No distinction between band material. Again, personal preference. (5) The dimensions listed here are sourced from various websites. Please do your research and verify the dimensions with the retailer before purchasing, or better yet, go to a retail store and try the watch on in person."
"My reference design and personal watch for the last 8 years. 38.4mm diameter. I've taken this watch SCUBA diving, surfing, white-water rafting, swimming, camping, traveling, rappelling, spelunking, on military duty, and more, and it simply won't quit. Unfortunately the reduced use of luminescent markings in the latest iteration (circa 2009) means I can no longer recommend it whole-heartedly."
"38.4mm Aquaracer with colored bezel and enhanced markings. IMO much better suited for diving that the 'plain' Aquaracer listed above. The black version has apparently been discontinued, but is still widely available in blue."
"Arguably the diver's benchmark watch and inspiration for countless other dive watches, as well as the model of choice for many famous, if not affluent, divers. Just makes the cut with a 40mm diameter."
"Along with the Rolex Submariner, the quintessential dive watch. Sadly the victim of shameless and relentless "James Bond" marketing, but nonetheless tried and true. Midsize model is 36.25mm. Manual helium release valve. Also available in a certified chronometer version."
"38mm dive watch from Baume & Mercier. Meets my criteria but not much discussion on this model on the watch forums. Certainly an esoteric design that's sure to be a conversation starter. Would prefer a 'whole' hour-hand marking instead of the 'split' design currently employed."
"Although Breitling is more commonly associated with aviation, they're certainly no stranger to the world of diving. With design elements clearly borrowed from its aeronautic cousins, this 40mm watch features a whopping 500m depth rating, GMT marker, and certified automatic movement. IMO the dial is a little too crowded though, and the bezel markings desperately need contrast."
"This 38mm modern remake of the original 1957 Superoceean honors its heritage in fine style and features the 1950's Breitling logo in 18K gold, old-style minute hand, classic shark mesh bracelet, second-hand sub-dial (select colors), certified automatic movement, and naturally a 200m depth rating. Also available in black, bronze, and blue."
""Always Visible", even in complete darkness, due to the use of self-illuminating tritium markers. However, despite the unabashed references to the US Navy SEALs, these models are not standard government issue. Note the distinction between the "3000 series" with 44mm diameter and the "7050 series" with 38mm diameter as listed here. Many of the product descriptions on Amazon are erroneous."
"A relatively new watch manufacturer, Reactor set out to defy conventional watchmaking norms. The 'Reactor DNA' of every watch includes forged cases, triple gasket crowns, solid screw bars for bracelet attachment, triple-security clasps, ample use of Superluminova markings, and individual depth testing. 40mm diameter."
"From another relative newcomer, TechnoMarine's recently introduced Cruise Sport series is a refreshing update to the now iconic Cruise. This 40mm, 3-hand watch features a clean, minimalistic design, and ships with two different colored bands to let you mix things up."
"Generally all Seiko dive watches are automatic movements. While not as accurate as their Swiss counterparts, Seiko nonetheless offers excellent value for money and a long history of watch-making 'firsts'. This 36mm model is dive-rated to 200m (product description states 100m- this is incorrect)."
"The only dive watch that I could find from Citizen that meets my criteria. 38mm diameter, 200m rating. Generally well-reviewed, but some complaints that the build quality isn't as high as comparable models from Seiko. Unlike most of Citizen's other watches, this is a battery powered quartz movement and not Eco-Drive."
"Although long-term durability is hit-or-miss based on user reviews, one of the most affordable dive watches on the market and offers excellent "bang for your buck" given the feature set. 39.3mm diameter. Available in a wide selection of color and band choices, and covered by a unique 2/4/6 year extendable warranty program."
"A recently introduced product line from St. Moritz/Momentum. Very similar to the original M1 series, including the 39.3mm size, but features a redesigned dial and bezel with enhanced legibility and much less visual 'clutter'. "Diver Down" flag emblazoned on the dial. Like the M1, also covered by the 2/4/6 year extendable warranty program."
"One of Invicta's best-selling models, and for good reason. Features Japanese automatic movement and a 200m rating for less than a Benjamin. 40mm diameter. Long-term durability is again debatable based on user reviews, but the thriving Invicta community would indicate they must be doing something right. Frequently discounted online, so be sure to browse the web for the best price."