Smaller watches have made quite a comeback over the past couple of years, and I say this not just as an observation but as a reflection on personal shift in taste, as well. A watch I grew fond of, admittedly unexpectedly so, was the new Tissot Seastar 1000 in the 36mm case size. I’m so happy to see the unnecessary “men” and “women” categories give way to unisex labeling and this Tissot perfectly helps to justify this marketing shift. Beyond that, it’s a well-finished quartz diver that offers quite a bit for less than $400.

The decision by Rolex to have the Explorer scale down back to its original 36mm case size was controversial, to say the least, but it certainly opened some people’s minds when it comes to “smaller” watches. Of course, scaling down in size can’t come with scaling down in performance or quality of finishing. The enthusiast community would have a field day, and rightfully so. Thankfully, the Tissot Seastar in 36mm has 300m of water resistance, which is more than I can say for certain “divers” that are much bigger in both case size and price. There’s also a uni-directional bezel, so you can absolutely time dives wearing this watch. Since it’s a quartz, the movement is equipped with an end-of-life AKA EOL indicator so you don’t unexpectedly wind up with a non-operating watch.

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The quartz movement inside is the ETA F05.412, made available by the Swatch Group umbrella that owns both ETA and Tissot. It’s a simple and reliable quartz movement that may sacrifice some of the “soul” we expect from a mechanical movement, but I’d argue that a quartz movement that’s hassle-free and accurate to +/- 10 seconds per year is preferable to some mechanical movements in the sub-$500 price category.

The stainless steel case of the Seastar 1000 measures 36mm-wide, 9.7mm-thick, and has a lug-to-lug measurement of just under 41mm. I can try to wax poetic about how well the watch fits, but I think the photos do a better job here. It’s a comfortable wear, and that case thickness is just about perfect in making the watch feel substantial enough on the wrist. The bracelet is good enough, with alternating brushed outer links and polished center links, and the foldover clasp gets the job done nicely. What does stand out is the easy change system for the bracelet, which is quite simple to operate, and I can see someone regularly switching out for one of the strap options to change things up.

Behind the sapphire crystal is a very nice glossy blue dial with large hands that are legible and lumed. I really like the lollipop seconds hand that extends all the way to the end of the dial and has that cool Tissot T counterweight. The applied indices are nice enough, and the date window at 6 o’clock is a welcome addition. Really, it’s a simple and well-executed dial that, like the rest of the case and bracelet, offers a lot for the money.

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The Tissot Seastar 1000 36mm is a compelling buy in the affordable diver space. The sizing is versatile, the construction and finishing are excellent, and the brand is a well-known Swiss watchmaker with the weight of the Swatch Group behind it. The model seen here is in the blue dial/blue bezel configuration, though it’s also available in black with gold tones and a white dial/white bezel model. The watch comes on a steel bracelet (straps available separately) and is priced at $375, which is very fair and quite a good value. You can learn more at

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