The Rolex Submariner is an icon in the marine watch world and is one of the most famous Rolex models. It was produced in 1953, and was the first watch with a 100m water resistance. Its water resistance was then increased to 300m in later models.
The early models of the Rolex Submariner were featured in many movies - including the famous James Bond movie “Dr No”, where Sean Connery sports the legendary Rolex Submariner “Big Crown” (ref 6538).
This watch has become much more than a tool, it is a symbol of luxury that can literally be worn with anything, office and diving suits included.
You will find below some alternatives to the Rolex Submariner that will accommodate all budgets and that are available immediately for sale on eBay.
The Gigandet Sea Ground is probably one of the cheapest Rolex Submariner alternatives out there.
The diameter is 43mm without crown and the stainless steel case is 15mm thick. The lug width is 22mm and the bezel is in aluminium. The glass is in hard mineral and the watch is powered by the 8215 Miyota automatic calibre. Water resistance is an impressive 300m (30ATM).
Obviously, this watch is not as refined as more expensive alternatives mentioned on this site, but for less than $150 you get an automatic watch with a Miyota movement which we think is definitely worth a try if you are on a low budget.
The Seiko SNZF17 - part of the Seiko 5 Sports watches family and also called the “Sea Urchin” - can be seen as a very afforable diving watch with a similar style to the Rolex Submariner. The reference SNZF17 has a black bezel insert and a black dial, whereas the SNZF15 has a “Pepsi” (blue and red) bezel and dark blue dial.
This watch can be for many an ideal balance between price and style: the diameter of the SNZF model is 41mm and it is 13.2mm thick, making it a great fit for most wrists. It is powered by the reliable 7S26 automatic (self-winding) mechanical movement, offering a day-date complication. The water resistance of the Seiko “Sea Urchin” is 100m, making it suitable for surface swimming.
Despite its similar case style with the Rolex Submariner, the SNZF models have their own identity: the lumed hands and dial have a totally different design. They are protected by a hardlex mineral crystal, and will glow in the dark for hours. This is what we all love about Seiko watches : they have their own story and will never be blatant copies of other brands/models.
Once again Seiko offers a great and affordable alternative to more luxurious models such as the Rolex Submariner. If you do not like the Oyster-style stainless steel bracelet, the standard 22mm lug width will allow you to easily find alternative straps. The Seiko SNZF17 and SNZF15 can be found on the used market for less than $200.
Following the success of the Orient Mako II, the Orient Mako III (ref RA-AA0001B) is a fantastic diver. It is a great entry-level diving watch that retails at a price of around $250. It has a 42mm diameter and a thickness of 13mm.
This diver has its own identity, meaning it is not an homage and that it has an authentic, timeless and well-executed design. However, some might regret that the Mako III lost the numerals that were present on the dial of the Mako II. The hour markers and hands contrast well with the black dial, they are covered with some LumiBrite to ensure a high level of readability in the dark. The water resistance is 200m and the lug width of this watch is conveniently 22mm.
Despite having a larger diameter than Mako II (which was 41mm wide), the Mako III is very comfortable to wear because of its relatively short lugs. The steel bracelet is of good quality and offers some micro-adjustments. It will be a perfect companion in the sea or any casual occasion. Like its predecessor, the Mako III features a day-date display. It sports the Orient F6922 in-house movement, which supports both hacking and hand winding. The power reserve of this calibre is 40 hours.
The rotating bezel has 120 ticks and it has a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. It is pretty hard to find a divers watch with a sapphire crystal, hacking and windable movement for $250, so this one is basically a steal.
The Orient Mako III is simply one of the best divers you can find in this price range. Although it is slightly larger, the Mako III also makes a great affordable alternative to the Rolex Submariner.
The San Martin Vintage Sub should satisfy fans of vintage Rolexes and Tudors who are looking for medium size vintage diver homages. San Martin is a Chinese brand that has become increasingly popular because of its amazing value for money. This model can be seen as a very afforable diving watch with a similar style to the vintage Rolex Submariners like the “big crown” models the San Martin page on Ali Express mentions the 6200 reference, which is a famous Rolex Sumariner model with the 369 dial. The reference SN004-G has a black bezel insert with gold numerals and a black dial with a gilt chapter ring.
This watch can be for many an ideal balance between price and style: the diameter of the SN004-G model is 38mm, the lug-to-lug distance is 46mm and it is 13mm thick, making it a great fit for most wrists. It is powered by the reliable NH35 automatic (self-winding) mechanical movement, but the dial has no date, which might upset a few due to the first “ghost” position when pulling the crown to set the time. The water resistance of this San Martin Vintage Submariner homage is 200m, making it suitable for swimming and diving.
The case has a similar style to the Tudor Black Bay 58, so this could be considered as an affordable alternative to the Tudor Black Bay 58. The C3 lumed indices have the same shapes as the ones of the gilt dial of the vintage 5513 Rolex submariner from the 1960s. They are protected by a sapphire crystal, and will emit a green glow in the dark for hours.
San Martin offers a great and affordable alternative to more luxurious models such as the Rolex Submariner and Tudor Balack Bay 58. If you do not like the vintage-style rivetted stainless steel bracelet, the standard 20mm lug width will allow you to easily find alternative straps. The San Martin SN004 can be found on the used market for less than $200.
Steinhart is quite famous for its homage models of the modern Rolex Submariner, but it also issued some watches inspired by some vintage Rolex Submariner watches, that have their own identity:
The OCEAN One VINTAGE Red (ref 103-0657)
The dimensions of these vintage-looking models are: 42mm diameter, 13mm thick, 22mm lug width.
It is also worth noting that a limited edition with a 39mm of the OVM was launched by Gnomon watches, limited to 500 pieces. They are sold out but you can find some on the used market, with a little bit of patience and research.
The lume on the dial and hands of those models is Super Luminova “Old Radium”, giving those new watches a vintage look.
The watch sports a classic yet reliable Swiss ETA 2824-2 (or Selita SW 200) élaboré ( +/- 7sec/day max +/-20sec/day).
Each of those models can be seen as a great alternative to the vintage Rolex models like the Rolex Milsub, or the Rolex Submariner 1680 (famous for its red text) - which are now prohibitively expensive. Despite their vintage look, those Steinhart models have a 300m water resistance!
The Glycine combat sub is a popular watch that offers great value for money and is often mentioned as an affordable alternative to the Rolex Submariner. It's available in different sizes and colors, ranging from 42mm to 48mm. It features an in-house Glycine automatic movement GL 224, which is very reliable and has a 38h power reserve.
The combat sub has a date function with a display at the 3 o'clock position. The glass is made of scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
The uni-directional rotating bezel is made of silver-tone stainless steel with a black aluminum bezel, providing a very classic and timeless look.
This divers watch is relatively thin for its size, with a thickness of 10.6mm. The case back is solid, with the Glycine logo etched in. The combat sub has a water resistance of 200m and is available on a nato or a steel bracelet.
This watch has a nice vintage feel, looking similar to divers in the 60s yet with the features of modern watches.
We personally like the GL0083 model, which has a lug width of 22mm. Although this watch wears quite large with a lug to lug distance of 52mm, we think the Glycine Combat Sub can be considered as a one of the best Rolex Submariner alternatives.
This German-made homage to the Rolex Submariner is particularly well made and is providing amazing value for money in the world of mechanical watches.
The dimensions of the Ocean One are slightly bigger than its luxury counterpart: 42mm diameter, 13mm thick, 22mm lug width.
However, a 39mm version is available on some models, notably the Ocean One 39 black ceramic (103-0981) which is a serious affordable alternative to the Rolex Submariner. Those 39mm models are perfect for smaller wrists, although they have a similar thickness to the 42mm ones, they have a lug width of 20mm.
As you can see on the pictures, the Steinhart watches look very similar to the Rolex Submariner, they sometimes have been criticized for their very close resemblance.
The Rolex-like models have a black dial, with applied indices and the famous Mercedes hands. They are protected by a saphire crystal which also features a “Cyclop” magnifier. The lume on hands and indices is SuperLuminova, which provides a decent legibility in the dark through its bluish glow.
The Steinhart Ocean One can be found with a Ceramic or Aluminium Bezel depending on the model. It retails at €395 for the aluminium version and costs €430 with a Ceramic insert.
The watch sports a classic yet reliable Swiss ETA 2824-2 Elaborated (+/-7sec/day max +/-20sec/day).
It is definitely a robust homage/alternative to the Rolex Submariner, with a 300m water resistance it will keep up with your dives!
The SKX007/SKX009 is a very respectable diving watch that many people have in their collection. It is very affordable and easily found around $250 on eBay. It is very solid and is comfortable to wear.
The water resistance is 200m. It sports the Seiko 7S26 automatic movement which is a reliable workhorse and offers 40 hours of power reserve. Although this movement does not have handwinding and hacking capabilities, unlike the 4R36.
The diameter of this timepiece is 42.5mm and it is 13.25mm thick: it definitely has a healthy wrist presence, but is surprisingly comfortable to wear despite its size. The water resistance is 200m and it is ISO certified for diving activities.
The Seiko SKX007 is often mentioned as an affordable Rolex Submariner alternative, it has even found its place in collections made of much pricier timepieces. Others see it as the ultimate toolwatch that can take a beating without breaking a sweat.
Moreover, this watch can also be easily customized through modding kits that can be found on the Dagaz website. The customizations that you can do on this watch have no limit.
The design of this watch is timeless and it can easily be your daily wearer. If the SKX007 is too big for your wrist, you can have a look at its little brother, the SKX013.
The Khaki Navy Scuba from Hamilton is perfectly suited to summer days at sea as well as to a day in the office. Its H-10 automatic movement with an impressive 80hours power reserve offers performance and precision.
The watch is is water-resistant up to 100m and available in three color combinations. The eye-catching yet timeless design makes it a great and affordable alternative to more luxurious models such as the Rolex Submariner.
With a 40mm diameter, it is also very comfortable to wear. The standard 20mm lug width will allow you to easily find alternative straps.
The Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 is an affordable Rolex submariner alternative that comes with the rich Swiss heritage of the Tissot brand (founded in 1853). This particular Powermatic version was introduced at Baselworld in March 2018. We love the model T1204071704100, which has a gorgeous black/blue sunburst dial. We can find in this watch some subtle influences of the Rolex Submariner and the Omega Seamaster, but it is a timepiece that has its own identity. The Tissot Seastar might be the perfect entry-level luxury dive watch for you, let's find out why.
The design of the case is very classy and elegant, making it work well with casual outfits while not looking out of place in more formal occasions. The case is made of 316L stainless steel, which has a diameter of 43mm and is 12.7mm thick. This gives the Seastar a generous wrists presence, the 12.7mm thickness is definitely to be appreciated, giving the watch a slimmer appearance and feel. It is polished on crown guards, lugs, and the extruded sides of the case. The rest has a brushed finish. The lugs are long and slender and contribute to the refined look of this watch, the lug-to-lug distance is 47.3mm, which might feel too big for some of you. The good looking crown at 3 o'clock is signed with a “T” (for Tissot) and is protected by crown guards, that have a similar style to the ones of the Rolex Submariner.
The lug width of this watch is 21mm, which is not as popular as 20mm or 22mm, meaning it will be less easy for you to find a replacement for the bracelet. Nevertheless, 21mm looks good with the 43mm case. The lugs are not drilled: which helps maintain the sleek look, although it will make it harder to change the bracelet.
Through the transparent case back you will be able to admire the automatic movement at work. This one comes with a luxurious looking engraved rotor. The Tissot Seastar is powered by the automatic movement Powermatic 80, which as its name suggests provides an impressive 80-hour power reserve. This movement is based on the well-known ETA 2824-2.
The dial of the Tissot Seastar is clean and elegant, but let's not forget this is a Swiss luxury watch: the sunburst black and blue dial is very attractive. This dial contributes to the timeless and very versatile design of this watch. Dark-colored dials tend to make the watch look more professional yet refined and understated. The Tissot 1853 text is present at 12 o'clock. The Seastar font is different and good looking, probably to highlight the heritage coming from the previous Seastar models. “Powermatic 80” is proudly displayed below it. Overall, the amount of text is limited compared to other luxury timepieces like the Rolex Submariner or the Omega Seamaster: the depth rating is not indicated on the dial for example.
The lume on the Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 is Super-LumiNova, which is known to perform well in low light conditions: this is no exception here. The simple yet well-executed applied hour indices contrast gracefully with the dial. They catch the light nicely and their lume ensures good legibility in all conditions. The date window at 6-o'clock is relatively simple-looking, with no frame. The date is printed on a black background making it look uniform with the rest of the dial. The hands are thick batons and are impossible to miss, they look simple and are designed to facilitate legibility. The second hand has a base in the shape of a “T” (for Tissot) and has a lumed lollipop, of which the lumed dot looks rather small compared to the chunky hour and minute hands.
The bezel is made of ceramic, it has a lume pip at 12 o'clock, in the triangle marker. All the markers have a silver color and include large and bold Arabic numerals. They are not engraved so you might not see them all at once unless you face the watch directly: the light reflecting on the ceramic material can hide them. In a way, this helps to keep the balance between the functional and formal aspects of a timepiece.
The Tissot Seastar is available on a black rubber strap or a stainless steel bracelet that is made of 5 links the design takes cues from the Royal Oak. The links have a mix of brushed and polished finish and the result looks very elegant. Once again, the mix between brushed/polished finishes suggests well it's both a tool and a formal watch. The bracelet is equipped with a deployment style clasp that has a brushed finish with an embossed “T”.
Conclusion: Is the Tissot Seastar 1000 Powermatic 80 worth it? Yes, it is very worth it: it's sold at a great price point and is of high quality. It is retailing around the $500 mark on eBay and could become your perfect entry-level Swiss luxury watch. An affordable Rolex Submariner alternative for sure.
The Seiko Prospex SBDC029 “Shogun” is a great diving watch. The Prospex line is designed for professionals and this watch is no exception.
This watch wears quite big, it has a diameter of 44mm without crown and measures 50mm lug to lug. The case is made of titanium so it is quite light on the wrist, despite its size! This watch has a water resistance of 200m, and is ISO certified for professional diving. The lumed dial and hands are protected by a hardlex crystal. The Seiko lume is notorious for its quality and it will provide a long lasting glow throughout the night, ensuring legibility at all times.
Inside the Shogun you will find a Seiko 6R15 automatic movement, this is the higher grade Seiko movement: it has better precision (+25/-15spd) and longer power reserve (50h) than the Seiko 4R35.
Overall this watch could be considered as a great Rolex Submariner alternative: offering the same depth rating at a fraction of the price, but in a very different style. This is definitely not an homage as we can clearly see Seiko's own identity in this watch. The case looks sporty, it's larger, thicker and is made of titanium. The crown is at 3 o'clock.
This is a proper tool-watch! It does not have a magnifying glass for the date window. Its price is quite high but it's definitely worth it: this Prospex is built to last!
Christopher Ward is a relatively new brand that offers amazing value for the price. Their C60 Trident Pro 600 divers watches are very slick and have great features: ceramic bezel, anti-reflective sapphire crystal, 600m resistance, SuperLuminova SLN-T-C1 lume, date function, signed crown.
The watch sports the automatic movement Sellita SW200-1 which is very reliable and offers 38 hours of power reserve.
A great thing about Christopher Ward is that they often provide watches in different sizes, ranging from 38mm to 42mm. My favourite is the Christopher Ward C60 Trident in 38mm on a steel bracelet with a black bezel.
The C60 Trident Pro was released a decade ago and has seen 3 evolutions: MK1, MK2 and MK3. While the MK2 version introduced 600m water resistance and ceramic bezels, the MK3 adds fully-lumed bezels, new case design, new hands and a 40mm case option.
The Christopher Ward logo has been changed a few years ago, giving it a more modern look which some fans of the brand regretted, nevertheless the quality of this watch is astonishing for the price: a must have for watch enthusiasts seeking good bang for buck!
Christopher Ward offers therefore a great Rolex Submariner alternative that has its own set of unique features and is not a blatant copy: the hands and dial are notably different from the ones of its Rolex counterpart. It is also quite affordable too, with most models priced in the $500 range. This watch has the perfect balance between class and sportiness.
The Davosa Ternos Automatic has the same proportions as the Rolex Submariner and is very well finished. It has a ceramic bezel, measures 40mm in diameter, is 12.5mm thick and has a convenient 20mm lug width. The glass is in a sapphire crystal which is scratch resistant and its 200m water-resistant case houses a reliable ETA 2824-2 Swiss caliber.
This is a true diver, its steel bracelet even has a diver extension. Retail price is around $700 but you can definitely get it for less on the used market. A little gem if you want something very close to the legendary Rolex diver!
Squale is a family business based in Milano (Italy) since 1946. This company was providing cases and parts to a lot of other brands such as Tag Heuer or Blancpain.
Priced at $570 USD, this watch is about 2-3 times more expensive than a mid-range Orient or SKX divers watch. Looking at it from the other end of the price curve, it is less than half the cost of the Oris Divers Sixty five.
The Squale Atmos 20 provides, however, a lot of value and quality for its price. With a diameter of 40mm, 12.1m in thickness, 20mm of lug width, AR-coated sapphire glass, an ETA 2824-2 caliber, and 200m resistance... one must admit that it is a serious alternative!
The bezel is made of Ceramic, it looks shiny and gives the watch a premium feel. The dial is a glossy black with printed silver branding that looks nice and sharp. The polished indices contribute greatly to the premium look.
This watch also has a “maxi” version, which has a matte dial and printed indices. This latter has also a Ceramic dial, which we feel does not look as good as with the glossy dial and applied indices of the standard version.
The handset is nicely polished and appropriately sized. The inner chapter ring is brushed and simple, it seems rather plain compared to the Submariner's one that has “ROLEX ROLEX ROLEX” engraved all around.
The flat sapphire crystal is stepped and protrudes at 0.5mm above the bezel, giving an extra bit of sparkle. It works well with the other polished elements such as the bezel and bezel ring.
Unlike cheaper Rolex Submariner alternatives that usually have a “cyclops” magnifying glass with 1.5x magnification, the Squale's cyclops has 2.5x magnification. We can see that Squale really wanted to provide great features for the price.
The case of the Squale Atmos 20 is very well executed, with very sharp lines. The lugs are slightly thicker than the Rolex Submariner but it feels very solid. It is also no too thick: at 12.1mm it can fit under a sleeve.
The bezel looks very classy: the numbers are not too thick and the bezel looks narrower than on some other Rolex Submariner homages; such as Davosa models.
The crown is long, easy to operate and feels solid, with no play. The teeth provide an easy grip and do not harm your fingers when you use it.
The bracelet features a fine brushing, looking sharper than on other Rolex Submariner homages. It uses screws to hold the links together. The end links make the watch hug your wrist comfortably, in particular for smaller wrist sizes.
The deployment clasp has nothing special and is probably where some of you might be disappointed. It does the job, it's solid, that's all there is to say.
It is a watch that could take a little abuse at the pool and beach but still work for dinners at fine restaurants. For its price, the Squale Atmos 20 is, therefore, a well built Italian made homage to the Rolex Submariner.
Oris is an awesome affordable luxury brand that makes understated products with amazing quality for the price... and keep in mind that in Grey Market sites, a 50%+ discount is not rare for this brand. The Oris Sixty-Five was introduced a couple of years ago and was an instant hit. It is a re-edition of an old model dating from 1965 (hence the name) which was quite important for the brand.
This timepiece is available in 42mm (733 7720 4054), 40mm (733 7707 4354) or 36mm (733 7747 4055) sizes, 36mm and 42mm models have the date display at 3 o'clock whereas the 40mm models have it at 6.
This three-hander is powered by the Oris calibre 733, that is based on the Selitta SW200-1 from which you can expect 38-hours of power. Although its water resistance is 100m, its vintage look appeals to a large audience and with modern mechanics, you have a good looking, mechanical and reliable watch.
The Sixty-Five has a beautiful domed sapphire crystal and vintage aluminum insert over a PVD bezel with faux vintage Lume on the indices but with a look that matches beautifully to the case. The overall look is less rugged, more elegant... a true modern vintage.
While Tudor used to be known as the poor man’s Rolex, they have long since stepped out from behind Rolex’s shadow. With an impressive and great looking collection, they have created a fantastic catalog of watches over the years. Their best-selling model, the Black Bay, is a great example of a modern tool watch with historic influences. Our preferred model is the 79220B, despite it coming with a standard movement (ETA 2824) like all models produced before 2015. This version resembles the historic model a bit more with its old rose logo and curved writing on the dial.
On new models like the PVD coated Tudor Black Bay Dark (79230DK), the rose log has been replaced by a shield. The movement on the 79230 models has been developed in-house, it is the COSC certified MT5602 automatic movement. The rotating bezel is in aluminum and is available in black, red and blue.
All Black Bay models come with a minute track dial and the typical ‘snowflake hands’ that look great. Measuring 41 mm and being water-resistant up to 200 meters, the Black Bay is a great diving watch at roughly one-third the price of its bigger brother. It is, in our opinion, a good (and more affordable) Rolex Submariner alternative.
The Omega Seamaster 300m diver is a legendary watch! This timepiece offers 300m water resistance, older models had an aluminum bezel (ref. 2531.80) whereas new versions have a ceramic one (ref. 184.108.40.206.03.001). The Omega Seamaster Professional 300m diver was first featured in the famous James Bond movie “GoldenEye”, worn by Pierce Brosnan. Interestingly, the model used in this movie was quartz powered (ref. 2541.80) which had a 1438 movement before 1994 and a 1538 movement later on. The 2531.80 has the same look and feel, but houses an automatic ETA 1120 movement.
The watch diameter is in the 41-42mm range, but there are some midsize models at 36.5mm depending on the year of manufacture. Older models have the Omega 1120 or 2500 co-axial movement (220.127.116.11.03.001) whereas the later versions (2018) have the 8800 co-axial movement, which is METAS certified (stricter than COSC, and antimagnetic to fields up to 15000 Gauss).
Lorier is a fairly recent brand that has encountered a great success with it’s Neptune diver watch. This timepiece has a great vintage diver look and is simple yet very elegant.
The watch sports a Seiko NH35A movement (4R35 unbranded), with a domed plexiglass lens protecting a dial than can be black, blue or black “gilt” depending on the model. The hands glow very bright in the dark thanks to their BG W9 Super-LumiNova lume.
In a rather crowded diver watch market, the Neptune has managed to build its own identity. It is one of the rare modern divers that has a diameter below 40mm, at 38.5mm!
However, the length is 48mm and the thickness is 14.3mm (with the domed crystal, without it's 12mm thick), so it definitely has a healthy wrist presence. This watch retails at $399 and is frequently sold out, so it will definitely keep its resale value!
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