Ben’s Best Budget-Friendly Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner
The Rolex Submariner is a legendary dive watch. Safe to wear in a tux as well as in the briny depths. As I write this sentence, a gentleman sitting opposite me on the train comfortably wears one as he feverishly types on his laptop. With a storied history and proven dependability, the Submariner has become the trophy for the hard-working backbone of society. As a result of more well-to-do ambitious workers in this era, demand outweighs Rolex’s steady output. Therefore, it hasn’t taken long for prospective buyers to seek out alternatives. These brands still cement a stake in aqua nautical timekeeping. The watches also go toe-to-toe with the Sub in features specific to diving. Without further ado, these are my favorite dive watch for less money than a Rolex Submariner, which as of the time of writing, has an RRP of £6,450.
Alternative 1 — Omega Seamaster Professional 300M
In 2018, the Seamaster Professional Diver 300M was once again brought into the spotlight by Omega. By reviving the wavy dial absent for five years and modernizing the watch from clasp to dial. The bezel is ceramic with recessed white enamel numerals to reduce fade over time compared to the outgoing aluminum bezels of older Seamaster Professionals. The movement is also a Master Chronometer self-winding co-axial caliber. This in-house caliber 8800, tested independently by METAS, is guaranteed to withstand no less than 15,000 gauss of magnetism and has a 55-hour power reserve. As mentioned, the carved wavy dial has returned the ’90s charm, this time produced in laser-etched into ceramic.
…the waves are broader and not as frequent as the original model.
While the waves are broader and not as frequent as the original model, they provide some much-needed depth texture. The date window has migrated from the 3 o’clock position to 6 o’clock following a similar change to the Seamaster Aqua Terra. Affixing it to the wrist is the nine-link bracelet updated for the Seamaster 300M’s 25th anniversary with a diver’s extension clasp, but there is no taper. I would wear it mainly on the sportier rubber strap to compliment the summer beach look, but buying the bracelet is always the better option.
The Omega Seamaster Professional Diver 300M in steel on the matching bracelet is £4,450.
Alternative 2 — Breitling SuperOcean Heritage
Breitling is a brand that is part of the popular psyche. The classic brand has spent the last few decades making overly masculine watches that have appealed to many but shunned the core watch enthusiasts. From a commercial point of view, Breitling needed to step its game up in the lucrative Far East market, which had escaped them previously. Employing the global marketing prowess of Georges Kern of IWC fame, Breitling has unlocked an avenue Breitling seldom explored — its eclectic back catalog and heritage.
The movement is provided by Tudor, with the Tudor Black Bay Chrono, in turn, using a Breitling movement.
In 2018, Breitling revitalized its classic ’60s dive collection, the SuperOcean Heritage. An excellent model name that emanates the lifestyle and pays homage to when a dive watch was an all-purpose tool. Breitling revived the arrowhead hour hand for the latest collection seen on the ’60s SuperOcean and modernized the bezel material to scratch-resistant ceramic. Interestingly, the movement is provided by Tudor, with the Tudor Black Bay Chrono, in turn, using a Breitling movement. The SuperOcean Heritage is a fantastic and classic dive watch from a reputable brand that exudes heritage for the modern lifestyle.
The Breitling SuperOcean Heritage 42 in steel on the shark mesh bracelet is £3,880.
Alternative 3 — Tudor Black Bay
In 2014, Tudor returned to the UK retail market after a ten-year hiatus. At the time, the collection consisted of the Advisor, the Heritage Chronograph, the Pelagos, and the Heritage Black Bay with either burgundy or navy bezels. Now known just as the Black Bay, the watch became to Tudor what the Big Bang was to Hublot. Adding the black bezel to the Black Bay was a huge success. It also fulfills the purpose of Tudor, as Hans Wilsdorf intended, as a more attainable watch brand compared to Rolex. It may be less luxurious than a Rolex. But Tudor owners feel safe knowing that their watch can take more knocks without hampering the value retention.
The rotation is inspired by the vault in Tudor’s Geneva headquarters.
The Manufacture MT5602 movement with a 70-hour power reserve is shared with the Breitling SuperOcean mentioned above. But Tudor foregoes the ceramic bezel and helium escape valve to keep the Black Bay a value proposition. Even still, the well-engineered bezel rotation inspired by the vault in Tudor’s Geneva headquarters helps elevate it above its price point. The Black Bay with dive bezel comes in a 41mm case. If that’s too big, the Black Bay 58 is available in a 39mm case with a slimmer case profile for a more vintage feel.
The Tudor Black Bay in steel on the rivet-style bracelet is £2,840. For a more vintage flavor, the Black Bay 58 is £2,760.
Alternative 4 — Oris Divers Sixty-Five
For Oris, the Divers Sixty-Five was a crucible in the revitalization of the brand. Oris has gone from strength to strength by releasing vintage-inspired limited-edition models such as the Big Crown Pointer Date. The modern diver Aquis is also kept continually fresh with a variety of bezel and dial combinations. But it’s the Sixty-Five where the variations have gone buck wild. Oris has unveiled many bronze cases and accents that extend past the Carl Brashear models in recent times. My favorite Divers Sixty-Five apply bronze to the outer bezel grip to develop a patina and warm the color palette.
The 38mm best replicates the size of the vintage inspiration skin diver from ’60s.
There are even a bi-color Divers Sixty-Five that has bronze center links on the rivet bracelet. The Divers Sixty-Five is available in 36mm, 38mm, 40mm, and 42mm case widths. The 40mm has been in place since 2015. But it’s the 38mm that best replicates the size of the vintage inspiration skin diver from the ’60s. The variety of Divers Sixty-Five is vast but exciting. There is bound to be a model that offers those looking for a thin, sporty, and heritage-inspired dive watch.
The Oris Divers Sixty-Five in steel on the rivet-style bracelet is £1,650.
These are my picks, but I’d like to see your suggestions for alternatives. Let me know in the comments below which dive watch is a Sub-killer for less money.