With waiting lists getting longer and prices on the used market going up the Submariner has quickly gone form affordable grail watch to unaffordable for many people. It is only understandable then that people are looking around for an affordable high quality alternative.
- Budget Option - Seiko 5 Sports
Whilst not as highly revered as the SKX line the revamped Seiko 5 still offers a lot of bang for your buck. With 100m water resistance it does fall short of its predecessor and fails to become a true dive watch, but it is plenty for pool use. It features a revamped movement over the SKX though with the calibre 4R36 giving it a 41-hour power reserve, hacking and hand winding. The main advantage of the Seiko 5 is its accessibility, with the all black dial and matching bezel variant costing just £250. If however you want the feel of the Submariner but with a bit more colour Seiko still has you sorted, there are seemingly endless colour and design options with the new Seiko 5 range to choose from.
- Looks Option – Davosa Ternos
If you want the Mercedes hands, cyclops lens and ceramic bezel that are the hallmark signs of a submariner than you can’t beat Davosa. They match the understated elegance of the submariner for a fraction of the cost. From £695 you can get a piece of classic watch design on your wrist. They also do variations, everything from the plain black sub look to the hulk and even GMTs. Of all the homages to the submariner Davosa offers the best quality to cost proposition.
- Competitor Option – Omega Seamaster
Omega has done a great job in recent years positioning itself as a legitimate alternative to Rolex in every new release. The Aqua Terra is a very competitive alternative to the Datejust and the Seamaster is a very tempting alternative to the Submariner. Aside from being 007s watch of choice since Brosnan it also has some impressive specs to back up the marketing. Featuring the Omegas in house calibre 8800 movement with co axial technology in many ways make the Seamaster surpasses the Rolex in terms of tech. Whilst prices vary a used Omega Seamaster can start from £2500 and a new Seamaster on a bracelet for £4840.
- Little Brother – Tudor Black Bay 58
Tudor will always somewhat live in Rolex’s shadow, for better or for worse. Having been set up by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf as a more mainstream alternative. Whilst it is by all accounts in terms of design and technology a company that can stand on its own two feet, it will always be thought of as Rolex’s little brother. Some even call Tudor a poor man’s Rolex and others call Tudor a thinking man’s Rolex, so make of that what you will. Either way that link is indisputable and for many a big draw. The Black Bay 58 in particular is an unquestionably attractive watch and very legible thanks to the snowflake hands. The price being reliably under £3000 further boosts this watches credentials as a strong alternative.
- The Real Deal – Rolex Submariner
One thing that is often forgotten when discussing options around Rolex’s is to save up for the Rolex. If you desperately want a Submariner then there is always the possibility that the Black Bay or Seamaster won’t scratch that itch. At time of writing The Classic Watch Buyers Club has a submariner for sale at £9000, meaning if you bought a Seamaster you spent over half the price of a submariner on a watch you didn’t originally want. If you have £4840 saved up and you want to get a submariner then you should at least consider holding off and purchasing the watch you actually want when you are in that position.
It is also worth mentioning fakes. Just don’t buy a fake. Plain and simple, if you want a watch that have a similar feel to the Submariner than there are many options without having to buy a fake watch. Aside from the obvious counterfeiting side of fake watches, the industry that produces fake watches feeds into other criminal enterprises and as such we should avoid using them. If you are thinking of purchasing a fake Rolex please look into Seiko 5s and Davosa as they will offer you much more.