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Divers Watches: 5 Affordable Alternatives to the Rolex Submariner

Divers Watches: 5 Affordable Alternatives to the Rolex Submariner

Nils Rau

The Rolex Submariner is the undisputed reference among diving watches since its launch in 1953. There’s no doubt that this classic is hard to replace, but it comes with a hefty price tag. No fear, we have found 5 worthy alternatives for every budget! Read ahead to find out which ones.

Submariner: Searching for Perfect Alternatives

One thing is obvious: diving watches must first and foremost be waterproof and pressure-resistant. However, there are other criteria that make a diver's watch a perfect tool watch for water. These include, in particular, optimum readability, which must be guaranteed even in the dark, as well as the possibility of measuring a typical diving time under water - whether using a traditional diving bezel with 60-minute display or a timer.

If you are looking for the perfect alternative to the Rolex Submariner, other aspects play a role in addition to the classic criteria for a diver's watch, such as the sporty, elegant design of the model. Therefore, it should be a watch made of stainless steel that is just as versatile as the Submariner: decades ago, when precious metal dress watches had no place with formal suits, Rolex advertised that the Submariner as a tool watch not only cuts a perfect figure under water, but also for noble Black Tie occasions.

Buy Now: Rolex Submariner

5,000 Euro: The Second Sound Barrier

Since it is about budget alternatives, it is clear that a financial limit also plays a role. The list price for the Rolex Submariner Date is currently 8,200 Euro, for the variant without date 6,800 Euro. We have opted for the magic limit of 5,000 euros: For many watch lovers, this is the second sound barrier after reaching a four-figure sum.

Let’s get started.

1. Oris Aquis Date

Like the Rolex Submariner Date, the Oris Aquis Date offers the essential requirements of a diver's watch, a date display and a sporty, elegant exterior that looks great with both a diver's suit and fine thread. Both watches offer a water resistance of up to 300 meters. Like Rolex, Hölsteiner Oris SA, founded in 1904, is an independent watch manufacturer that dates back over 100 years. Both the style of the Aquis and the authentic brand history make the watch a worthy alternative. The price also fits:

List price for the Oris Aquis Date is €1850.

CHRONEXT Price: €1290

Buy Now: Oris Aquis

2. Tudor Black Bay

For decades, Tudor, as a sister company of Rolex founded by Hans Wilsdorf, was an inexpensive Rolex alternative, as the watches were identical to the Rolex models except for the brand marking, the movement (Tudor was equipped with ETA movements) and a few small details. In 2010, Tudor made its breakthrough with the launch of the Heritage collection, in particular the Tudor Heritage Chronograph. Launched in 2012, the Black Bay is an official homage to the Submariner, which differs from the Submariner primarily in its lovingly vintage details and has firmly established itself as an independent model in the watch world. It has all the features a diver's watch must have: A sophisticated manufacturer’s caliber from Tudor and a historically authentic relationship with the Submariner.

The price of the classic Black Bay Ref. 79230N is €3480 Euro.

CHRONEXT price: €2950.

Shop the Tudor Black Bay

3. Omega Seamaster Diver 300 m

When big brands are compared, Rolex and Omega often have a duel. What the Submariner is for Rolex is the Seamaster for Omega. James Bond also wore both brands - formerly Rolex, now Omega. Both companies are flawless luxury manufacturers who have created legendary classics and who continue to combine innovative watchmaking with uncompromisingly reliable timepieces. Both the Submariner and the Seamaster have largely similar specifications: Both are great brand classics, have a comparable diameter and offer a modern manufacturer’s movement as well as a diving depth of 300 meters.

The Omega Seamaster is only about half as expensive at €4800, but it is just as big an original as the Submariner.

CHRONEXT price: €3850

Shop the Omega Seamaster Diver 300 M

4. Sinn U1 S E

Sinn Spezialuhren GmbH was founded in 1961 by the former professional pilot Helmut Sinn. Just from the name, one can already guess the intention of the German manufacturer: Sinn builds authentic toolwatches for pilots and divers that offer the best possible functions under adverse conditions. The U1 is the classic diver's watch in the Frankfurt company's portfolio. Throughout its history, both Sinn and Rolex have produced watches specifically for certain professional divers: Rolex for the French diving company COMEX, Sinn for the German elite unit GSG9. When it comes to authenticity, the U1 is a perfect alternative to the Submariner. The U1 S E comes with a black PVD case and a harmonious vintage lume. Case and rotating ring of the watch are made of seawater-resistant German submarine steel, the model is pressure-resistant to 1,000 meters diving depth.

The price is 2.330 Euro with the silicone bracelet.

Buy Now: Sinn U1 S E

5. Breitling SuperOcean

The Breitling SuperOcean came onto the market just four years after the Submariner in 1957. Like Rolex, Breitling is one of the top brands in the premium segment. The watches of both companies offer a characteristic charm and a high recognition value. While the latest evolution of the Rolex Submariner took place in 2008, when the white gold Submariner (Ref. 116619LB) received a wider case, a ceramic bezel, a Maxi-Dial and a new bracelet, the SuperOcean received its latest transformation at Baselworld 2019. Both the current Submariner and the latest SuperOcean are modern interpretations of a classic.

The Breitling SuperOcean Automatic 44 with steel band costs €3800.

CHRONEXT price: €2960

Shop the Breitling Superocean