Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner

Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner

Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner ABTW Editors' Lists

The lauded Rolex Submariner is one of the most popular luxury watches in the world. Easily the most popular steel-cased (or otherwise) luxury diving watch, the Rolex Submariner sets the bar in many ways when it comes to timepieces of its type, at its price point. aBlogtoWatch has reviewed the Rolex Submariner here, offered a long-term review of the Rolex Submariner No Date watch here, and even compared the Rolex Submariner to its "cousin" watch the Tudor Heritage Black Bay here. With that said, the Rolex Submariner isn't for everyone, and a lot of people who already have a Rolex Submariner still like the genre of high-end steel sports diving watches and are interested in other watches like it.

Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner ABTW Editors' Lists

Let me first say that Rolex as a brand, and the Rolex Submariner as a model, are among the most copied things out there. Not only is there a vast underworld of fake (which we very much recommend against) Rolex watches, there are lots of "lookalike" timepieces out there which merely seek to emulate the look and feel of a Rolex Submariner for the benefit of another brand. Those aren't the types of watches I'll be talking about in this list. Oh, and I'd also like to say that all of the watches included in this top 10 list are being currently produced at the time of this article's writing - but it is possible to find other stuff out there that is no longer in production.

Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner ABTW Editors' Lists

To kick-off a possible new article series, I'd like to list my personal top 10 alternatives to the Rolex Submariner that still exist within the design, quality, and overall luxury pricing of the Rolex Submariner. Further, I'd like to focus on dive watches that share a few important things in common with the Rolex Submariner. Those things, for our purposes, are 1) available steel or titanium case construction with matching bracelet, 2) high-quality mechanical movement, 3) time-only display (date optional), 4) mostly (or entirely) monochromatic design with dark colored dial, and 5) a sporty design that can be feasibly be dressed up for a more elegant or formal look.

Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner ABTW Editors' Lists

Nothing can absolutely replace the Rolex Submariner, and in many ways the Rolex Submariner is the best of its kind when blending price, features, and quality. Also, Rolex has some of its own "alternatives" to the Submariner which arguably include the Rolex GMT-Master II, Rolex Sea-Dweller 4000, and the Rolex Deepsea Sea-Dweller. I won't mention those below, but you should know about these more "deep-diving" watches that Rolex produces which are technically Submariner alternatives as well (even though they arguably look very similar).

Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner ABTW Editors' Lists

Last, I would like to mention a few basic tech specs of the Rolex Submariner to keep in mind. The watch is 40mm wide in 904L steel, water-resistant to 300 meters, and has a wonderful matching bracelet that has a handy micro-adjust system for a more precise fit that can be adjusted on the fly. Rolex uses their own in-house-made movement which promise arguably class-leading performance, and the Rolex Submariner's bezel is produced from ceramic. Current retail price for the steel Rolex Submariner 114060 "No Date" is $7,500, and the Rolex Submariner Date 116610 is $8,550.

Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner ABTW Editors' Lists

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

Strengths: 45mm wide and with an in-house movement, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique 5015 (aBlogtoWatch review here) collection has an available steel model with a matching bracelet and black dial that is thematically in the same category at the Rolex Submariner. It is expensive, but it is also well-made and beautiful.

Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner ABTW Editors' Lists

How it compares: With a heritage similar to the Rolex Submariner in terms of origin and purpose, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms currently exists a bit higher on the price ladder than the Rolex Submariner, even though it arguably isn't a "better" watch. The Fifty Fathoms does have an attractive curved sapphire crystal over the bezel (versus ceramic), and which you prefer is a matter of taste. Blancpain's has a different look that some say is a bit more on the elegant versus "tool watch" side. The Blancpain is also the more original choice with a higher price premium and far fewer of them out there.

Price: $14,500

Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner ABTW Editors' Lists

Tudor Heritage Black Bay

Strengths: Tudor is owned by the same people as Rolex (they are careful to say they are not owned by Rolex), so there is a lot of design and construction carry-over from "the crown" brand. Starting in 2016, the Tudor Heritage Black Bay (hands-on here) also has an in-house movement along with a handful of interesting design refinements. It is easily one of the best values around when comparing design, construction, and mechanics.

Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner ABTW Editors' Lists

How it compares: The Tudor Black Bay is slightly larger than the 40mm Rolex Submariner with a 41mm-wide steel case, and it is a bit thicker as well. Perhaps the biggest "down-side" is its aluminum bezel insert material versus the Rolex Submariner's more durable ceramic - though you do get more interesting color options in the Heritage Black Bay, such as burgundy red. Solid dial design was historically inspired by the Rolex Submariner, so the differences are only slight, though noticeable.

Price: $3,675

Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner ABTW Editors' Lists

Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean

Strengths: Omega has spent decades refining and honing its Seamaster collection... which has actually resulted in a huge amount of variety. At the top of the ladder when it comes to fancy dive watches is the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean, which combines the appeal of a serious diving tool with a good-looking lifestyle product. The Planet Ocean is just sober enough to not look showy, but it certainly has an impressive wrist presence and a lot of very attractive movements today.

Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner ABTW Editors' Lists

How it compares: Comparing the Omega Planet Ocean to the Rolex Submariner really depends on the model since Omega makes not only different sizes, but different versions - and that applies even to just the three-hand automatic models (the image above shows the Planet Ocean Master Chronometer). There is no perfect 40mm-wide analog, but there are Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean models similar to the Rolex Submariner in terms of features and size. While Rolex still arguably wins when it comes to fit and finishing, Omega is clearly chasing Rolex when it comes to movement performance, dial and case construction, as well as overall popularity. It's certainly worth a close look.

Price: Starting at around 5,700 CHF

Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner ABTW Editors' Lists

Bulgari Diagono Scuba

Strengths: The newest generation Bulgari Diagono Scuba (aBlogtoWatch review here) is the best Diagono diver watch made to date, offering an interesting Italian-theme to the idea of a Rolex Submariner alternative. Built on the Diagono family of watches, you see distinctive design elements such as the hinge-style lugs, bracelet, and dial design, which here is the cleanest we've ever seen it on a Diagono Scuba. It also happens to mix sportiness with elegance very well, just like the Rolex Submariner

Top 10 Watch Alternatives To The Rolex Submariner ABTW Editors' Lists

How it Compares: The 41mm-wide Diagono Scuba is about the same width as the Rolex Submariner, and they have similar thickness profiles as well. On the wrist, they have a very different feel, even though they attempt to serve the same purposes. Both are 300-meter-water-resistant divers and contain in-house movements. The Bulgari Diagono Scuba doesn't have a ceramic bezel (it uses an all steel design) but is an admirable and lower-priced Rolex Submariner alternative with a more modern, designer twist to it.

Price: 6,400 CHF

  • MEddie90

    No Janis Trading or Protos? On a serious not though some interesting choices here, nit just copy pastes but designs with their own character. I’m really interested I models with an internal bezel like the IWC and the JLC supercompressor, hopefully a style of dive watch we see more of.

    • I love me an internal bezel, but I am left a little cold by the new IWC external/internal one.mi love that you can operate it from the external bezel, but I wish they could find a way to tuck that clutch mechanism inside the case. Mich happier with a 2 and 4 o’clock crown setup.

    • laup nomis

      Second that. I love that internal bezel, crowns at 2 and 4, super compressor look.

  • Timestandsstill

    Gotta give the Submariner credit. It’s truly an icon. I will most likely never own or wear one though (even though I could), for a lot of reasons. There are some very nice, original alternatives in the luxury steel sport/diver category, some of which are here for sure.

  • Bill W

    In the spirit of the Olympic Games, my list is thus:
    Bronze: Scuro Model S
    Silver: Janis Trading NTH Sub
    Gold: PROTOS, baby!
    But you really can’t lose with whichever one you choose. Strap on any of these three icons and you’ll truly be on the podium of life.


    • egznyc

      Hah! I was wondering if a bronze could go to a bronze cased watch – like the Tudor BBB.

  • A_watches

    what about the squallleee

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Thank you for starting things off with a pic of the Subby No Date model.
    Better cleaner lines.
    ‘scuse me while I get some popcorn and watch how this develops…;)

    • See, and everyone seems pretty low key (especially for a post involving Rolex). Maybe some of us have already vented our spleens a few days ago and have little vile bile left, ha ha.

  • Chaz

    I would definitely not consider the Blancpain’s 45mm or price tag “strengths”. Definitely handicaps. And $14.5k?? Seriously?? Far fewer of them out there but it hardly goes noticed.

    Surprised the MT movement Tudor Pelagos was bypassed.

  • john coleman

    Love the IWC. Seiko not bad either.

  • laup nomis

    Lots of nice designs.
    Its definatly watch silly season. Nothing like Rolex Submariner comparisons to bring out the Swivel-Eyed.

  • word-merchant

    Nothing can absolutely replace the Rolex Submariner…

    I’d have to agree. However the selection here is a great set of alternatives. Personally, I rather like the Omega, because it’s a different, but very modern Omega, look. Generally, apart from that awful recent annual calendar, I think that Omega haven’t put a foot wrong. Naturally, being a full paid up Rolex fanboi, I very much like the Tudor too – a lot of watch for the money going on there. I can’t get on at all with the Mont Blanc or the Seiko, but I know there are plenty of folk who’d disagree with me – but either way, I do understand why they are in your list. Not much to positively say about the rest so I won’t.

    Finally, I don’t know if it’s due to a fault with the iPad browser, or if enemies have hacked ABTW (perhaps those nefarious types at the website whose name we don’t mention here), but I notice that neither Janis Trading or Protos have managed to make it your list with their recent passionately discussed homages. I can see I’m not the first to be troubled by their absence, so perhaps a small update will follow soon.

    • egznyc

      LOL. As for the two homages you noted from recent reviews, which would be your preference? ;-). Yes, yes, I know there are trade offs in everything …

  • Marius

    I`m sorry to say this, but the watches presented here as alternatives to the Rolex Submariner are not real surrogates and comparing them to the Submarineris like comparing apples to oranges (someone used to tell me this).

    The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and the AP Royal Oak Diver are far superior watches in terms of case and movement quality. What`s more, they are also almost twice as expensive as the Submariner, so they are not really a contender.

    The Tudor, Oris, Sinn and Breitling are very good watches; yet they occupy a much lower price range and use outsourced movements vs. the in-house Rolex 3135. Also, they don`t offer the same “prestige” that Rolex has among non-watch enthusiasts.

    The Bulgari is just trash.

    The Planet Ocean is a totally different watch from the Submariner. Sure, both are dive watches, but the Omega has a more modern, chunckier design, whereas the Rolex has a very classic design and slim proportions. Also, the Omega is water resistant to 600m and has a more modern movement with silicon this and that and a co-axial escapement, whilst the Rolex is WR to only 300m and uses the 3135 caliber developed in the 1980`s.

    The Seiko would be the only real alternative (it probably offers better quality); however, the Spring Drive movement is still confused by many with quartz and the Seiko name is not as strong as Rolex.

    • vmarks

      The Tudor uses an in-house movement based on the Rolex 3135 calibre. It’s updated to use a larger plate so no movement adapter or holder is needed to fill the larger case size, and it uses silicon springs where Rolex still uses Parachrom.

      There’s nothing wrong with using a calibre that was designed in the late 80s. It’s reliable, and all the bugs have been found and solved for it.

    • lol, this is apples to apples. Sure, some are cooking apples, some are red. If Ariel threw in a Lange Datograph or a Laurent Ferrier Gallet, then we would be in orange territory. These are diving watches and Ariel is offering alternatives to the diving watch category. Yes, the rhetorical person here might use all of your points above (which Ariel includes in his comparison) to reject the alternatives. In these ten alternatives you are allowing a compromise in different directions, and the rhetorical person might not care for a Sub and only a Sub, they might just be entering into it based on its aesthetic or its tool quality. They might hate the price so be looking for a cheaper alternative, or a lesser known alternative with similar heritage.

      Ps that Bvlgari is a giant inedible cooking apple…

      • laup nomis

        Have you been at Nigella Lawson’s ‘special’ cooking powder? 🙂

        • She has run out, but she offered me some very good quality cocaine instead!

          • laup nomis

            Chortle, snigger…..Snort!

        • Boogur T. Wang

          It’s known as nose candy for a reason. She got fat – now she has slimmed….the divorce?

    • Dinkee, H. O.

      Good points. I have some minor quibbles in the post I just made, but generally speaking you make excellent points as always.

    • JimBob

      The Planet Ocean styling is too different to be considered a Sub sub.
      And for chrissakes, someone send Sinn some better hands!

    • imageWIS

      “whereas the Rolex has a very classic design and slim proportions.”

      Not anymore… the Rolex Subs are currently far ‘chunkier’ than their historical counterparts thanks to super-thick lugs and crown guards.

  • I know there had to be decisions as to which watches to list from a given brand, but I would have liked to have seen a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe in there as I feel it is a true competitor to the venerable Sub and still has its own look.

  • David Williams

    In my humble opinion, the best-looking watch here is the Breitling. It has a pleasing vintage vibe, which is enhanced by the mesh bracelet. It is also available in other versions – blue face with blue bezel, also on mesh, would be my choice.

    However, to me, the Omega is the most impressive technically. The Master Coaxial movement is highly capable, for serious use on or below the water. For the less adventurous, who nevertheless appreciate the style of a diver’s watch, the numerous color options across the Planet Ocean range look pretty great.

    • Mark

      I really wanted to love the Breitling, especially because of the mesh bracelet. But the aluminum bezel and overall finishing just fell short for me.

      The Omega is great, and I don’t understand why it doesn’t get more credit for its water resistance rating in these Sub comparison threads. Also, the new models with the liquid metal bezel and orange accents are absolutely stunning. They look far better than the Sub in my subjective opinion.

      • David Williams

        Good points, many thanks – although I tend toward the opinion that the aluminum bezel on the Breitling, maybe patinated with some gentle scuffing acquired during memorable shared adventures, contributes to its appealing vintage character.

        The Omega beats the Sub in the important areas of depth rating and movement technology. The subjective pleasures derived from the story behind the brand are a separate matter. For me, Omega’s moon-landing and Olympic associations provide ample credibility and intellectual enjoyment – for others, only a Rolex will do.

        And, yes, the orange-accented POs look tremendous – very cool!

  • Klaus Johansen

    Glasshûtte Original Sport EVO? Probably better quality, at least more refinement. Certainly no copy cat, it has its own distinct look. Probably not for everyone, though… Maybe Zenith Elite Diver. Unsure of the quality, however, more like the Sub.

    • Timestandsstill

      Yes, the EVO would be a GREAT choice/alternative and is frequently overlooked, as is GO in general

  • Rockymet

    Sadly, Ariel did not give these pieces the critical kitchen test because that’s what dive watches are really for. I couldn’t cook without my sub, it’s bezel is a much better timer then those $1.99 egg timers. Marinara sauce and grease hose right off. The no-date version is just fine unless you are smoking a pig. I’d like to see how these other stack up. Perhaps Ariel could bring Giada in to do the test and make videos. Call it Cleavage and Bezels.

    • Boogur T. Wang

      Good points – but, just rotate the bezel if you’re smoking a pig. Measure it with that and “It’s close enuff fer eatin’!” …;)

    • Han Cnx

      You could use a sundial to smoke a pig, I don’t think it requires scientific timing? 😉

      • Rockymet

        Everything requires scientific timing except love making and smoking pigs and having drinks with friends.

  • xiii_gemina

    Mmh… to me, the Sinn is really a clandestine in this list

    • Han Cnx

      Yes.. in many ways the coolest one by some distance. For that reason I would have liked to see the MM300 in there instead of some random Grand Seiko diver.

  • benjameshodges

    Submariner, like the 911, often imitated but never beaten. Sadly, all of them are obsolete for their primary function but still provide aesthetic pleasure and an appreciation of traditional mechanics from buyers.

  • All nice, perhaps with the exception of the Bvlgari. Would happily wear nine of these!

    • Yojimbo

      on some of those SINN straps we can hook you up with eight of them

      • I want to use the little stubby elements so my kids can wear them!

  • Robert Rutherford

    Love the Oris and the Seiko. I’ll have one of each, please.

  • vmarks

    The Sub is a tool watch at its core. The 3135 movement isn’t decorated beyond the basics, the rotor sits on a post without ball bearings. If we’re talking alternates to a tool watch, one equipped with a tool-level movement would be appropriate. 9015, ETA 2824, Seiko, and not the Spring Drive.

    Not an MKII watch in sight. No MKII Fulcrum?

    The Fulcrum could have made the list.

    • MKII? I think Ariel’s trying to stay away from any more knockoffs this week.

    • Kontiki with Cal.39 – seven ball bearings for every day of the week!

    • Charles Ford

      MKII? Isn’t that the company that started collecting pre-orders for their “Project 300” Omega 300 homage, over 5 years ago, and still no watch??


    No Protos or Janis Trading…?

    • Yojimbo

      I clicked on this story to say exactly that! lol

    • Larry Holmack

      No Invicta Pro Diver with an SW200 either!!! LOL

  • I would argue that the Pelagos, not the Black Bay, is the true Submariner -alternative offering from Tudor. It might not be a ‘dressy’ type watch, but form and function wise, from its illuminated bezel to its titanium construction to its less blocky lugs to its class-leading adjustable clasp, it blows the Sub out of the water.

    And as far as Seiko selections go, that GS choice is, for all intents and purposes, a Sub clone with a hideously mismatched handset. You can crow about the movement in the GS all day long, but at the end of the day, the Marine Master 300 is THE quintessential Seiko high-end dive watch.

  • Mark

    The Royal Oak and Fifty Fathoms cost more but are no better?

    The Planet Ocean underperforms the Sub?

    I think if you made a list of features and characteristics to compare point by point, it would take a lot of the subjectivity out of the analysis.

  • dennis

    As a diver and a watch nerd, i’d wear any of these watches on a dive or every day wear,
    though i have 2 of them, good review Ariel.

  • The JLC Master Compressor Navy Seals is a top-tenner for me…

    • Thomas Halvorsen

      Then again it hasn’t been made for a while.


    This is always going to be a tough discussion. The sub is pretty much timeless the AP and fifty fathom are way up there price wise but do nothing for me. The Oris is butt ugly then the bulgari with the anorexic hand set….nuf said. So what’s left, the omega, nice design more modern a very good watch w all its techno stuff in it. If only they could eliminate the left 10 o’clock tumor (I recommend a full resection please) . The Tudor is a classy watch but may be not as toolish and then el Seiko a nice offering for sure w zero prestige and recognition from the masses but a great contender none the less.

  • Dinkee, H. O.

    I am always amused reading these boards when such a subject comes up and John Q Public puts his two green cents worth in and suggests knock-off Submariner bargain basement watches as alternatives to a Submariner! Harharharhar…

    To put things in perspective:

    The Submariner was originally Rolex’s answer to Fifty-Fathoms at a lower price point. So these are competitors, thought the Rolex is outclassed.

    Seiko aims the watch in question at the Submariner so it is fair to place it on the list. Although nobody in their right mind would go into a store looking at Rolexes and walk out with a Seiko quartz.

    The ICW was developed as a competitor to the Submariner, so fair enough, put it on the list. Not in the same league, though.

    The rest of these watches are not direct competitors for somebody who walks into a prestige watch store with the idea that the price of a Rolex is no big deal and doesn’t have a great concern about a particular brand name, except that it’s a good one.

    The AP is a gentleman’s sports watch in the mode of a PP Nautilus or a VC Overseas. Apples to oranges with the Submariner. The Tudor pictured here is a retro watch without the cosmetic durability of the Rolex and without the prestige. Shouldn’t it be the OTHER Tudor dive watch on this list? OF COURSE IT SHOULD BE. Oris, Sinn, Brietling — good watches for those on a budget, not Rolex competitors, nor trying to be.

    One could make a case for the Omega, however isn’t the Seamaster the real traditional competitor to the Submariner? It seems like this should be on the list. Along with an offering from JLC.

    None of these watches, by the way, can compete with my Rolex Daytona ceramic bezel. Which none of you can even buy at this point.

    • Adam

      What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have
      ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you
      even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought.
      Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award
      you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

      • Summerfag.

        • Easy chaps, even the dinkmeister is entitled to respectful retorts.

      • Dinkee, H. O.

        “Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.”

        So you are reading my posts out loud to rooms of people? Thank you for that, though it should be expected I suppose.

        You’re welcome.

    • Don

      “can compete with my Rolex Daytona ceramic…” Why in the world would I want to complete with that? I heard the Daytona at 37mm just finished first in the top 10 ladies watches.

    • word-merchant

      None of these watches, by the way, can compete with my Rolex Daytona ceramic bezel…

      I had to laugh, because the way you wrote that almost reads as if you were only able to purchase a singe specimen. When the c-day (as we aficionados know it) was announced, I just phoned their chairman, and told him to send me over a crate of the hotties for my amusement. I particularly like the c-day with the leopard skin effect ceramic bezel he supplied, which will soon be released by Rolex as the Daytona Word Merchant Boo-Ya In Yer Face Superlative Chronometer Grrr

  • Omegaboy

    If I had the money, my alternative to this Sub would be an older one. To me, the new Subs with the fat crown guards and ceramic bezels are a real turn-off.

    • Or if you must go modern, the Seadweller 4000. The lugs retain the lines of the older reference, and offer the maxi-dial and hands and ceramic bezel of the SubC.

      • Omegaboy

        The new Sub standard is substandard.

        • Maybe Rolex will come to its senses in coming years. As it stands now, the Explorer is the only model I would seriously consider from their current catalogue. I’d take a “Y” series 14060M over all of them.

          • Joe

            With the trend seeming to be towards smaller cases (again), I hope so too. I actually like the supercase for what it is but if I could choose a design, I prefer the 14060 type case with thinner lugs too…

          • Omegaboy

            My thought exactly. The Explorer is still a decent looking, no frills, dress up, dress down piece.

      • Joe

        I don’t go out of my way to dislike any watch but I don’t feel the Seadweller is as versatile (for me). I don’t have huge wrists and when I tried it, it’s significantly larger and thicker than the Sub. I like the shape though and glad they didn’t put it in a supercase.
        Back to the Sub, I wonder whether the supercase design would work better with a bracelet that starts a little wider, making the transition slightly less “stepped?. Eg 22-18, rather than 20-18.

        • Phil

          You seem to be talking about the Deepsea Seadweller. The SD4000 is the same case size as the sub and actually appears slightly smaller because of the thinner lugs.

  • Aditya

    For me, the two grail divers have always been the GS SD or a dateless 50 Fathoms. Nothing else comes close.

  • Ali Dhanji

    Hands down the Tudor for the money and the Seiko! And definitely the Sinn.

    SADLY people don’t appreciate the Japanese, when you see their Quality it superceeds all on their high end.

  • Joe

    I know this has generated quite a bit of discussion (for and against) but I think it was a great article.
    Ariel wasn’t trying to cover ALL Submariner alternatives, just 10.
    By including more and less expensive pieces he’s also given options “outside the box”.

    As for me, prior to getting my Sub ND I had been considering the Omega Seamaster 300m Master Master Coaxial (ie the Spectre watch without the James Bond aspect). Perhaps it’s slightly cliched, being fashionably retro…but it looks clean and simple with a good, anti-magnetic movement.

    As for other options not included, people might shoot me down for this but maybe Panerai or a Calibre de Cartier? I guess that could be for a “20 alternatives” article… 🙂


    Love the comparisons but how do you do one when you obviously don’t have the watches in front of you? How about ease or use, depth ratings, readability, durability, etc, etc. Again you are proving these watches are mere show pieces being bought for their name brands and not their actual value or use.

    I have zero problem buying a show piece watch but come on this is a dive watch comparison. I at least want to know if I can rotate the bezel in my pool sipping a pina colada after applying sun screen. It gets dangerous in the deep end and I need to know when to flip the burgers.

    • WINKS

      Save for the Sinn, they all are indeed show pieces.

      • imageWIS

        The Seamaster PO is a showpiece?!?

  • Permadi Kanapi

    Of course the true alternative is Omega Diver 300m.
    Same 300m water resistance, case thickness, ceramic bezel and both are dressy diver.
    And the Omega cost half of its competition.

  • Ariel Castromayor

    Might I suggest the Victorinox Divemaster 500 automatic? It’s a clean classic look with lume so bright on the dial, three hands and bezel that you can land an airplane at night with it. Sapphire crystal both front and back, and with the available bracelet, it’s definitely a winner. Not to mention rugged – I wear one every day at work. P.S. I work as a career firefighter, so it’s been on my wrist during fires, car accidents, and a variety of other “activities”, so it’s definitely been field tested, having passed with flying colours.

    • Boogur T. Wang

      Very nice offering.

  • Kurt Klimisch

    Seriously, If I want a tool watch to wear to the beach with my family, the Sub is my last choice. I have a Seiko Monster for that. I know, I know, a sub can handle it, but it’s a $7,000 piece of jewelry that has no business on the beach. If I am at the pool or out for drinks then I wear a nice watch. The days in which these watches were used for their “intended” purpose are long gone. I think the faster the watch industry realizes that the bigger their potential market.

  • Han Cnx

    So.. MM300? (Marine Master) 🙂 I’d include it as a more genuine tool-diver over the Grand Seiko. It also goes way back to the same sort of era as the Submariner.

    • Nick Chang

      I actually like the rounder case of the Seiko Marine Master SBBN series, which looks very similar to the famous Seiko H558 (Arnie) series worn by the young Arnold Schwarzenegger in several of his 80’s movies like Commando, Predator, and Raw Deal.

    • Charles Ford

      MM300, tried one, too high a case, didn’t wear too balanced.

  • Just watch me

    I tried on loadsa dive watches, many that are on this list, and i bought a Sub ND and have absolutely no regrets. The FF is too big, same with the PO. There are better AP ROs out there (I have my eye on the ultra thin). The rest aren’t even close to the Sub. It’s just lovely to wear. It works. Others try to imitate it but fail. These watches are popular for a reason and not as ubiquitous as many say. Totally worth the praise.

    • Boogur T. Wang

      The SUB is the one all the others are compared to.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Their is no alternative,…………..It’s a Rolex.

    • Charles Ford

      I have a 16610 sub, there are lots of alternatives, that is unless you drank too much of their Kool Aid.

      • imageWIS

        Wait, they don’t take a year to make?!? 😛

        I love the 16610, it’s one of the last truly great Sub / Sea-Dweller references: applied hour-markers, beveled lugs, and well-proportioned lugs and crown guards. Never give that watch up, it’s perfect.

        • Charles Ford

          It’s far from perfect, the bracelet and clasp are hollow link crap, you get a better bracelet on a Steinhart. Rolex has yet to put AR on their sapphire, and the reflections distort a clean dial.
          I have the 16610 and a Tissel Marine Diver and the Tissell looks and feels better then the sub in my opinion, keeps better time also.

  • Jimbob

    One would almost take for granted an “alternative” would be priced at, or below, the actual base. I’m sorry but including the AP at almost 3 times the Rolex’s price, or the Blancpain for almost 2, reeks of laziness.

    An alternative to a Toyota Civic is a Ferrari 360.

    Tudor BB, Pelagos, Bucherer Scubatec, Omega PO (42mm), Seiko MM300, Bremont Supermarine etc seriously how hard was that?

    • Timestandsstill

      One may take it for granted that an alternative would be at or below base price of the sub …. Or not. I don’t believe that was implied in the the article. According to the author:
      “With that said the Rolex Submariner isn’t for everyone, and a lot of people who already have a Rolex Submariner still like the genre of high-end steel sports diving watches and are interested in other watches like it.”

      “Alternative” does not necessarily imply anything about price range. I think the main qualifier was “high end steel sports diving watches”

      • Jimbob

        Exactly, except when 8 out of the 10 listed options are priced at less than the Rolex. The FF I can understand, given the history, but the AP? A more equitable distribution on both sides of the price equation would probably have rendered any confusion moot. I personally would have preferred the road less traveled and a move refined comparison of “alternatives” of re-editions/updates of dive watches from this era regardless of price, throw a Doxa, a JLC, a LD, even a Seiko somethingorrather in with the FF and sub and do an out of 10 “who did it better” story. To dream…

    • JimBob

      No relation.

  • Jackyl

    Other models here are actually not an alternative due to its price with that said il rather buy rolex with the AP price that breaks easily. Bought a Tudor pelagos ref 5600T and I luv it! Truely an alternative or might say cooler than the sub in many ways. Def value for money.

  • John Effing Zoidberg

    Gah! The Sinn hands burn my eyes!

  • The Old Watcheroo

    The Seamaster planet ocean is the least attractive of the bunch.

    • Lawrence

      No way, have you seen the video review of them? Ariel loves them. The least attractive is the Sinn

      • Nick Chang

        I agree with Lawrence on the Sinn and it also appeals the least to me along with the Bvlgari. I have a strong dislike towards Bvlgari watches and I think they should just stick to making fine jewelry.

      • Charles Ford

        I had the U1, built like a tank, but aesthetically, looked
        like one too.


  • Lawrence

    Just buy the new 43mm ceramic aquaracer for about 2k

    • Nick Chang

      Congrats, you can’t go wrong with a TAG. One of my first expensive Swiss watch was also a Tag Heur SEL from 25yrs ago. They were the the first generation of Tag’s current ‘Link’ series.

      • Chaz

        The S/el is so much more…well…elegant and appealing to the new “Link”. Too bad they felt they had to supposedly improve an icon.

        • Nick Chang

          Oh I totally agree and although I haven’t worn mine in ages (it’s Quartz and I haven’t gone around to putting in a new battery), it’s a watch that I don’t intend to give up. The current Tag Links seems more streamlined and just lacks the same character. Back then the Sel link is what distinguished a Tag Heur and at one time it was also the watch many CEOs in Japan preferred over Rolex.

          • Micha? D?bicki

            Oh, you really need to put a new battery in it! The old one can damage or destroy the movement of the watch!

    • Skip

      Tag Heur is often a rather affordable brand so long as you buy it used. Just make sure to ONLY buy a Tag used.

  • Nick Chang

    First off, I’m rather surprised that the Panerai Submersible PAM389 is not on the list, which in my opinion is a much better dive watch than several contenders on this list including the Breitling and Bvlgari. Sorry, I do have a strong bias against Bvlgari – I bought one of their automatic chronographs in 1999 and had to return it due to a manufacturing defect (the movement would stop several times within 48hrs even through continuous wear). Breitling is known for their aviation theme like the Chronomat and Navitimer but sorry to say: their Superocean line really don’t have much distinction as a dive watch and that steel mesh band is also just wrong for a rugged sporty watch.
    There are many dive watches (and a lot that are quite inexpensive) out there that are quite competent in terms of functionality, durability and water-resistance, but I think a Submariner in it’s own right (heritage, reputation, and appeal) really has no equal. It’s one of those things that is widely imitated by the appearance of so many dive watches out there but to me its like a Porshe 911 – there’s just no substitute. I’m a proud owner of a Submariner 16613 gold/blue dial two-tone for over 10yrs along with an Omega 2298.80 Seamaster Chrono for 15yrs and a Seiko Automatic for almost 30yrs (my 1st automatic watch worn during my college years). In all honesty, I favor my Seamaster in certain ways and the band is also much more comfortable, but my Sub really shines with more prestige wherever I wear it and I can wear it with pride in a suit and tie or in a t-shirt and shorts.
    The watch on the list that appeals the most to me is the AP Royal Oak Offshore Diver which reminds me very much of the Patek Phillip Aquanaut, but its got the distinct ultra precision screw down AP bezel. I better start budgeting 😉

    • imageWIS

      “that steel mesh band is also just wrong for a rugged sporty watch.”

      That’s wholly incorrect, here are two vintage Omega diving watches, the Ploprof and the Seamaster:


      AP Royal Oak Offshore Diver which reminds me very much of the Patek Phillip Aquanaut:

      The AP RO Offshore is based on the RO which was designed by Gérald Genta, who also designed the PP Nautilus, which the Aquanaut is based on. Incidentally, the AP RO Offshore came out several years before the Aquanaut, so the Aquanaut should remind you of the AP RO Offshore and not the other way around 😉 .

      • Nick Chang

        Hey thanks for that bit of trivia which I wasn’t aware of and this has just increased my appreciation and desire for the AP Diver even more! No wonder there’s such strong resemblance between the RO and the Aquanaut/Nautilus, especially the almost identical block textured dial on the AP and Aquanaut that’s quite exquisite and distinct.

        Now as for the mesh band…its still not my cup of tea. My personal tastes on the outer design of watches are based on the same aesthetics I judge cars, aircraft, and other mechanical things. I just feel that mesh bands go better with thinner dress watches but not thicker sports watches. I can accept every watch on the list with a rugged steel-linked bracelet, thick leather, or even rubber/silicon. To me, having a mesh bracelet on a dive watch is like putting low profile wheels on an SUV. But hey, it’s only my own personal taste and to each’s own.

        BTW, I’d love to get my hands on that vintage Omega from your Photobucket. Please provide me more info on it and thanks again, my well-versed friend on horology! 🙂

    • Skip

      The AP Royal Oak Offshore Diver in gold is my “oh you are that @sshole” watch. I swear that I have met half a dozen guys wearing that damn watch and everyone was the same kind of a$$hole.

      A submariner is definitely a nice watch that looks good while still being sufficiently understated. I especially like that Rolex never came out with some flashy 46 mm model to conform with modern fashion.

      • Nick Chang

        Hmm, that’s an interesting feedback and It’s a shame that you know so many ‘unsavory characters’ who wear that watch. A good friend of mine swears by AP and owns several RO models. He’s a pretty successful attorney/businessman, but also very humble and generous to others. For that matter, most of my aquaintances who collect expensive timepieces are self-made professionals that know how to enjoy the rewards of their hardwork but with utmost humility…except one individual, who is a typical trust fund baby born with a silver spoon up his @$$ that dropped out of med school and still mooches off daddy through his mid-30s. I haven’t spoken to him in years but I’d say he had a watch collection surely worth over $100k even during our college years, which was over 20yrs ago.

    • Thomas Gladden Wilson

      Nick, I echo your sentiments with regards to a Rolex Submariner but my opinion is not necessarily germane to this thread apropos my own inclinations I am first a proponent for “less is more” I am simpatico in my approach to what I call men’s upscale bling and that means watches. My 4 “go to” brands in no particular order are Rolex, Breitling, Omega, and Tag Heuer and each has it’s own model line I am into. I am just like the bloke who said that he’s (I’m ) not a diver or a pilot (though I am more likely to become a private pilot than a diver because I love anything attached to aviation hence I love Breitling more than Rolex). I
      use Citizen and Seiko as my upscale cannon fodder brands. I never wear the “good stuff” to work. I like what I like for my own reasons and don’t indulge my watch fetish for approval or approbation of other men.
      I do what I do for my reasons. I like the Rolex Datejust, the Breitling Colt Ocean, the Omega Jame Bond Sea Master, the Tag Heuer Aqua Racer and that’s really all that I like by each brand.

  • Der Tristan

    Besides Panerai I am also surprised not seeing the Nomos Ahoi here. Especially as the Tudor Black Heritage is mentioned which is quite compareable to the Nomos Ahoi regarding price, quality and design. And in general I would always mention Nomos as an alternative to the big (and often more expensive) brands. Would be great to see more of those watches her in the blog.

    • Charles Ford

      Nomos Ahoi doesn’t have a timing bezel so how could it compete with a dive watch like the sub?

    • Skip

      I think you mean the Tudor Pelagos, right?

  • ??????

    Cheap alternative – Orient Saturation Diver. Tank proof watch. Expensive alternative – Carl F.Bucherer Scubatec.

  • beardedman

    Rolex is the bees knees for me but I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed seeing some of the others from the case style perspective at least. The IWC with silver dial was very nice and I liked it a lot. But I’m no diver. The closest I get to the ocean is up to my calves on the beach. I have been on a ship and floated on it, but a Diver watch is hardly needed for that. 😉

  • cg

    For a dive alternative I’d include a Helson or two… Bronze and they can take a beating on a wreck dive… doubt anyone would “work” a dive with any of these wrist/safe/deskdiving queens. Ooops! I scratched my Bulgari! Wa Wa Wa!

  • Patrik Adam?iak

    What do tou think About Davosa Ternos od Longines Hydroconquest

    • Skip

      The Longines Hydroconquest is an over-priced watch. Get the Oris Aquis instead. It costs the same as the Longines automatic but is a far superior watch.

      In addition, Seiko makes an excellent Prospex automatic diver at that price point. For a little less money, Hamilton makes its own diver for $475 and up, with one model that looks insane with a gray bezel.

  • Charles Ford

    What do you think about the Tissel Marine Diver, looks almost exactly like a sub, sapphire crystal with inner AR, ceramic bezel, Viton gaskets, Miyota 9015 28,000 bph bullet proof movement, 200mm WR.

    90% of the real Rolex, all for $200.

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  • John William Salevurakis

    Seiko MM300.

    • José Casas

      Yes by all means, YES, you are quite rigth. Congratulacions!!!

  • Thomas Halvorsen

    Here, this is an alternative to the submariner at only 2x the cost


  • DJ Ambrose

    For the life of me I can’t figure out why one of Orients watches didn’t make this list. Orient is one of only a few watch manufactures left – Rolex being one of the few others – that still uses hand-made proprietary movements, (I wonder how many watches on this list use generic ETA movements), their designs are attractive and unique and their quality is top notch. But most important their prices are unbelievable. I say this in embarrassment, but the Orient Flight I bought about a year ago for 149 dollars is, in my opinion at least, just as good if not better than the generic ETA powered IWC Mark XV I paid 3,200 for a few years ago.

    Anyone who reads this and is not familiar with Orient watches, take a few minutes and check them out, and to the authors of these comparison-type articles, please at least consider looking at an Orient watch. Oh, and for the record, I’m not a shill for Orient watches, in fact my dive watch is a two-tone, gold/stainless Submariner.

  • Thomas

    With almost every watch listed here two words come to mind: Massive Depreciation. There may be alternatives to the Sub, but there’s a reason the second hand market for the Sub is outrageous.

  • Jon Hew

    I’ve owned a couple of nice rolexes. However, I can never see myself paying retail price for one. I like nice things, but I’m no sucker for a name or an image. Yes the quality is remarkable but dropping 20K or more on a watch…not even with Bill Gates money. Anyway I just bought a lovely pre-owned Rolex Submariner for $3500 at an auction. I got home and found the same watch on ebay for $7940

  • Lord Dunsany

    UGH. So much name-dropping and self-congratulatory descriptions of personal collections.