Article By: Logan Hannen
What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to take a look at three affordable alternatives to the Rolex Submariner.
Now, before we get to the list, I want to stress that I am fully aware this has been discussed to death. That’s why I’m really trying here to find some pieces that aren’t homages (mostly) but also aren’t common answers (sorry Seiko SKX, but we’ve heard all about you before, let’s give someone else a turn in the spotlight). With that said, I’m also going to try to keep this list to pieces below $1000 USD, because beyond that, you might be able to get into some pre-owned Omega Seamaster territory (especially if you’re cool with quartz).
#1: Steinhart Ocean Vintage Military – Approx $380 USD
Steinhart Ocean Vintage Military
Okay, so this one is definitely a homage, but I’ve known a great number of watch geeks to give it a pass on the grounds that, realistically, most of us are never going to own an authentic Rolex Milsub (which auction typically between $100,000-$200,000). I’m definitely one of those geeks, since the design is classic, yet still funky enough not to look like a straight ripoff of a Submariner. Inside is an Elabore grade ETA 2824-2 (the term “Elabore” referring to the quality of parts, and degree of regulation of the movement). It features a sapphire crystal, a 300 meter water resistance, and all packed in a 42mm stainless steel case. For those with smaller wrists, a 39mm version of the OVM is available through Gnomon Watches, but is currently out of stock.
#2: Certina DS Action Diver Powermatic 80 – $895 USD
Certina DS Action Diver Powermatic 80 ref. C032.407.11.091.00
First and foremost, that price listed above is the recommended retail price for this piece, which means odds are you’ll be able to find it lower on some gray market sites. Also, I’m showcasing the green because it’s my personal favorite, but this piece comes in a few different colors. So why this watch? Well, it is definitely a dive watch, just as the Submariner is; in fact, older versions of this model used to feature the piece’s ISO 6425 certification right on the dial just above the six o’clock position. The piece is 43mm which, though probably big for a lot of wrists, is still about the same size as the new Rolex Sea-Dweller. It features a Powermatic 80 Movement, otherwise known as the ETA C07.111, a movement with an 80 hour power reserve, perfect for a tool watch like this one.
#3: Raymond Weil Freelancer – $795
Raymond Weil Freelancer Diver ref. 2760-SR1-20001
Source: Raymond Weil
I know for me personally, this watch was nonexistent in my mind until very recently. It was nowhere near my radar, and for a while I didn’t think it was real after I had seen one. And yet, here we have it: the Raymond Weil Freelancer Diver. The 42.5mm stainless steel case is rated for 300 meters of water resistance, and features a black ceramic bezel (unidirectional, of course). The dial is definitely a bit more refined and purposefully dressy than your standard dive watch might be. Using stick hands and indices isn’t exactly a recipe for stellar amounts of lume, but it’s definitely functional, and I can’t get over how much I like the funky date wheel aperture at 4 o’clock. The real winner of this one, for me, is those twisted lugs, though – almost Omega in styling, but with the added benefit of a bit more straight length to them, they give the piece a semi-vintage feel, but without feeling forced. Oh, and for under $800 on the gray market, can you really go wrong?
Alright geeks, I hope that I’ve managed to give you three options that maybe you have considered before, maybe you haven’t, but that definitely feel worthy of consideration for wrist real estate in the future. And as always, remember to keep it classy, watchfam.
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