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The 10 Best Rolex Submariner Alternatives You Can Actually Buy
— 4 October 2023

The 10 Best Rolex Submariner Alternatives You Can Actually Buy

— 4 October 2023
Co-Author: Randy Lai  | 
Nick Kenyon
WORDS BY
Nick Kenyon

Being a fan of the Rolex Submariner in 2023 is a tricky business — especially when you don’t have alternatives. On the one hand, if you’re anything like us Boss Hunting staffers, you probably love the quality of The Coronet’s watchmaking: the 904L steel, the immaculately calibrated Cerachrom bezel, et cetera. On the other, it’s next to impossible to enjoy these things when there’s neither availability or transparent pricing — an issue that faces all Rolex watch enthusiasts today without the deepest of pockets.

Given the choice to spend big with your local AD, or eat the inflated sums which are now par-for-the-course in the preowned market; any prudent watch lover looking for a Sub would be wise to do one thing. Consider the alternatives.

If the style of the Rolex Submariner is what you’re looking for, all isn’t lost. If you’re looking for an alternative to the most (in)famous steel sports watch on the planet, then there are a number of excellent options that give the patented Rolex feel and quality a run for its money, whilst being objectively more accessible and arguably more interesting.

RELATED: Rolex, Patek, and AP Prices Are Finally Cooling Off



Our Favourite Rolex Submariner Alternatives

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 42mm
  • Case Thickness: 13.6mm
  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Ceramic
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Stainless steel
  • Dial Colour: Black
  • Water Resistance: 300m
  • Movement: Caliber Omega 8800
  • Power Reserve: 55 hours

It’s the watch James Bond wears, which should tell you all you need to know about the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M. It’s svelte on the wrist for a modern dive watch, while also being able to handle anything you might throw at it, and presents a sleeky sporty aesthetic that is instantly recognisable as Omega. With a balanced dial thanks to the 6 o’clock date window, the high contrast white hour markers and hands are easy to read, all while keeping a low profile on the wrist.


Longines HydroConquest

Longines HydroConquest 41mm

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 41mm
  • Case Thickness: 11.9mm
  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Ceramic
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Stainless steel
  • Dial Colour: Black
  • Water Resistance: 300m
  • Movement: Caliber L888
  • Power Reserve: 72 hours

When it comes to excellent value for money, the Longines HydroConquest represents some of the very best. With a solidly constructed steel case and bracelet, automatic Swiss movement inside and a ceramic bezel framing your dial, it’s got everything you need all at an approachable price tag. Also available on a comfortable rubber strap, the Longines HydroConquest is a properly versatile timepiece.


Grand Seiko SBGA231

Grand Seiko SBGA231G

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 44.2mm
  • Case Thickness: 14mm
  • Case Material: Titanium
  • Bezel Material: Stainless steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Titanium
  • Dial Colour: Black
  • Water Resistance: 200m
  • Movement: 9R65
  • Power Reserve: 72 hours

In true Grand Seiko style, this SBGA231 dive watch is very reminiscent of others on this list, yet actually a completely different beast. You’ll notice the slightly darker shade of the high-intensity titanium case and bracelet, which stands apart as more comfortable (around 30% lighter) and equally robust against its stainless steel peers. Covered by sapphire crystal, the expansive dial is easy to read, with Lumibrite on the hands and hour markers, while the movement beneath the dial is an iconic Grand Seiko Spring Drive calibre.


Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 39.5mm
  • Case Thickness: 12.15mm
  • Case Material: Red gold
  • Bezel Material: Ceramic
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Rubber
  • Dial Colour: Black
  • Water Resistance: 200m
  • Movement: Calibre 39-11
  • Power Reserve: 40 hours

One of our favourite paradoxes in high-end watchmaking — and trust us, there are many — has to be the diver’s watch on an integrated bracelet made, of all materials, in precious metal.

There are a lot of notable entrants in this highly specific (yet surprisingly popular) niche of watches: your Patek 5167Rs, rose gold TAG Heuer Aquaracers, and so forth.

To this, we’d like to propose the addition of the SeaQ in red gold – a variation on the heritage-informed steel diver released by Glashütte Original back in 2019. Given the price point and unabashedly premium positioning, many collectors conceive of it in the most practical of terms.

Reviews of the watch drone incessantly about daily wearability; and while it’s fair to say that the SeaQ’s 39mm case looks just as good with swimshorts as it does your dinner suit, this compliment omits the watch’s very real credibility as a recreational diving aid.

Despite the exhibition-style caseback (through which wearers can see a number of decorative finishes typical of German watchmaking) the red gold SeaQ is rated to a water resistance of 200m; and meets all the local/international standards typically associated with high-end Swiss divers. For peak Australiana, ditch the fabric strap and instead opt for a version fitted with GO’s uber-comfy rubber deployant.


Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight

Tudor Black Bay Fifty Eight

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 39mm
  • Case Thickness: 11.9mm
  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Aluminium
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Stainless steel
  • Dial Colour: Black
  • Water Resistance: 200m
  • Movement: MT5402
  • Power Reserve: 70 hours

In our search for compelling alternatives to the Rolex Submariner, it’s only fair that we consider its smaller (and arguably better-proportioned) sibling — the Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight.

When it was first released in 2019, it took the watch world by storm, and may well have been the first modern Tudor watch with a waitlist to get one on your wrist. The last few years have seen the backlog of orders fulfilled, making it one of the most attractive heritage-inspired, yet thoroughly contemporary dive watches on the market.


TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Date

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Date

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 40mm
  • Case Thickness: 11.54mm
  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Stainless steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Stainless steel
  • Dial Colour: Black
  • Water Resistance: 200m
  • Movement: Calibre 5 Automatic
  • Power Reserve: 38 hours

New in 2022, the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 Date is about as clean as a daily diver can get. With an almost universally wearable 40mm steel case, the bracelet alternates between brushed outer links and polished centre links — contributing to an overly smart aesthetic.

However, the brushed steel bezel keeps the watch grounded in a utilitarian aspect, offering a no-frills look that is perfectly complemented by the graduated black dial. If you’re after rock-solid Swiss-made Rolex Submariner alternatives that won’t break the bank, the latest offering from TAG Heuer is very compelling.


Rado Captain Cook Automatic

Rado Captain Cook

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 42mm
  • Case Thickness: 12.1mm
  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Ceramic
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Stainless steel
  • Dial Colour: Black
  • Water Resistance: 200m
  • Movement: Ref. 03.763.035
  • Power Reserve: 80 hours

Rado is a brand very well known for its ceramic timepieces, but what is less well-known is its speciality in the field of integrated bracelet diving watches.

Inspired by the original Captain Cook that Rado first released in 1962, the modern expression of this robust design DNA arrives in an attractive 42mm case, on a handsome beads-of-rice bracelet. With a sloping ceramic bezel and bold arrow hour hands, it’s a watch that takes you back in time to when dive watches were important tools of the trade.


Seiko Prospex SPB143

Seiko SPB143

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 40.5mm
  • Case Thickness: 13.15mm
  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Stainless steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Stainless steel
  • Dial Colour: Grey
  • Water Resistance: 200m
  • Movement: Calibre 6R35
  • Power Reserve: 70 hours

Seiko was already well-known and beloved around the world for its affordable dive watches, yet the company’s SPB143 impressed even the most ardent of Japanese watchmaking fans. With a relatively modest case size of 40.5mm, it was also kept slender measuring 13.15mm in thickness, arriving on a comfortable steel bracelet.

However, it’s the mysterious grey dial that immediately captures your attention, contrasting nicely against the creamy hands and hour markers, all of which are framed by the black diving bezel. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better watch for the money.


Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Nageurs de combat Automatique

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Nageurs de combat Automatique

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 45mm
  • Case Thickness: 15.7mm
  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Sapphire crystal
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Stainless steel
  • Dial Colour: Black
  • Water Resistance: 300m
  • Movement: Calibre 1315
  • Power Reserve: 120 hours

Rolex fans are always quick to remind us that most dive watches have taken design inspiration from the Submariner references of yore, and it’s hard to argue with that fact. What they don’t tell you is the Submariner was actually inspired by another watch — the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, created just a year before the first Submariner in 1953.

With this unique legacy, the modern Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Nageurs de combat Automatique is a tribute to the elite force of French combat divers that used the same watches, complete with sail-canvas straps. If you’re looking for serious professional dive watches with even more historical importance than the Submariner, look no further.


Tudor Submariner Ref. 7016/0 (VINTAGE)

Rolex Submariner Alternatives

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Case Diameter: 40mm
  • Case Thickness: 12.8mm
  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Aluminium
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Stainless steel
  • Dial Colour: Black
  • Water Resistance: 200m
  • Movement: ETA Calibre 2483
  • Power Reserve: 40 hours

In spite of the fact that this Rolex Submariner Alternatives Buyer’s Guide is (deliberately) light on Rolex, we couldn’t help but give Tudor, the Crown’s overachieving sibling brand, multiple honourable mentions.

Like most of the watch-buying public, we chafe at the idea of forking out many multiples of what we’d be expected to pay at retail for the average ‘No Date’ Submariner. However, if you’re committed to the idea of dropping serious cash on something in the secondary market; then our advice is to shift gears into the realm of vintage. Exhibit A: Tudor’s historic take on the iconic Submariner design language, as it existed in the late 1960s.

This particular example, courtesy of the reputable barn find hunters at Fathoms London, is from the Ref. 7016 family. The first of such Tudor Subs to sport the company’s now-iconic shield logo (instead of the rose) the 7016 was also the reference within which the ‘snowflake’ hand and first ETA movements were introduced; contributing to these watches’ reputation as a stronghold for value, even in the marketplace.

Per this particular Ref. 7016’s “0” suffix, the watch is fitted with an early T Swiss T dial (aged to a “rich pumpkin patina”) and the classic Mercedes-style hand — a flourish recognisable to even the most oblivious of Rolex wearers.

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Nick Kenyon
WORDS by
Nick Kenyon is the Editor of Boss Hunting, joining the team after working as the Deputy Editor of luxury watch magazine Time+Tide. He has a passion for watches, with other interests across style, sports and more. Get in touch at nick (at) luxity.com.au

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