In the world of watches, the Rolex Submariner is truly a legend. With a history spanning over six decades, the Submariner has seen other designs come and go, yet this classic Rolex has stood the test of time, remaining fashionable and functional throughout those sixty-something years, an impressive feat to say the least.
Changes to the Rolex Submariner through the years have been subtle, helping it to retain its instantly recognizable profile, however that is not to say they haven’t been significant. Ever since its inception, the Submariner has been an inspiration to watchmakers around the world.
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Best Rolex Submariner Homage
Tudor Black Bay Heritage
Some might refer to the Tudor Heritage Black Bay as the ultimate Rolex Submariner homage. The Tudor brand was in fact started by Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, as a line that his agents could sell alongside Rolex watches at a more affordable price point.
With a 41mm case, the Black Bay Heritage is slightly wider than the Submariner, but retains the same overall Oyster form. The Tudor’s dial is strikingly similar to the Submariner, although the snowflake hands give this homage a unique look all of its own. Much like the Submariner, the Black Bay Heritage uses Tudor’s in-house automatic Swiss movement. It features a 200m water resistance rating; not quite as much as the Rolex (300m), but certainly enough to be a usable dive watch.
Affordable Rolex Submariner Alternatives
Seiko 5 SNZF17 “Sea Urchin”
Seiko, much like Rolex has a long history of watchmaking experience. The Seiko “Sea Urchin” shows many similarities to the Submariner, from the classic black dial and bezel, to the Oyster style bracelet, making it an excellent choice if you’re looking for an affordable Rolex Submariner alternative. The one stark distinction between the two is that the Seiko features day/date with no magnification, compared to the cyclops date only window on the Rolex.
The Seiko 5 SNZF17 is a little bigger than the Rolex, measuring 42mm across the case. It is powered by an automatic Japanese movement, and is water resistant to 100m.
Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba
The Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba is very similar to the Submariner in the case, bezel and bracelet, in addition both watches are Swiss made with automatic movements. The face, however, has a style all of its own. Unlike the plain dial markers on the Rolex, the Hamilton uses Arabic numerals. It has an arced day window between the 11 and 1 o’ clock positions and date down at the 6 o’ clock position.
The Khaki Navy Scuba has a 41mm case made from high quality stainless steel, it is water resistant to 100m and features a deployment clasp bracelet for a secure fit. The Hamilton Khaki Navy Scuba might be the perfect choice if you’re looking for an affordable Rolex Submariner alternative that shows some originality whilst still bearing some resemblance to the classic Rolex.
Orient Ray II FA002004B9
Orient are widely known for their excellent timepieces. The Orient Ray II continues this trend with a Submariner-like appearance and solid technical specs. It features 200m water resistance, day/date function, a 120 click unidirectional bezel and a slick Japanese automatic movement.
The Orient is slightly wider than the Rolex, measuring in at 41mm across. Its lugs taper in towards the bracelet, giving a more flush look than the Submariner; a subtle difference that helps the Orient design stand up on its own.
The Casio MDV106-1A is very basic, yet extremely affordable, Rolex Submariner alternative. It sits on a rubber dive strap vs. the stainless steel bracelet of the Submariner. The case itself is very similar to the Rolex, with the biggest difference being its size; a massive 44mm!
The Casio has a Japanese quartz movement, providing good timekeeping qualities. It has a unidirectional bezel and a 200m water resistance rating, making this a useful dive ‘tool watch’. There is a date window at 3 o’ clock as on the Rolex, however there is no magnification on the Casio.
Bulova Marine Star 98B203
The Bulova Marine Star is a classic Rolex Submariner alternative. Made with high quality brushed stainless steel, giving a similar visual appearance to the Rolex, the Bulova also features a dive-marked unidirectional bezel, again just like the Rolex.
The Marine Star’s bezel has much shallower notches than the Submariner, this slight variation gives a fairly distinct look to the Bulova. It measures 43mm across, is water resistant to 100m, and features a non-magnified date window at 3 o’ clock.
Citzen Eco-Drive Promaster BN0190-07E
The Citizen pays homage to the classic Rolex Submariner without any obvious attempts at imitation. It features a sporty rubber strap secured by a standard buckle. The Citizen is powered by the famous Eco-Drive Japanese quartz movement, which takes its power from exposure to light, never needing a battery replacement.
The Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster has a 3 o’ clock date window, a unidirectional bezel and checks the ‘real dive watch’ box with its 200m water resistance rating. A blue dial variant is available in the Citzen Eco-Drive Promaster BN0191-55L.
Affordable Rolex Submariner Homages
Invicta 8926OB Pro Diver
The Invicta 8926OB Pro Diver on appearance alone, is a very strong Rolex Submariner homage, although the similarities don’t stop there. Both watches feature 40mm cases, stainless steel construction, unidirectional ratcheted bezels and cyclops date magnifiers at the 3 o’ clock position.
Some may even prefer the exhibition case back of the Invicta, which shows off the automatic Japanese movement, compared to the plain stainless case back of the Rolex. The Pro Diver is water resistant to an impressive 200m, and to ensure that it stays put if you do take it in the water, the bracelet is secured by way of a deployment clasp.
Rotary Legacy GB90168/04
Like a true Rolex Submariner homage, this Rotary Legacy looks similar to the Submariner, but has enough unique features to set it apart from a straight copy. With a 42mm case, this is a relatively big watch by comparison to the Rolex. The Legacy features an attractive display case back, showing the inner workings of the watch.
It features an automatic Swiss movement, and like the Rolex boasts a ceramic bezel, albeit with a different numbering layout. The Rotary Legacy does not feature true dive watch water resistance, with a rating referred to by Rotary as ‘Dolphin Standard’, making it safe for only swimming and snorkeling.
Stuhrling Regatta Espora 417.02
The Stuhrling Regatta Espora bears a very close resemblance to the Rolex Submariner. The Stuhrling’s hour markers are close to identical to the Rolex, as is the date window with cyclops magnifier at 3 o’ clock.
The Regatta Espora is powered by a Swiss quartz movement, housed in a 44mm case. It can certainly be used as a dive watch due to the unidirectional bezel and 200m water resistance rating.
Stuhrling Regatta 792.01
This Stuhrling Regatta model fits the bill as a Rolex Submariner homage very well. Branding aside, at first glance there is very little difference in appearance (if any) to the Submariner, even down to the ‘Mercedes’ hands.
To find the biggest visual difference between the Rolex and the Stuhrling you’ll have to look at the back; the Regatta features a glass display case back, showing off its automatic movement. The Regatta has a 42mm case, a unidirectional bezel with deep notches, and is water resistant to a dive watch standard 200m.