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Rolex Submariner Alternatives: Budget, Mid Range & Premium Picks

The Rolex Submariner is one of the most iconic watches in the world. It sets the bar in diving watches, not only for the build quality and functionality we always expect from Rolex, but also in its balanced and timeless design. 

Whilst it’s easy to over-hype the Submariner, it really is a watch that defines not only the diving watch market, but the sport watch market as well. The Submariner’s legendary status is undoubted with it being a watch most fans would love to get their hands on!

But, with even the most basic of Submariner models costing around £6,500 brand new, not every watch fan can afford to get a Submariner onto their wrist.

Luckily, the watch market knows this and there are many many watches out there which serve as fantastic Rolex Submariner alternatives and today, we’re going to take you through the best ones. 

To ensure we cover all ends of the market, we’re going to look at the best budget, mid range and premium alternatives. These won’t just be watches that look like a Rolex Submariner, but pieces with the specs and build quality to match too!

Info – For the purpose of true comparison, we’re going to compare directly against the Submariner Date in black – Model #126610LN. 
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Budget Rolex Submariner Alternatives Under £500

For those with a limited budget or who are just entering the watch market, here’s our top three budget picks. All three of these watches sit in the under £500 bracket, but still bring high levels of build quality and design from reputable watch brands!

Orient RA-AA0008B

We start our look at the budget alternatives with the Orient RA-AA0008B. We’re big fans of Orient as a brand that make high quality sports and dress watches within a budget price range. 

As with all of the alternatives we’ll include in this roundup, the Orient RA-AA0008B follows the classic Submariner design styles – combining a stainless steel bracelet, lume covered hands and markings alongside a unidirectional rotating bezel!

For somewhere around £210, you’ll also get hand-wound automatic movement, day and date indicators, mineral glass crystal, a screw down crown and 200m of water resistance. 

We’d also recommend checking out Orients wider range of diving watches, specifically the Triton or Mako pieces as they’re similarly great dive watches at a budget price! 

RA-AA0008B Specs: 

  • Size – 44mm
  • Thickness – 13mm
  • Movement – Orient Cal. F6922
  • Power Reserve – 40 hours
  • Crystal – Mineral
  • Water Resistance – 200m
  • Dial Colour – Black
  • Bezel Type – Unidirectional
  • Case Material – Steel
  • Band Material – Steel

Bulova Marine Star Date

Moving slightly higher up the budget ladder, we recommend taking a look at the Bulova Marine Star Date. 

As always with Bulova, this is a really classy piece despite its budget pricetag – again combining great black dial/stainless steel stylings to mimic the looks of the Submariner. It even incorporates a similar hand design to Rolex, offering a lollipop style hour hand with a baton style minutes hand. 

At approximately £270, you’ll get most of the same aesthetic features we saw above with the Orient. The key differences are in the movement, with this piece being a quartz watch and only allowing for guaranteed water resistance down to 100m. 

Here’s some additional Bulova Marine Star Specs:

  • Size – 43mm
  • Thickness – 11mm
  • Movement – Quartz
  • Power Reserve – N/A
  • Crystal – Mineral
  • Water Resistance – 100m
  • Dial Colour – Black
  • Bezel Type – Unidirectional
  • Case Material – Steel
  • Band Material – Steel

Seiko Prospex King Samurai

When it comes to the best technical diving watches in the budget range, Seiko’s Prospex range is definitely leading the way! 

Whilst there are a number of models to choose from, the King Samurai comes closest to matching the Submariner in design and dive watch capability. 

The King Samurai combines large hour markings with an easy to read arrow/batton hand combination – all of which are covered in high-powered lume. The watch is automatic, has a unidirectional ceramic bezel, comes with a hardy sapphire crystal and incorporates a magnified cyclops date window at the 3 o’clock position. 

At around £500, it sits right at the top of our budget price point. But, if you’re looking for a watch you can be completely confident with at up to 200m in depth, there isn’t a better Submariner alternative out there!

Take a look at some extra King Samurai specs: 

  • Size – 44mm
  • Thickness – 13.4mm
  • Movement – Automatic 4R35
  • Power Reserve – N/A
  • Crystal – Sapphire
  • Water Resistance – 200m
  • Dial Colour – Black
  • Bezel Type – Unidirectional
  • Case Material – Steel
  • Band Material – Steel

Mid Range Rolex Submariner Alternatives – £500-£2000

Great news for those of you who want to enter into the mid-market range when searching out a Rolex Submariner alternative – the next three watches are all manufactured by well respected Swiss brands, meaning high quality is assured alongside fantastic aesthetics! 

Tissot Seastar 1000

Heading into the mid-range offerings we start with the Tissot Seastar 1000. Tissot absolutely dominate in the £500-£1000 range and the Seastar is their signature diving piece which doubles well as a Rolex alternative!

The Seastar’s markings directly mimic the Submariner’s with the key differences coming in the hands, which are both baton, and the date window being at the 6 o’clock position, rather than the 3 o’clock.

Technically, the watch packs in a strong 80 hours of power reserve and an impressive 300m of water resistance! There’s also a sapphire crystal and a screw down crown, making it a watertight beast to go diving with. 

The best thing about this watch is the price, which at the bottom end of the mid range, at £645, offers a fantastic level of spec for only a small increase in cost above budget offerings! 

The Seastar 1000 has the following key specs:

  • Size – 43mm
  • Thickness – 12.7mm
  • Movement – Automatic Powermatic 80.111
  • Power Reserve – 80 Hours
  • Crystal – Sapphire
  • Water Resistance – 300m
  • Dial Colour – Black
  • Bezel Type – Unidirectional
  • Case Material – Steel
  • Band Material – Steel

Longines Hyrdoconquest Automatic

At the circa £1,000 price point, the Longines Hydroconquest isn’t just one of the most popular dive watches, but one of the most popular watches full stop. 

This watch is the first we’ve seen to deviate in design styles slightly, incorporating big numbering at the 12, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. Despite that, it still retains circular markings at each hour point with everything on the dial lumed as expected. 

The hands match the Submariner’s lollipop/baton combination with a date window featured at the 3 o’clock point. 

The powerful automatic movement will keep you diving all the way down to 300m for up to 64 hours with the whole thing protected behind an anti-reflective sapphire crystal. 

This really is a beautiful watch and within the mid-range is a really great alternative to the Submariner if you don’t mind the slight design deviations. 

Longines Hyrdoconquest Automatic’s additional specs:

  • Size – 44mm
  • Thickness – Unknown
  • Movement – Automatic L888
  • Power Reserve – 64 Hours
  • Crystal – Sapphire
  • Water Resistance – 300m
  • Dial Colour – Black
  • Bezel Type – Unidirectional
  • Case Material – Steel
  • Band Material – Steel

Oris Aquis Date

Oris offer a fantastic range of underwater watches but we’re specifically diving into the Aquis Date model for this round up. With over 40 different configurations, there’s something here for everyone whilst ensuring that as it’s core it embodies the classic dive styles set out by the Submariner! 

With a slightly larger and cleaner dial, the Aquis Date will appeal to those with simple style tastes whilst keeping the baton hands, lume markings and date window we have seen elsewhere in this roundup!

Technically, the watch’s automatic movement will keep you going for 38 hours at depths of up to 300m. 

At £1,600 brand new from Oris, you pay for the high-end Swiss quality with the added piece of mind that this watch will perform in a way that matches its beautiful aesthetic. 

Here’s some extra specs:

  • Size – 39.50mm
  • Thickness – 13mm
  • Movement – Automatic Oris 733
  • Power Reserve – 38 Hours
  • Crystal – Sapphire
  • Water Resistance – 300m
  • Dial Colour – Black
  • Bezel Type – Unidirectional
  • Case Material – Steel
  • Band Material – Steel

Premium Rolex Submariner Alternatives – £2000+

As we head above £2000, we move into the more premium tier of watches. Whilst we’re still a little way from the luxury levels of Rolex themselves, watches in this bracket combine the very best in design alongside premium Swiss engineering and world class materials!

Breitling Superocean

The first of our three big hitters comes from a world renowned Swiss heavyweight in Breitling. Although most well known for their aviation themed watches, the Superocean is a brilliant entry into the diving market and a worthy alternative to the Submariner! 

Much like the Longines from the mid-market range, Breitling incorporate some large numbers to supplement their dial markings, whilst utilising baton style lume coated hands. There’s a date window at 3 o’clock which sits behind a high-quality sapphire crystal – although, that is to be expected at this level. 

From a technical perspective, the Superocean really is super! The automatic movement gives a comprehensive 38 hours of power reserve whilst delivering water-resistant performance down to an outstanding 1000m! 

When it comes to the outlay, the base level Superocean models will set you back around £3,250. For serious divers, the cost may justify the 1000m capability with those in the premium market not let down by the great design and build quality.  

Here’s some additional Breitling specifications:

  • Size – 44mm
  • Thickness – 14.20mm
  • Movement – Automatic Breitling 17
  • Power Reserve – 38 Hours
  • Crystal – Sapphire
  • Water Resistance – 1000m
  • Dial Colour – Black
  • Bezel Type – Unidirectional
  • Case Material – Steel
  • Band Material – Steel

Tudor Pelagos

For those with a knowledge of Tudor will know that comparing them against Rolex is in some way ironic. That’s because Tudor is actually a sister company of Rolex and it could be argued that the Pelagos is somewhat of a cousin to the Submariner – so it’s no surprise there’s a comparison to be made!

The design is extremely similar to that of the Submariner, with slight differences in the shapes of the hour markers and the minute hand being the key standouts to differentiate the Pelagos. 

A COSC certified movement provides 70 hours of power reserve, whilst driving a 3 o’clock date window and allowing for accuracy down to 500m of water resistance. 

At £3,440, the Pelagos is a fantastic Rolex alternative which due to the two brand’s close relationship, embodies the values and quality of the Rolex at a bargain cut price! 

The Pelagos has the following specs:

  • Size – 42mm
  • Thickness – 14.30mm
  • Movement – Automatic Calibre MT5612
  • Power Reserve – 70 Hours
  • Crystal – Sapphire
  • Water Resistance – 500m
  • Dial Colour – Black
  • Bezel Type – Unidirectional
  • Case Material – Steel
  • Band Material – Steel

Omega Seamaster Diver 300m

The last watch we’re going to look at is a legend within its own right. Whilst the Submariner undoubtedly leads the way in the diving market the Omega Seamaster isn’t far behind! 

Given this is a long running rival, whilst the design is fairly similar there are some key differences such as the black dial incorporating a waved texture and the hands designed into the shape of a hollowed out arrow.

Around the outside, the markings remain fairly similar to those seen on the Submariner with lume across everything as expected. On the edge of the case, the crown is also accompanied by a release value to further protect the watch when diving to depths. 

Talking of diving to depths, the Seamaster is water resistant to 300m, with a 55 hour power reserve helping to operate a 6 o’clock date window!

At £4,450 this watch retails a full £2,000 below the Submariner and has often been seen as a great premium alternative at a reduced price. Like Rolex, Omega watches retain their value well and have a status within the watch market that’s respected at all levels! 

Here’s some extra specs for the legendary Omega Seamaster: 

  • Size – 42mm
  • Thickness – 13.50mm
  • Movement – Automatic Calibre Omega 8800
  • Power Reserve – 55 Hours
  • Crystal – Sapphire
  • Water Resistance – 300m
  • Dial Colour – Black
  • Bezel Type – Unidirectional
  • Case Material – Steel
  • Band Material – Steel

Summary

Whilst many would dispute that there isn’t a dive watch to match the legendary Rolex timepiece, there are many watches that look like a Rolex Submariner!

Whether you’re shopping in the budget, mid-market or premium ranges there are some great diving watches from brands such as Seiko, Tissot, Oris and Omega that would look great on the wrist both on land and in the sea. 

Let us know your thoughts or if there are any great alternatives to the Rolex Submariner that we haven’t covered, we’d love to hear them!