We all love the classic Rolex Submariner (OK, well at least 90% of us do), but there’s something to be said for having options. Dive watches come in all shapes and sizes, and there are plenty of alternatives out there for those looking for something with a similar vibe, or for something different to swap to when they want to give their beloved Rolex Submariner a break. For the sake of variety, we’re going to cover every end of the pricing spectrum with this one.
The Rolex Submariner may have a super long waitlist, but there are plenty of other great dive watches at every price point.
Seiko Prospex SPB079
The Seiko Prospex line is packed with value-centric dive watches, but a recent favorite has to be the SPB079. Loosely based on the vintage reference 6159, the new model features a chunky yet comfortable 44mm stainless steel case with 200m of water resistance, with the caliber 6R15 ticking away inside. While there’s also an all black variant (the SPB077), there’s something about the muted blue “ghost” bezel on this version that helps it stand out from the pack.
Oris Aquis Date
Also in the affordable end of the tool watch/diver category, Oris Aquis divers have a distinct aesthetic on account of their broad crown guards and integrated strap/bracelet design. Though it measures 43mm across, this model feels a fair bit more compact when on the wrist, almost akin to the Submariner, though slightly thicker. It also features a ceramic bezel insert, which is still less common in the budget-friendly space.
Omega Seamaster 300
Maybe you’re craving something with a more of a vintage vibe? The Seamaster 300 came back into the market back in 2014 (followed by a limited edition “Spectre” model in 2015 alongside its appearance in the Bond franchise), designed to closely mimic the original reference CK2913 Seamaster from 1957. The modern variant is anything but dated on the inside, as it runs a Master Co-Axial 8400 caliber, with an anti-magnetic resistance of 15,000 gauss and COSC certification for accuracy.
Bremont Supermarine S2000 Red
While we all patiently wait for Rolex to get their act together and reissue the Coke bezel GMT, one of our Submariner alternatives will satisfy that craving in a sleek and well crafted non-GMT diver. The chunky Supermarine S2000 was refreshed by Bremont this year, in a simple black dial with dark red accents. All the key features that make the S2000 great are intact – namely its uber shock-resistant Trip-Tick case design and torch-bright X1 Grade Super-LumiNova, which is applied to its indices, hands, and bezel.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe
Though Blancpain has spent a lot of time going down the heritage reissue route, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe remains a modern icon that we simply can’t ignore. The brand has just as much heritage and history in the diving world as Rolex, and has spent a great deal of time refining its calibers to the highest of specifications. The Caliber 1315 powering the Bathyscaphe uses a silicon balance spring, and delivers an impressive power reserve of 120 hours, dwarfing Rolex’s highest spec calibers (70-hour power reserves) by a significant margin.
Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Matte Black
If the thought process is a quest for “something different”, the recent Bell & Ross divers that have surfaced in recent years are a solid option. Derived from the longstanding BR 03 line, you get that same classic square case structure of their aviation focused models, fitted with a unidirectional timing bezel, brightly lumed applied indices, and a screw-down crown. The completed package looks like a unique aviation/diver hybrid, but it just works. At 42mm across, the square case takes up a bit more real estate, but I’ve always found these pieces wear much more comfortable than one would expect.
IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Galapagos Islands
Often overshadowed by their extensive pilot’s watch collection, IWC’s dive watches are just as well executed, and easily stand out from the pack when it comes to their overall aesthetics. Often using an internal timing bezel rather than an external one, there’s one key feature about the Galapagos Islands limited edition that makes the piece that much more appealing. Rather than relying on DLC or PVD coating for its matte black finish, this model actually has a robust vulcanized rubber coating over its stainless steel case. Having tested one a number of years back, I can attest firsthand that this coating is surprisingly resilient when it comes to scratches and impact.
Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver
One more for the affordable end of the spectrum, Bulova has released some really interesting pieces as a part of their Archive collection recently. The Devil Diver is based off of a series of vintage dive watches that the brand launched back in the day with a water resistance of 666 feet (hence the nickname). Aside from its 44mm casing (which wears small due to its short lug-to-lug measurement) the piece stays very true to the original, right down to the tall three dimensional aesthetic of its applied indices. These list at $795, but can often be found discounted through their broad retail network both in-store and online.
So easily deserving of a spot on this list of Submariner alternatives, the Tudor Pelagos is a serious piece of hardware from the Rolex sister brand. An in-house automatic caliber, titanium casing, 500m of water resistance, a helium escape valve, and one of the better micro-adjusting clasps on the market make the Pelagos a worthy addition to any collection. Not to mention the fact that most Tudor watches don’t suffer from the same degree of scarcity as Rolex at the authorized retailer level, so you can actually get a Pelagos without much fuss.
Priced under $2,000, the Monta Oceanking is one of the best bang-for-buck divers I’ve seen in ages. The brand is the brainchild of the same people behind Everest Bands – one of the best suppliers of aftermarket Rolex straps out there – and their keen eye for detail makes for the creation of one fantastic dive watch. From its extremely comfortable bracelet and sturdy clasp, to the precise and firm action of its unidirectional bezel, to the timeless design of its dial and hands, it’s just a rock solid watch all around. On the scale of “put your money where your mouth is”, I personally own two of their watches that I continue to wear quite frequently.