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ROLEX BLOG

The Top 10 Rolex Submariner Alternatives

September 21, 2021

BY Paul Altieri

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Without a doubt, the Rolex Submariner is easily the single most famous dive watch ever created. First launched in 1953 as a highly water-resistant timepiece specifically designed for scuba diving, the Submariner has transcended its humble tool watch roots, and it has become an internationally recognized status symbol that is worn by countless individuals all around the globe.

Part of the reason why the Rolex Submariner has been such a widespread success is because it offers an incredibly versatile overall package. It is simultaneously tough enough to be worn in the most extreme environments (and it has), yet its appearance remains refined enough to easily pair with a button-up shirt when worn around the office. Need proof? It was a Rolex Submariner that was on James Bond’s wrist during the original 007 films and never once did his watch look out of place, regardless of whether he was wearing a wetsuit or a three-piece suit.

However, the Rolex Submariner’s widespread success and enduring desirability means that buying one these days has become a rather difficult (and expensive) task. Authorized retailers all around the globe have multi-year waiting lists for this highly popular model, and even the least expensive Rolex Submariner references from about 20-30 years ago are still going to set you back a minimum of five-figures on the pre-owned market. So, if you enjoy the core concept of the Submariner, but are looking for something either a bit more affordable (or just a bit different), then read on for a closer look at ten of the best Rolex Submariner alternatives.

Rolex Sea-Dweller

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Sea-Dweller 43mm 126600

Sea-Dweller Key Features:

– Case Size: 43mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Stainless Steel & Yellow Gold

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, Helium Escape Valve

– Strap/Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

– Retail Price: $11,700 – $16,600 (Approx.)

Rolex Sea-Dweller

It might seem a little bit strange to offer another Rolex dive watch as an alternative to the Submariner, but there is a serious case to be made for the Rolex Sea-Dweller being the most overlooked Submariner alternative out there. Due to all the hype that surrounds the Sub, the Sea-Dweller simply gets missed by the average buyer, yet it actually offers even more impressive performance metrics than the legendary Submariner.

With an increased depth rating and the addition of a helium escape valve, the Sea-Dweller could almost be seen as the Submariner’s bigger and more capable brother. Additionally, at a retail level, the Sea-Dweller even costs more than the Sub; however, on the pre-owned market, that premium virtually evaporates, and you can get the current model Rolex Sea-Dweller for virtually the exact same price.

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Omega Seamaster Diver 300M

Seamaster Diver 300M Key Features:

– Case Size: 42mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Stainless Steel & Yellow Gold; Stainless Steel & Sedna Gold; Sedna Gold; Titanium

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, Helium Escape Valve

– Strap/Bracelet: Metal Bracelet; Rubber Strap

– Retail Price: $4,900 – $23,100 (Approx.)

Omega Seamaster

In terms of its on-paper numbers, the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M might just be the best Rolex Submariner alternative currently available. Priced at roughly half the retail cost of a Submariner, yet offering an even more impressive list of professional dive watch features, it is the true definition of a beach-to-boardroom timepiece, and also holds the distinction of being the go-to Omega watch for James Bond.

In regards to its styling, the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M is more refined and dressy than the Rolex Submariner, yet it still offers the same 300 meter depth rating and also adds a helium escape valve for saturation diving use. Additionally, the new models feature ceramic bezels, ceramic dials, and METAS-certified Master Chronometer movements that are antimagnetic up to fields in excess of 15,000 gauss. Omega offers the Seamaster Diver 300M in an impressive number of different configurations and unlike the Submariner, you can even find them at a small discount when shipping on the pre-owned market.

Omega Planet Ocean

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Omega Planet Ocean Seamaster

Planet Ocean Key Features:

– Case Size: 39.5mm; 43.5mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Sedna Gold; White Gold; Titanium; Black Ceramic; Brown Ceramic

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, Helium Escape Valve

– Strap/Bracelet: Metal Bracelet; Rubber Strap; Leather Strap; NATO Strap

– Retail Price: $6,450 – $104,700 (Approx.)

Omega Planet Ocean

Like Rolex, Omega is another brand with two different collections of professional dive watches, and in the same way that the Sea-Dweller is the bigger and more capable brother to the Submariner, the Planet Ocean is the scaled-up version of the brand’s standard Seamaster Diver. With double the depth rating and an even wider range of available configurations, the Omega Planet Ocean is priced above the normal Seamaster, yet you could still likely purchase both a Planet Ocean and a Seamaster Diver 300M for less than the price of the current Rolex Submariner on the pre-owned market.

Not including the various chronograph and GMT variants, the Omega Planet Ocean is currently available in either a 39.5mm or a 43.5mm case and offered in a wide range of different configurations including high-tech materials like colored ceramic and even some ultra-lavish gem-set references crafted from solid 18k gold. Additionally, just like the standard Seamaster Diver, Omega Planet Ocean watches feature ceramic bezels, ceramic dials, METAS-certified Master Chronometer movements, and manually-operated helium escape valves that allow them to be used for saturation diving applications.

Tudor Black Bay

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Tudor Black Bay

Black Bay Key Features:

– Case Size: 41mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Black Ceramic

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds

– Strap/Bracelet: Metal Bracelet; Leather Strap; Fabric Strap

– Retail Price: $3,475 – $4,725 (Approx.)

Tudor Black Bay

No list of Rolex Submariner alternatives would be complete without at least one model from Rolex’s sister brand, and the Tudor Black Bay is a fantastic option that offers a lot of the same fun and styling of a vintage Submariner, but with modern technology and at an exponentially more adorable price point. While the 39mm Black Bay Fifty-Eight is the watch that most closely adheres to the proportions of vintage Submariner references, it is the full-size 41mm models that are the closest relatives to the current-production Rolex Submariner.

The Tudor Black Bay does offer a lower depth rating than the Submariner (200m vs. 300m) and the bezel insert is made from aluminum (rather than ceramic). However, 200 meters is more than enough for professional scuba diving use and given that it is a vintage-inspired watch, an aluminum insert is simply more appropriate. Most importantly, you can add a Tudor Black Bay to your collection for less than a third of the price of a Rolex Submariner, while also having your choice of three different colorways and the option of either a leather strap, fabric strap, or matching stainless steel bracelet.

Tudor Pelagos

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Tudor Pelagos

Pelagos Key Features:

– Case Size: 42mm

– Materials: Titanium & Stainless Steel

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, Helium Escape Valve

– Strap/Bracelet: Metal Bracelet; Rubber Strap

– Retail Price: $4,575 (Approx.)

Tudor Pelagos

The Tudor Pelagos could really most accurately be described as Tudor’s version of the Rolex Sea-Dweller, but it also makes a fantastic option for anyone looking for a slightly differnet alternative to the Submariner. Just like the Sea-Dweller, the Tudor Pelagos offers an increased depth rating and the addition of a helium escape valve; however, it also features a titanium case, a luminous ceramic bezel insert, and an advanced spring-loaded wetsuit extension system built into the clasp.

While the Black Bay is a vintage-inspired model, the Tudor Pelagos is unmistakably modern in its design and execution. Although it measures 1mm larger than the current Rolex Submariner, the Pelagos’s titanium case and bracelet make it significantly lighter than the Sub, and this is especially noticeable when worn on the wrist. Additionally, despite its impressive list of high-tech features and being from Rolex’s own sibling company (along with also being offered in either black or blue), the Tudor Pelagos only costs about half the price of a Rolex Submariner when purchased at retail, and even less when shopping on the pre-owned market.

Breitling Superocean

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Breitling Superocean

Superocean Key Features:

– Case Size: 36mm; 42mm; 44mm; 46mm; 48mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Titanium; Stainless Steel & Red Gold

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, Helium Escape Valve

– Strap/Bracelet: Metal Bracelet; Rubber Strap; NATO Strap

– Retail Price: $3,600 – $6,300 (Approx.)

Breitling Superocean

Breitling is best known for its iconic pilot’s watches, but the brand also has a rich history of producing models designed for the sea, and the Superocean collection is where you will find all of its various dive watches. Additionally, Breitling also has the Superocean Heritage line that features a range of vintage-inspired models that draw their design cues from the original Breitling dive watches from the 1950s. Both Superocean collections offer a lot of value for the money, and even the top-of-the-line model that features a black DLC-coated case and an 18k red gold bezel only costs about two-thirds as much as the least expensive Rolex Submariner watches.

When it comes to on-paper performance metrics, Breitling Superocean watches continue to excel. Depth ratings for the standard Superocean watches start out at 200 meters and goe all the way up to 2,000 meters for the more advanced models. Additionally, many of the non-Heritage Superocean references feature helium gas escape valves, and a surprisingly wide range of variety exists when it comes to the available dial colors and configurations. Pilot’s watches and aviation are always going to be the first things that come to mind whenever someone thinks of Breitling, but the Superocean collection upholds the exact same standards of excellence and makes a fantastic alternative to the Rolex Submariner.

Panerai Submersible

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Panerai Submersible 

Submersible Key Features:

– Case Size: 42mm; 44mm; 47mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Titanium; Bronze; Goldtech; Carbotech; BMG-Tech;

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds; Date Display

– Strap/Bracelet: Rubber Strap

– Retail Price: $8,900 – $30,000 (Approx.)

Panerai Submersible

Panerai is a brand that first got its start over a hundred years ago by making underwater instruments for the Italian navy, so it comes as no surprise that the brand also offers a dedicated line of dive watches – namely the Panerai Submersible. Originally, Submersible models were purpose-built divers from the Luminor collection but in 2019, the Submersible became its own standalone line of performance-oriented Panerai dive watches.

Panerai Submersible watches largely follow the same general blueprint of the Luminor with its cushion-shaped case and signature oversized crown-guard bridge; however, all Submersible models feature rotating timing bezels and increased depth ratings. Additionally, it is also within the Submersible collection where you will find some of Panerai’s most advanced modern materials such as Carbotech and BMG-Tech. All Panerai watches share the same core design DNA, and the Submersible makes a fantastic option for those that like the concept of the Rolex Submariner but who want a dive watch with an entirely different design ethos.

Oris Divers Sixty-Five

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Oris Divers Sixty-Five

Divers Sixty-Five Key Features:

– Case Size: 36mm; 38mm; 40mm; 42mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Bronze; Stainless Steel & Bronze

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display

– Strap/Bracelet: Metal Bracelet; Leather Strap; Rubber Strap; NATO Strap

– Retail Price: $2,000 – $2,750 (Approx.)

Oris Divers Sixty-Five

Oris is often the first name that comes to mind whenever you think of affordable Swiss luxury watches, and the brand’s various divers are some of its most popular among lines collectors. The Oris Divers Sixty-Five is the modern recreation of Oris’s first dive watch from the 1960s, but built with modern materials and manufacturing techniques. At a quick glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a Divers Sixty-Five is a vintage Submariner, but the key difference here is that the Oris costs about a hundredth of the price.

While a vintage Rolex Submariner like the iconic ref. 6538 “James Bond” will set you back a minimum of six-figures, the Oris Divers Sixty-Five can frequently be found for prices between $1k and $2k on the pre-owned market. Additionally, since the Divers Sixty-Five is a modern watch with 100 meters of water resistance and a screw-down crown, you can freely swim and dive without any of the worries that come with a true vintage timepiece. Best of all, since it is available in case sizes that range from 36mm to 42mm and offered in a startlingly wide range of different colors and configurations, finding the perfect Oris Divers Sixty-Five for your wrist is both a fun and easy task.

Oris Aquis Date

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Oris Aquis Date

Aquis Date Key Features:

– Case Size: 36.5mm; 39.5mm; 41.5mm; 43.5mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds; Date Display

– Strap/Bracelet: Metal Bracelet; Rubber Strap; Leather Strap

– Retail Price: $1,850 – $2,350 (Approx.)

Oris Aquis

Oris is yet another Swiss luxury watch brand with two separate collections of highly-popular dive watches. While the Divers Sixty-Five leans heavily in the vintage direction in terms of its aesthetics, the Oris Aquis is a thoroughly modern timepiece with a unique design language that is distinct to the brand. Defined by its multi-part case and integrated bracelet (or strap) design, the Oris Aquis Date builds upon the template of the classic stainless steel sports watch and adds professional dive watch features for a highly versatile yet refined overall package.

Like many other Oris collections, the Aquis is offered in a wide range of different options. At the present time, the Oris Aquis Date is available with case sizes ranging from 36.5mm all the way up to 43.5mm (and even larger for other Oris Aquis models), and there are also many different dial color and bezel configurations. In terms of its on-paper specs, the Oris Aquis Date is a highly capable dive watch, yet its refined appearance and integrated bracelet design allows it to effortlessly be dressed up when paired with more formal attire.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver

Rolex Submariner Alternatives Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver

Royal Oak Offshore Diver Key Features:

– Case Size: 42mm

– Materials: Stainless Steel; Pink Gold, White Gold

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds; Date Display

– Strap/Bracelet: Rubber Strap

– Retail Price: $22,800 – $59,100 (Approx.)

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore

Not all alternatives have to be more affordable, and if the Rolex Submariner’s price and availability are not your greatest issues with owning one, then the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver might just be your perfect Submariner alternative. With its octagonal case, and internal rotating timing bezel, there is zero chance of mistaking the AP Royal Oak Offshore Diver for anything even remotely related to a Submariner, yet both models are Swiss-made luxury dive watches that are capable of standing up to anything you can throw at them.

Just like the Rolex Submariner, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver is water-resistant to 300 meters; however, all examples of the watch are fitted with integrated rubber straps instead of matching stainless steel bracelets. Additionally, while the Submariner features an external rotating timing bezel, the Offshore Diver features an internal one that is operated by the secondary crown protruding from the side of the case at the 10 o’clock location. Overall, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver looks nothing like a Rolex Submariner, but if it’s the core idea of the Submariner that appeals to you (rather than anything to do with its design), than the AP Offshore Diver might just be your perfect go-anywhere, do-anything sports watch.

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3 Responses to “The Top 10 Rolex Submariner Alternatives”

  1. Kevin says:

    The Sea Dweller is absolutely stunning in person. No doubt the value on this will skyrocket at some point.

  2. ermanno magnanini says:

    sea dweller is looking better already,even under water.

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