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The 8 Best Rolex Submariner Alternatives You Can Buy Right Now

Let me start off by saying that I love the Rolex Submariner. For me and in my wholly personally subjective humble opinion, it stands out as one of the greatest watches ever made, period. It's a cultural icon, proportionally and dimensionally perfect, executed and engineered unfathomably above and beyond, it carries enough horological weight to be relevant generationally and it has truly positioned itself at the very top of the watchmaking hierarchy. I am speaking with absolute bias as I am a very fortunate (and thankful) owner of a Submariner, so take what you read above with a grain of salt.

The Rolex Submariner is unabashedly an expensive watch for what it is. I'll be the first to admit it. Furthermore, it is one of the most difficult watches to buy in the world, with waiting lists edging towards the better part of a decade long. And while it is a beaming symbol of modern watchmaking, walking tall as something that is virtually untouchable, in its casting shadow lie some very interesting and very accessible watches that, like for like, can be compared to the deity-like nature of the Rolex Submariner.

Before we look at the Rolex Submariner alternatives, it's probably a good idea to create a baseline of the Submariner's technical data which you can compare with to the watches' below instead of having to dart back and forth to the Rolex website:

  • Reference: 124060

  • Material: Oystersteel (904L)

  • Dimensions: 42mm x 12.5mm

  • Movement: Rolex 3230 (Superlative Chronometer)

  • Water Resistance: 300m

Here are 8 of the best Rolex Submariner alternatives that money can buy, ranging from affordable options from Tudor to Japan's answer to the Submariner's domination, as well a couple of left-fielders that you might not have thought of, too.

Omega Seamaster 300

  • Reference:

  • Material: Stainless Steel (316L)

  • Dimensions: 42mm x 13.6mm

  • Movement: Omega 8800 (METAS approved Master Chronometer)

  • Water Resistance: 300m

The Omega Seamaster 300 is perhaps the single best Rolex Submariner alternative. It offers many like-for-like similarities like similar case dimensions, an automatic movement that can go toe-to-toe with the COSC certified manufacture 3230, as well as the same depth rating.

The Omega 8800 is visible through the open sapphire caseback and boasts the following features: self-winding with Co-Axial escapement, magnetic resistance of 15,000 gauss, free sprung balance with silicon balance spring, METAS certified Master Chronometer.

Omega uses 316L steel which is one of the most commonly used materials in watchmaking and boasts a high resistance to corrosion (PREN value of 26.1), while 904L steel has a higher corrosion resistance rating (PREN value of 36.7). Interestingly enough, both steel variations have similar hardness values and that 904L typically costs 1.3 times more than 316L. Small differences, but these definitely do count when push comes to shove.

Tudor Pelagos

  • Reference: M25600TN-0001

  • Material: Titanium

  • Dimensions: 42mm x 14.3mm

  • Movement: MT5612 (COSC certified)

  • Water Resistance: 500m

I was tempted to pick the new Pelagos 39 which won the GPHG Sports Watch Prize last year, but I opted for the original Pelagos reference M25600TN-0001 instead as I felt it would be the better alternative to the Rolex Submariner. Fundamentally, Rolex and Tudor can be considered sister companies. So w're talking shared ideals, shared direction and, perhaps more importantly, shared technologies. Which is why the Pelagos, along with the next piece from Tudor, are often thought of as the more affordable Rolex Submariner alternatives out there.

The Tudor Pelagos is powered by the MT5612 COSC certified automatic calibre which has a 70 hour power reserve, a variable inertia balance and a non-magnetic silicon balance spring.

Titanium is the case material of choice for the Pelagos, which is in itself the biggest differentiating factor between this and the Rolex Submariner. The Pelagos does look to be the more contemporarily designed piece through and through. Side note: The height of the Pelagos has deterred some would-be purchasers of this Rolex Submariner alternative.

Tudor Black Bay 58

  • Reference: M79030B-0001

  • Material: Stainless Steel (316L)

  • Dimensions: 39mm x 11.9mm

  • Movement: MT5402 (COSC certified)

  • Water Resistance: 200m

The revelatory Tudor Black Bay 58 comes in as one of the best pound-for-pound watches made. I was actually going to pull the trigger on it for my thirtieth birthday a few years back, but chose to wait for the Submariner instead. Be that as it may, the Tudor Black Bay 58 comes in as another wonderful Rolex Submariner alternative. And like the Pelagos, there is a lot of Submariner-inspired details throughout the BB58.

Powering the BB58 is the manufacture calibre MT5402 which carries with it COSC certification and, like the MT5612, a variable inertia balance and a non-magnetic silicon balance spring, along with the same power reserve of 70 hours.

The Tudor Black Bay 58 is made out of stainless steel, has a matte blue bezel, Tudor's signature snowflake hour hand as well as the look and feel of a traditional diver's watch. A near perfect Rolex Submariner alternative that costs far less than the sum of its parts.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe

  • Reference: 5000 1110 71S

  • Material: Stainless Steel

  • Dimensions: 43.6mm x 13.83mm

  • Movement: 1315

  • Water Resistance: 300m

The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe is likely the most expensive Rolex Submariner alternative on this list, but boy does it pack a punch and a half. Everything about the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe screams quality. Literally a notch above most Submariner alternatives, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe is serious bit of kit that offers some immense duality in its capacity to operate as a hardcore diver's watch while also being a watch that will work for you on a day-to-day basis.

Powering the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe is Blancpain's calibre 1315. This is an automatic movement first introduced in 2007 and features a glucydur free sprung balance, a silicon balance spring, gold regulation screws and a power reserve of 120 hours with a beating frequency of 4 Hz. Love that.

Blancpain's Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe is an undeniable force to be reckoned with, offering loads of quality both viscerally and in the movement department. There are smaller options from the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe collection that you should definitely check out if you're considering this reference, too.

Grand Seiko Heritage Spring Drive Snowflake

  • Reference: SBGA211

  • Material: Titanium

  • Dimensions: 41mm x 12.5mm

  • Movement: Calibre 9R65 (Spring Drive technology with automatic winding)

  • Water Resistance: 100m

The Japanese made Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake is a wonderful piece whose understated look and technical prowess aligns with what many would consider to be a worthy Rolex Submariner alternative. The dial is crisp and clean, much like the snow-covered Hotaka mountains, from which Grand Seiko drew inspiration. The Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake is an emblem of subtle details, from that beautifully textured dial to the blued steel hand and high grade satin-finished and polished case and bracelet.

Spring Drive technology is abundant in the Spring Drive Snowflake, where there is a combination of mechanical and Quartz based watchmaking in the in-house Calibre 9R65. The movement combines a traditional mainspring with an electronic regulator, where the perpetual energy derived from the wearer's movement and the precision offered by Quartz technology. The result is a true hybrid mechanism -- with a key feature being the super smooth motion of the seconds hand.

The Grand Seiko Spring Drive Snowflake really holds its own as an alternative to the Rolex Submariner, and is perhaps for someone looking for something against the grain, while retaining high quality workmanship and chronometry performance. A solid IYKYK kind of watch.

Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date

  • Reference: 1-36-13-02-81-70

  • Material: Stainless Steel

  • Dimensions: 43.2mm x 15.65mm

  • Movement: Calibre 36-13

  • Water Resistance: 300m

Another Rolex Submariner alternative from outside of Switzerland, the Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date offers an enormous amount of quality, charisma and points of differentiation. The obscurity of the SeaQ Panorama Date is perhaps one of its pros, and in a world where you more often than not become accustomed to seeing pieces like the Submariner, the Seamaster 300m and the Black Bay, owning and wearing something like the SeaQ Panorama Date might give you that quote-unquote horological edge.

While the SeaQ Panorama Date's Calibre 36-13 might not boast COSC or Master Chronometer certification, it did have to pass a 24-day test aptly named the Glashütte Original Excellence Test. Beyond that, the 100-hour power reserve rated Calibre 36-13 boasts striped finishing on the three-quarter plate, regulator-free fine adjustement, a balance with silicon hairspring, 21k gold skeletonised rotor, bevelled edges, polished steel parts, as well as polished and blued screws.

The Glashütte Original SeaQ Panorama Date isn't the most obvious Rolex Submariner alternative, but it's one that really does deliver on multiple fronts.

Ulysse Nardin Diver 42mm

  • Reference: 8163-175-7M/92

  • Material: Stainless Steel

  • Dimensions: 42mm

  • Movement: UN-816 (Sellita SW300 base)

  • Water Resistance: 300m

Next up on the list of Rolex Submariner alternatives is the Ulysse Nardin Diver 42mm. Looking particularly bold and capable, the Ulysse Nardin Diver 42mm carries a fair amount of weight within its 42mm stainless steel case. It's a steadfast diver that is available with a variety of strap options, and carries with it a distinct yet subtle look.

The Ulysse Nardin Diver 42mm is powered by the UN-816, an ébauche movement based on the Sellita SW300 (which in itself is a carbon copy of the ETA 2892-A2). While Ulusse Nardin has gone to town on the movement, incorporating in-house silicon components for the escapement wheel and anchor. While this is considered by many as a workhorse no-frills movement, at this level and this price I don't agree with the use of ébauche movement, especially considering Ulysse Nardin's horological pedigree and penchant for the extreme.

If you're looking for something solid, reliable, inconspicuous and well made, and you can overlook the use of an ébauche movement, then Ulysse Nardin Diver 42mm is right up your alley as a more than capable Rolex Submariner alternative.

Breitling Superocean Automatic 46

  • Reference: A17378211B1S1

  • Material: Stainless Steel

  • Dimensions: 46mm x 13.2mm

  • Movement: Breitling 17 (ETA 2824-2 base)

  • Water Resistance: 300m

And finally, we have the Breitling Superocean Automatic 46. There is no getting around it, the Breitling Superocean Automatic 46 is big. But for a true diver's watch, legibility and ease of use are key, which the Breitling Superocean Automatic 46 offers in droves. The inner dial is surrounding by an outer dial in a creamy white finish, which in itself is surrounded by a ceramic-inlayed bezel, which creates a sort of play on the piece's actual depth and overall size. Very smartly done.

The Breitling Superocean Automatic 46 is powered by the maison's calibre Breitling 17 which is also an ébauche movement based on the ETA 2824-2 movement. Not exactly a faux pas, but a manufacture movement would have been preferred. But, it is a COSC certified chronometer. So, there's that.

Aside from the buzz-kill movement, the Breitling Superocean Automatic 46 is actually a really cool watch that I think fits the bill as a decent Rolex Submariner alternative. I really like the vintage inspired details like the square-ended minute hand, the touches of red and the design of the case. Overall, a good an solid alternative.

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