5 More Affordable Tool Watches I’d Buy If I Didn’t Want to Spring For A Rolex Submariner – Reprise
by John Keil
Let’s face it, the Rolex Submariner is by leaps and bounds the most iconic dive watch to have ever existed.
Probably the most iconic watch of any style to have ever existed for that matter.
As a “watch guy,” I get constantly asked my opinion on watches I like, what watches I own, what I think of (insert brand name here), etc. If you get questions like this all of the time too, then you’ve probably also noticed that the most frequent inquiries seem to have to do with – justly – Rolex.
Most of my friends wouldn’t drop $5,000 to $10,000 on a watch, and often times they’ll just ask, “What’s the best Rolex to buy?”
My opinion is that if I were buying a Rolex, it would be the Submariner. More specifically, a no-date Sub Reference 114060 (see 5 Reasons I’ve Never Owned A Rolex, But . . . There’s A “But”).
Once I tell them that a brand new one will cost them upwards of $7,500, most of the time I hear, “Oh, I wasn’t thinking of spending that much!”
A very similar conversation occurred this past week, which inspired the writing of this post.
Obviously nothing will replace the brand recognition, perceived status of one wearing a Rolex, and in many cases, the quality and craftsmanship. However, if I were to recommend a brand new (not pre-owned) functional dive watch to a friend who was looking to spend within a certain price range, here would be my suggestions.
Or, more specifically, here is what I would purchase myself.
Under $500: Seiko Prospex Monster, Second Generation Reference SRP313K1
When you’re spending less than $500 on a new watch, the Seiko Prospex Monster is quite possibly one of the only modern (that you can buy new) watches on the market that will garner you any respect from “watch snobs.”
Covering all there is to know about this collection from Seiko isn’t possible in an entire post, much less a paragraph or two, however the Seiko Monster has a ton of value and features packed into this light price range.
There is a third generation of Monsters on the market with only a few modifications, however, the price has more than doubled and I don’t see the value in making the jump from the earlier series.
For more information, please visit www.seiko-prospex.com/sea/srp581k1.
Quick Facts Seiko Prospex Monster, Second Generation, Reference SRP313K1
Case: 43 x 14 mm, stainless steel with screw-in case back and domed Hardlex mineral crystal, water-resistant to 200 meters
Movement: automatic Seiko movement, 24-jewels
Functions: hours, minutes, hacking seconds; day, date
$500-$1000: NTH Antilles White
Okay, there are a lot of options in this range that I personally love, and I happen to be a big fan of a lot of the newer micro-brands coming to the market.
What seals the deal for me about the NTH Antilles White is that the white dial is fully covered with blue lume.
Now typically when a full dial is luminous, it can look cheap in the light. But not the Antilles. Additionally, for a watch under $1,000 it offers anything I could want in a diver’s style tool watch.
For more information, please visit www.janistrading.com/antilles-white.
Quick Facts NTH Antilles White
Case: 40 mm x 12 mm, 316L stainless steel, solid steel case back, double-domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal, water-resistant to 200 meters
Movement: automatic Swiss Tech Prod. Cal. STP1-11
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; rotating inner bezel (second time zone)
$1,000-$2,500: Oris Divers Sixty-Five
The Oris Divers Sixty-Five with blue dial, black bezel, and a blue NATO strap is an easy pick for me.
I love the aesthetic style and vintage inspiration of this piece; one of my favorite elements is the very domed sapphire crystal. And it wears amazingly comfortably at 42 mm.
For more information, please visit www.oris.ch/en/watch/oris-divers-sixty-five.
Quick Facts Oris Divers Sixty-Five
Case: 42 mm, 316L stainless steel, screw-down case back, two domed sapphire crystals, water-resistant to 100 meters
Movement: automatic Caliber 733 (base Caliber Sellita SW 200-1)
Functions: hours, minutes, hacking seconds; date
$2,500-$4,000: Tudor Heritage Black Bay Reference 79230B
Tudor Heritage Black Bay? I know . . . “John, what a copout!”
But think about it: for less than $4,000, you get a Rolex-quality case and bracelet (Tudor is Rolex’s sibling brand) as well as an in-house automatic manufacture movement with 70-hour power reserve. Not to mention that this watch is a homage to Tudor watches of the past, not a copy of a watch from another brand.
The truth of the matter is I can’t think of another dive watch within this price parameter that could begin to compete.
You may also enjoy Give Me Five! Bronze Watches At Baselworld 2016 From Hautlence, Urwerk, Bell & Ross, Tudor, And Oris.
For more information, please visit www.tudorwatch.com/watches/heritage-black-bay.
Quick Facts Tudor Heritage Black Bay Reference 79230B
Case: 41 mm, stainless steel, water-resistant to 200 meters
Movement: automatic manufacture Caliber MT5602, officially C.O.S.C. certified chronometer, 70-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Remark: comes with additional matching textile strap
$4,000-$6,000: Bremont Supermarine S500
I’ve owned the Bremont Supermarine S500, and to date it has been one of the best watches that I’ve ever had the pleasure to beat the ever-living crap out of!
This was my go-to watch for any type of water sports or activities including surfing, wake boarding, and jet skiing.
As the name suggests, the 500-meter water resistance is more than sufficient, but what makes this my choice is that the Supermarine S500 has a special shock absorber that ensures the movement avoids damage at much higher impacts than almost any other watch.
In addition, Bremont hardens its stainless steel so that the cases are seven times harder than the traditional 316L stainless found in most other fine watches. After years of literal abuse, my Supermarine still looked and functioned like brand new!
For more information, please visit www.bremont.com/watch/s500.
Quick Facts Bremont Supermarine S500
Case: 43 x 16 mm, stainless steel, Trip-Tick case construction with DLC-coated case band, inner soft iron anti-magnetic Faraday cage, screw-in case back, water-resistant to 500 meters
Movement: automatic Caliber BE-36AE (base ETA Caliber 2836-2), officially C.O.S.C. certified chronometer
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, day
Everyone certainly has their personal preferences and even my watch geek friends would disagree with some of my choices. That said, feel free to let us know what your picks would be in the comments section below. It would be interesting to know what our readers like!
* This article was first published on July 27, 2017 at 5 Tool Watches I’d Buy If I Didn’t Want to Spring For A Rolex Submariner.
You may also enjoy:
Rolex Submariner Deconstruction Video: Warning, Don’t Try This At Home
Great Rolex Experiment With The GMT-Master II Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Crown
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Let’s be honest here and not fool ourselves: from the way the luxury watch market is heading, none of the above are going to “garner respect” at a haute end GTG down-town.
What is a gtg?
Ha nacido un Titan en los 1000 USD
Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m NB6004-08E
Maybe among guys, but from a woman who loves watches, there’s nothing more unattractive than a guy who’s trying too hard to impress. It’s better if you are wearing what you love. I personally love Heritage Black Bay, better than (gulp) a predictable Submariner.
Me too, a Black bay is just so much more class…
That may be true, but if you’re suggesting buying the (any) Rolex, it’s a bit difficult with Rolex creating a De Beers style fake shortage. I read the article not because I’m worried about Rolex price, but I’m interested in a watch I can actually buy.
Interesting article. Some of the links aren’t working btw.
While I respect Seiko and own a number of them. For under $500 I would go with a Dan Henry 1970 using a Seiko NH35. Much better looking and cooler. I get tons of compliments when I wear it.
Please tell me where I can buy a new 114060 for $7500.
Right! Closest I came was $15,000.00 (USED!!!) So, yes, put me inline for the $7500 new as well.
I was thinking he was being purposely obtuse !? Rolex never belongs in one of these things as they area a commodity being shifted around “at the market” prices.
I agree with the previous gentleman. Where in hell do you think someone can get that Rolex for 7500. You can’t get a used one for that. Unless it’s beat to hell.
Seriously? No Seamaster 300M?
Yeah I was thinking the same !
I was also wondering why an Omega wasn’t in the list? I personally really don’t see what all the fuss is about a Rolex, being the benchmark we should supposedly aspire to…
Just buy a Garmin and swim bike run golf climb hike row etc . ✌
What about Titoni Seascoper 600? It’s less than 2000 dollar with in house movement (cosc).
Love my Revue Thommen.
Well, personally, i don’t think watchmaking is about substitutes.
People are focused on one brand for no reason. Yes Rolex is popular and the service is very good. But it Oney’s the same laws of physics as all other brands. People out side of watchmaking just know the marketing behind the watch, that’s it.
If you want a reliable watch under 3000 dollars, there are so many awesome models. Now maybe will invited at a charity Galla you will have a much less expensive watch, i personally go for RADO, OMEGA, LONGINES. So in resume check out these brands, you just might find something awesome and affordable.
I am also a Rado fan. I own two.
Previously I had never bought more than one model from any Swiss brand and to be honest, I avoided Rado for years because I believed WIS wisdom.
How wrong I was.
Think you missed the obvious tudor Black bay58….
Helm vanuatu, enough said.
A Submariner is an icon apart.
As is a Datejust.
Regardless of the…. er….management style of the company at the moment, these two watches have “stand alone” status in our society. You either own or do not own a Rolex Submariner, a Ford Mustang, a Fender Stratocaster, a Mastercraft ski boat. Or more prosaically, a Brown Betty teapot. 😊
The only affordable actual alternative to a Sub is a Black Bay. And personally I prefer it. The only affordable real alternative to a Datejust is a Prince.
Everything else is a diver’s watch.
There are lots of very good alternatives at a hundred prices. I would suggest the Sinn U1/U50 as the best Design Icon In Waiting.
Pura vanidad humana. La vida es mas que eso. Y habla un amantebde los relojes de toda la vida