5 More Affordable Tool Watches I’d Buy if I Didn’t Want to Spring for a Rolex Submariner

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?”

Rolex Submariner Reference 114060

Rolex Submariner Reference 114060

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.”

Seiko Prospex Monster

Seiko Prospex Monster Second Generation Reference SRP313K1

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.

Seiko Prospex Monster second generation

Seiko Prospex Monster Second Generation Reference SRP313K1 (photo courtesy John Keil)

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
Price: $279



$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.

NTH Antilles White

NTH Antilles White

What seals the deal for me about the NTH Antilles White is that the white dial is fully covered with blue lume.

NTH Antilles lume (photo courtesy John Keil)

NTH Antilles lume (photo courtesy John Keil)

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)
Price: $725

$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.

Oris Divers Sixty-Five

Oris Divers Sixty-Five

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.

Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition on the wrist (photo courtesy www.chronos24.pl)

Another great version of this watch: the Oris Carl Brashear Limited Edition Sixty-Five on the wrist (photo courtesy www.chronos24.pl)

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
Price: $1,990



$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.

Tudor Heritage Black Bay Ref. 79230B on fabric strap

Tudor Heritage Black Bay Ref. 79230B on  fabric strap

The truth of the matter is I can’t think of another dive watch within this price parameter that could begin to compete.

Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze

Another stylish Tudor diver’s watch: the Heritage Black Bay Bronze

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
Price: $3,675

$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.

Bremont Supermarine S500

Bremont Supermarine S500

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.

Bremont Supermarine S500 in the wrist

Bremont Supermarine S500 on the wrist (photo courtesy John Keil)

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
Price: $4,450

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:

Why I Pimped My Rolex

Great Rolex Experiment With The GMT-Master II Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Crown

2 replies
  1. Dennis
    Dennis says:

    I have a Seiko Prospex, Manta Ray edition, and could not be happier with this watch. It is built like the proverbial brick crap house and for me it is the perfect daily beater watch and it looks really nice. I get a lot of compliments on it and people are shocked when I tell them how much it cost. I really love this watch.

  2. Jorge Robles
    Jorge Robles says:

    Nice article, but the models shown here are either not of my liking, or are reaching the price of the Rolex, and I have a budget that is not that high. I have several brands that better accommodate me with models and prices I like. They are Helson Watches, Ocean7 watches, and Steeldive. I have models from the three brands that use either ETA or Sellita Swiss movements, and I had paid less than 4K total for the seven models I have from these brands, and those models are tested to at least 500 meters!!!! And what the heck, I just also got an Invicta NOS with an ETA 2824-2 Chronometer certified movement for 459.00 USD NEW!!!! What I am trying to say is that there are way lots more offerings that anything was mentioned here, you just have to google names, and you will find whatever could suit you. But thanks for the article, it made me to continue searching to expand my Divers’ collection. Now, if there were also Affordable Mechanical Chronographs too, it would be great!!!!!


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