$150 Seiko 5 Watches Are an Affordable Alternative to Rolex, manyofmany.com pronounces, pimping the new Seiko 5 in hopes of a commission. Yes, well, as good as the wee beastie may be, it’s an affordable alternative to the virtually identical Seiko Prospex, not a Rolex Submariner. But there are watches that scratch that particular itch . . .
As the manyofmany folk focused on Rolex Submariner-style watches — which start at around $7k and rise in price alarmingly — let’s go with that. At least for the first two Submariner alternatives . . .
Tudor Pelagos ($4,450)
If you want an affordable Rolex Submariner why not buy the Sub alternative from Rolex? Tudor is Rolex’s “entry-level” sub-brand, and they make some damn fine watches. [see: TTAW’s Black Bay review]. The Tudor Pelagos dive watch is one of them.
In fact, the Pelagos goes one better than the Submariner: it’s made of titanium, the brand’s first venture into the metal (something Oystersteeled Rolex may never do). The Tudor Pelagos weighs less than the Sub, even though its a thicker timepiece, and feels like a flying dream on the wrist.
The Pelagos hails from the Chateau Rolex and dances to the same tune as the Sub. But the Tudor’s got its own groove. Waterproof to 500m, fitted with their new, in-house automatic caliber, the Pelagos is an excellent I’d say unassailable choice. Especially as it costs $4,150 less than a Submariner with a date wart.
Omega Seamaster Diver – $4,400
Omega and Rolex are deadly rivals. When it comes to “brand equity” — history, celebrity endorsement and the aforementioned financial flex — Rolex has it all over their Swiss competition. When it comes to the quality of construction and finish, Omega more than holds its own.
The Seamaster Diver’s powered by Omega’s co-axial calibre 2500. It’s a remarkable technical achievement that helps make the Omega Diver as accurate and reliable as the Rolex Submariner.
We could go back-and-forth about the watches’ relative dive ratings, resistance to magnetic interference and other technical data. We could dwell on the Rolex’s superior resale value. The bottom line: the Omega Diver looks and feels and is as wonderful a timepiece as the Rolex Submariner, for nearly $3k less.
Garmin Descent™ Mk1 – $999
The two watches above are dive watches that kinda look like a Rolex Submariner, but aren’t. There’s a metric ton of rock solid, inexpensive quartz watches that riff on the Sub’s style (e.g. the Seiko 5 beloved by many). But the Tudor and Omega are the best examples of water resistant automatic timepieces with the Sub look that compete in terms of class and quality.
So here’s the wild card. Screw that old fat guy Rolex thing. Treat yourself to an honest-to-God-divers-wear-this-not-to-die-underwater Garmin Descent Mk1. This sucker tells the time and does everything except warn you of approaching sharks.
You might be thinking hang on, I don’t even dive! The Garmin Descent Mk1’s preloaded “activity profiles” include swimming, running, biking, hiking, skiing, rowing, paddle boarding, golf and curling (jk). It’s a big old thing (40.4mm display), but the MK1 look like a watch and wears surprisingly small. The price is about the same as the sales tax on a new Rolex Submariner. Go figure.
Bigger budget? Click here for Expensive Rolex Submariner alternatives
Smaller budget? Click here for Best Automatic Dive Watches under $1000