01/31/2018
 4 minutes

Great Alternatives to the Rolex Submariner

By Bert Buijsrogge
Oris Aquis Date Image Bert Buijsrogge

Oris Aquis Date, Image: Bert Buijsrogge

Although the Rolex Submariner is considered to be the ultimate diving watch by many, there are plenty of great alternatives out there. Most are also a bit more budget friendly, relatively speaking. While it’s hard to deny that the Sub is the most sought-after diving watch, we’ve selected some other popular models, which are great alternatives to the Rolex Submariner. In alphabetical order:

IWC Schaffhausen Aquatimer Automatic

IWC Aquatimer Automatic Ref. 3290
IWC Aquatimer Automatic Ref. 3290, Image: IWC Schaffhausen

Although they don’t focus as much on diving watches nowadays, IWC sure has a long history with them. It dates all the way back to 1967, when they first launched the Aquatimer. This model has seen some change over the years. Their last update in 2014 is clearly inspired by the strengths of their original designs. On all current models, you will find the inner rotating bezel that also belonged to the original model.

As a high-end tool watch, we admire the Ref. 3291 “35 Years Ocean 2000” for its use of titanium and minimalistic design. Within the Aquatimer collection, you will find quite the variety of colors, sizes, and extra complications. However, when it comes to diving watches, I prefer the most basic models. The perfect piece for everyday use is the “normal” Ref. IW3290. No gimmicks or extras, just a great diving watch for roughly 2,000 euros less than a Submariner.

Omega Seamaster Diver 300M

It was easy to choose the Seamaster Diver 300M from Omega, the second most popular watch brand on our platform. Paying tribute to Omega’s maritime legacy and diving watch heritage, the Seamaster features a great design. This watch ticks all the boxes of what you would expect from a diving watch. We prefer models with a blue design: either the current model with a ceramic bezel (ref. 212.30.41.20.03.001) or its predecessor with an aluminum bezel and wave dial (ref. 2531.80).

Having owned both, I know that each gets a lot of wrist time. Both measure 41 mm and are water resistant up to 300 meters. Even though they are sold with a stainless-steel bracelet, you can find a selection of other bands to give your watch a different look.

Oris Aquis Date

I spent some time with an Oris Aquis on the wrist a little while ago. Although I wasn’t enthusiastic at first, this quickly changed. Wearing this watch for a few weeks had me falling in love with it. The quality of this piece is pretty impressive, especially when considering the price. While the clasps and bands on watches in this price range are often a point of concern, Oris has done a great job providing bands of a good quality. The Aquis Date with a rubber strap is our preferred version.

With its 43-mm stainless steel case and ceramic bezel, this watch makes a great companion for everyday life at an unbeatable price. With a 38-hour power reserve and a water resistance of up to 300 meters, this watch can join you at any occasion.

SINN U Series

Sinn U212 S E, Image: Bert Buijsrogge
Sinn U212 S E, Image: Bert Buijsrogge – View offers on Chrono24

When it comes to affordable watches, Sinn is also a company worth having a look at. With many great designs among their collection, it’s no surprise we’ve picked the Sinn U series as one of our favorites. Unlike most watches, these models come with a crown at the 4 o’clock position. The crown poking my skin was the main reason I started wearing watches on my right wrist. This won’t be an issue anymore with one of these pieces.

We love the new U1S version ref. 1010.020 and U1SE ref. 1010.023 made of high-strength German submarine steel with a sleek black PVD coating. The hands and hour markers offer a great contrast, which makes it very easy to read. At 44 mm, it’s the biggest watch in this selection. In return, you get the highest water resistance, as it’s certified to 1,000 meters.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer

TAG Heuer Aquaracer, Image: TAG Heuer
TAG Heuer Aquaracer, Image: TAG Heuer

Just like the IWC series, you will find yourself choosing between a lot of designs in TAG’s Aquaracer collection. Though we usually like to stick to the basics, here we have selected something a bit different. While black and blue are the most used dial colors for diving watches, this TAG comes with an anthracite dial. The reference WAY2113.BA0928 measures 40.5 mm and is water resistant up to 300 meters. At less than 2,000 euros, it is also the most affordable diving watch from one of the world’s top 10 most famous watch brands.

Tudor Heritage Black Bay

Tudor Black Bay 79220B, Image: Bert Buijsrogge
Tudor Black Bay 79220B, Image: Bert Buijsrogge – View offers on Chrono24

While Tudor used to be known as the poor man’s Rolex, they have long since stepped out from behind Rolex’s shadow. With an impressive and great looking collection, they have created a fantastic catalog of watches over the years. Their best-selling model, the Black Bay, is a great example of a modern tool watch with historic influences. Our preferred model is the 79220B, despite it coming with a standard movement like all models produced before 2015. This version resembles the historic model a bit more with its old rose logo and curved writing on the dial.

All Black Bay models come with a minute track dial and the typical ‘snowflake hands’ that look great. Measuring 41 mm and being water resistant up to 200 meters, the Black Bay is a great diving watch at roughly one-third the price of its bigger brother.

Read more about diving watches

Diving Watches – Beyond the Water

Top 10 Diving Watches

Vintage Diving Watches


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About the Author

Bert Buijsrogge

I worked in real estate for 15 years. Over the last few years, I've turned my passion for watches and photography into a career. My interest in watches dates back …

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