I recall seeing my first Breitling Navitimer. I was instantly blown away by its grandeur and a little intimidated by the details on the bezel. I didn’t know the purpose of the bezel slide rule, but it didn’t matter. I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame.
But, starting at around $7K, Navitimers are not really an option for many buyers. The solution? Many opt to first purchase a Breitling Navitimer homage watch.
Also, the size and weight of a pilot’s watch can be hard to get a feel for. So, it can be much more forgiving to buy a cheaper Navitimer alternative if you later decide they are not for you.
Like all great watches, the Navitimer arouses emotion in its wearers. This emotion can come straight from the design to less obvious factors such as the historical significance of the watch.
Celebrities have long appreciated the Navitimer - from Formula 1 legend Jim Clark to car enthusiast (and comedian) Jerry Seinfeld. Although it’s safe to say Jerry’s intimate affair with Breitling goes beyond the Navitimer.
The first Navitimer was produced in 1952 with the explicit intention of helping pilots navigate and time their movements. Hence the name ‘navi’ and ‘timer’.
The ability for pilots to quickly and accurately use a watch for their calculations was a very big deal.
The chronograph allowed pilots to navigate based on the principles of dead reckoning, which required pilots to keep a record of elapsed time.
Computers were not an option, so having a slide rule embedded into the bezel of their watch allowed for essential calculations such as airspeed, rate of ascent/descent, fuel consumption and more.
Consider how demanding it was to be a pilot. Mentally performing these calculations on the fly in addition to manually operating an aircraft. It gives me a mild panic attack just thinking about it. The Navitimer helped turn a cockpit from a pressure cooker to an oasis of calm. Okay, not quite, but it certainly made the pilot’s job easier.
Sadly, the original Breitling company did not survive the quartz onslaught of the 1970’s with the company being sold in 1979 (and again in 2017).
The Navitimer was relaunched during the 1980’s, which coincided with renewed consumer interest in mechanical watches. This clearly lives on to this day with the popularity of the modern Navitimer showing no signs of slowing.
Given the popularity of the Navitimer, it’s not surprising that many watchmakers have offered their own alternatives to the icon.
We’ve included our top Navitimer homages based on the following:
My preference is for a Navitimer homage to include a slide rule bezel. The inclusion of a ‘whiz wheel’ or E6B flight computer is so synonymous with the Navitimer that when the new CEO released the Navitimer 8 B01 in 2018 without it, many collectors and enthusiasts were outraged or at least confused.
The other major feature that should be included in a Navitimer homage is a chronograph. Ideally, the buttons will be big enough to allow for easy pressing if the pilot is wearing gloves.
How close you want your homage to pay tribute to the original comes down to personal preference. Our preference is for homage watches to take design cues from the original, but fall short of blatantly copying.
So, our ideal design is one where you can see the Navitimer influence, but that doesn’t mean it’s a direct replica in every way.
We’ve tried to incorporate picks from all ends of the price spectrum to ensure there’s something for everyone. The more affordable, the better.
There is an unavoidable trade off between quality and price. But, this shouldn’t mean you’re bombarded with a bunch of cheap replicas that will not last.
Enough on the process, here's our favorite Breitling Navitimer homages:
Casio has been taking design cues from iconic watch manufacturers for a long time and refining them into their own quality offerings. They’ve several worthy pilots watches in their collection, but our favorite Navitimer homage is the Casio Edifice EF527-1AV.
There are many design and functional nods to the Navitimer. The slide rule pilot's computer, chronograph with large buttons, dark black face, busy main dial, 3 sub dials and polished metal hour markers combine to give it a strong Navitimer presence.
It’s not a blatant replica though. The slide rule on the Edifice EF527D-1AV operates differently. It’s a fixed bezel with the internal ring controlled by the dial at 8 o’clock. This inner rotating slide ruler allows the same flight calculations to be made.
Also includes 3 sub-dials, but positioned at 6, 9 & 12 rather than the traditional 3, 6, 9 of Navitimers. In chronograph mode, the sub-dials of the Edifice feature minutes at 12, hours at 9 and 1/20 seconds at 6.
So, the maximum time duration that can be recorded is 11 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. This should be more than sufficient for most day-to-day applications.
We also like the inclusion of a date window at 3 o’clock. It’s also slightly different from the Navitimer’s window position at 4:30.
The Edifice’s screw down crown is a welcome addition as it creates a tighter seal and prevents water damage. The Navitimer achieves the same locking result, but they use a non-screw locked, two gasket mechanism for the crown.
Casio has used a fairly standard, yet accurate, quartz movement with a battery that generally lasts 2+ years.
At 45.5 mm wide, it’s not super-large like some pilots watches. You get the feeling the watch actually needs to be this size to include all of the markings and features. Any smaller and readability may become an issue.
The main potential downside of this watch is for right-handed owners. We love the inclusion of the slide rule, but the screw to control it at 8 o’clock can be awkward. If you’re wearing it on the left hand, you need to move the right hand over the watch to operate the screw.
Overall, there is so much to like in this watch for the price. Casio has managed to squeeze a lot of functionality into the Edifice EF527D-1AV.
But, what really impresses us about this watch is the attention to detail up close. It looks and feels like a more expensive timepiece. Something that is quite rare at this price point.
Casio Edifice EF527D-1AV
The Invicta 6621 II gets our nod for the best affordable Breitling Navitimer homage. This is specifically for those looking in the sub $100 range.
Now, it’s hard to pack all of the features of a Navitimer into a watch that costs less than a bill. So there does need to be some concessions. The biggest is the lack of a flight computer or slide rule.
However, the bezel does rotate and there is a tachymeter scale on the inner bezel. So no, you won’t be able to use it for flying calculations like a Navitimer. But, were you actually going to?
The 3 sub-dials are set in the same symmetrical way as a traditional Navitimer at 3, 6 and 9. But, at 6 o’clock there is a day of the week sub-dial instead of the hour sub-dial of a Navitimer. This may actually make it more useful to some buyers.
The date window is positioned at the 4 o’clock, but can be a little difficult to read. Not a deal breaker, but it would be nice to see some more thought go into this complication or remove it altogether.
The deep blue cobalt face of the Invicta 6621 II is enticing. It works well with the large white Arabic numerals and hatched minute markers.
At less than $100, you’re going to find it difficult to get more features at a level of quality that makes it truly wearable. We think the Invicta 6621 II achieves this.
Does it live up to Breitling’s quality? No. But at 1/100th of the price, you’re getting some nice Navitimer-like features in a watch that won’t fall apart the moment you leave the store.
Invicta 6621 II Chronograph
The Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind H77912535 is a quality Navitimer alternative in the sub $1,000 range.
We’ve awarded it our best premium homage because it has all of the right features: bezel flight instrument, chronograph & 3 sub dials. And, aesthetically it has a very balanced, pleasing design that demands attention. I can’t look away from it.
Let’s talk about the X-Wind function. Rather than include a slide rule flight calculator like the Navitimer, Hamilton has included a complication that allows pilots to calculate the cross-wind.
The screw down crown at the top left rotates the inner bezel, whilst the bottom left controls the measurements within the window. Here’s a more detailed explanation on calculating cross wind.
Now, are most wearers of the Hamilton X-Wind going to use it to calculate the cross-wind? Of course not. The same as most Navitimer owners have no idea how to use the slide-rule, nevermind the calculations required for flying a plane. I honestly don’t care. I love these complications because they draw upon my childhood fascination with pilots. They are aspirational more than practical.
Practicality does matter for the chronograph and sub-dials as wearers use these features. The sub-dial at 6 o’clock is for seconds and the 10 o’clock sub dial is 24 hour time for a 2nd timezone. These work in regular (ie non-chronograph) mode. The other sub dial at 2 o’clock labelled ‘chrono’ needs to be operated in chronograph mode and this counts the minutes.
The stainless steel bezel rotates, opening up more practical applications. This is what you want in a true tool watch.
All the crowns are screw-down, providing water resistance to 100m. I wouldn’t consider this a dive watch, but you certainly don’t need to worry about getting it wet.
There’s really not a lot to dislike about the Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind. If you had your heart set on a mechanical watch, then the quartz movement may not be for your liking.
Overall, we recommend this watch for those that want to respectfully pay tribute to the Navitimer, but aren’t looking for a direct replica. This is a watch that is comfortable holding its own place in aviation history.
Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind H77912535
I’m going to just come out and say it. If you’re looking for a Navitimer alternative at around half the price the original, then you should get a Sinn 903 St.
Referred to as the ‘Navigation Chronograph’, the Sinn 903 looks almost identical to a Navitimer for very good reason. Helmut Sinn purchased the rights to produce a model very similar to the Navitimer in the late 1970s and has been doing so since.
So you could say the Sinn 903 St is the OG homage to the Navitimer. The main similarities are pretty obvious. There’s the slide rule bezel with a logarithmic scale, chronograph functions, vintage pushers, 3 sub-dials, high contrast dial (dark middle and white outside) and angled lugs.
But, there are subtle differences that allow the Sinn 903 St to form its own personality. The slide rule is internal, controlled by the additional screw-down crown at 10 o’clock.
The other big differentiator is size. At 41 mm it’s considerably smaller than the more common Navitimer sizes of 43 and 46mm. This can be very welcome, especially for those that have medium-sized wrists and are afraid they can’t pull off a hefty 43mm+ watch.
At around $3.5K the Sinn 903 St does not fit into the affordable category. It’s still an expensive watch. But, at around half the price of a Navitimer, it’s definitely worth considering if you’re after a watch with very similar design and quality of a Navitimer, but with a story of its own.
Sinn 903 St
The most affordable Breitling Navitimer homage that made our list is a Gute Classic Automatic, with a Jaguar branding.
Let’s be honest, this is one of the many different Chinese brands that has come into the lower end of the market. You are not going to get close to Breitling quality here, but at this price you really shouldn’t expect it.
What you can expect is to pay a very small amount to test whether a large, heavy aviation inspired watch is really for you. Worst case scenario, you’ve outlayed less than $50 and you’ve learned that maybe they are not for you. The best case is you really enjoy wearing the Gute Classic and either continue wearing it or decide to upgrade to something you may enjoy even more.
A key feature of the Gute is the rotating slide rule bezel. This may be the cheapest watch with a slide rule bezel on the market. If you’re on the fence on whether you’ll use it or like the look of it, then this is your chance to try it out.
There’s also 2 sub-dials. One at 3 for the month and the other at 9 for the day of the week. There is a skeleton window at 6 instead of a 3rd sub-dial.
This is an automatic, so you won’t need a battery. However, the lack of a quality power reserve may mean you need to wind it if you skip a day or are not that active during the day.
Overall, if you’re very budget conscious, then the Gute Classic might be your best option. But, if your budget allows, you’ll get more enjoyment out of the feature-packed, yet still very affordable Casio Edifice EF527D-1AV.
But, for most of us, the sweet spot between features, value and quality can be found in the Casio Edifice EF527D-1AV. It's well below $200, so it's not a sizeable investment. But, it still allows you to get a good feel for owning a large, quality pilots chronograph watch with a flight computer.
If you're after something slightly more unique, then the Hamilton Khaki Aviation X-Wind delivers with style.
One of our favorite tech tycoons turned philanthropists, Bill Gates, has an eye for value.
The founder of Microsoft and the second richest man in the world (behind Jeff Bezos, but still in front of long time friend Warren Buffett) wears modest Casio watches.
Bill Gates is well known for his many philanthropic endeavors. In fact, one of the primary reasons he is no longer the richest man in the world is because he's generously given away a substantial part of his fortune.
He, along with Warren Buffet, also influenced other mega-rich celebrities and entrepreneurs to donate at least half of their wealth through "the Giving Pledge". Well played Mr Gates.
For a man that could easily buy any luxury watch company, never mind a few Rolexes, it's quite refreshing to see him continually sport watches that anyone can afford.
We've featured two of Bill Gates' watches he wears the most below. We also touch on a story that has surfaced about a watch he gifted to an employee that exemplifies Bill's generous character.
Bill Gates has been spotted several times wearing his trusted Casio Duro diver - commonly known as the Casio Marlin because of the marlin logo on the face.
One if these public appearances was on the Stephen Colbert show whilst he and wife Melinda gave their views on taxing the wealthy.
The Casio Duro Marlin MDV106-1AV can be seen throughout the interview popping out from Bill's lavender sweater:
Like any quality dive watch, the Marlin includes a unidirectional rotating bezel to allow divers to track their time submerged underwater.
The 200m water resistance is a great feature at this price. Whilst I've no proof that Bill Gates has ever worn his Marlin diving, I would be happy to take a bet that he's submerged it a few times at his Lake Washington house.
The movement is Japanese quartz and comes with a battery that lasts 3 years. What? You expected a mechanical diver at this price? No chance.
Other features include a black face with white luminous markers for the hour indices and bezel markers. The hands are also covered in lume, making for impressive visibility at night and underwater.
Like the Submariner, the Casio Duro features an easy to read date window at 3 o'clock and a sturdy screw down crown to keep water out.
All in all, for around $50 there is little to dislike about this affordable diver. If a man with the disposable income of Bill Gates is happy with a Submariner homage over the real deal, that's good enough reason for me to add one to my everyday collection.
Casio Marlin MDV106-1AV
Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose..
Given the net worth of Bill Gates, you'd possibly expect his wrist wardrobe to include super exclusive Rolexes, Omegas or similar. But no, fitting with his rather conservative lifestyle, he often opts to wear what he calls a "$10 watch".
This $10 watch is actually a Casio Illuminator W214H-1AV, and whilst it is certainly an inexpensive watch, you may have to pay slightly more than the $10 quoted by Bill.
Check out the video below by Politico where when asked whether the watch he is wearing is similar to a medical watch he is currently speaking about, Bill responds with, "no, this is a $10 watch."
Certainly a relatively humble watch for a man of Bill's stature, the Casio Illuminator W214H-1AV is digital with a 45 mm plastic case and silicon band.
The Japanese manufactured Casio is water resistant to 50m and has quartz based movement.
Digital features include 3 countdown dials, stopwatch and alarm.
For a cheap watch, it's certainly well built and durable.
Given many ultra-rich decide to show off their wealth with flashy, expensive watches, it's refreshing that all Bill Gates fans can emulate his style with a very affordable Casio.
Casio Illuminator W214H-1AV
You can't help but feel that Bill Gates has put considerable thought into the message he's sending with his watch selection.
For many of us, buying a luxury watch comes with the side benefit that it signals success and prestige. But, for a man that carries both in abundance, choosing a cheap watch sends the message that wealth alone doesn't impress him. Rather, it's what you do with that wealth that matters.
Perhaps this was the message he was sending when he gifted a TAG Heuer Professional 2000 to a conference attendee in the Philippines. As told by watch collector Johann Espiritu in an interview with Fratello, Bill gave the watch off his wrist to the conference attendee who most closely guessed the value of his watch.
Everyone predicted that such a successful business man would be wearing a luxurious high-end watch. All except Johann's father. His guess of a seemingly paltry amount of $600 was the closest and he was rewarded with the TAG Heuer Professional 2000.
To be clear, there is no visual proof of Bill Gates wearing the TAG. But, I've no reason to doubt it and it fits his philanthropic MO. The images below are of the exact watch gifted to Johann's father. While you're at it, check out some of Johann's other sweet watches.
The TAG Heuer 2000 Professional range was a commercial success and is still well regarded by watch collectors today. The last 2000's were built in 2005 when TAG Heuer transitioned to the Aquaracer models.
Because they were successful, they were also widely produced. So, you can still find a good quality used TH 2000 for around $500-$1,000.
This is the second Rolex Submariner inspired homage worn by Bill Gates. Heuer, and later TAG Heuer after their merger in 1985, never tried to compete head to head with the Submariner.
Instead, they opted to take several of the popular design features from the Submariner, rework them and then repackage at a more economical price point.
This strategy worked very well, with the 2000 range greatly assisting TAG Heuer navigate through the 1990s.
The model worn and gifted by Bill Gates appears to be a 3rd generation TAG Heuer 2000 that went into production in 1998. In particular, it is the blue 'Classic' model variation that is the most common, meaning that you still have a great chance of finding one for yourself at a reasonable price.
If you aren't accustomed to divers from this earlier era, you should know about the size difference before purchasing. This TAG Heuer 2000 is only 38mm, considerably smaller than the 43mm divers that are popular today.
Whilst Bill's TAG Heuer was more expensive than the two Seikos, I think you'd agree it's still an affordable watch that prioritises function above prestige.
TAG Heuer 2000 Professional
There are a multitude of exquisite Italian watches on the market, the Panerai being undoubtedly one of the must-haves. It has a long pedigree, dating from the 18th century - 1860, bringing a perfect fusion of Italian design and Swiss technology.
The two Panerai homage watches we’re covering below are the Panerai Luminor and the Panerai Radiomir. Both classics with a rich and interesting history with the Italian army.
Not sure how to tell the difference between the Luminor & Radiomir? This video from Time + Tide should help:
Many of us love luxury watches. They add style, make a statement and allow us to admire their mechanical beauty.
Even if we can’t afford them - we still like to learn about them in the hope that one day we’ll have the funds to purchase them. Until then, we may have to rely on homage watches to satisfy our desire to build out our watch collection.
Enter Panerai homage watches.
I understand homage watches are not for everyone. I really do. Some will argue that there is no substitute for the original. Period. Others will argue that so long as the homage watch is sufficiently different from the original, that is ok. Others are fine wearing a watch that is as close to the original as possible.
Wherever you sit on this spectrum, it is not for me to sensor you. I think the watches below cover every type of homage watch buyer.
With that out of the way, here are my picks for the top 5 watches that pay homage to Panerai.
The Parnis Marina Militare 44mm is your first choice if you’re after a homage watch that takes many design cues from the original Panerai Luminor.
The oversized crown guard in particular is something that many Luminor fans are instantly drawn to. It has a classic look that distinguishes it from similar watches, whilst its price makes it an affordable choice for the masses.
Parnis has maintained reinforced mineral glass on the dial, something that matches Panerai's style from every angle. The stainless-steel body with matte finish offers the finesse that many watches at this price-point lack. Moreover, the Italian leather strap holds the two ends of the dial firmly, also making it hard for the band to come off easily.
Lack of wide-scale marketing and a limited collection are a few of the reasons why Parnis is still an underrated brand. However, collectors are slowly understanding their value as a homage watch manufacturer.
The Parnis Marina Militare Panerai homage features a 44mm case, similar in design to the Luminor, accurate timing, and date function. It comes with Japanese Seiko original quartz movement.
Grab this watch if you want the iconic features of a Luminor at a price that you can afford.
Parnis Marina Militare
Do you like watches with matte-finish dials? If so, the Megir Low Fly Chrono, economically priced at around US$40, may serve you well. It's also one of the most lightweight in this list, helping to nail form & function requirements.
The genuine Nubuck leather strap adds an understated look, which keeps focus on the face and crown guard. Which is really what you want from a Panerai Luminor homage.
The Megir Low Fly Chrono features the iconic clasp-type crown guard. You can adjust the date and time of this watch by opening the guard. It has a simple, elegant face that is a little angular but with some nice contrast.
Those who tend to hit their watches on the sides of furniture and fixtures may find good protection with this watch. This is the ultimate tribute to Panerai watches as they also have a similar clasp style crown guard. Plus, the Megir makes use of Hardlex mineral glass to protect the face. The glass looks crystal-clear from all angles.
Megir has also paid attention to the size of this watch's diameter. Unlike other larger, chunky models, the 44mm size is a good size for many wannabe owners.
Megir Low Fly Chrono
The 2056BK from Peugeot watches is another Luminor inspired watch worth considering if you're after the iconic Panerai inspired crown guard.
Cars and watches have a great history together. But, don't confuse this watchmaker with the French car manufacturer by the same name. They are not related.
That is not to say the Peugeot Sport 2056BK would look out of place on a wrist driving through the French Riveria. It absolutely has that iconic, classic look.
The dark, stainless steel and matte finish work very well together, all the while giving subtle nods to the Panerai Luminor. The adjustable, soft calfskin leather strap is simple, but more than adequate.
This model comes with free battery replacement and also has the backing of a lifetime warranty. That means you shouldn't need to spend much more on this watch once you've added it to your collection. And at an affordable price, this represents great long-term value.
Peugeot Sport 2056BK
The SO&CO New York Men's 5022.2 SoHo Day and Date Watch provides class, comfort, and performance - all what you'd expect to find in a Panerai Luminor. But, this comes in affordable package available to everyone.
The stainless-steel case comes with polished round bezels and a black-matte dial. This watch also comes with the iconic crown guard, a clear giveaway that it is indeed a Luminor homage. The SO & CO label is engraved on the crown guard.
With reliable and fuss-free Japanese quartz movement and a leather calfskin band that sit's comfortably on the wrist.
The 100m water resistance is a nice touch for a watch at this price-point. Many others in this list fail to provide the same level of resistance, giving it a solid edge in the water.
SO & CO SoHo
The Spinnaker Hull with California dial is one of the few Panerai Radiomir homage watches you will find.
Whilst the Radiomir was the first watch produced by Panerai for the Italian Navy, it was surpassed in popularity during the 1990's after Sylvestor Stallone wore a Luminor in the hit movie Daylight. The distinctive Luminor design has remained the most popular Panerai ever since. This has limited the number of watch makers that are also producing Radiomir homage watches.
Similar to the Radiomir, the Spinnaker Hull features a vintage cushion case. The Californian dial (mixture of Roman and Arabic indexes) is a great throwback to the earliest Radiomir's that were created during the 1930's for the Italian Navy.
The self-winding Japanese automatic movement offers quality and precision without needing too much adjusting. The soft leather strap fits comfortably on the wrist, but it does need some wearing in to overcome initial stiffness.
The Spinnaker Men's Hull California 42mm can resist up to 100 meters of water and the mineral crystal dial window provides crystal clear viewing.
The second hand is included in the main dial, rather than as a secondary seconds dial like the newer Radiomirs. I'm okay with small modifications like this as it's clear that Spinnaker has not tried to take every Radiomir feature. Rather they have taken inspiration from a classic Radiomir design and created a classy and elegant watch in it's own right.
Spinnaker Hull California
Priced at around $60, the Megir Low Fly offers a minimalist design that looks high-end. You can get a feel for how a $8,000 Panerai PAM 344 would look on your wrist, but for a few dollars. Making it an incredibly affordable Panerai alternative.
For those on a slightly higher budget, we recommend the Parnis Marina Militare, which, while being genuinely affordable (approx $150), brings you about as close as you can get to the Luminor.
Finally, those looking for a Radiomir homage and have a slightly higher budget, should consider a Spinnaker Hull California as a worthy addition to their watch collection.
Rolex has become a dominant and much-respected name not just for its watches, but for its more subtle brand of upscale culture. When you hear 'Rolex', you automatically think quality, luxury and wealth.
This powerful brand association has been created over time due to it's classic range of watches such as the Rolex Submariner.
Rolex Submariner watches are as impressive as they are expensive. Since launching in 1953, they have remained one of the most popular and distinctive wristwatches. Whilst the Submariner is undoubtably one of the premier luxury dive watches, given the price tag, most find them out of reach.
It is still marketed to sports figures and athletes owing to its endurance to withstand the harsh environment of underwater diving with grace and style. The strong water-resistance, coupled with luminous hands and the helium release valve, make the Submariner as practical, durable and as comfortable as is possible underwater.
By combining the elegance and ruggedness of a timepiece designed for water with functionality and luxury, you have a watch that is widely worn above sea level too. You'll commonly see the Submariner being sported in boardrooms, airport lounges, and indeed, wherever successful executives are hanging out.
But, we get it.
Not everyone is in a position to pay the steep price for a Rolex Submariner. Enter the Rolex Submariner homages.
Here's our top 6 Rolex Submariner homages so you can still get the iconic look shaped by Rolex, at a price that you can afford.
The Seiko 5 Sea Urchin SNZF17 is our all-round favorite Submariner homage watch.
Part of the incredibly popular and affordable Seiko 5 series, the Sea Urchin is very well built featuring a stainless bracelet and a stainless case in an unblemished white matte finish.
With its luminous hands, unidirectional bezel, the design and material are both functional and elegant, with a striking resemblance to the Rolex Submariner.
The Seiko 5 SNZF17 is further complemented with Hardlex crystal for a robust build, which also adds a touch of class, making it a stylish and practical option..
On the performance front, packed with Seiko caliber 7S36 (Vollsmose) automatic movement with a 40-hour power reserve, you know that you are in for a treat. The accuracy of the Sea Urchin is well regarded, meaning you won't need to be constantly recalibrating the time.
At 42mm in diameter, it carries a good amount of weight without being clunky.
The 100 meters of water resistance may not be best in class, but it is certainly good enough for most of us.
Overall, the Seiko 5 Sea Urchin provides a lot of what the Rolex Submariner is known for: quality, toughness and classic looks. But, it packs all of this in at a price that allows you to buy right now.
Seiko 5 Sea Urchin SNZF17
Designed to handle the rigors of the sea, the Casio Duro MDV106-1AV 200M bears a significant resemblance to the Submariner whilst still cutting a unique look that is distinctly Casio (ie no Mercedes hands).
The watch comes with a set of simple 3 hands for time display with an additional date display at 3 o'clock. Unlike the Submariner, the date display has no magnification that may put off some buyers.
The second hand is red-tipped to make its viewing easier, but the relatively low lume can be difficult to read underwater.
On the performance front, this watch uses a quartz-powered system with a battery life of up to 3 years. Many owners pride the accuracy of the Duro's quartz movement.
The timepiece is also water-resistant up to 200 meters.
In a nutshell, it pays homage to the Submariner with exceptional design and robust, water-resistant capabilities. All at a very affordable price that makes it an easy decision to use as an everyday wear or occasional water use.
And hey, if it's the watch of choice for Bill Gates given the income at his disposal, I'm happy to add it to my collection too.
Casio Duro MDV106-1AV
This Invicta 8926OB Pro Diver in stainless steel looks about as close to the Submariner as you can get. Every detail on this watch, down to the mercedes hand design, screams Submariner.
With an ample 40mm stainless case, this timepiece features luminous hands and markers, a unidirectional bezel, and a magnified date window for easier viewing.
The stainless-steel link bracelet straps have a fold-over clasp and safety enclosure for secure strapping.
The Invicta 8926OB Pro Diver is powered by Japanese automatic watch movement designed for accurate timekeeping.
With water-resistance up to a depth of 200 meters (or 660 feet), it is appropriate for occasional water use.
Overall, the Invicta Pro Diver is suited for anyone wanting a true Submariner lookalike at a rock bottom price.
Invicta Pro Diver 8926OB
This another timepiece that pays homage to the legendary Submariner.
With Japanese automatic movement, the Orient Stainless-Steel Diving Watch has everything you will need in a timepiece if you need to get wet.
It has a 41mm case diameter with a mineral crystal dial window.
The 120 click bezel makes a good addition for timing above water, but the small bezel teeth may limit its effectiveness underwater.
Additionally, it comes with bold, luminous hour marks and the hands also provide strong lume for 8 hours. And with stainless steel straps, the watch can withstand harsh environments and knocks without breaking.
The Orient Ray II Caliber F6922 is water-resistant up to 200 meters, making it suitable for leisure diving (but not professional diving).
Overall, there is plenty to like in the Orient Ray II. We recommend it for those looking for an inexpensive, yet iconic design and value the extra accuracy that comes rom a watch with hackable, Japanese automatic movement.
Orient Ray II
The Citizen BN0151-09L has taken inspiration from the Submariner, but Citizen has packed in enough unique design elements to prevent it from being an outright clone.
It sports a 48mm stainless steel case and mineral dial window. With blue dials and a unidirectional bezel. The hands and hour markers provide solid lume for easy reading at night and underwater.
On the performance front, this watch harnesses the power of light. Using Citizen's proprietary Eco-Drive technology, the Citizen Promaster BN0151-09L can use any light, whether artificial or natural, to power the timepiece. This eliminates the need to every replace the battery, making it one of the least maintenance prone watches you can find.
The timepiece is water-resistant to a depth of 200 meters (or 660 feet), making it a great choice for the occasional dive or other water spors.
Overall, the Citizen Promaster BN0151-09L is for those that want a maintenance free watch that shares many similarities to a Submariner, but retains its own sense of style and dignity.
Citizen Promaster BN0151-09L
While the above five watches are our top picks for your first Rolex Submariner homage watch, we have a bonus pick for your consideration.
Not only does the Sturling Depthmaster take design cues from the Submariner line of Rolexes. it has been designed and optimized to function in the marine environment, just like a Submariner would.
This watch has an analog dial driven by a Japanese Miyota quartz movement that is highly accurate. Like every other watch in this list, it has luminescent hands and indices.
The watch is housed in a 40mm diameter case and has a triple row stainless steel link bracelet.
Unfortunately, the 100m water resistance is not as resistant as some of the other watches listed above, making it more suited for occasional water use only.
While the diving capability is a letdown, it does compensate with considerably better pricing than higher resistance rated divers.
If you want a watch with similar functionality and performance qualities of a Rolex Submariner, this is still a great option.
Not only are they affordable, but they also strike a balance between style and functionality.