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 its 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 homage watches.
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.
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.
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 a Japanese automatic 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.
This is 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 from a watch with hackable, Japanese automatic movement.
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.
While the above five watches are our top picks for your first Rolex Submariner homage, we have a bonus pick for your consideration.
Not only does the Sturling Depthmaster take design cues from the Submariner line of Rolexes, but it has also been designed and optimized to function in the marine environment, just like a Submariner.
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.
The Seiko 5 Sea Urchin is, in our opinion, the best timepiece for those seeking an affordable Submariner alternative that provides great looks, ample diving features and can be worn in all environments.
Those on a more limited budget should consider the Casio Duro MDV106-1AV, which has many features found in the Submariner, but with Casio's distinctive style, quality of build and easy to read face.
But, if you're after a watch that tries to match the Submariner design as closely as possible, the Invicta Pro Diver 8926OB is definitely worth closer inspection.
As all of the divers included in this list are very affordable, you may not need to choose just one!