So, you’re all set for your annual vacation. And this year it’s the Seychelles. Lucky you. You’ve even decided on which watch you want to take with you. Wisely you always only take one watch so as not to run the risk of losing a trusted friend. So for this trip, after much consideration, you’ve settled on the Rolex Submariner. Excellent choice. A true design classic, built to look great on land and sea; reliably water resistant to 300 metres. A name to flaunt as you step out onto the pristine white sands of the private beach just outside your veranda. Your mind is made up. You are in horological heaven. That’s when your wife says ‘You’re not taking that Rolex. It’s bound to get nicked.’
And suddenly, all warm and summery fantasies of your shiny Submariner glistening in the azure waters of the Indian Ocean evaporate quicker than a tropical storm cloud. You want the Rolex Submariner, but you don’t want to risk losing it. So what looks like a Submariner, behaves like a Submariner, but won’t give you a Rolex Submariner priced heartache if you should lose it.
A Submariner homage watch.
Fortunately, many brands have long since decided that this design classic deserves to be faithfully replicated for those who simply can’t justify the outlay for the real thing. Here is a selection of excellent Submariner homage watches, each of which supply that sporty, man of action allure without costing three times as much as your holiday.
Orient King Master Submariner
Orient is one of the big three Japanese brands, and they make an excellent Submariner homage watch which you can normally find for under $300. It runs on a ER14 automatic movement with a 40 hour power reserve and has the same dimensions as a Rolex. The hallmark Cyclops date is at 3 o’clock. This particular model features a black uni directional bezel with red trim, but you can also get a black face with a black bezel or a white face with a silver bezel.
Squale 20 Atmos
This Squale 20 ATMOS Vintage Ref. 1545 watch is made in Switzerland and powered by the ever reliable Swiss made ETA 2824-2 automatic movement. Features include: a uni-directional 60 click rotational divers bezel, a screwdown crown (3 o’clock) and caseback and a flat Sapphire crystal with date magnifier – Cyclops as it is often called. The case is made from tough, scratch resistant 316L stainless steel to the same dimensions as a Rolex. You can pick one of these up for around US$400.
Victorinox Swiss Army Maverick GS
The Swiss Army Maverick GS from Victorinox is a great timepiece in terms of value and build quality. The rubber-strapped models retail for $450, while the Maverick GS adorned with a stainless bracelet will cost you a little under $500; both models feature a sapphire crystal. Water resistance is just 100-metres, but the Swiss-made quartz movement is of excellent quality. It also comes with an optional red bezel.
Raven 44mm Deep Diver’s
Raven Watches have quickly made a name for themselves among online forum aficionados, who know a quality watch at a bargain price when they see one. Raven specialise in well made Rolex Submariner homages.
The Raven 42mm Vintage was a big forum hit, adroitly emulating a vintage Sub without an ocean going price tag. The 44mm Deep is a blend of the larger sized Rolex Deepsea mixed with the dial design from early Rolex MilSubs like the Military ref 5517. Water resistant to a depth defying 1220 metres, it runs on a Miyota 9015, a Japanese movement similar to the ETA 2824, which, like a Rolex, allows hacking for precise time setting. You should be able to acquire one of these for around US$700.
Tarnan is apparently the Swedish term for a tern, an elegant seabird of the Sternidae family and now the silhouetted tern logo of the revived TÄRNAN watch brand, founded by the same chap, a Mr. Franck J, who brought us Techne Watches. The Oceanographer pays homage to the Rolex Submariner ref. 6200 from 1955. Once again, the Submariner look and feel of this watch will immediately be familiar although the non-cyclops date window is at 4:30 rather than 3 o’clock. . This model is said to be a limited edition of just 200 pieces, so it may be tricky to get hold of. It’s competitively priced at US$1,050.
Tudor Submariner 79090
The Tudor Sub is a true forum favourite, and of course it’s really a Rolex by another name as it is made by Rolex sister brand Tudor. Accordingly, it is more expensive and more sought after, and if you want one of these, your best bet is to try and track down the genuine article (for there are also copies of copies of this Submariner copy) online where several are up for sale. Made to Rolex Submariner dimensions, it runs on the ETA 2824-2 automatic movement and is water resistant to 200 metres.