With its famous octagonal bezel, the visible, industrial screws holding it in and its integrated bracelet, Audemars Piguet’s seminal Royal Oak is one of the most iconic watches ever built. Gerald Genta’s opus, it’s the definitive sports luxe watch – and has a price tag to match.
Like every icon though, the same aesthetic quirks that have made the Royal Oak so successful have trickled down elsewhere in the watch world – and to levels you might even call affordable. So without further ado – or being put on a waiting list – here are our five top, affordable alternatives to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.
1. Bell & Ross BR05, £3,600
There’s been a resurgence in the sports luxe world this year (you can read more on that particular movement here) but of all the new steel introductions Bell & Ross’s is our favourite. They’ve taken their own iconic case and curved the corners and fully-integrated the bracelet to create a lovely riff on a Genta design, particularly cool with the silver dial. At 40mm It’s also a little smaller (and therefore wearable) than most big, sports watches. It’s still a serious, entry-level watch but it’s worth every penny.
Available at Bell & Ross’ website.
2. Didun Design Royal One, €219.99
Forget ‘homage’, this is a straight-up copy. It is still an automatic movement and while it’s a painfully obvious rip-off (seriously, if it weren’t Chinese it would have to be illegal) it’s still not bad if you want the look without the worry, waiting or price tag. Just make sure nobody gets too good a look at it.
Available at Didun’s online store.
3. Bulova Marine Star, £379
It still has a similar industrial screws and octagonal shape to the Royal Oak, but Bulova have made the elements their own in the gloriously OTT Marine Star. Blue and rose gold with a lot happening on the dial, it’s as big and impactful as any 45mm watch; more than most. The open heart shows off the balance wheel for a hint of haute horology, and the blue rubber strap – with contrasting red underside – and 200m water resistance live up to the Marine name.
Available at Bulova’s website.
4. Concord Mariner, $1,700
A more subtle allusion to Genta’s designs, the Concord Mariner is like the Royal Oak after a diet. The silver on steel look is perfect for the sports elegance vibe, as is the dodecagonal bezel and 41mm size. In fact the only downside is the movement which is quartz; Swiss quartz, but quartz nonetheless. Still, the built quality makes the price a decent one, perfect for anyone after a softer, cheaper alternative to an actual AP.
Available at Conchord’s website.
5. Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic, £1,490
An update of Maurice Lacriox’s Calypso watch from the 90s rather than the 70s, the Aikon nonetheless shares some of that famous Genta spirit, replacing the visible screws with polished claws contrasting with the otherwise brushed 42mm stainless steel case. It’s powered by a solid automatic movement – the ML115, specifically – and is a nice weight on the wrist, particularly thanks to the fantastic integrated bracelet.
Available at Selfridges’ website.