Is there any diving watch more iconic than the Rolex Submariner? Well, some might argue the case for the Fifty Fathoms but you know. They’re wrong. The Rolex sports watch stalwart has been the archetypal underwater timepiece since it was introduced in 1954. The only problem is that, unless it’s your main watch, the Sub can be a little pricey.
Fortunately (for us at least) the Submariner has inspired a raft of watches following suit, so much so that the combination of unidirectional rotating bezel, clear, legible dial and impressive waterproofness are far from unique to Rolex. Here then, are five of the best alternatives to scratch your Submariner itch without scratching a couple of zeros off your bank account.
Seiko Prospex 200m, £379
You can trust Seiko when it comes to value for money; the giant of Japanese watchmaking produces some of the best watches in their price range – or a couple brackets up for that matter. Their signature diver takes a fair few cues from the Submariner with its circular indexes and diving bezel, but sets the lot in a more lozenge-shaped case. The crown at 4 o’clock is also a nice little point of difference. It’s depth resistance is a little less than optimal at 200m but for less than 1k it’s hard to argue that this is anything but a fantastic diver.
Available at: www.seikowatches.com
Christopher Ward C60 Trident Pro 600, £795
The latest iteration of Christopher Ward’s flagship watch ups the ante when it comes to depth-defying performance. In fact, it’s the equal of the Submariner in that regard, able to survive at 600m under the water. It’s also a little more contemporary, with some cool colourways like the black and white or red and black. The automatic movement is no Rolex, that’s for sure, but if you’re not too bothered about that this is a true diver, one that’ll serve even a professional perfectly.
Available at: www.christopherward.co.uk
Alpina Seastrong Diver 300, £1,250
About as minimal as a diver can get and still be considered a professional instrument, Alpina’s seriously cool diver has gotten rid of the numbered scale on the grey rotating bezel. Instead it has the same shape indexes as the matte black dial, eye candy for anyone obsessed with symmetry. The in-house automatic calibre is a solid piece of work, as is the 44mm stainless steel case. Able to hit 300m deep, despite the sapphire caseback, it ticks every box, whether you wear divers for actual diving or just because they’re a necessity for any collector.
Available at: alpinawatches.com
Aquadive Bathysphere 100 GMT, $2,388
Don’t let the 100 in the name fool you, Aquadive’s signature timepiece is a serious piece of kit able to survive down in the darkness at 1,000m deep. With it’s 49mm lug-to-lug length it certainly feels like it too, though thankfully it’s tool nature hasn’t stopped Aquadive giving it a funky aesthetic twist. The orange inner bezel is a welcome flash of colour, particularly when paired with the chunky rubber strap. The ETA 2893-2 is a workhorse movement, reliable but nothing particularly special; a GMT function though is always useful, at least when you’re back on dry land.
Available at: shop.aquadive.com
Breitling Superocean Automatic 44 Ironman Limited Edition, £3,050
It may be eking up towards the higher price range of the Submariner but Breitling’s marathon-inspired limited edition is still a good bit cheaper and, unlike the others on this list, has some proper brand recognition going on. The 1,000m water resistance and chronometer-certified movement hammer home the Superocean’s horological credentials, while the unique dark red rubber strap makes it stand out as much as the Ironman logo on the dial. Best of all? You don’t need to be a triathlete to buy it – just quick off the mark. There will only be 300 of them.
Available at: www.breitling.com