Submariner Vibe on a Budget: Our Selection by Extropian

Submariner vibe
Homage watches
Affordable watches
Submariner Vibe on a Budget: Our Selection by Extropian

One of the most iconic and instantly recognizable watches ever produced, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner (to give it its full swanky name) was first introduced in 1954 and never seems to have gone away. It was the first watch to be waterproof up to 100m and specifically designed for pro-divers, although within a decade or so it had become a luxury fashion item with the addition of “non-essential” complications like a date window on some models.

Although it’s evolved over the years, the classic Submariner style includes luminescent hour markers with a distinctive combination of dots, batons, and an inverted triangle at 12 o’clock, Mercedes hands, a unidirectional rotatable bezel with a ceramic insert, prominent crown guards on the side of the case, and a solid-link Oyster bracelet. Modern versions have also upped the water resistance to 300m.

On the Wants list of most serious watch geeks, the only downside of the Submariner is the price! A brand-new model can cost anywhere between $9,000 and $40,000, so for many of us it’s simply the stuff that dreams are made of. But, unsurprisingly, there have been an enormous number of homages released over the years which mean that you can enjoy the timeless style of the Submariner without taking out a second mortgage.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best Submariner-type watches from modern Microbrands, some of which stick very closely to the formula, while others give it some interesting twists. The main thing, though, is that they’re all priced at less than $1,000 (well, almost all!). So what are we waiting for? Let’s take a dive into the Submariner style!

Axios – Ironclad ($599)

Named after the famous 19th Century battleships which changed naval warfare forever, the Ironclad retains the definitive Dive watch silhouette, but adds a few design quirks of its own, making it a watch that clearly references the past, but proudly wears its own character. There are some great dial and bezel colors to choose from, including the Horizon with its blue Sunburst dial and contrasting orange markers on the bezel. And it’s water resistant to 500m, which even beats modern versions of the Submariner!

Axios Ironclad Horizon

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Hemel – HD Series Hyrdrodurance ($600)

The Hydrodurance ticks all the right Submariner boxes (including 300m water resistance) but gives it a distinctly modern twist with its futuristic markers, convex bezel, and distinctive Sandwich dial. There’s a range of different versions, including the classic “Pepsi” bezel, but we kind of like the boldness of the Full Lume dial with contrasting black markers.

Hemel Hydrodurance Full Lume Dial

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MatterHorn – Divemaster 300 ($390)

London-based MatterHorn has produced another superb take on the Submariner template, with its rugged crown guards, knurled bezel, sturdy Oyster bracelet, and 300m water resistance. We especially like the Forest Green edition which would make a great everyday option, even if you were nowhere near the ocean!

MatterHorn Divemaster Forest Green

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Revelot – Hexmariner ($339)

The Hexmariner wears its Rolex homage credentials proudly (hence the name!), but it's one of the most quirky and distinctive takes on a classic model. Think of it as a “dress diver” which updates the original profile with chamfers and hexagonal motifs to give it an Industrial vibe which really stands out from the crowd. Most editions are sold out, but (for now at least) you can still grab the rather wonderful Darkside Bronze variant with its bronze case and black dial with matching rubber strap.

Revelot Hexmariner

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Steinhart – Ocean One (€630)

The Ocean One has the Submariner vibe down to a T, including almost identical markers, Mercedes hands, ceramic bezel, a date window at 3 o’clock, Oyster bracelet, and 300m water resistance. But there are quite a few options available if you want a variation on the format, including a bronze edition with a green canvas strap, and another mixing pink gold and rubber.

Steinhart Ocean One

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Squale – 1521 (CHF 955)

If you want something that hints at the Submariner aesthetic without following the rules too closely, Squale’s 1521 updates the formula with a sleek Cushion case, while also shifting the crown to 4 o’clock, getting rid of the guards altogether, upping the water resistance to 500m, and switching out the Oyster for a range of Tropic, Milanese mesh, and leather straps. We love the Full Luminous edition with its yellow-green dial, orange and black markers, and textured black rubber strap.

Squale 1521 Full Luminous

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Vaer – D4 Solar Diver (from $399)

A great value addition to the Submariner style, Vaer’s D4 adheres pretty closely to the iconic template, with just a few subtle changes to the dial and handset and a lack of crown guards to make it stand out from the original. The 42mm version sticks closest to the classic dimensions, but there’s also a 38mm edition if you prefer something smaller on your wrist.

Vaer D4 Solar Diver

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Venezianico – Nereide (from $495)

Venezianico’s signature model, The Nereide is a classic Diver with 200m water resistance and a modern, refined 316L stainless-steel case. It shares a lot of its DNA with the Submariner, but adds the brand’s own signature Canova bracelet in place of the traditional Oyster, along with a choice of colorful dial and bezel options including some very cool limited editions like a black mother-of-pearl dial or a sleek forged carbon dial and bezel combo.

Venezianico Nereide

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So, if an original Submariner is beyond your budget, or if you simply prefer something original that doesn’t come with such a weighty history, there are plenty of options! To find out more about anything on this list, head on over to Extropian’s database.

Created the 2023-07-11

Modified the 2024-04-18

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