NATHAN: Hey, it’s summer, and the summer means the ocean, and the ocean means diving, and diving means dive watches.
JONATHAN: We’re playing a game of word association.
NATHAN: Hey everyone this is Nathan with Crown & Caliber, and today we are talking about watches that are NOT Rolex. Yes today we are not talking about Rolex. Around the office we were talking about dive watches that we love and absolutely the Rolex Submariner comes up. Some of the others that came up were the Seamaster and the TAG Heuer Aquaracer, but those are pretty common watches that people talk about. Rolex Submariner, OMEGA Seamaster, TAG Heuer Aquaracer. So then we started
to think about you know those three watches represent kind of three separate price points in the luxury watch market and we started to think about alternatives to those watches. So today we are going to look at six alternatives, two for each category for. The Rolex Submariner, the OMEGA Seamaster, and the TAG Heuer Aquaracer.
Alternatives to the TAG Heuer Aquaracer
So the first category we’re looking at is alternatives to the TAG Heuer Aquaracer and right now at Crown & Caliber the Aquaracer is probably around $2000 to $2500 so we’re kind of sitting in that we’ll say under $2500 for category one. Now the TAG Heuer Aquaracer has definitely cemented itself in the kind of entry level dive watch category, as far as luxury watches go, and it is a heavy hitter. I mean now it currently has a ceramic bezel, it’s a 41 millimeter case, it has the TAG Heuer Calibre 5 which has
been around for quite some time. So it definitely checks a lot of the boxes for a great entry level dive watch but if you’re looking for something else there are some really great options.
Oris Divers Sixty-Five
So the first example that we thought of around the office was the Oris Divers Sixty-Five. Now Oris is a great watch to get into kind of the luxury Swiss market and the Divers Sixty-Five is a perfect dive watch. It is a 40 millimeter case, it has a crazy domed sapphire crystal and you get a wonderful kind of distortion on the dial, and the case thickness is perfect. As far as this kind of vintage inspired dive watch. It sits on the wrist really nicely and some of the strap options that the Divers Sixty-Five have are great. I personally love the tropical option which is kind of furthering that vintage aesthetic. The Oris Divers Sixty-Five has an “in-house” Oris Calibre. The Oris Calibre 733, which is based off of a Sellita SW200 movement. So nothing special. A way that Oris can definitely keep the cost down but is a reliable movement. So all in all you end up with a vintage inspired dive watch with modern day creature comforts. So there you go the Oris Divers Sixty-Five.
Longines Legend Diver
So the second watch that we’re going to look at in the alternative to the TAG Heuer Aquaracer is the Longines Legend Diver. Now this watch is a little bit bigger than the Oris Divers Sixty-Five. This is a 42 millimeter watch but we went with that because the Aquaracer can come in a 41. We wanted to pick a watch that was a little bit larger so you kind of have two size options. This watch is a 42 millimeter case and has a unique twin crown design. Now the top crown actually operates the internal rotating bezel so you still have a rotating bezel like a dive watch but this one is an internal rotating bezel that is actuated by the top crown. Something also to mention about this watch is it is also a vintage inspired dive watch and you’ll notice that both this and the Oris are vintage inspired and we think that speaks to companies taking really great designs and kind of repurposing them. Which some people may find polarizing but, in this instance, great designs are being reused and kind of recreated and we love that.
So, you end up with a watch that has a really unique design something that is a little different with those twin crowns but works. And internally also saving cost here Longines uses a ETA 2824 movement. It’s a work horse of a movement. It gets the job done and it allows this watch to stay at a reasonable price point. You can also find the watch with a date or a no date. So a purist is going to prefer the no date version but if you like that added convenience of having the date window then there is that ability to have it on the Legend Diver. All right so wrapping up our under 2500 category and alternatives to the TAG Heuer Aquaracer again are the Oris Divers Sixty-Five and the Longines Legend Diver. Two watches from definitely lesser known brands but they do a great job on kind of their heritage inspiration and keeping cost lower thanks to the use of movements from other companies like Sellita and ETA.
OMEGA Seamaster Alternatives
Okay so in our second category we’re going to be looking at alternatives to the OMEGA Seamaster and basically we’re talking about watches that are from say $3500 up to around $5000 and you know granted you can go and find an all gold Seamaster Planet Ocean that costs $15000 but we’re not including that in this category. So alternatives to the OMEGA Seamaster.
IWC Aquatimer 2000
So up first in our OMEGA Seamaster alternative is the IWC Aquatimer and specifically I want to highlight the IWC Aquatimer 2000 and I love this watch for a few reasons. For starters it has a more traditional case design. So often some of these Aquatimers have integrated cases and that means it’s kind of relegated to that bracelet design that goes with it but an IWC Aquatimer 2000 you can put on your own straps or swap straps out as you see fit. So it is powered by IWC’s Calibre 30110, that is effectively an ETA movement. It is the 2892 but it’s heavily modified by IWC. So what you end up with is a movement that a lot of other companies use it’s an ETA base but IWC goes in and may do some further refinishing may even swap out some of the parts like having a branded rotor as well as doing things like their own timing tests. So that’s worth mentioning because it is an ETA movement at its base but what a lot of companies do IWC included is they go ahead and modify these movements to make them more of their own. So it’s a way in which you’re kind of keeping the cost down from say a fully in-house movement but it is kind of the next step up from just using say a more or less stock ETA or Sellita movement.
All right so for our second watch alternative to the OMEGA Seamaster we are going to look at the Bremont Supermarine. Now Bremont is definitely a smaller company than IWC but they produce some stellar watches and the Supermarine is top notch. So the Supermarine that we’re looking at has a 500 meter water resistance, and has a really unique case design. Now at 43 millimeters it is a larger watch, but this unique case design, a crown at two o’clock definitely helps it wear well. And I think that really speaks to kind of the research and development that went into designing the Supermarine. So let’s now focus on the movement in the Bremont Supermarine. So it is the Bremont Calibre BE-36AE.
JONATHAN: Nailed It!
NATHAN: Yeah movement names are always so riveting. That is still an ETA movement at its core. It is based off of the 2836 which is the day-date complication, effectively of the 2824, but where this is kind of a step above is Bremont does go in and do some of their own additions to the movement. They often have a Bremont rotor but a step further is they go ahead and get their movements COSC certified. So they send them off to the third party Swiss organization that gives the chronometer certification for all Bremont Core model watches. So that is definitely going to increase the cost of a watch, but also I think it goes to the level of regulation that Bremont is putting into their timepieces and into the movements and that demands a premium. All right so that is going to wrap up our category for alternatives for the OMEGA Seamaster and kind of that $3500 to $5000 price point. And again that is going to be the IWC Aquatimer 2000 and the Bremont Supermarine. And I do think it’s also worth mentioning that both those brands, IWC and Bremont, definitely have more of a heritage in aviation and as to whether or not that is why they may be kind of looked over as having a great dive watch or not that’s speculation but an interesting point nonetheless.
Rolex Submariner Alternatives
All right so the last category that we’re looking at are alternatives to the Rolex Submariner. Now this price point we’re going to pretty much say kind of the $5000 plus because a Rolex Submariner may retail for $8000 or $9000 but then it resells for that if not more but then another watch may retail for more and sell for less in the pre-owned market so this is kind of the category that if you’re in the market for a Submariner that’s the money you have to spend there are other options and that’s what we’re going to kind of focus on.
JLC Master Compressor
Okay so for our first alternative to the Rolex Submariner we are going to look at the brand JLC. Now this is not necessarily a brand that you think of when you think of sport watches but JLC is a storied watchmaker and does some pretty crazy things and so we’re going to be looking at the JLC Master Compressor and not just any Master Compressor but a limited edition Navy Seals diving alarm. And I think this is an opportunity where JLC really flexes its muscle as a watchmaker. We’re talking about a watch that has an alarm function, it has a titanium case, it has a rubber bracelet. I mean it has the unique Master Compressor crowns, which have a locking mechanism for the water resistance. So even though it does have two crowns similar to the Longines the top crown is for setting the date and for powering the alarm. I mean this watch is absurd and in all the right ways. When you’re looking at something like the JLC Master Compressor and its in-house movement I think it is worth kind of going back and comparing that to the Rolex Submariner and with the Rolex Submariner you’re often getting a time only or you know a date complication and what you are in some instances paying for is the name the Rolex Submariner, but when you step into something a little bit more avant-garde like the JLC Master Compressor Limited Edition Alarm Navy Seal watch you are getting a little bit more of that muscle flex as far as what they can do with the movement and that’s why you get things like an alarm in a dive watch.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
All right so our second alternative to the Rolex Submariner is going to be the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. Now in juxtaposition to the JLC Master Compressor the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Fathoms is more reserved and just a more elegant dive watch and why we love the Blancpain is it has a really great history. For starters the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was the first dive watch to have a uni-directional rotating bezel. So this watch has been around the block a couple of times and what makes this watch great is that history and with that I think there is definitely a very fervent following for the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Fathoms and it just doesn’t have the same name recognition as the Rolex Submariner, but you have a phenomenal dive watch with a phenomenal history. So the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Fathoms seems to be a great dive watch. It’s got a great history but where Blancpain really starts to turn things up is in the movement, and similar to JLC we are looking at an in-house caliber. We are looking at the Blancpain 1315. Now where JLC went ahead and put something crazy like an alarm in their watch Blancpain kept things simple, sort of. They went ahead and made a caliber with a 120-hour power reserve. Now to put that in context the Rolex Submariner has a 48 hour power reserve. And again similar to the JLC we can see what Blancpain is doing here, and they’re flexing their watchmaking prowess.
And so you have a dive watch that has that storied history, first watch with unidirectional rotating bezel, and now one that has a movement that has a 120 hour power reserve you can start to see when you’re in this last category, the $5000 and up category where the money lies. And it lies in just the sheer watchmaking and craft that goes into some of these movements. All right guys so there you go there are our alternatives to the Rolex Submariner, the OMEGA Seamaster, and the TAG Heuer Aquaracer. And clearly we are just scratching the surface. These are some of the watches we like around the office, that we kind of came up with, and hopefully give you kind of a jump start into saying hey this is my budget. I don’t necessarily have to go and get this watch. There are alternatives. So go ahead let us know in the comments below what your alternative would be in some of these categories and as always guys thanks for watching.