If there are certain watches that seem to define what it is to be a man, the choices below are perhaps the watches that do it best of all. The Rolex Submariner is rugged, versatile, and has that manly Cyclops glass over the date. The Omega Seamaster, well what more does one need to know other than the fact that James Bond wears the Planet Ocean. Then there’s the Panerai Luminor, its macho looks and heritage made eminently cool and acceptable by Sylvester Stallone. We see airline pilots wearing Breitlings and we know that the Rolex Daytona, made famous by movie legend Paul Newman, somehow defines what it is to be an expert behind the wheel of a fast moving sports car. These watches are painstakingly designed to give off the distinct aura that you are in command of your world.
As a watch journalist, I daily write about watches in excess of $30,000, but the fact is, for most men, the average spend on a wristwatch is under $500. That’s not to say the average guy wouldn’t love to own a Rolex Submariner or an Omega Seamaster, or to strap on a hunky Panerai Luminor, but it’s all a question of cost. Cost is a constant reality check. You see there’s the mortgage, the insurance, the council tax, the condo dues, the school fees, the credit cards, all these things deplete disposable income for the average earner leaving such watches as the stuff of dreams.
Realising this, and not counting replicas, which are nothing other than an outright steal of intellectual property, certain manufacturers make watches inspired by the greats. They put their own brand name on the watch, but there is no mistaking the influence. These guys take pride in offering the look of the original in all aspects other than the price tag attached to it.
Here then are five famous watches and their homage alternatives.
1 – Breitling Navitimer:
The Breitling Navitimer was first launched in 1952, and instantly became a favourite among pilots and lovers of all things aircraft. The Navitimer was originally an essential tool for pilots in measuring flight times and fuel requirements using its patented slide rule bezel. The watch has been released in many versions and is considered a Breitling classic. You could expect to pay easily over 4,000 Euros for an entry level Navitimer.
Alternative: Parnis Breitling Navitimer homage
When you shop for a homage, you have to accept some compromises. Homage watch makers Parnis make a Breitling Navitimer homage that looks like the real deal and is reliable, but don’t expect a mechanical movement, it’s quartz.
2 – Rolex Submariner:
The Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date continues to be the reference in divers’ watches, and the diver by which others are judged. It comes in more variations than there are oceans, but it always maintains its impeccable good looks. Waterproof to a depth of 300 metres (1,000 feet), the Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date is chronometer-certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). Expect to pay at least 5000 Euros for a new entry level Rolex Submariner.
Alternative: Steinhart Ocean 1 Vintage Red
Running on a trusty ETA 2824-2 movement, the movement that powers several well- known Swiss watches, the solid design values of the Steinhart Ocean 1 guarantees a perfectly functional Submariner look alike for around 350 Euros. The watches are Swiss made in the Jura valley.
3 – Omega Seamaster:
The Omega Seamaster is an automatic winding chronometer (also available in quartz) first introduced by Omega in 1948 and is arguably the closest competitor to the much admired Rolex Submariner. The Seamaster comes in many variations but typically will have a stainless steel case and bracelet, screw-in crown and caseback. Starting price is around 3,500 Euros.
Alternative: Alpha Omega homage
Alpha create watches in the UK inspired by European watch making traditions. They have been in the homage business for over 20 years. Their watches run on an automatic movement and are made from 316L stainless steel and come with a 1 year warranty. Although not COSC certified, they are at least tested using Swiss testing equipment. A top of the line Omega Seamaster has water resistance of up to 1,500 metres, with this watch you will get water resistance to 100 feet, but then the watch is only 100 Euros.
4 – Panerai Luminor:
The origins of this watch is enough to make any man want to own one. They were exclusively worn by the Italian frogmen force “Gamma” during World War II and were produced in military secrecy. Of the original model only 350 pieces were made. Captured Italian frogmen often found their watches were confiscated never to be seen again. Many years later Sylvester Stallone rediscovered the brand and the watches have since achieved cult status. A genuine Panerai Luminor will retail for at least 5 to 6000 Euros.
Alternative: Parnis Marina Militare 47mm PVD 1950 Swan Neck Black Dial Hand Winding Watch
Running on a Seagull 3600 hand wound movement, this 47mm look alike calls itself Marina Militare, which is essentially the Italian name for Navy. This is a quality product made with 316L stainless steel and scratch proof mineral glass available for under 250 Euros.
5 – Rolex Daytona:
While there are watches out there that are much rarer, more complicated and considerably more costly, an original Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, otherwise known as a Paul Newman Daytona, remains one of the grail watches for watch collectors. In truth the model was not selling at all well until Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman’s wife, decided to buy him one. Suddenly, with one of the world’s most bankable stars wearing the watch, it started to gain its legendary status. Even a basic Daytona will set you back at least 10,000 Euros, others go for considerably more.
Alternative: Invicta Speedway 9211
“We have long held firm to the belief that supremely crafted timepieces can be offered for extremely modest sums.” says Invicta. So saying they have produced this doppelganger of a Rolex Daytona which can be picked up on Amazon for comfortably under 100 Euros. Of course it’s a quartz watch and the crystal is mineral instead of scratch-proof sapphire, and let’s be honest an Invicta has absolutely none of the Rolex cachet, but from a distance after a beer or two, hey, you could be seen to be wearing a Rolex Daytona.