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7 Affordable Watches that Look Like a Smurf Rolex Submariner

Posted on April 08 2021

Rolex Submariner Smurf Homage Watches

The Paul Newman, the Clint Eastwood and the Hulk.

Iconic nicknames for some of Rolex's most iconic watches.

The Paul Newman is the Daytona worn by the actor and part-time moto racer. The Clint Eastwood is the gold and brown version of their GMT model. The actor has worn it in multiple movies.

And the Hulk? That's the stunning green Submariner.

The Rolex Smurf doesn't have the same ring to it. Despite blue being a masculine colour, used by armies and navies, Smurf's don't sound as tough as the Hulk.

But the blue version of the Rolex Submariner is just as eye-catching as the Green model. In fact, it's a lot more expensive too.

So if it's out of your reach, have a look at my favourite affordable alternatives.

The 7 Best Affordable Alternatives to the Rolex Submariner Smurf


I'll go into more detail about the Rolex Smurf later, but first, let's see the basics.

The Rolex Smurf is the blue version of the Submariner dive watch. It had a blue dial and matching blue bezel. I say 'had' as it is now discontinued.

The elements that we're looking for in a great Submariner Smurf homage are:

  • Blue dial
  • Blue bezel
  • Date
  • Cyclops lens over date
  • Mercedes hands
  • White markers

I've put together a list of my favourite affordable alternatives to this exciting Rolex. They're all realistic buys and I've factored in price, design and build quality when judging the watches.

Gigandet Sea Ground Blue Watch

The Gigandet Sea Ground is a German-made dive watch that gives more than a nod to the Rolex Submariner. It has high specs and an affordable price tag.

It's not a full homage. But it's not far off.

Other than the date window and cyclops lens, it has the basics. At 43mm, it's bigger than the Rolex, but the classic style and colouring that you're after are there.

It's blue, as it should be. Rather than having white markers, Gigandet have opted for old Radium colouring. It gives the watch a vintage edge and will be ideal if you're a fan of older dive watches.

The styling is on point. There is enough of the Smurf to make comparisons, but a few nices touches mean that it's not a clone.

Although the watch is assembled in Germany it is powered by Seiko's tough NH35 automatic movement.

And it's a legitimate diver.

There is 300M of water resistance, a sapphire crystal and a screw-down crown.

This is the real deal. A watch that mixes Swiss design with Japanese and German craftsmanship. It's the first watch that you should take a look at if you want the Smurf on a budget.

Gigandet Sea Ground G300V-008M

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 14.8mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance


Steeldive SD1953 Watch

If cash is tight and you want to get the Rolex Smurf look as cheaply as possible, check out the Steeldive SD1953. It has very similar specs to the Gigandet but at half the price.

It has the same Seiko automatic movement, a sapphire crystal and a ceramic bezel.

And it's another legitimate diver.

The big difference is that it's from a young Chinese brand, rather than being German-made.

But aside from the price, why should you consider this watch?

Well, it looks the part. Even more so than the Gigandet. It has the same colouring and hands as the Rolex. It also has a date window and a distinctive cyclops lens. Along with the white markers, this watch is more of a true homage.

The Steeldive is the best compromise of price and quality. Remember, it still has a Japanese automatic movement and 300M of water resistance. It's a well-made watch that is also inexpensive.

Steeldive SD1953

  • 41mm Diameter
  • 13.5mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance


Invicta Pro Diver Watch

I know Invicta get a lot of stick online, but don't skip this watch. There is more to this brand than online gossip.

Firstly, they're American owned. For a lot of buyers that is important. Here's an Invicta that I own.



The second point that you should also consider is that the corporate headquarters are in Switzerland and their current president is a fifth-generation watchmaker. The company's customer service centre is also based in Switzerland.

They also own Swiss heritage brand Glycine. Invicta has history and authenticity. They're not a Chinese brand that popped up overnight.

And this watch costs less than the Chinese Steeldive.

Considering that this is a watch from a US company and that it uses the same NH35A movement as the last two models, it definitely warrants a closer look.

The aesthetics are there. The Pro Diver resembles the Rolex. The specs are there too. Not quite up to the standard of the previous two watches, but in the ballpark.

So it has decent water resistance - 200M rather than the 300M of the first watches. And the crystal is mineral rather than sapphire. But for a little over $100 bucks? It's still a great deal.

There are some nice little touches too. Particularly for a watch at this price-point. The movement, for example, is visible through an exhibition back. And the rotor is signed with the Invicta logo.

This really is the cheapest reliable mechanical Smurf homage available.

Invicta Pro Diver 9094

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 10mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance


Stuhrling Depthmaster Smurf Watch

This Stuhrling model recreates the Rolex Submariner down to the small details. It's all here. The colouring, the style, the matching hands and markers.

It works. And again, it's a watch powered by a Japanese automatic movement.

I wouldn't class this as a true diver. It's more of a desk diver. It looks the part and would make an ideal everyday watch. The success of the Rolex original helps here - it's made the sport style acceptable as office wear.

In my piece about Stuhrling, I noted that the brand is quite open and even proud of its Chinese manufacturing. It's brave of them. A US company that posts videos from their Chinese factories.



I like that honesty. I feel like we can trust them.

So this model is Chinese made. But as I'm sure you're aware, the Chinese are one of the world's most successful watchmaking nations. But, as is the case with this watch, they use Japanese movements when they want to guarantee good quality.

The Depthmaster is a great example of this. It's a quality watch with good specs, albeit not built for use in the sea.

At 43mm, it's a little larger than the Rolex and it is equipped with a Krysterna crystal. If that is new to you, it's because that is Stuhrling's own patented glass.

Again, if you want to support a US brand, take a closer look at the Depthmaster.

Stuhrling Aquadiver Depthmaster 3940.2

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 13.5mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Krysterna Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance


Orient Kano Blue Watch

Orient are one of the kings of the affordable watch world. The Japanese giants create inexpensive watches with in-house movements. The Kano is a handsome dive watch that provides great bang-for-buck.

Straight away you can see that it's not a homage. It's a stylish blue watch, recognisable as a diver, but it's not a Submariner.

But it's not too far removed either.

I like that. It has some of the colouring and aesthetics of the Rolex, but also the confidence to be its own watch. And it's successful because of Orient's own design points.

The most obvious differences are the hands and markers.

They're more angular and sporty than the Submariner. It gives the watch a modern appearance, where the Rolex is still very much styled like it was in the 1950s.

Where the watch wins though, is in the specs. As usual, Orient gives you a lot for your money.

Remember, this watch is only a couple of hundred pounds. Trust me, you get your money's worth.

It's Japanese made and has an in-house automatic movement. It also has 200M water resistance.

It has looks, history and quality.

There are a lot of fans of Japanese watches. Watches like the Kano are the reason why. It's a good place to start if you fancy a Japanese diver.

Orient Kano RA-AA0009L

  • 44mm Diameter
  • 12.9mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance


Pagani Designs PD-1639 Smurf Homage Watch

Pagani Designs are one of the good guys. Like Corguet and Reef Tiger, they're a young Chinese brand that specialises in ripping off Swiss designs.

But they do it well.

There's nothing original about the brand - either its history or inspiration. But when they make a homage watch they are faithful to the Swiss model and produce quality pieces.

This watch is no exception. Like most of the watches on this list, it has a Japanese automatic movement. Once again, from Seiko.

So the specs and build quality are comparable to others I've featured.

And the lack of originality?

Well, that can be a major selling point if you want your affordable watch to look like a Rolex. If you want a Submariner style watch, then why not pick a manufacturer whose business is making Rolex clones?

This watch is ideal if that is what you want. It looks like the Rolex Smurf and it's very affordable. It's less than a hundred bucks.

This is the cheapest place to start if you want that Rolex style. At this price, you've nothing to lose.

Pagani Designs PD-1639

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance


Mathey-Tissot Rolly Vintage Blue
Do you want to wear the same Swiss watch brand as Elvis?

If so, here's your chance.

Elvis commissioned Mathey-Tissot to produce watches for his family and friends. Although Elvis wore Rolex, Omega and Hamilton, this was the brand he bought as gifts.

It's a great story for the brand and not unique. The US Army used Mathey-Tissot as far back as WW1. General Pershing gave their watches as staff awards.

So this is a company with real heritage. And they're still a Swiss-made brand. You can see the wording at the bottom of the dial of the Rolly Vintage.

And that name tells you what inspired this model. This is a homage to a vintage Rolex Submariner.

This isn't a Chinese copy. It's a Swiss copy!

In many ways that is a unique selling point. It's Swiss made and has a Swiss automatic movement. And it's still very affordable.

The vintage aesthetic appeals to me. It's simple and clean, with a leather strap that softens the sporty look. There's nothing flash. The dial text is kept to a minimum and the hands, markers and cyclops lens are all like the Rolex.

It works, and if you're like me, there is something intriguing about the Swiss-made label. I'd pay more for a Swiss-made model. If you would too, take a closer look at the Rolly Vintage.

Mathey-Tissot Rolly Vintage H900ATLBU

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • STP1-11 Swiss Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance


What is the Rolex Smurf?


The Rolex Submariner is an iconic Swiss dive watch. The ‘Smurf' is a variation of the standard watch and features a blue dial and bezel.

The original Submariner was launched in 1954 and is now acknowledged as a design classic. Along with Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms and Zodiac’s Sea Wolf, it was one of the first legitimate dive watches.

Rolex has released other colourful variations of the Submariner and the ‘Smurf’ gets its nickname from its all blue colour palette. It was added to the Rolex line in 2008, two years before the green 'Hulk' model.

Why is the Rolex Submariner Smurf so popular?


There are two reasons that watch fans love this Rolex.

It is made from 18 carat white gold and it has a distinctive blue colouring.

At first glance, the watch looks like it is housed in a stainless steel case and matching oyster bracelet. Look closer and you'll see that the colouring is actually what people often refer to as 'grey gold'.

This precious metal is forged in Rolex's own foundry and isn't used on many of their watches. That alone makes this an interesting Submariner model.

It also has a stunning blue dial and bezel. They're both interesting too. The dial is Cerachrom, a tough ceramic that should be virtually scratch-proof.

The dial is a beauty. It is lacquered and has a wet-looking finish. It's unique among Rolex watches and compliments the dive watch aesthetic.

The dials markers are oversized and you'll see this style called a 'maxi-dial'. It's slightly easier to read than the standard Submariner dial layout.

The 40mm case has a lug-to-lug measurement of 48mm. This 'Super Case' makes for a slightly bigger watch than other Submariner models and caters more to modern tastes.

As you'd expect, it’s an automatic watch with an in-house Rolex movement.

The Smurf has the Rolex name and is made from white gold. That makes for a very desirable watch.

Is the Rolex Submariner Smurf discontinued?


This Rolex has been discontinued.

Like the recent demise of the Rolex 'Hulk' Submariner, the watch has been replaced with another model.

In this case, Rolex has released a black dial version of the watch, with only the bezel being blue. It's no longer white gold either.

I suspect that you're reading this post because you wouldn't be buying the Rolex Smurf anyway. But it's still a shame to see the watch discontinued. For me, the new variation plays it a little too safe. I loved the all-blue of the Smurf.

Conclusion


You're here because, like me, you're either unable or unwilling to buy this rare and expensive Rolex. And it is expensive. It's not a realistic buy for most people.

Of course, other watch manufacturers know this. That's why they produce affordable alternatives. Watches that either take inspiration from the Submariner or even clone the watch.

Your own conscience will determine what you're comfortable buying.

I've given you some great options. Seven watches that look like or remind me of this beautiful Swiss legend. I'd suggest you follow some of the links, dig a little deeper, and see which one is for you.

It may be a cheap Chinese homage that you fancy. A fun beater that can take a few knocks. But it may be that you still want a Swiss-made watch with plenty of backstory. In that case, the Mathey-Tissot would be ideal.

Either way, jump in and have a look. And if you think that there is another watch that should be on the list? Pop the details in a comment below.

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