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Rolex Submariner Hulk - The Affordable Alternatives

Posted on October 16 2020

The ‘Hulk’ is one of the most popular variations of Rolex's iconic divers watch, the Submariner. It’s so desirable that it’s not a realistic purchase for most people. The choice is either a place on the lengthy waiting list or a used model for well above the RRP.

What is the Rolex Hulk?


The Rolex Submariner is a very popular watch full-stop and the ‘Hulk’ is a variation of the standard watch. Initially launched in 1954 the Submariner is now acknowledged as a design classic, and one of a handful of innovative divers watches. Along with Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms and Zodiac’s Sea Wolf, it was one of the pioneering legitimate dive watches.

The Submariner is available in a number of colour variations and the ‘Hulk’ is the version that has a green dial and bezel. It was originally added to the Rolex line in 2010. It’s not to be confused with the ‘Kermit’ that has a green bezel and black dial.

Why is the Rolex Submariner Hulk so popular?


The first thing that watch aficionados like about this watch is the colour - the green that led to the watches ‘Hulk’ nickname. Green is Rolex’s signature colour, used on their boxes, website and banners. With this model going all-in on the colour it’s a very bold watch and makes quite an impression.

The detail of the colour is important too and explains some of the appeal. The dial is a sunburst style and the bezel is ceramic. The overall effect is stunning and another reason for the great reception that the watch has received.

It is a colour variation of the standard watch, so has the same 40mm 904L Stainless Steel case. It wears a little bigger than 40mm as the case is slightly chunkier than previous models. It also has a date window and the Mercedes hands used in the Submariner collection.

There are some nice touches on the watch, but they’re not really features we’ll be looking for with the affordable alternatives. For example, the Submariner has a bracelet with Rolex’s Glidelock that allows quick micro-adjustments.

It’s an automatic watch with an in-house Rolex movement. Along with the brand name, this is one of the reasons why this is a true luxury watch.

 



Is the Rolex Submariner Hulk discontinued?


One of the reasons that I’m offering a list of affordable alternatives isn’t just that the watches normal RRP may be prohibitive for watch fans. But also, if you have the money and are willing to buy the watch you’d still need to go on a waiting list. There’s no actual guarantee that you could buy this watch new even if you wanted to. Realistically, you’d have to buy it used, and in that market it may sell for as much as twice the retail price.

One factor that has been added to this dynamic is Rolex’s announcement in September 2020 that the watch is to be discontinued, making waiting lists an irrelevancy now. They’re instead releasing an updated Kermit version.

The Best Rolex Hulk Alternatives


Now is a great time to see what similar and more modestly priced green dive watches are available. What can you buy now to scratch the Hulk itch that won’t cost the same as a new car?

Here are my favourites. There are probably a few that might be familiar, but hopefully, at least a couple that are new to you.

 

Rotary Super 7 Scuba 'Hulk' S7S003B Watch

 

Rotary is a brand that I've discussed a few times (see more here).

Rotary has a Swiss heritage stretching back more than 125 years and still manufactures some of its watches there. This gives the company a real back story and something that they’ve used when celebrating their 125th anniversary. This watchmaking history that may not be obvious if your familiarity with the brand comes from seeing their more inexpensive watches on the high street.

Like many watch fans in the UK, I see Rotary as a bit of a home brand. Their head office is in London for example. The British connection goes back to the early days of the brand. They opened their first British office in the late Victorian era.

So they’re a brand that I grew up with but neglected. This year I’ve started to keep them on my radar and since then I’ve stumbled across a number of models that I’ve really liked.

This Super 7 Scuba is an impressive watch, the green variant being particularly eye-catching. Although the colour does remind me of the Hulk, and the case is pure Submariner, there’s still enough originality to give this watch its own distinctive character. I say this a lot when looking at affordable watches - It’s about the basics being done very well. The Super 7 is an example of this.

The Japanese Miyota movement is an obvious bonus in a watch that retails for a little over £200. With that, the sapphire crystal and 300M water resistance, it’s a great all-rounder. It’s probably one of the first places I’d start if I wanted a bold, green diver.

Rotary Super 7 Scuba S7S001S

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 13.8mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Miyota 8205 Japanese Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance

 

Seiko 5 SRPB93K1 Dive Watch

 

The Seiko 5 line of watches were designed with value for money in mind, arguably the opposite of why you’d buy a Rolex. The concept is relatively simple - well made and affordable mechanical watches, with the design emphasis on a younger demographic.

What this has meant in practical terms, is a series of timepieces built with Japanese in-house movements and often taking design cues from other, more expensive, Seiko designs.

Having stressed their affordability, this model is actually one of the more expensive in the Seiko 5 line. There’s a strong vintage vibe, with the lack of crown guards may be hinting at a Tudor rather than Rolex influence.

The green colouring manages to be quite distinctive but again it isn’t intended as a Rolex homage. The touches of red and gold are specific to the Seiko and the hands are more sporty than the Rolex’s, so it’s a really attractive watch in its own right.

The specifications are pretty standard for a diver at this price-point, with 100M water resistance, a stainless steel bracelet and an exhibition case back.

Seiko 5 SRPB93K1

  • 44mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Hardlex Mineral Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

 

Citizen Brycen Sport AW1598-70X Watch

 

Before we look at the watch and how it compares to the Rolex, let's look at the technology.
Japanese giants Citizen have been at the forefront of the development of eco-friendly watch movements and their eco-drive line is among the most well-known brands of solar-powered watches.

The concept of Eco-Drive watches is simple. The watch movements are designed to convert both natural and artificial light into energy to power the watch. Initially developed in the 1970s, this technology has allowed Citizen to produce watches that never need a battery change.

This environmentally friendly technology has proven popular and has won the brand environmental protection awards. It has been estimated that the Eco-drive technology has meant that 10 million less watch batteries have been produced for the US market alone.

What I really like about the Eco-drive collections, apart from the variety, is that most of the watches retain regular watch designs. They have eco-drive watches that are heavy-duty divers, aviation watches and tough military pieces. They haven’t created fashion watches for a young demographic, rather they’ve taken the watches we’re already buying and updated the internal technology.

The Brycen is a great example of this. It’s a very stylish, mid-sized stainless steel piece, with a sporty aesthetic. The colour and design are both reminiscent of a Rolex Submariner ‘Hulk’, without any individual detail being the same. If sustainability is an issue for you - then this watch is probably the nearest you’ll get to the Hulk aesthetics but with an eco-friendly construction.

As I noted here, Citizen has a large range of watches, so you may need to dig a little deeper to find the gems. But when you do, you're rewarded with some very nice watches, with decent specs that represent good value for money.

Citizen Brycen Sport AW1598-70X

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • Stainless Steel
  • Eco-drive movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

Certina DS Action Divers Watch

 

Often described as an entry-level Swiss luxury brand, this Certina watch is aimed at a higher price-point than the Citizen and Seiko. Today, like a large portion of the Swiss watch industry, the brand is now owned by Swatch Group.

The company has a longer history than some of the others in this post. It initially grew from three employees in 1888 to an operation that by the 1970s was producing over half a million watches a year.

The DS-Action collection is inspired by the brand’s iconic designs of the past. The DS stands for Double Security, a range of protective measures Certina created for a mechanical watch. It’s a concept the brand is proud of and is now 60 years old. This particular model has a nice deep green colouring.

It’s a very well-made, high-quality tool watch that is powered by a Swiss ETA based movement. It boasts an 80hr power reserve.

Certina’s logo is a turtle and can be seen on the case back. The bezel insert and the use of crown guards are similar to the Rolex, but the bezel itself and the case shape are different. The dial is similar - the round indices are like the Hulks, but the hands are different. Like most watches on this list, it lacks the cyclops lens on the crystal.

Technically, this is among the best watches featured. Very much a step towards a Swiss luxury timepiece.

Certina DS Action Diver C032.407.11.091.00

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 21mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Powermatic 80.111 Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance

 

 

Stuhrling Depthmaster 3950Dive Watch

 

In an industry where companies like Rotary and Certina boast of over a hundred years of history, Stuhrling is a new face. They’re a little under twenty years old and claim to have sold over fifteen million watches in that time. What is more, the watches that they launched the brand with were a tourbillon collection. That’s some feat.

Founder Chaim Fischer is based in New York, but the watches are proudly manufactured in Shenzhen, China. I say proudly because the website features articles detailing the reasons for choosing China, including videos of the watch manufacturing process.


 

Many brands choose the same process as Stuhrlings. Watches produced in China but with imported Japanese movements. Most of the Stuhrling collections are powered by Japanese movements, including, for example, Chronographs using Seiko’s VK63 meca-quartz.

Maybe more interestingly, the glass used in their watches is called Krysterna crystal, something I was only aware of in passing. It’s a very tough and durable glass originally used in eye-wear and unique to Stuhrling.

Design-wise, there’s nothing I’d describe as unique or pioneering here. The indices are neat dots and there are Mercedes hands. It’s a fairly straightforward divers watch in the Submariner vein, with the addition of the cyclops lens missing from the others.

It’s a very affordable quartz watch, well under £100. For that you get a decent desk-diver that gives more than a nod to the iconic Swiss design. At 42mm it’s a little larger than the Hulk, but as I noted the Rolex wears big for a 40mm watch.

This is a good option if the budget is a major concern or you’d just like to see if a green submariner is for you.

Stuhrling Original Depthmaster 3950

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Krysterna Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

 

Invicta Pro Diver Watch

 

Invicta - it’s Latin for invincible - is an American company with a large range of both quartz and mechanical watches. They’re usually powered by Japanese movements, although on occasion, they’ll use Swiss made.

The company is now American owned. Like Rotary, Invicta can trace its roots to Switzerland during the late 1880s. Its corporate headquarters are in Switzerland along with its customer service centre and its current president, who is a third-generation watchmaker, is Swiss.

The company's products are based largely around a stable of divers watches (more here). They are functional sports watches with features you would expect. Decent water resistance, rotating bezels, screw-down crowns and the like. The brand is renowned for high spec watches at an affordable price, and this Pro Diver is no exception.

I bought this Automatic Pro Diver recently.


 

This Hulk inspired piece is powered by a quartz movement and has 100M water resistance. It’s very faithful to the Submariner style, albeit with a 43mm case and the pretty cool looking sharks on the dial and bezel and the decorated dial. Yes, design-wise, there’s nothing greatly original. But as an affordable diver in the style of the Hulk? It ticks all the boxes.

Invicta Pro Diver 30020

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Case
  • Quartz movement
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

 

Rado Captain Cook R32105318 Watch

 

Here we have a large Swiss manufacturer faithfully recreating one of their own 1960’s watches. What’s particularly interesting is that Rado isn’t renowned for their diver's watches, having made their name with modernist ceramic designs.

Yet, this is an upgraded reproduction of a watch that they did initially release in 1962 and the emphasis has certainly been on maintaining that authenticity. The first reissue models were 37mm, but this new release has increased to 42mm. The water resistance has also been improved and is now 300M. Other than that this is just what a divers watch was actually like in the 1960s.

There are some other nods to the modernism that Rado is famous for, including an inward sloping ceramic bezel, domed sapphire crystal and curved dial.

Stylistically, it has little in common with the Submariner, being an original design. But it would still make for a lower priced alternative. Overall, it’s a quirky piece of nostalgia, priced towards the top end of what we’re highlighting in this blog.

Rado Captain Cook R32105318

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 12.3mm Thick
  • Stainless Steel Case
  • Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance

 

Fossil FB-01 C221062 Watch

 

Fossil is a young company, founded in Texas in 1984, and now a legitimate watch manufacturer. Indeed, they now manufacture watches for other fashion brands.

Moving from a business that originally imported watches from the far east, Fossil has since bought Swiss watch companies Zodiac and Michele Watch and Danish brand Skagen. Fossil now has its design studios in Biel, Switzerland and manufacturing facilities in China. It works as a manufacturer for other brands and produces watches for Burberry, DKNY, Emporio Armani, Michael Kors and others.

With the purchase of Misfit they also bought a company specialising in wearable technology and have released a number of smart watches - see my post about Fossil for more information.

This model, the Fossil FB-01, is a pretty standard sub-£100 quartz submariner. It actually ships without the strap - although there’s numerous options on the brands site to add a strap.

It’s another 42mm watch, so once again, a little larger than the Rolex. The bezel and the sunburst dial are similar to the Hulk and it does include the cyclops window. The hands, however, are larger. Overall, it’s a nice watch and very affordable.

Fossil FB-01 C221062

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

Gigandet Sea Ground G2-008 Watch

 

Gigandet is a brand with some Swiss heritage, having been founded there around 100 years ago. It seems that the brand has been relaunched recently and is now German-owned and based. They make affordable watches that get decent reviews and are often powered by Japanese Seiko movements.

The Sea Ground is a step up from the Fossil, in terms of both specifications and price. It’s a very tidy Submariner homage that is powered by Seiko’s reliable NH35A automatic movement. As I’ve emphasised, sometimes you just want a particular style of watch and for it to be done well. The Sea Ground does this. A mineral crystal, an automatic movement and 300M water resistance so you really can take it in the water.

All with the proven styling of a Rolex.

Gigandet Sea Ground G2-008

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 15mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Seiko NH35A Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance

 

 

Pagani PD-1639 Watch

 

The final watch is from Pagani Design, a Chinese brand that specialises in homage watches.

With a watch like this we’re not really interested in the brand or a unique design. I’d suggest that there are two main points to consider for this type of watch - price and movement. There are numerous Chinese Submariner homages and I could have chosen instead of this. But price and movement swayed me.

This Pagani Design model does a good job of recreating the Submariner aesthetic. Importantly, it also does it cheaply while being also powered by a Seiko automatic movement. At 43mm it’s bigger than the Rolex, but other than that, it’s a nice homage.

Pagani Design PD-1639

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic movement
  • Hardlex Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 

 

Conclusion

There’s a number of good reasons why you may not be able to own a Rolex Submariner Hulk. It’s expensive, in short supply and recently discontinued. There’s other Rolex options, but again, they’re out of the reach of most people.

What I’ve done in this article is outlined the best affordable alternatives, for the Cheaper Chinese options to the Swiss heritage brands doing green dive watches for a couple of thousand bucks.

If the Rolex Hulk has inspired you to shop for a green divers watch, there’s something on this list for you.

If you have anything to add, please comment below.

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