My Cart

Close

San Martin Affordable Watches - The 9 Best Models

Posted on May 26 2021

San Martin Homage Watches

There's a sweet spot in the watch trade.

It's where price and quality meet.

You'll know what I mean. When you see a quartz watch for £800 you'll wonder why the brand hasn't opted for a mechanical movement.

Or when you see an automatic model online for £25. You know that it's too cheap. The quality won't be there.

But what about when it all comes together? When a watch is affordable, has good specs and the reviews rave about the great build quality?

They're the watches that I love to blog about.

Watches like San Martin.

Who are San Martin Watches?


San Martin is a Chinese watch brand. It has gained a good reputation for making affordable mechanical watches. They're noted for their homage models, particularly those that take inspiration from classic dive watches.

Like many popular Chinese watch manufacturers, San Martin is a new company. They were founded by industry veteran, Liao JiaMing, in 2016.

San Martin Chinese Watch Company
The company's first release was a bronze diver that appeared at the tail end of the same year. In 2017 they relocated to Dongguan City to be nearer to the watchmaking industry there.

They now produce a watch collection that boasts homages to iconic models from the likes of Seiko, Rolex and Omega.

Where are San Martin watches made?


San Martin is a Chinese company. Their watches are manufactured in China.

They are based in Dongguan, a city known as the world’s factory.

Are San Martin watches good quality?


The consensus among watch fans is that they are of good quality.

Watch nerds can be a tough crowd, especially when passing judgement on homage brands. But, the majority opinion - in facebook groups and forums, and my own experience - is that they are good value for money.

Of course, that always comes with a caveat. Nobody is saying that San Martin's tribute to the Rolex Datejust is of equal quality to the Swiss legend.

We're comparing San Martin to watches at a similar price point.

How do San Martin watches compare to other brands that cost £100-£200?

They compare well. A typical £200 San Martin watch will have a Seiko automatic movement, sapphire crystal and water resistance.

Importantly, the build quality will be very good.



The 9 Best San Martin automatic watches


I want to take you through the best models from the brand. What should become quickly apparent is their design inspiration.

If you're familiar with Corgeut, Parnis and Pagani Designs, you'll know the drill. Chinese manufacturers that mimic the designs of the best Swiss watches.

San Martin is a little different. They also take inspiration from lesser-known models, including iconic Japanese watches.

San Martin 6200 Rolex Homage Watch

This is a homage to the watch that Sean Connery wore in the early James Bond films. It's San Martin's take on a 1960s Rolex Submariner.

Stylistically, it ticks the boxes that you'd expect. It has the aged lume, Mercedes hands and the prominent crown that the early Rolex's were known for.

It's a cracking piece and in an era of over-sized watches, it's refreshing to have a modest 38mm case. That adds to the authenticity.

The specs are good and include a sapphire crystal and Seiko's reliable NH35 automatic movement.

The size and simple colouring mean that this is a versatile watch. And it can be worn like Sean Connery wore his, with a canvas NATO strap.

This is an inexpensive way to get a vintage Rolex look.

San Martin Water Ghost 6200

  • 38mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance


San Martin 62MAS Homage Watch

This is what San Martin does best. Recreating an iconic vintage watch that isn't an obvious candidate.

The 62MAS was the first dive watch from Japanese giants Seiko. It's not a well-known piece and this modern version will most likely appeal to a niche audience.

I'm in that audience and this is my favourite San Martin watch.

The fashion in the 1960s included lightweight and slim dive watches. The 62MAS was Seiko's Skin Diver and the San Martin is a faithful reproduction.

Apart from the case size. At 40mm it's slightly larger than the original.

It might look old, but this San Martin will serve as a modern diver. Despite the vintage aesthetic, this is a watch built to excel in the modern world.

San Martin SN007-G V3

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance


San Martin Rolex GMT-Master Homage

The GMT-Master was Rolex's dual time zone watch. It was released around the same time as the first Submariner and the GMT-Master II followed in the early 1980s.

This is San Martin's homage to the red and blue Pepsi variation.

It's powered by a Chinese automatic movement and includes the fourth hand of the original.

It's a colourful watch with a mid-sized case and a distinctive cyclops lens over the date window. A real effort has been made to ensure that is a functional watch. The ceramic bezel is fully lumed and the watch has 200M of water resistance.

San Martin Pepsi GMT SN015G

  • 40.5mm Diameter
  • 13.5mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 


San Martin Rolex Datejust Homage

This blue beauty is San Martin's homage to the Rolex Datejust - the watch famously worn by Winston Churchill.

San Martin's interpretation mimics the original well. It's available in a few dial options, but I'm particularly impressed by the blue sunray version.

If you're familiar with the Rolex Datejust you'll recognise the same DNA in this model. Namely, the fluted bezel, cyclops window, jubilee bracelet and simple stick hands.

It's a classic, refined look that never goes out of fashion.

This model isn't as affordable as some of their other models and is powered by a Chinese PT5000 movement. But it's still very affordable and a good choice for a colourful dress watch.

San Martin Datejust SN059

  • 39mm Diameter
  • 12.5mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 


San Martin Cushion Case Dive Watch

This next model is a chunky diver with a slight vintage appearance. It's a rugged watch that features a 45mm cushion case, 500M of water resistance and a luminous dial.

That all makes for a very functional watch. It can take a few knocks, go into deep water and is legible in the dark.

Like the last watch, it is equipped with a PT5000 movement.

What is most apparent with this watch is the toughness. The case is heavy duty and has a 4 o'clock crown. The bracelet is substantial and has screwed in links. And the bezel is simple. Just steel and black numbers.

It's a contrast to the 38mm Water Ghost watch and a great choice if you like your divers to be big and bold.

San Martin SBBN068

  • 45mm Diameter
  • 13.5mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 500M Water Resistance

 


San Martin Vintage Diver

San Martin describe this watch as a niche diver. That's an appropriate label. This is a quirky piece that really caught my attention.

I'm not normally a fan of cases with hidden lugs, but it works well here. As do the vintage-style dial and plongeur hands. I don't particularly like rubber straps, but once again, it works on this model.

I can't quite pin down the watch - or why I like it. I guess that it's the successful blending of styles and shapes that appeals to me. The modern 43mm case, but with a vintage dial. The simple dial, contrasted with the bold orange minute hand.

If you want something a little different. Take a closer look at this model.

San Martin Vintage Diver SN039

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 13.5mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 


San Martin Bronze watch

The brand's first watch was a bronze model. It's an area where San Martin is still strong. They have an extensive range of bronze models.

Of these, this watch is my favourite.

Bronze is a good material for watches to use - with one point to bear in mind. A bronze watch changes with age. The case and bezel will patina and alter in appearance.

It's why people get so passionate about bronze watches.

If that's you, then you'll love this model. It already has a rugged, maritime look and as it ages it will look more weathered.

The cushion case and bezel are beefy and it has a 24mm strap. It's powered by a Seiko automatic movement and has a rich blue dial with a fun submarine motif.

It's not a subtle watch. Not like the 62MAS homage. Instead, it's a distinctive, colourful watch that is designed to mature as it ages.

San Martin Bronze SN078Q

  • 44mm Diameter
  • 15mm Thick
  • 24mm Lug Width
  • Bronze
  • Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance


San Martin Ploprof Homage

Omega's Ploprof isn't an obvious watch to emulate. It's an odd-looking professional dive watch designed for deep-sea workers.

It has a crown on the left side of the watch and a bezel lock on the right. The case is angular and asymmetrical, giving the watch its own character.

San Martin's homage is based on one of the more colourful variations.

Again, this isn't a watch for the faint-hearted.

Without the crown, it's 48mm wide. And it doesn't just look the part. It has 300m water resistance. This is nowhere near the 1200M of the current Omega, but it's more than enough for a hobbyist.

This isn't a versatile watch, designed to be worn every day. This is a tool - or a novelty. It's up to you to decide the function of this one.

San Martin Ploprof SN077G

  • 48mm Diameter
  • 15mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance


San Martin Bronze Pilots Watch

The final watch that I'd like to highlight is a departure from San Martin's dive watch theme.

It's a classically styled pilot's watch. Again, the manufacturer has opted for a bronze case. They've matched this with a spartan black dial and a simple rubber strap.

The result is stunning. A recognisable pilots design, with a large onion crown, that looks like an authentic vintage watch.

At 42mm wide, it's a comfortable size and the strap is 22mm. It runs off a PT5000 automatic movement and has a sapphire crystal.

The colouring is where this watch wins. The colour palette is black and bronze. Nothing else.

Compared to the functionality of some other San Martin watches, this is a straightforward piece. By keeping everything simple the designers have created a bold aesthetic. And the watch really benefits from that.

San Martin Pilot SN043

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 11.6mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Bronze
  • Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

Conclusion


San Martin does something that I really like. They give you good quality watches at a very affordable price.

Plenty of Chinese brands sell cheap watches. But you often get poor quality.

San Martin raises the price and significantly raises the quality. That works for me.

What they also do, is concentrate on their specific niches. For the most part that means dive watches and bronze models. Some are homages to iconic designs and some have more of their own DNA.

I've chosen nine watches that best represent the brand. I'd suggest that you take a closer look at each.

After you have, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


Subscribe to my list for updates and offers

Related Posts

Exciting Alpha Watches - The 6 Best Homage Models
Exciting Alpha Watches - The 6 Best Homage Models
The Rolex Explorer 1 is my favourite luxury watch. It's simple, spartan and classically styled. But I don't own one.W...
Read More
Awesome Skull Watches - The 7 Best Affordable Models
Awesome Skull Watches - The 7 Best Affordable Models
Skulls are a bit weird.They can be fun, arty or horrific. Goths love them. Hells Angels love them. And you'll rarely ...
Read More
The 5 Best 38mm Affordable Military Watches (For Small Wrists)
The 5 Best 38mm Affordable Military Watches (For Small Wrists)
When watches are designed for a specific purpose they start to develop a style.So dive watches look like each other. ...
Read More
The 7 Best 38mm Affordable Dress Watches (For Small Wrists)
The 7 Best 38mm Affordable Dress Watches (For Small Wrists)
Watches haven't always been as large as they are today.Two of the most iconic watches ever - Rolex's Explorer 1 and t...
Read More
Eterna - The 5 Best Watches From Exciting Swiss Brand
Eterna - The 5 Best Watches From Exciting Swiss Brand
There is a paradox in the watch industry. Watchmaking is an innovative trade that specialises in out of date technolo...
Read More
The 4 Best Affordable Alternatives to the Omega Ploprof
The 4 Best Affordable Alternatives to the Omega Ploprof
Some watches are ugly for a reason.Usually, that's because neither the company nor its customers have taste. It's why...
Read More

0 comments

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing