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The 6 Best Affordable Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives

Posted on November 11 2021

Royal Oak Homage Watches

The list of truly iconic watches is small.

Omega has their moon watch - the Speedmaster. And Rolex has a few iconic models, including their Daytona chronograph.

You're probably familiar with some of the others too. The Breitling Navitimer and the Panerai Luminor spring to mind.

These watches often have very little in common.

But what they do share is an expensive price tag, often increased by the watches scarcity.

That's no good for most people.

We don't all have the thousands needed to buy these iconic luxury watches. And we don't want to sit for years on a waiting list either.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is a good example. It's a desirable watch that most of us will never own. It's expensive and produced in small numbers.

So I want to show you my favourite affordable alternatives.

But first, a little about this distinctive steel sports watch.

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Watch


An octagonal steel sports watch may not seem particularly groundbreaking now. But in the 1970s this was a big deal.

Nobody else had a watch that looked like the Royal Oak.

When first introduced in 1972 this bold design caught the watch communities eye. It's a distinctive watch that has an attractive guilloche dial and an octagonal bezel with hexagonal screws.

Let's break that down a little.

First the dial. It's described as a tapisserie or guilloche style. This means that the dial has a geometric pattern that is repeated across the surface.

This is paired with the Royal Oak's signature case and bezel. The case is steel, has an octagonal bezel and features an integrated strap. The plain bezel has eight hexagonal screws.

The dial, strap and bezel give the Royal Oak its unique styling and the watch is considered to be the world's first luxury sports watch.

It has a place in watchmaking history.

Audemars Piguet hand finish their watches and use their own in-house movements. Add in the precious metals used on some current models and the price gets expensive quickly. This is compounded by the small number of watches produced.

When I say that the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is out of the reach of many, I'm not exaggerating. The Royal Oak starts at five figures and goes up to as much as six figures.

The Best Affordable Alternatives to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.


As ever, when a watch brand creates an iconic design, others follow. The Royal Oak is no different. It isn't mimicked as much as the Rolex Submariner or the Omega Speedmaster, but there are some companies with similarly styled watches.

Watches that are realistic buys.

I've put together a list of my six favourites. There's a pleasing mix of prices, features and colours. There should be something here that will scratch your itch for a Royal Oak style watch.

Ingersoll Catalina Royal Oak Homage Watch

I'm a fan of the American heritage brand Ingersoll. The Catalina is their homage to the Royal Oak. It doesn't recreate the Audemars Piguet design, but the inspiration is clear. The two watches have a shared DNA.

The overall styling is similar, but without the Ingersoll being a direct copy.

Take the bezel for example. It's reminiscent of the Royal Oak, but has softer lines and lacks the hexagonal screws. Yet the hands, markers and textured dial are all close to the original.

I like that. At first glance this is a Royal Oak homage. But when you look closely you can see the Catalina's own character. It features a neat date window, an integrated strap and is powered by an automatic movement.

At 44mm wide, this is a reasonably large watch. But that works. Remember, the Royal Oak is a sports watch. With the integrated steel bracelet this is a substantial piece.

It's a great place to start your hunt for a Royal Oak alternative. For a couple of hundred bucks you get a mechanical watch that certainly looks the part.

Ingersoll Catalina I11801

  • 44mm Diameter
  • 12.7mm Thick
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Citizen Royal Oak homage watch

This model from Citizen is a pared-down version of the octagonal sports watch. Like the Ingersoll, it's reminiscent of the Royal Oak without being a homage.

Citizen, a giant of the Japanese watch industry, are renowned for their technological innovations and keen pricing. The Classic Three Hand model is true to that ethos.

It's very affordable and features a unique Citizen Eco-Drive movement. If you're not familiar with the Eco-Drive concept, it's quite simple. The movements are designed to convert both natural and artificial light into energy to power the watch.

No battery changes and very Eco-friendly.

Citizen's Royal Oak alternative has the all-important plain octagonal bezel. Again, it lacks the prominent screws of the Audemars Piguet. But in keeping with the sports watch functionality, the brushed black dial is protected by a sapphire crystal.

The watch also has 100M of water resistance.

It's smaller than the Ingersoll and comes in at 41mm wide. I prefer that sizing and it makes the Citizen a little more versatile.

Aside from the design, the Citizen's appeal largely lies in the movement. If you're not after a mechanical watch then the Citizen makes a quartz movement an attractive choice.

This is the environmentally friendly option. The watch that never needs a battery change.

Citizen Classic Three Hand BM7490-52E

  • 41mm Diameter
  • 9.6mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 


Pagani Design PD1673 Royal Oak Watch

Chinese brand Pagani Design are less concerned about adding their own touches to their watch designs. Instead, they've built their brand around models influenced by your favourite Swiss watches.

This won't suit everyone. But I'm quite comfortable with homage models and as you can see, Pagani's Design is authentic. It's a real attempt to recreate the Royal Oak aesthetic on a budget.

So as you'd expect, the main features are all here. The bezel - this time with screws - the geometric dial pattern and the integrated bracelet.

And it continues with the smaller details. The markers, hands and lack of crown guards are all taken from the AP.

At 39mm, the size is authentic too.

So this model has to be a real contender for an inexpensive watch that mimics the iconic design you're after.

But what about the quality?

Pagani Design makes good quality watches. Crucially, the automatic movement is Seiko's reliable NH35A. It's the same one that I used in my own Northwind watch.

If you're after a true homage, take a good look at the Pagani Design PD1673.

Pagani Design PD1673

  • 39mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic movement
  • Hardlex Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance


Timex Essex Avenue Royal Oak Watch

If you're on a tight budget then the Timex Essex Avenue could be your best choice. It's a simple quartz watch that can be picked up for a little over £50.

Given Timex's reputation and heritage, that makes this watch a great option.

With the inexpensive price, you're limited to the specifications that you're going to get. It has a mineral crystal, 50M of water resistance and a 22mm leather strap.

It's another large watch. Like the Ingersoll, the case is 44mm wide. The use of a quartz movement has kept the height down and it's a slim 10mm.

You'll have noticed that it's not a full homage to the Royal Oak. The prominent number 12 at the top of the dial is Timex's own design, as are the crown guards.

There's no textured dial and the Essex Avenue includes both a day and date feature.

So it's close and does resemble the Audemars Piguet. But it doesn't feel like a budget clone - not like the Pagani Design.

At the risk of repeating myself, this is your best budget option. It's the cheapest way to get the AP look.

Timex Essex Avenue TW2U15000

  • 44mm Diameter
  • 10mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Victorinox I.N.O.X Royal Oak Alternative

Bear with me. The Victorinox I.N.O.X doesn't have an octagonal bezel, textured dial or integrated strap. Its design isn't influenced by the Royal Oak.

So why include it on my list of AP alternatives?

Firstly, it fulfils the same function that the Royal was made for. It's designed as a rugged steel sports watch. And secondly, its angular construction does remind me of a Royal Oak. With that in mind, let's take a closer look.

This is a tough timepiece. Victorinox's own marketing boasts that this model was designed to take anything that you can throw at it. This is a quartz-powered, Swiss-made watch from a well established entry-level Swiss brand.

The case is a beast. It's 43mm wide and 14mm thick. It has a sapphire crystal and with 200M of water resistance, it can go diving.

Victorinox famously makes the Swiss Army Penknife. This watch shows the same military influence with both a mention of the Swiss Army on the dial and the olive colouring.

With a chapter ring, date window at 4 o'clock and a bold red second hand, this watch isn't trying to be a Royal Oak. It has too much of Victorinox's own stamp.

But that is why this watch deserves your attention. It's been put through a staggering 130 tests by the manufacturer. This really is a functional sports watch.

And if you want a Swiss-made piece? It is one of your few options.

Victorinox I.N.O.X 241725.1

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 14mm Thick
  • 21mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance


Casio Edifice Royal Oak Watch

The final watch that I'd like to highlight is a sub-£100 model from Casio. Like one of the brand's octagonal G-Shock models, this has been dubbed the CasiOak.

The reason is obvious.

This inexpensive quartz watch has a bunch of design cues that liken it to the AP watch. It has a plain steel octagonal bezel. And although it doesn't have screws on the bezel, it does have four visible screws on the case front. The effect is similar to the Royal Oak.

Aside from the design, part of the appeal of Casio's watch is the size. It's a very comfortable 40mm wide and less than 8mm thick. It's a contrast to the rugged construction of the Victorinox.

There are a couple of variations of this watch, but I like this white dial option. The dial is attractive and keeps the simplicity of the Royal Oak.

It has decent specs, considering the price. The dial is protected by a sapphire crystal and there is 100M of water resistance.

If you want your Royal Oak alternative to be slim and comfortable, take a closer look at the CasiOak.

Casio Edifice EFR-S108D

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 7.8mm Thick
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance


Conclusion


The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is an iconic watch. Like most truly influential timepieces, it's also an expensive watch. Given the small production numbers, it's not easy to get even if you have the money.

But realistically, most of us are either unable or unwilling to shell out a five-figure sum for a wristwatch. So there's also a demand for affordable alternatives.

There aren't many watches that recreate the distinctive octagonal style of the Royal Oak.

But I've done the research for you and put together a list of the six best Audemars Piguet Royal Oak alternatives. Some, like the Pagani Design, have tried to closely emulate the Royal Oak. Others, including the Victorinox, have designed their own watches that tick many of the same boxes.

My list ranges from Chinese homage watches to a Swiss-made piece. There should be something for everyone.

So dig in and see what you think. Then leave me a comment below.

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