Search form

BROWSE BY: FILM  |  ACTOR  |  PRODUCT  |  NO TIME TO DIE  |  GIFT GUIDE  |  GIVEAWAYNEW
Advertisement

Bennett Winch SC Holdall

Affordable alternatives to James Bond watches

14 April, 2022

In this article I'll take a look at some of the most affordable and interesting alternatives to famous watches seen in the James Bond films. And at the end of the article you can find my favourite, and most affordable watch with a Bond look.

This article will be updated regularly with new suggestions.

The prices of new and second-hand watches have skyrocketed in the last few years, making (vintage) Omega and Rolex watches more and more difficult to acquire. Omega has positioned James Bond's watches in a higher price segment, with the latest No Time To Die watch retailing at around $10,000 / £8,000 / €9,000, way out of reach for many of the Bond collectors.

I don't often focus on alternatives here on Bond Lifestyle, but as a watch fan (and Omega watch owner), I do like to collect a wide range of watches, including the more affordable and good looking watches.

My personal favourite affordable brands are Seiko (with Seiko also being a James Bond brand) and Casio (one of the most seen watch brands in non-Bond films, take a look Watch-ID.com for a selection). For this article I have acquired my first Invicta watch and Stührling has been so kind to send me a few watches that are heavily inspired by some of the most iconic watch models that have also appeared in Bond films.

The original watches we are going to focus on are the vintage Rolex Submariner as seen in the first four Bond films, the later Submariner models seen in the 70s - 90s. Another famous watch is the Breitling Navitimer seen in Thunderball, which is not owned by James Bond but by Domino's brother François Derval. Finally the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean and Aqua Terra worn by Daniel Craig in his Bond films. At a later stage I will add alternatives for the Omega Seamaster 300m worn by Pierce Brosnan. And at the end of the article you'll find the most affordable and also my favorite alternative watch.

Rolex Submariner alternative

The Rolex Submariner, ref 6538 is Bond's main watch in the first four James Bond movies Dr No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and Thunderball.

In Dr. No and From Russia With Love he wears the watch on a black or brown croc leather strap, while in Goldfinger and Thunderball he wears it on a nylon strap - not the double folding NATO strap but similar material single layer strap (I'll go into detail about that strap in another article).

Rolex Submariner 6538 Goldfinger Oyster Perpetual

The Rolex Submariner is most prominently seen in Goldfinger

The Submariner is a diver's watch with a steel case, a large crown without crown protectors, black dial, gold colored 'mercedes hands', no numbers on the dial, lume dots painted on the dial and one lume dot on the top position on the bezel. At 38mm it is a fairly small watch.

This vintage Rolex "Big Crown" Submariner 6538 is currently extremely valuable, selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars/pounds, depending on the condition and provenance.

Alternative: Invicta 1953 Automatic Pro Diver 31290

For the first alternative we take a look at the Invicta 1953, which is actually not based on the 6538, but rather on the first ever Submariner launched in 1953. The Invicta 1953 is a good looking watch and for the price (around $119 / £140) a nice choice as a budget alternative to a vintage diver, but it the mix of modern and vintage style elements makes it not a true vintage looking watch.

Invicta 1953 Automatic Pro Diver 31290

Invicta Pro Diver Zager Exclusive, Model 31290

The official name of the watch is the Invicta Pro Diver Zager Exclusive, Model 31290 - Men's Watch Automatic.

Invicta watches come in a yellow box. With a (faux?) leather, box with sleeve, and velvet-look interior it's not per se beautiful or luxurious, but it's definitely more interesting than a simple carton box. It also comes with a little warranty/instruction booklet and cleaning cloth.

Invicta watches come in a bright yellow box
photo © Bond Lifestyle

The watch has a 40mm case, which is a good in between size for most wrists: a bit bigger than the vintage Submariner, but smaller than some of the more modern divers.

The case is stainless steel and feels very good, a proper steel case compared to some budget watches that are made from a lighter alloy. The mineral crystal is not domed like the vintage Submariner watches but completely flat. I personally prefer the flat crystal, which provides a clear view of the dial, but it's less vintage looking. 

The gold coloured hands and markings give the watch a more vintage feel, while the flat crystal allow for an undistorted view of the dial.
photo © Bond Lifestyle

The bezel is a nice matte black, aluminum material, with simple but elegant minute markers for 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50, plus a small lume pip at the top center position. The design is the same as the original 1953 Submariner, but slightly different from the 6538 model (for example there are no minute lines in the first 15 minutes). The bezel feels solid and can be rotated in one direction, in 120 clicks. The bezel does look slightly too narrow - the watch would have looked a bit bolder if the bezel was wider.

The hands and markers are gold colored, which looks very nice combined with the stainless steel case and black, matte dial. The hands are not the 'Mercedes hands' from the Submariner 6538, but again are inspired by the thin, long and elegant gold colored hands with lume similar from the original Submariner.

The matte dial is black with the gold colored INVICTA logo (printed, not applied) and "1953 Automatic" printed text. The round, triangle and rectangle hour markers are applied to the dial and provide a decent lume.

Note that this 1953, as opposed to many Invicta models, does NOT have the Invicta logo engraved on the side of the case, which is a good thing.

The Invicta diver has a screw down crown, which is a nice feature and helps the watch to a water resistance of 200m. The crown feels solid: it screws in tight and turns the hands easily. It's not an oversized, rounded crown like the vintage Submariner, but a smaller crown.

The 1953 watch is driven by the famous Seiko NH35A movement, one of the world's most popular automatic movements for affordable watches, and shouldn't have many issues. This one feels solid, and can be hand wound as well as hacked (pull the crown all the way to the side and the seconds hand stops moving).

Through the open caseback you can see the Seiko NH35A movement
photo © Bond Lifestyle

I personally like that the watch has an open case back, where you can see the Seiko movement, but this is of course not similar to the vintage dive watches which have a more simple steel case back.

If you are looking to replace the standard stainless steel band with a NATO or leather strap: the watch has lug-width of 20mm so make sure to get the right size strap.

Invicta is known for posting ridiculously high retail prices, combined with huge discounts, and this 1953 diver is no exception: on my watch I found a price tag of $695 while the Invicta website even mentions a MSRP of $795. These prices are not real, and even though the watch is currently getting harder to find, you should still be able to get one of these watches on eBay for anywhere between $109 - $140. On Amazon the watch is available for $123, and on the European Invicta store the watch is offered for €149.

I purchased mine on eBay for $109.99 plus shipping and taxes.

shop now

TLDR The price combined with the beautiful looks makes it a good budget alternatives to a vintage Submariner look. But if you don't like the modern elements, mostly the flat mineral crystal, you might want to consider the Timex M79 or any of the other options below:

 

Other options, in different price ranges:

 

Do you have another suggestion for an alternative? Send a message!

 

Rolex Submariner 5513 alternative

The Rolex Submariners that were sold in the 1970s - 1990s have become one of the most famous but also most copied watch designs. It's impossible to give an overview of all the watches that are similar, inspired by or homage watches. Of course Bond Lifestyle does not endorse any replica Rolex watches that include the Rolex logo.

Timex Harborside 42mm ($109 on Amazon) - not the best option: no rotating bezel, not a watch you can dive with, looks cheap. it does have an Indiglo dial, so great for readability at night.

 

Alternative: Stührling Depthmaster 3940 Automatic

We take a look at the Stührling Depthmaster 3940 Automatic, currently priced at $145 at Stuhrling.com (disclaimer: I received this Depthmaster 3940 watch from Stührling for this review).

Stührling Depthmaster 3940 Automatic submariner alternative

Stuhrling offers many watch models inspired by classic watches, and even several models based on the Submariner design:
Swiss Automatic Depthmaster 883D ($250)
Swiss Automatic Depthmaster 883 ($380)
Regatta 792 Automatic 42mm Diver ($250) or on Amazon

The Stührling Depthmaster 3940 is the most affordable of these Stührling models so that's why we use it in this review. The 883 ad 792 have a better (Swiss) movement and a fully stainless steel case compared to an alloy case of the 3940, and a lume pip at the top of the bezel, but they are also significantly more expensive.

Stührling Depthmaster 3940 box case packaging

Stührling Depthmaster 3940 in the orange Stührling packaging
photo © Bond Lifestyle

The Stührling Depthmaster 3940 is obviously inspired by the Submariner, with a very similar case design, black bezel with diver markings, the same style hour and minute markings and even the Mercedes hands and similar seconds hand. The case is not stainless steel but a very glossy alloy, which gives it a bit of a cheap look and feel and will not be as scratch resistant as a full stainless steel case. The mineral crystal has the Cyclops style lens on top of the date aperture, in order to magnify the date, just like the Rolex.

Stührling Depthmaster 3940 dial case box

The Stührling Depthmaster 3940 is very glossy, made from a chrome alloy.
photo © Bond Lifestyle

The Depthmaster 3940 watch has a 42mm case, and the Miyota 8215 movement can be spotted through the exhibition case-back.

The open Stührling Depthmaster 3940 case back shows the Miyota 8215 movement in action
photo © Bond Lifestyle

The Miyota 8215 is a basic, twenty-one jewel three-hand with date automatic wristwatch movement, with a uni-directional winding system (left rotation). The accuracy is -20 to +40 seconds per day, and it has a power reserve of over 40 hours. The watch allows for hand winding, but no hacking (stopping the second hand). The crown can be screwed in to the case.

stuhrling depth master automatic dial bracelet

The bracelet is decent, and closes properly. The center links of the bracelet have that cheap chrome feeling, just like the case. The bracelet doesn't feel super solid, and rattles a bit, but I will probably keep this watch on this original bracelet, because that's the most screen-accurate to the Rolex watches worn by Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton and it does wear comfortably.

Available at Stührling for $145

 

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Alternative

In another article I have already offered a lot of different options for the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra watches worn by James Bond, read the full article here, but I'll feature one of the choices here below.

Alternative: Stührling Forte 3953 Quartz

Stührling Forte 3953 Quartz qua terra alternative

Omega Aqua Terra (left) and Stührling Forte 3953 Quartz 42mm Classic (right

One of the most similar watches happens to be one of the most affordable: the Stührling Forte 3953 Quartz 42mm Classic with blue dial costs $95 at Stuhrling or find it for only $75 Amazon (also available in different color and strap combinations). You can also find it on Overstock with blue leather strap ($80). And you can try eBay where there is usually one for sale in blue.

The Stührling 3953 pictured here was sent to me by Stührling for review. 

Stührling Forte 3953 in box
photo © Bond Lifestyle

The Stührling Forte 3953 has a similar look to the Aqua Terra, with the vertical lines on the blue dial, date windown on the 3 o'clock position, smooth bezel, similarly shaped hour and minute indicators. Even the hands look similar.

The blue dial of the Stührling watch is quite dark, darker than you'd expect from the product photo. In low light it looks black or dark grey, but in lighter situations the dial shows a dark navy blue color.

stuhrling forte 3953 close dial blue

The dial is very dark blue, almost black in low light, but with a blue sunburst effect in certain angles
photos © Bond Lifestyle

This is a fairly big watch, with a case size of 42mm, but it does fit well on my 7 inch wrist. The case, just like the 3940 Depthmaster mentioned above, is made of an alloy instead of stainless steel, so you have to be a little careful not to get it scratched, but it does have a nice chrome shine.

stuhrling forte 3953 close bracelet dial blue

The lume on the hour markers and hands works well but not very long.

The watch comes with a leather or steel bracelet. The steel bracelet is similar to the one from the Depthmaster model mentioned above, with the same downsides: the bracelet does feel a bit cheap, but it does look quite decent with the case of the watch and does wear comfortably. The same model is also available with a leather strap for even less ($85 on Overstock) which also looks good for this model. I have also seen people wear the watch on a Blue NATO strap and even though that is not how Bond wears his Omega, I might add a blue NATO to my Stührling Forte (I'll post images when I do).

Overal the watch is a very good looking dress watch for a really low price. it's quite big, heavy and the dial has a subtle and luxurious dark blue dial with contrasting markers and hands. The Quartz movement works on a battery so as opposed to an automatic watch you don't have to worry about resetting the time if you don't wear the watch for a few days.

Buy on Stuhrling ($95)

Buy on Amazon.com ($75)

Available on Overstock ($85.99, with leather strap)

Find on eBay

For more alternatives for the Aqua Terra, read this article.

aqua terra affordable alternative watches

 

 

Breitling Navitimer 806 Alternative

Not a watch worn by Bond, but seen in the movie Thunderball (1965) when Bond shows Derval's Breitling Navitimer watch to Domino. The watch in the film has a black leather strap. Read more about the watch here.

This famous watch model also has been replicated many times. Again I'm only looking at official watch brands, and I don't endorse any replica's that are an exact copy or feature the Breitling logo.

Alternative: Stührling Monaco 4015 44mm Chronograph

In this article I'll look at the Stührling Monaco 4015 44mm Chronograph. The Stührling Monaco 4015 was sent to me by Stührling for review. At the time the black dial version was not available so I received this blue dial version pictured below, which is available in different color and strap combinations for $120 on Stuhrling.

Stuhrling Monaco blue dial

The blue dial does look quite nice. It's almost black in low light situations, and gets a sunburst blue effect in the light.

This is the most 'bling' watch in this article with the chrome case (also feels like alloy, not stainless steel), silver subdials and large crown and buttons. Stuhrling offers the watch on different straps but currently this two-tone blue mesh bracelet is the most popular choice according to Stührling.

Stuhrling Monaco

Stührling Monaco on a two tone blue metal strap and with blue dial
photo © Bond Lifestyle

I have the 44mm version but the Monaco model is also available in a smaller 42mm version (slightly more expensive at $145 and less color/strap choices) but with my 7 inch wrist I feel the 44mm fits well.

Personally I'm not a big fan of the mesh bracelet, it's not super comfortable. But it is very easy to set to the proper size yourself by moving the metal bar on the bracelet, which is great, compared to bringing your watch to a watch store to have the bracelet resized.

The original Navitimer straps (and the leather straps at Stührling) usually have white stitching on the black leather, but the watch in the Bond film does NOT have the white stitching on the strap.

I have replaced the mesh bracelet with a very dark blue strap (a blue OnceWill 20mm Seatbelt Nylon strap on Amazon).

stuhrling monaco on blue nato strap

I put the Stührling Monaco 4015 44mm Chronograph on a blue 20mm OnceWill 'seatbelt' NATO strap
photo © Bond Lifestyle

The lug width of the Stührling is 22mm, which is the info you need in case you are considering replacing the strap.

stuhrling monaco on blue nato strap

An interesting looking dial with three subdials, the blue sunburst effect, the red second hand and inner bezel markings
photo © Bond Lifestyle

I do like the details on the dial: the three subdials, the blue sunburst effect, the red second hand, the date window between 4 and 5, all the markings on the inner bezel. It's definitely a fun dial/watch to look at.

The two buttons are a bit hard to push, but they do work to start and stop the chronograph function of the subdials.

Since this is a Quartz watch, this is a low maintenance watch and you don't have to worry about setting the time if you don't use it for a few days.

 

Seiko G757 Sports 100

The best digital Bond Seiko watch alternative for the Seiko G757 Sports 100 from Octopussy is the Casio AE1200WHD-1A Classic Digital watch. This is a very affordable watch, yet very interesting to look at and use.

Casio AE1200 box

The Casio AE1200 in original packaging

The great thing is that it's not an exact copy of the Seiko Bond watch, but the different dials, overall shape and little world map do make look like a real spy gadget watch. And it offers lots of features like dual time, world time, 5 alarms, stopwatch, hour signal, a full backlight. And the battery will last ten years.

casio ae1200 close dial

The Casio is very practical (alarms, multiple time zones, backlight) and fun to look at
photo © Bond Lifestyle

Due to its Bond look, the watch has gained the nickname "Casio Royale".

The Casio AE1200WH is available on Amazon for $34 (USA), eBay or Amazon.co.uk (£26 UK), Amazon.de or Christ.de (Germany).

 

For more Seiko watch alternatives, check out this dedicated article to affordable alternatives to James Bond Seiko watches, both analog and digital watches.

james bond seiko alternative watches

 

Top pick

Casio MDV106-1AV 200M

And as promised this is my tip for the most affordable yet great looking Bond diver's watch: the Casio Duro MDV106-1AV 200M.

Casio MDV106 affordable divers watch

This watch is not a direct copy of any of the Bond diver watches, but the design evokes the look of the Omega and Rolex watches.

The overall look is slightly similar to the Omega Planet Ocean 2900.50.91 seen in Casino Royale with the black bezel, black rubber strap, arrow hour hand and red second hand.

casio mdv106 comparison rolex omega

Compare the Casio MDV106 look to some Omega and Rolex diver watches.

The round and striped hour markings are more similar to the Omega Seamaster and Rolex Submariner, with the double striped twelve o'clock marker resembling the marker of the Omega Seamaster.

The white markings on the black bezel are very similar to the Rolex Submariner.

casio mdv106 details dial hands rubber strap case bezel

The dial is very easy to read; the rubber strap is comfortable and looks go; the case back has some nice engravings
photos © Bond Lifestyle

casio mdv106 flat crystal

The applied indices add to the high-end feeling of this watch

The Casio watch has a flat mineral crystal through which we can see the nice clean black dial with a really nice sunburst effect. Casio's Marlin logo printed on the dial and engraved in the caseback. 

casio mdv106 dial applied indices

Applies indices, sunburst effect on the dial
photo © Bond Lifestyle

The hour indices are applied and have lume and a chrome edge.

I think the bezel looks great on this watch. It's noce and wide, has a nice font for the minute markings, and the lume pip on the top is a great addition that not many watches at this price point offer.

At only $58 / £55 / €70 this is a real bargain and just a pleasure to wear.

United States

Find the Casio Duro MDV106-1AV on Amazon ($58), or take a look on eBay.

shop now


United Kingdom

Available on eBay UK (best deal)

Available on Amazon UK.


Germany
On the German Amazon the watch is offered for €170 which is way too much, so you can look on the German eBay where the watch can sometimes be found for €70 or less.

 

 

Do you have another suggestion for an alternative? Send a message!

 


All copyrights for products, logos, images etc are held by their respective owners. Bond Lifestyle is not responsible for these articles, please take any queries up with the author.

OB Wham

Comments

Can I offer up an alternative to the Omega Seamaster (mesh strap) from Spectre. The Sekonda IP Mesh bracelet watch. for around £40 (sale) £80 normally.

Add new comment