Here is our guide to Rolex homages – the opportunity to wear a watch that looks almost as good as the real thing without the eye-watering price tag or the stigma that comes with wearing a replica Rolex.
Rolex Homages – 90% of the look for 10% of the price
We spotted this cool infographic on WatchNerd.com that gives the nicknames of each of the Rolex GMT watches. Our review of the Parnis GMT is one of our most popular features, but as well as the red and blue “Pepsi” dial you might also have heard of the “Batman”, “Root Beer” and even the “Hulk” or “Smurf” Rolex Submariner.
We thought it would be fun to find equivalents to as many of the watches as we could for less than £200. Although we’ve not had hands-on experience with these they are mostly on a par with the Parnis watch we reviewed, and we suspect they come from the same factories!
Rolex 116619LB -“Smurf” Submariner
Probably the closest in look and feel is the Invicta 9094OB (£116 from Amazon UK) which has the same polished centre links as the Rolex Smurf, an automatic movement and – if it’s anything like the Invicta 8928 – it will look and feel a lot more expensive than you might expect.
Rolex 116610LV “Hulk” Submariner
The anniversary edition Rolex Submariners are popular with collectors. The older, 5-digit 16610 had a black dial/green bezel variant that is known as the “Kermit” but for the more modern, chunkier ceramic bezel Submariners, Rolex created a stunning all-green model which aficionados soon christened “Hulk”.
Gigandet’s Sea Ground series is a superb series of mechanical watches and they feature the Seiko NH35 movement, which is reliable, accurate and found in a lot of smaller brands. They do a similar all-green model that looks at a glance to be almost identical to the Rolex Hulk Submariner, but at less than £150!
Rolex 116719BLRO “Pepsi” GMT
BLRO stands for “BLeu ROuge” – blue and red – and so there is no surprise that it was dubbed the “Pepsi” when you look at the similarity to the Cola brand’s logo! The GMT is a Rolex staple, and the perfect tool if you need to track several time zones. It was originally designed for Pan Am airline pilots so they could keep an eye on the time at both their starting point and destination, but nowadays it’s also popular because of its colourful look.
There are lots of red and blue bezel watches, from Seiko’s Sea Urchin through to the new Q Timex reissue – but, for us, there’s only one choice to get a Pepsi watch on a budget and that’s the Parnis GMT – which can be had for less than £80 on eBay.
Rolex 116710BLNR “Batman” GMT
One of the problems with GMT watches is that the cheaper ones can be a bit of a pain to set. The Rolex GMT allows you to set the GMT hand in one-hour jumps, whereas the cheaper movements have a “sweeping” movement so can be tricky to align perfectly. If you go for an automatic movement, you have to do this rigmarole every time you want to wear the watch. The Stuhrling Original Batman GMT watch uses a quartz movement so – as long as you do not mind a quartz tick – you’ll only have to set it when the battery runs out!
Rolex 126711CHNR “Root Beer” GMT
The original red and black “Root Beer” Rolex remains one of the Holy Grails of watch collecting. After a lengthy absence from the market, Rolex reintroduced the colour scheme in 2018. It doesn’t come cheap – even if you can manage to get your name onto the Rolex waiting list – and so if you want the look right away then homage is probably the only route!
Who else but Parnis would produce a replica Rolex Root Beer GMT? Their version is between £80 and £150, depending on whether you want the two-tone rose gold bracelet or a simple jubilee, and from wrist-distance will be indistinguishable from the £15,000 Rolex to most onlookers.
What about the real thing?
If you want to buy a real Rolex, then why not try WatchNerd.com? WatchNerd aims to be the world’s go-to-source for watch enthusiasts to discover their perfect watch. Developed by watch lovers for watch lovers, it provides a smart, simple, and fun way to research the right watch for you. It’s a great place to do research, and their infographics are second-to-none!