Tag Archives: submariner

Ali Express Sub-a-Like for £31 – DECENT Replica or Timewaster?

We love testing watches here at Northern Watch Co magazine and this week we have been checking out the latest automatic to arrive from China, or possibly Singapore – hard to tell – in the shape of this sterile dial Rolex Sub look-a-likey.

First impressions;

Very well packaged in bubble wrap and then surrounded by a padded bubble bag, about the size of a large US style Coke can. The watch links and clasp were covered in sticky clear tape to prevent scratches and the blue tab on the crown needed some watch cleaner to remove the last bits.

Nothing protecting the crystal though.

There were two adjustable links on one side of the steel bracelet and three on the other. I neeed three links out to find the perfect fit on my wrist. The link pins are screwdown by the way, which is a quality touch I did not expect at this price.

Yes, the price. Just £31.56 including VAT and shipping – amazing.

Inside the movement sounds like the super-spinning DG variety, which you would expect for this money.

The DG is a copy of the Miyota automatic found in many Citizens, Accurists and countless microbrands over the last decade or so.

I haven’t bothered using my Rolex opening tool on the caseback to check it out, as the watch has been keeping good time for the last two days. Frankly, a DG movement photo isn’t going to be that exciting to look at.

Yep, you can wind it, or just shake it to get some reserve power in there.  Fully wound it ran for about 18 hours, which is not as good as a typical Seiko NH35/36 auto – but they cost the manufacturer a little bit more, so you pay £45-£65 or so for some of the Aliexpress watches that feature the Seiko engine.

Setting the date is easy, unscrew and pull the crown to the first position, and away you go. The second position sets the hands of course.

The clasp is nicely finished and closes with a healthy snap, plus it has a little foldover tab for security. The bezel is unidirectional and has orange numbers set into its ceramic surface. Lume is bright on the hands, not quite so bright on the hour markers.


There are a few sharp edges on the bracelet clasp. The crown needs a fair bit of pressure on the tube, so you really have to push in hard before trying to screw the crown down. You get used to it.

It would be great to have the option of paying a few pounds extra to have a brand name on the dial, even if it is a made up word, or perhaps just a logo graphic? Sharks, Rays n Turtles are kinda already spoken for, but maybe a marlin, or something ocean/dive related?

Just an idea, although personally I wouldn’t go diving wearing a £30 watch. It’s like the Bell helmet advert; if you have a ten dollar head, buy a ten dollar helmet.

VERDICT; Superb value for very little money. You won’t impress fellow watch nerds but you will get regular citizens doing a double take at your wrist, until you tell them, `yeah it’s a copy mate.’

Best plan these days, as you can get stabbed for a real Rolex.

Namoki Submariner Mod Is a Cool Twist on The Seiko SKX

We are big Seiko fans here so discovering this Seiko Mod homage to the mighty Submariner kinda made our day. Here’s the word from Namoki;

A Seiko SKX Submariner mod is a great way to tap into the style of a Submariner without having to deal with exorbitant Rolex prices, or their years-long waitlist just for the opportunity to purchase the watch. Furthermore, there’s a serious lack of aftermarket parts. Nobody’s modifying a $10,000 Rolex (I think…). Building your own custom SKX007 Submariner-style mod opens up the door to loads of options, as we supply a wide range of Seiko mod parts for such a build. With our NMK909 Submariner style case and mod parts, you can create a SKX007 Submariner mod that is true to your own vision, at a fraction of the price of a Rolex Submariner. In addition, you can forget about sky-high prices for service, as our Seiko Submariner case uses rock solid Seiko movements (like the NH36 movements that we sell – these guys don’t stop working!).

Making a SKX Submariner mod Your Own Way

Let’s face it – a SKX007 Submariner mod could be one of the most attractive Seiko mod ideas out there. Unlike many SKX mods, a SKX007 Submariner mod starts with a new case that uses standard SKX parts. You can use the old case for another project, or just buy all the parts you need without starting with a donor SKX. If you need to know all the parts you need to build a full watch from scratch, this checklist may come in handy.

We feature both steel and polished PVD Seiko submariner cases that make a great starting point for any skx submariner mod. Our NMK909 case takes Seiko OEM and aftermarket skx parts, so you don’t have to compromise your vision due to a lack of parts options. The classic Submariner look is easy to achieve, and we can set you up with the correct Mercedes handset, and Submariner style stainless steel bezel – but you aren’t limited to this style in the slightest.

By the way Namoki have modded Seiko models on their website from £277, (pictured) which is pretty fair value we reckon when you consider how much a battered Seiko dive model can go for on eBay. Just saying.


Will a Modded Rolex Ever Be Worth The Same As an Original?

I ponder the question after browsing the fabulous and occasionally gaudy designs on the Label Noir website, where customised skeleton dial Daytonas, super green Milgauss and tourbillion dial models all vie for watch collector cash. Yes, you can argue that a custom Rolex is uber-rare, much more so than a stock Submariner or Oyster Datejust perhaps. The tourbillon also has that unique extra claim in that Rolex do not make a tourbillon model. Probably never will.

But the garish rainbow colours on the Milgauss by Label Noir don’t do anything for me. In fact, I’d rather buy a classic Zenith El Primero rainbow edition, as for me, that has true authentic, pioneering credibility. The Zenith has some real heritage, whereas by contrast the Label Noir is a custom paint job on a Rolex classic. Maybe a Milgauss deserves a more Nikola Tesla, or 50s cold war type of style makeover, given its scientific heritage? Watch fashion is a fickle thing, so perhaps buying original examples of Rolex Subs, Daytonas or Milgauss models is the safe option.

It is safer as regards risking your hard earned cash, but then you miss out on the kudos of having something really different. Occasionally, custom makers like Label Noir, Titan, Bamford of London and others all get something spot on. The accumulated details add up to more than the donor parts, if that makes sense.

My fave Label Noir is the skeleton Daytona. It has that Meccano boyish fascination, all gears and cogs on show, it celebrates engineering for its own sake like a McClaren supercar. Would I buy a Daytona for 20 grand and then send it to Switzerland for a skeleton makeover? No. I’d customise a Hamilton Jazzmaster, a Tissot Seastar or a Raymond Weil Freelancer, any Raymond Weil in fact. Because these are all entry level Swiss watches with unremarkable movements inside them, mass produced and built to retail at a grand or so. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by creating your own Batman edtion Hamilton, or Kermit green Tissot.

But mess with the Daytona? You could be destroying the future value of a classic Rolex that may fetch over 50K at auction as part of your pension plan. Leave the crazy-ass stuff to Johnny Depp I say, just enjoy the chance to own a Rolex and make a few quid in the long run, because – apart from property – there aren’t many things you can buy where there is a realistic chance of actually getting your money back one day.

2020 Rolex Oyster: Are Offbeat Dial Colours The Smart Choice?

The Rolex watch market has its own rules, mainly unwritten and often propelled by rumours as much as real demand from collectors. It’s kinda like the stock market; lots of companies and rich guys are constantly hedging their bets to try and beat the next spike in demand, and that drives the price of the stock higher. Or lower if a new Rolex model appears and nobody wants the 2019 range.

Then you have people who essentially trade in Rolex futures. They have a client list, they know which client will pay roughy XXXX amount for their grail Rolex, and so they try to locate one. Generally dealers, from international authorised shops, to eBay traders, these guys have a vested interest in talking up the long term cash profit that MIGHT be achieved on historic Rolex models, as well as the modern stuff. So you’ll see You Tube videos, blogs, magazine features and so on bigging up Daytonas, Submariners, various GMTs, even the odd Explorer. If a Rolex has some kind of authentic celebrity or movie connection then that adds to its future value…generally. That may not apply if Bill Cosby or Jimmy Savile owned it.

We had a look around at the latest Rolex Oyster Perpetual prices, after the recent release of the new 36mm and 41mm models. The first thing to note is that demand is wayyyy stronger for the 41mm case sizes. No surprise. Next though, it was interesting to see that the yellow dial Oyster was being touted at just over £8000 by one dealer, which is about 4K up on the RRP. Maybe it’s time to think out of the box if you don’t want to wait for a Submariner or GMT model from the 2020 range?

Certainly the offbeat dial colours won’t atrract the same attention as green, black or champagne. People tend to be risk averse when it comes to investing in Rolex watches, because the safe play suits most collectors. But rare models eventually tend to go for big money, because there are low numbers available in say a decade, and some wealthy collectors would like a full set, kind of like cigarette cards  but with a 100K buy in price.


OK, I hear you, a 34mm case size is too girly nowadays, but consider the rarity factor here. The latest 34mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual has a brand new movement for 2020, in the shape of the Cal 2232. So this is a debut year, always worth bearing in mnd for future collector/auction value. It has a 55 hour power reserve and a Syloxi hairpsring inside, which looks very much like a traditional metal balance wheel assembly. I like that rather than the Parachrom balance spring Rolex movements, because although silicon is more efficient in terms of conserving energy from mainspring to second hand, for me, it lacks romance, craft, engineering kudos.

Just worth looking at this one, especially in Sunray Blue, which is arguably the most handsome of the Oyster 34 range imho. It has an understated elegance, lacking a day/date window, or any extra bling in the bezel. Bit boring perhaps, but for me a design classic that will never go out of fashion, which a vivid green Hulk might do.

There y’go, place your bets Rolex futures traders.

Titan Black Offers Bespoke Rolex Designs

Here’s a custom watch house we just discovered, but they have been around for about ten years; Titan Black has been producing amazing Rolex, AP, Patek and other luxury watches that are true one-off models. Famously, they designed the Chronolight Rolex for a Sheikh which has his name in illuminated script on the dial.

Illuminated, not Illuminati. Important to note that.

We also love their skeleton dial Rolex Daytona in rose gold. There are designs in vintage sepia, teal – all kinds of options.

OK, you might not be in charge of assets from London to Lahore, but if you can afford a Rolex Sub or Daytona and want something unique, there is a dashboard at Titan Black where you can customise it your way, and get a quote. It isn’t gonna be cheap, but then again, nothing Rolex related that’s really executed to a superlative standard is.

More info here.

Gardiner Houlgate Auction 21.10.20: Rolex, Ball, Omega & More

Gardiner Houlgate has another watch auction coming up and the star of the show is a 1961 Rolex Submariner, with the 3-6-9 dial, which is estimated to fetch over £150,000. It’s got the original box and paperwork too, which is very unusual for a 60s Rolex as many people simply chucked that stuff away back then.

UPDATED: The watch sold to a collector based in Hong Kong for £210,000 by the way!

Several watch collections are being sold at this auction, which suggests that some old collectors are thinking now is the time to cash on a lifetime’s collecting and relocate to a country like Sweden where the fun Police won’t arrest you for singing Boheamian Rhapsody.

A Rolex Oyster Perpetual with a starting price of £1500 is very fair and if you’re hankering after your first Rolex then that could be the one. Having said that, this model from 1978 is in need of a clean and service, judging from the photos. No box or papers either.

Other rare stuff? Bulova Accutron, which is working. Plus a couple of Derby Swissonic digital quartz models. Will the early quartz models ever achieve the prices that mechanicls do? Probably not, but they do have their fans and for a few hundred quid you could get into the game.

There are two Jaeger le Coultre models that caught our eye; an 18K Day-Date gold automatic with a starting bid of £720 is tempting and a bumper automatic for about the same money is also excellent value. Ball watches are growing in popularlity so it will be interesting to see how much the Engineer II and Fireman Ionosphere make. The Fireman has the full set of paperwork and box with it too, again starting bid of just over £700.

There are military watches, modern Omega, Zenith, TAG, IWC, vintage pocket watches and more. Online bidding only of course, no actual physical auction.

More details here.


Police Auction Includes Patek Perpetual, Nautilus, plus Rolex Sub & Datejust

Merseyside Police have seized luxury motors, including a Rolls Royce from various criminals and these are being auctioned off online – tomorrow, September 3rd.

The blaggers swag includes a rose gold Patek Philippe Calendar watch with a new retail value of £130,000. However there are no box and papers with it, so the actual value is probably something like 60K – where would you sell it without that verifiable history?

There are two more Pateks for sale, both minus box and paperwork, but a Nautilus is always going to attract some bidding action.

Other watches in the auction include a Rolex Submariner, plus Datejust. The Datejust has got box and papers, we estimate that will make about £4200, and we will guess £6000 on the Submariner, which looks beautiful but without paperwork is something of a gamble.

You can always get it serviced and verified that way, although that might cost another £500-£700 depending on which dealership you approach.

The 24-hour online auction will start on Thursday, September 3 from 2pm and will time-out at 2pm on Friday, September 4. Here’s the Wilsons auction site link.

New 2020 Rolex Submariner: Prepare To Join A Looong Waiting List

Rolex has launched the long awaited updated Submariner for 2020. The case size moves up slightly to 41mm, there’s a ceramic bezel insert and the bracelet also gets an upgrade. You can’t blame Rolex for not wanting to upset its loyal investors by changing a winning formula, so the look of the watch – date window, or no window – pretty much remains the same.

The big news is that the movement has been upgraded, so you now get a 70 hour power reserve, which is very useful. The bracelet gets the GlideLock system, so you have about 20mm of play that you as an owner can adjust, rather than take it to the dealership where you will be relieved of perhaps £65 for having a link removed.

There’s a new light blue, or teal coloured superlume on the markers too, which we think looks the business.

Prices start at just over £7600, but with extremely long waiting lists being fairly common at UK authorised dealers, the RRP is largely a minor detail when it comes to Submariners, especially green ones. Demand will exceed supply so expect to pay about nine or ten grand on the `flipper’ market – if you can find one.

Here’s some spec info from Rolex;

The Submariner’s rotatable bezel is a key functionality of the watch. Its engraved 60-minute graduations allow a diver to accurately and safely monitor diving time and decompression stops. Manufactured by Rolex from a hard, corrosion-resistant ceramic, the Cerachrom bezel insert is virtually scratchproof. A luminescent capsule on the zero marker ensures legibility, no matter how dark the environment. The bezel’s knurled edge is carefully designed to offer excellent grip under water, even with gloves.

new-submariner black blue bezel

A yellow Rolesor version (combining Oystersteel and 18 ct yellow gold) of the Submariner Date presents a royal blue dial with a rotatable bezel and a blue Cerachrom insert.

new-submariner gold blue dial

Two versions of the Submariner Date, one in Oystersteel and the other in 18ct white gold, bring original colour combinations, with the dial and Cerachrom insert in different hues. The first watch blends a black dial with a green bezel, while the second proposes a black dial and a blue bezel.


Real vs Fake Rolex? Show and Tell

In my trade I get to see plenty of watches, including a few Rolex models, arguably the most faked watch brand in the world. Here are some typical differences between the real deal and a very nice replica.

Check the Rolex crown on the bracelet carefully, as this often where fakers skimp on machine tools, precise finishing and accurate parts design.

The Bracelet.

Don’t start by examining the dial because dials are easy to manufacture by comparison to expensive bracelets. The metal should feel ultra smooth, polished and flawless – no rough edges anywhere. The crown should feel solid, beautifully finished too.

Feel your way around the links; are they loose, do any pins fail to sit totally flush in the links? How does the Rolex swirl look in the folding clasp? Dead straight and evenly etched, or just a bit off somehow?

Older Rolex models from about 16-17 years ago or prior to that weren’t assembled with Uber precision as regards bracelet links, plus you have two decades or more of owner wear. So expect sideways ‘play’ on 1990s Rolex watch links. Modern models are taut, even, incredibly flush fitting by comparison.

Test the clasp, put it on. Does the clasp click shut perfectly? On gold bracelets it’s worth looking closely with a loupe because you may see gold plating or rolled gold wearing off.

Again check the crown is spot-on, not too flat with the prongs at the wrong angle. The engraving should be perfect, not a laser printed effort.

Dial and Crystal

On more recent Rolex models the sapphire crystal has the crown emblem etched in, very faint, but visible with a loupe. Some fakes have this laser printed on as well, so be careful, plus older Rolex watches pre 2001 don’t have the crown crystal.

Check the white inlay on each baton – is it perfect? Likewise every letter on the dial should be free from bleed, or fuzzy edges. Note the wide spacing of Datejust and close lettering on Oyster Perpetual – the two shouldn’t have matching typeface letter spacing.

Now check the dial, assuming the bracelet has passed the feel n shut test of course. Shake the watch gently a few times and the automatic movement should begin to move the second hand. Don’t assume a smooth second hand sweep indicates a genuine Rolex because a Miyota auto inside an Accurist looks just as smooth frankly.

Look closely at the numbers or baton markers on the dial. Are the edges crisp, clean, symmetrical? If there’s a magnification window over the date is that 100 percent true and square?

Use the loupe to read the script on the dial, all of it. You’re searching for a thing typographers used to call ‘bleed’ in the days of hot metal printing, a slightly fuzzy edge to a letter for example.

Run your fingertip over the bezel around the dial and if it’s a dive watch click it around gently. Listen, I mean really listen; gauge the slickness, the precision – Rolex don’t let anything out that isn’t close to perfect in its operation.

Ditto winding crown, although it’s fair to say owners can cause problems with screw down crowns and strip the thread.

When you unscrew the crown it should spring neatly into the winding position. One click further out for the date, second click to move the hands. Push it in again and wind the watch, slowly. Does it feel super smooth, precise and build tension gradually after 15-20 turns? Then carefully screw the crown down, making sure it is dead true in terms of alignment to the case.

Finally, get a professional to open the case and check the movement number. Plus check it’s working perfectly: steady beat, adjusted correctly, no swapped parts – it can happen.

There’s no substitute for this. No assuming that the genuine case and bracelet has the correct Calibre movement. People lie, owners wreck a movement and then get a watchmaker to do a swap, especially on older Rolexes, so always get a look inside before spending thousands.

Box and Paperwork

Easier to fake than the watch. Typical flaws include an incorrect numeral 1 on the warranty cards, flimsy fake tags or spelling/grammar errors within the owners manual.

You should be able to detect a fake from the quality of the bracelet, the dial in detail, plus the winding action, clasp closure etc. Then you had the watch opened by a watchmaker right? But if you aren’t quite sure about the watch then a little giveaway in the paperwork can be the prompt you need to walk away from the deal.

Be lucky 👍