Ben's Watch Club - Exploring Affordable Watches
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15 Budget-Friendly Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Alternatives For Every Wrist

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Generally considered to be the first luxury sports watch, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is a bold watch with a striking octagonal design and a great history. Initially designed in a last-ditch attempt to save the brand amid the quartz crisis, the brand introduced the radical Royal Oak in 1972; aiming to seize a gap in the market. It’s fair to say this approach worked, with the watch now yielding a legendary status and a price tag to match.

If you’re not willing to splash out tens of thousands of pounds for a genuine one, then you’re in the right place. I’ve handpicked a selection of watches that are aesthetically very similar and make for great affordable Audemars Piguet Royal Oak alternatives, for those on a budget.

Timex Essex Avenue

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Timex has been killing the low-cost sports watch game recently; highlighted by the tremendous sales performance of their Q-Timex models. Here’s one that slipped under the radar though. The ‘Essex Avenue’ lineup appears to be a fresh take on the angular Royal Oak design. The 44mm variant has a very similar Octagonal bezel, along with a case structure that resembles something out of an Iron Man movie. True, this watch lacks a fully integrated bracelet, as well as the textured dial from the original. However, it is significantly less expensive, at well under £100 in the UK.

While it’s tremendously easy to read, thanks to the high-contrast dial, it is only constructed of low-lead brass, which is not as durable as stainless steel.

For those with smaller wrists, there’s an even more stylish 40mm variant, which is presented in a matte-black finish. Not only does this one look cool, but it’s also extremely slim at just 8mm in thickness, meaning it wears very flat to the wrist; perfect for slipping under long sleeves. Unfortunately, this model does utilise the same material as the latter, so it won’t be winning any prices for scratch-resistance. Nevertheless, with a hardy Timex movement inside, it will likely be ticking for many years to come.

 

Casio ‘CasiOak’ GA2100

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Likely the most popular budget Audemars Piquet Royal Oak alternative, the Casio GA2100 (colloquially named the ‘CasiOak’) has gained a cult following.

It’s unclear whether this G-Shock was designed with the Audemars Piguet in mind, however, fans of the brand were quick to jump on the bandwagon; as was AliExpress! With rapid speed, the Chinese wholesaler was flooded with modification kits to turn this Octagonal resin watch into a true analogue-digital CasiOak (check it out on AliExpress here). For an additional £50, you get the full 316L stainless steel shell; including a bracelet that looks just like the original.

Of course, the dial itself is rather different, though peoples love for the Casio brand has confirmed this watch’s spot on this list. This one is worth a look at if you’ve got a big wrist and are looking for a commanding watch to suit it. At 46mm, this is not subtle in the slightest; but could look great as a streetwear option.

Casio EFR-S108D-1AVUEF

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Arguably a superior ‘CasiOak’ for most wrist sizes and my favourite option on this list, the Casio Edifice EFR-S108D is a little-known gem that is impressive both visually and technically.

The spec sheet alone is great, with sapphire crystal, 100m of water resistance and full-steel construction for under £100. 

It doesn’t stop there though. As with many other Edifice watches, the case finishing is remarkably precise for the price, with the vertical brushing closely resembling that on the Royal Oak despite the cost difference. The bezel looks extremely similar to the AP, with the screws shifted towards the lugs, rather than directly onto the bezel itself; whilst the case does have slight bulges, akin to a Patek Nautilus, but much more subtle. It also has an integrated bracelet and an angular overall shape that looks very modern.

This model is very wearable compared to the G-Shock, with a 38mm diameter, 8mm thickness and a mere 50mm lug to lug (including the protruding end links). This makes it viable for those with skinny and average wrist sizes, unlike other watches on this list.

I’ve owned this model for several months now and it still looks just as good as the day I received it. It’s a testament to the quality of Casio watches.

 

Casio Edifice EFR-S107L-1AVUEF

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The Casio Edifice EFR-S107L is very similar to the EFR-S108D, but is slightly wider and has a more standardised bracelet, which is interchangeable.

Dimensions include a 41mm diameter, 8.6mm thickness and a 47.5mm lug to lug. Despite the shorter lug to lug, it does feel more substantial on-wrist than the S108D, though will give long sleeves no issues as it still sits very flush.

Along with the turquoise highlights and carbon-like dial texture, this really is an attractive and practical watch that more people need to know about! While the brushed bezel is circular, rather than Octagonal, it does feature 4 screws for added interest, along with a carbon-textured dial and an interesting array of indices.

Overall, it’s not quite as Royal-Oak-like as the previous Casio, but I think it could be a better-looking watch. Once again, the level of finishing is pretty staggering for the price; it’s just a shame Casio doesn’t offer any mechanical watches as I’d love to see them take a crack at it.

Maurice Lacroix Aikon

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One of the most expensive alternatives on this list, you could expect to pay four figures for this Swiss-Made Maurice Lacroix Aikon. Nevertheless, this is still around ten times less than the original Audemars Piguet, so is absolutely worthy of a slot on this list.

A glance at the Aikon instantly invokes thoughts of that classic 70’s sports watch, with the same guilloche dial and a less-than-original integrated bracelet. Even the handset is almost a clone of the Audemars Piguet, though there are some clear differences.

First up, the bezel is circular and the signature screws have been replaced with high-polish strips. The crown is also more prominent, likely a nod to this watch’s aquatic capabilities, as it houses the best water resistance on this list, at a strong 200m. This makes it more than suitable for diving, should that be on your agenda.

Of course, you’re paying a premium for the Swiss manufacturing, though some of the benefits do show themselves including exemplary case brushing that rivals that on the AP. You can grab this watch in either 39mm or 42mm sizes, with an impressive Sellita SW200 automatic movement.

Cadisen Royal Oak

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If you’re looking for a copy and paste job, where you can get a near-identical design to the original AP Royal Oak for a fraction of the price, Aliexpress is the place to go. Unusual brands like Cadisen make their money by closely imitating the designs of famous watches; with the distinction from counterfeit watches being the lack of a fake logo on the dial.

While these watches have a completely unoriginal design, some of them have surprisingly good specifications and build quality. I’ve had hands-on experience with the Cadisen Royal Oak rip-off and I was very surprised with the weight when I unboxed it. This model features full steel construction, along with a Seiko automatic movement for a very competitive price.

Of course, the level of finishing isn’t nearly as good as the real Audemars Piguet; but in terms of pure visual similarity, this is about as close as you can get.

Citizen Royal Oak BM8430-59EE

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One of the most popular features of Citizen watches is their Eco-Drive technology, now present in over 80% of their pieces. This solar-powered system allows the battery to be recharged by light, which removes waste and the need for regular battery changes. Surprisingly, Citizen makes a cool Royal Oak alternative incorporating this technology, which is also perfect for slim wrists.

The 37mm BM8430-59EE has a distinctive 12-sided bezel, which harkens back to the angled nature of the Royal Oak. The baton-like handset is also very similar, though this model features a predominantly polished finish throughout.

The dial is quite different, however, with a strong sunburst effect present and an absence of any crosshatch texturing.

Visually, this Citizen is probably the least similar to the Royal Oak on this list, but has some brilliant functionality, along with 100m of water resistance, so it had to take a place. Us skinny-wristed beings need some options too, you know!

Bulova Royal Oak

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A highly-sought-after homage, the Bulova Royal Oak was first released in the late 1970s. According to legend, the original Royal Oak creator Gerald Genta originally pitched the sporty design to Bulova, who rejected it, forcing Genta to take the design to Audemars Piguet; hence, the AP Royal Oak was born. While this may sound fantastical, there is no real evidence to support this mythical tale. Perhaps it is being pushed by those attempting to sell their used models for a higher price?

Either way, this is a great-looking automatic watch, with an automatic movement and a sleeker take on the Royal Oak design; with a narrower bezel and a finer crosshatch dial.

While this is the best quality watch on the list and also the one that holds the best resale value, the big challenge is tracking one down. Due to the insanely high demand, these Bulova’s are snapped up at a rapid pace. They do also make quartz versions of this watch, which appear to be even thinner and slightly easier to obtain; so keep your eyes peeled!


Bulova 98D103 ‘Marine Star’

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A Bulova ‘Royal Oak’ that you can actually get your hands on. This newer 98D103 ‘Marine Star’ is a clear nod to the original, but with some added bling touches. The main similarities include a very comparable handset, an integrated bracelet and an angular case shape. Not for those after an understated aesthetic, this one boasts faux diamond accents at each hour, along with a black bold outline to the bezel, to draw peoples focus to that dial.

For around £300, the price is high for a quartz watch, especially considering the basic mineral crystal. However, the watch does look more like a luxury timepiece than most options on this list and it does have serviceable water resistance, at 100m and full stainless steel construction. Given Bulovas positive reputation, you’ll more than likely be able to salvage most of your money back if you decide to resell at some point too.

D1 Milano ATRJ02

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D1 Milano is a sports watch brand whose entire repertoire is heavily inspired by the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (and I suspect to a lesser extent the Patek Philippe Nautilus). They make a large variety of variants in several different sizes, meaning there is something to suit almost any wrist out there.

On paper, these watches don’t present as good value as the likes of the Casio models mentioned previously; which have very similar construction. Nevertheless, these do have improved finishing, to the extent where these could easily be perceived as luxury watches by non-watch people.

One of their best offerings is the ‘ultra-thin’ range, which offers both 40mm and 38mm watches in 6mm thicknesses. These designs modernise the Royal Oak design even further, with high-shine chamfered edges and a screwless bezel.

D1 Milano offers cases constructed from a wide variety of materials, so you can select one that suits your preferences.

D1 Milano Atlas

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Prefer mechanical watches? Well, at the cost of the slimness, you can grab yourself one of the D1 Milano automatic watches, which boast Seiko automatic movements. My personal favourite is the ‘Atlas’, which showcases a lovely bright blue dial with orange accents. For the additional markup, you thankfully do get sapphire crystal with a blue anti-reflective coating that looks very impressive in direct sunlight.

Alternatively, some skeletonised models house the NH70a movement, which is designed for such cases. These mechanised offerings all come in with a 41.5mm diameter, which closely matches the dimensions of modern Royal Oaks.

Sure, they’re pricey, but they do look stunning!

Concord Mariner SG

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If you’re willing to tread the waters of the vintage watch market, then you could be in for a surprise. The Concord Watch Company, of Swiss origins, used to produce a model known as the Concord Mariner SG. This brand was incredibly popular through the 1980s and early 1990s, retailing for more than entry-level Rolexes at one point, yet has since fallen out of favour.

Despite the name, the Mariner series are not proper dive watches; more so sports watches for general purpose usage. The SG version is clearly a rip off of the Audemars Piguet, with a cloned design, aside from the bracelet. Typically, these Mariners are smaller and thinner than the AP though, meaning they could work well for women or guys with thinner wrists. As many of these incorporate gold in their construction, they have held their value rather well to this day, with many selling for close to the £1000 mark or more. Unlike some of the other rare watches featured on the list, this one thankfully appears to be more readily available from preowned dealers.

Nowadays, Concord watches is a part of the divisive Movado group and does produce some more modern Audemars Piguet Royal Oak homages. Nevertheless, I think the vintage models are more similar to the original and far classier too.

Girard-Perregaux Laureato

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If you’re after an affordable alternative, you might want to check some of the other options, as this Girard-Perregaux isn’t far off the price of a Royal Oak itself! This model is on the list for those of you who have the cash to spend but are looking for something that has an ever-so-slightly different look.

The first Laureato hit the market in 1975, just three years after the Royal Oak; making it the oldest watch on this list. With modern versions of both side by side, there are definite similarities, including the handset, dial texture, case shape and indexes. However, there are a couple of things that do set it apart.

The two-stage bezel includes a polished ring section, beneath the Octagonal upper. Additionally, the sloping lugs are more curvaceous than the steep and sharp ones present on the Audemars Piguet. This makes the Laureato look slightly less blocky, despite coming in several equally large sizes. Indeed, this model comes in 44mm and 42mm sizes, akin to many AP watches, though interestingly has 38mm and 34mm variants too, which accommodate those looking for a more modest aesthetic.

I’ll let you make your mind up on whether this watch is simply a ‘poor man’s Royal Oak’, as some people have coined it.

Casio Beside BEM-SL100d-5A

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One of the most elusive affordable watches of all time, the Casio Beside BEM-SL100D-5A is surprisingly difficult to hunt down, considering it originally retailed for under £100. Often labelled as the ‘most expensive-looking Casio’, this stunner has a particularly classy marble-like dial that was produced in a large range of colours; including a brown dial that actually looks good for once!

According to my research, this model was first launched back in 2012, but saw no marketing effort and consequently was only discovered by the online watch community in around 2018; by which time this watch’s days were numbered. Unfortunately, Casio pulled the plug on a very pretty watch, rendering it near-unobtainable thereafter.

Aside from the dial, this has a very attractive circular bezel and an integrated bracelet that both feature the same brushing style as the original Royal Oak.

As you’d expect from Casio, this one features a quartz movement and a simple mineral crystal, alongside the steel case. It’s also only 3bar water-resistant, so isn’t well-suited to aquatic ventures. However, should you find one, it might be worth pulling the trigger just for the looks alone. Happy hunting!



Festina F16757

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Festina is an unusual brand, whose history is surprisingly interesting. I previously covered how their brand was linked to cycling’s biggest scandal ever. Different ranges of Festina watches are manufactured in different parts of the world, so it’s difficult to accurately pinpoint where this F16757 originates from. Nevertheless, the build quality is really nice, with full steel construction and a fully functional chronograph movement for under £80 in the UK.

The comparison to the Royal Oak is evident, despite the inclusion of the three subdials and pushers. It houses a decagonal bezel, which foregoes any screws, in favour of lasered Roman numerals at each third hour.

While the 41mm case size might have you believe the watch should suit average wrist sizes, please be aware that the bracelet features inflexible end links, meaning the effective lug to lug size is substantially increased. As such, I’d only recommend this to people with large wrists; ideally 7 inches (18cm) and over. You could try it with smaller wrists, though it may not look in proportion.