Panerai, an Italian watchmaker that has been around since 1860, is known for its two iconic watches: the Radiomir and Luminor. These two iconic models are known for their unique designs and large sizes.
The Panerai Radiomir was patented in France in 1916. The watch is made of radium-based powder that gives the watch luminosity and performs excellently underwater. The first official prototype was introduced in 1936, which was made for the Royal Italian Navy. The Radiomir continued to evolve in the years that followed, eventually making it one of the most iconic dive watches of all time.
The Radiomir design has changed over the years, but it retained many features from the prototype, like a large cushion-shaped steel case (a cushion case watch has a square-shaped case with soft, rounded corners), a hand-wound mechanical movement, and luminescent numeral and index markers. It also continues to have a water-resistant strap that fits well over a diving suit.
In 1949, Panerai patented the Luminor, a Tritium-based (hydrogen isotope) watch. This model has a crown-protecting bridge, with reinforced wire lugs. Like the Radiomir, this model became popular and is considered as one of today’s best diving and sports watches.
The Panerai collection is composed of different styles and models (which include the Luminor, Marina Luminor, and Luminor 1950), but all models have a similar look, with the lugs attached to the stainless steel case.
Read more about the brand’s history, as well as some of their most popular models on this Bob’s Watches page.
Both of these watches cost thousands. If you’re looking for a watch that has a similar look but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, here are some of the best options you can consider.
- 1 Best Affordable Panerai Luminor & Radiomir Alternatives
- 1.1 Megir Quartz Sports Chronograph
- 1.2 Peugeot Men’s Sports Watch 2056RBR
- 1.3 Bulova Quartz 96B231 Chronograph
- 1.4 Seiko Men’s SNKN37 Automatic
- 1.5 Hugo Boss Cape Town Quartz 1550028
- 1.6 Rocos R0139 Classic Automatic Watch
- 1.7 Seiko Recraft SNKM97 Automatic
- 1.8 Spinnaker Hull Riviera (SP-5072-04)
- 1.9 Casio Oceanus OC-108
- 1.10 Citizen Men’s NB1031-53L
- 1.11 Bell & Ross BR-01 92
Best Affordable Panerai Luminor & Radiomir Alternatives
Megir Quartz Sports Chronograph
This watch could be considered a replica of a Panerai model. Like the Luminor watches, the Megir Sports Chronograph has a stainless steel square shape, as well the iconic crown guard detail.
This 44mm quartz watch has a leather strap, luminescent markers, and a date window between 4 and 6 o’clock. Another model that has the same Luminor look is the Megir Low-Fly Chrono Army Chronograph, which has features such as a stopwatch and calendar.
Megir watches are affordable (you can get one for $20 or less), the reviews on quality aren’t always very good. If you’re after the look, however, this is a brand that you can consider.
Peugeot Men’s Sports Watch 2056RBR
This quartz watch by Peugeot is a 44mm model with a similar crown guard design as the Panerai Luminor. The gold-tone dial has multifunction features of day, date, and military time; and index markers (except the 12 o’clock Arabic mark).
The watch movement of this model is manufactured by Seiko and has a water resistance of 10m.
Bulova Quartz 96B231 Chronograph
The Bulova Quartz 96B231 is a 43mm stainless steel watch with chronograph functions. If you’re looking for a watch with a similar look to the Panerai Radiomir, this is a good brand to check out.
The stainless steel case has a beige dial with Arabic numeral markers and a black leather strap with a tang buckle. The watch has a screw-down crown and water resistance of up to 100m. This also has a stopwatch (1/10 of a second subdial is at 3 o’clock).
If you’re looking for a non-chronograph watch with a similar look, there’s also the Bulova Precisionist 96B257, a 43mm watch with a stainless steel case, analog display, and luminous hand and index markers.
Seiko Men’s SNKN37 Automatic
This is another Seiko model that has a similar look to Panerai watches. The Seiko Men’s SNKN37, which is more affordable than the Seiko SNKM97 we featured above, is also a 43.5mm watch that has the same case shape. This automatic model, which has an automatic, self-winding movement, has a combination of Arabic and index markers, with a day/date window at 3 o’clock.
Also off Seiko’s Recraft line, this model has both a rugged and retro look, with a distressed leather strap and a striking sunburst blue dial that will look good with both casual and formal wear.
Like the Recraft SNKM97, this has also many good reviews by customers, with many praising the affordability, accurate movement, and sleek look. The watch is not luminous, but thanks to the big dial and markers, the watch remains legible.
Hugo Boss Cape Town Quartz 1550028
Fashion brand Hugo Boss has a small collection of watches to go with its men’s clothing and shoes.
The Hugo Boss Cape Town is a large (46mm) stainless steel quartz watch that has a sporty look—it has a cushion-style dial, a textured black dial, and a full-grained leather strap with a pin buckle.
The black dial has white index markers, semi-skeleton hands, and a durable mineral crystal that protects the dial from scratches. There are three subdials, and the water resistance is up to 50m.
A more formal model is this 46mm quartz model with a stainless steel case and Arabic (3, 6, and 9 o’clock) and index markers.
Rocos R0139 Classic Automatic Watch
This watch by watch company Rocos is an analog model with an automatic movement. If this is the first time that you’re reading about the brand, you can check out their watches here.
The Rocos R0139 is a 40mm sports octagonal watch with a horizontal-embossed dial, with baton hands and index markers. The case and band are made of stainless steel, with a fold-over clasp equipped with a push-button safety. The water resistance is up to 30m.
Since the brand is not very well known, there are online discussions about the company. According to this Watchuseek thread, Rocos watches are designed in Ireland, with contact information appearing to be based in China, which means that the watches could be assembled there too.
Seiko Recraft SNKM97 Automatic
Seiko, a brand well-known for its affordable and high quality, has wide collections of both quartz and automatic models. The Seiko Recraft (a collection of vintage-inspired watches) is a model with a reliable movement that has a similar look to the Panerai Radiomir but is more affordable.
The Seiko Recraft SNKM97 Automatic watch is a handsome timepiece with a 43.5mm case and a black dial with splashes of green (sunburst dial) and gold (for the hour markers). There is a day/date window at 3 o’clock.
This watch is powered by the Seiko 7S26 automatic movement and has a power reserve of up to 42 hours. The water resistance is up to 50m. This model also has a scratch-resistant hardlex crystal and an exhibition case back.
Spinnaker Hull Riviera (SP-5072-04)
Spinnaker has a number of watches that have a similar look to Panerai’s Luminor and Radiomir models. One of these is the Spinnaker Hull Riviera (SP-5072-04), a 42mm automatic watch with a rose gold stainless steel case, and a genuine leather strap. The hand-stitched strap is brown genuine leather with a tang buckle.
The dial has index markers and a date window at 3 o’clock. The watch is powered by the Seiko TMI NH35 Automatic movement and has water resistance to 100m.
Another good alternative is the Spinnaker Hull Men’s Automatic watch, which has a combination of large and bold Arabic numeral (12, 3, 6, and 9) and index markers. This model has luminous hour and minute hands and has a date window between 4 and 5 o’clock.
Casio Oceanus OC-108
The Casio Oceanus OC-108 has a cushion dial and leather band, making it an excellent Panerai alternative. This watch is one of the first releases of the Japanese brand’s Oceanus line, and a well-known Panerai homage watch among enthusiasts (it’s also often compared to a Tag Heuer).
You can read more about a watch in this comprehensive review.
The watch has a 40mm stainless steel case and a sapphire crystal. This quartz model has a leather strap, and has a combination of index and Arabic markers. This watch is no longer in production and could be considered rare, but there are a number of them for sale online, including many models on eBay the last time we checked.
Citizen Men’s NB1031-53L
This Citizen stainless steel mechanical watch is a model off the brand’s Grand Touring Sport collection. This 44mm model has a dual-coated and anti-reflective sapphire crystal, as well as a sapphire crystal exhibition case back. The case and bracelet are made of stainless steel with a one-way rotating elapsed-time bezel, three hands, and a date window at 3 o’clock.
This has a similar robust look as the Panerai models, and both have a similar shape and crown guard designs.
The Citizen NB1031-53L is powered by a 9012 exclusive automatic movement, with a power reserve of up to 42 hours. You can read more about the brand in our Citizen Watch Review here.
Bell & Ross BR-01 92
Panerai and Bell & Ross are two brands that are often compared, as they are both luxury watches that have unique-shaped large dials. This Watchuseek discussion, for instance, talks about a Panerai Luminor and a Bell & Ross BR-01 92.
Bell & Ross watches also cost thousands of dollars but has other models that are relatively more affordable than Panerai watches. One of these is a model of the Bell & Ross Aviation line—the Bell & Ross Aviation BR0394 Golden Heritage watch (Amazon).
This mechanical automatic watch has the iconic Bell & Ross square dial design and a chronograph feature with 60-second and 30-minute accumulators. The brown dial has a golden applique index and Arabic (at 12 and 6 o’clock) markers and gold hands. The strap is a gold calfskin with a steel pin buckle. The water resistance is up to 100m.