The topic of homage watches has always been somewhat of a staple in the TBWS space. Both Kaz and I (and our listeners) seem fascinated by them. Whether it’s the potential value you might find, or the strong and passionate discourse surrounding these watches, analyzing a good homage will almost always prove to be an exciting venture. That’s part of the reason I sought out to acquire two different WMT Royal Marine dive watches to really pick apart – much in the same way that Kaz did with a very, very different homage watch back in 2019.
With the exception of only the most obsessive group of watch-collecting enthusiasts, I think it’s pretty safe to say that WMT is not generally a well-known brand. I know of them, but even I don’t know much about them. From what I gather, the brand is based in Hong Kong, operates a pretty cool watch customization side of their site, and offers very limited runs that they label as either Heritage, Military, or Collaboration. I’ve seen WMT Watch appearances span media spaces ranging from small YouTube channels to HYPEBEAST. But that’s it. You now officially know as much as I did before deciding to drop some cash on the WMT Royal Navy Aged Edition and the Royal Marine “Subdiver” you see here.
If you didn’t already notice, both of these watches aim to imitate some very unobtainable four-digit Rolex references and the case design, look, and feel are all hallmarks of this. The Royal Navy Aged Edition, for example, is clearly a tribute to a watch that I’ll never stop talking about – the Rolex Submariner 5517 mil-sub. The Subdiver on the other hand, nails the look of a COMEX-branded 5512 Submariner. Because of this, both cases measure 39.5mm in diameter, around 47mm lug-to-lug, and 14.8mm in thickness. Beveling, polishing, and brushed surfaces are all identical and I wouldn’t be surprised if these are both just the same, off-the-shelf case.
Drilled lugs on both watches may be another attractive feature for some, but offering fixed lugs on the Royal Navy version would’ve made for a real treat. Each watch is fitted with a friction fit elapsed time bezel, with the Subdiver flaunting a well-done, aged ‘ghost’ insert. I’m not sure what WMT does to achieve this, but it doesn’t look cheesy in the slightest. Finally, you get 100m of water resistance, which I will probably never test. You’ll be fine, I’m sure. But I wish I knew more about WMT’s processes and how they can actually back this claim. Oh, and each watch comes with a thick acrylic crystal to complete the look.
Any guitar players out there remember the earlier Fender Road Worn Series? The dials on both of these watches go for the same kind of thing – with a sort of light grey/black matte look and aged hands and hour markers. Now, with both watches coming in well under $1,000, I didn’t have high expectations when it came to the faux aging. But again, without knowing what sort of process they use, I’m glad to say that the color tones and the extent of the aging are surprisingly well done. There is some variation in darkness when you look at the coloring between the dial markers and hands but that’s my only issue with the overall look.
Dial text and the WMT logo/wordmark are also sharp – with each watch featuring some cool touches that call back to the Rolex models. Of course, you get the circle-T on the Royal Navy (paired with crisp sword hands) and that big, bold white block with “Subdiver” on the inside, again calling back to the old COMEX dials. Now I have to point out that lume, on both of these watches, is abysmal. Even when charged, the luminance is faint and simply doesn’t last. On top of that, WMT doesn’t even share what formula they’re using so I can’t really tell if it’s poor application or an inferior formula.
The WMT Royal Marine Subdiver comes on an Oyster-style bracelet that seems to be a copy of the Rolex 93150. Again, I found it incredibly surprising to interact with, since it feels more high-quality than what you’d actually get with an older Rolex. It tapers nicely from 20mm to 16mm and when you consider the case dimensions I spoke about earlier, the watch wears very comfortably. Another surprise – screw links on this one! Together with multiple micro-adjust points, the bracelet was easy to size and get on the wrist in no time.
The WMT Royal Navy Aged Edition simply came with a generic, WMT-branded Phoenix clone. It is incredibly short and forgettable. Honestly, I wear this watch on a CWC NATO strap most of the time and the look is spot-on. I guess I could swap in the Subdiver’s bracelet, but this watch does such a good job of emulating an old 5517, that it just begs to be kept on a nylon NATO. Again, I’m still wishing for fixed lugs but this ain’t bad either.
Each version of the WMT Royal Marine I have comes with the generic Seiko NH35 movement. While I haven’t put either of them on a timegraph or anything, the Subdiver looks to be deviating around +2 seconds/day at a glance, and the Royal Navy Edition behaves similarly. Here’s where pricing gets a little hairy though. Both watches come in at $550, which is admittedly a little steep for this kind of movement. However, I suppose the reliability and longterm serviceability still make this a win. Overall, I’m indifferent about the movement choice, since you’re really paying for the look of these watches rather than anything else. I just need them to keep time and the NH35 has just never given me any issues.
With their customization services, nostalgic limited releases, and homage accuracy, I think WMT makes for one of the better options if you’re dead set on snagging a watch that’s all about a very specific, vintage look. Like I mentioned before, I think what you’re really paying for is the aging process and those sweet dimensions. I’ll also say this. The Royal Navy Aged Edition came with a poorly stamped crown, which WMT quickly rectified after a simple email and some seriously fast international shipping. I’ve gotta give them props for that since support and shipping were on par with what I’ve experience with some other brands here in the USA.
Now, as I figure out if I’ll be keeping both of these, I’ll continue to recommend WMT’s limited pre-builds and watch customizer. Even with all the quirks and a couple downsides, the watches are just plain fun and I can admit that I’ve been completely surprised by this little Hong Kong-based brand.
Michael Peñate is an American writer, photographer, and podcaster based in Seattle, Washington. His work typically focuses on the passage of time and the tools we use to connect with that very journey. From aviation to music and travel, his interests span a multitude of disciplines that often intersect with the world of watches – and the obsessive culture behind collecting them.