At a glance, Invicta watches are often mistaken for Rolexes. On closer inspection the differences are more apparent, yet they still have an eerie amount of shared qualities that beg some questions: does Rolex own Invicta? Are they allowed to copy their designs? What’s the difference between the famous Rolex Submariner and the ultra-affordable Invicta Pro Diver 8926OB? Let’s find out.
If you’re interested in finding the best Invicta watches on the market, check out our write-up in the linked article.
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Does Rolex own Invicta?
No, Rolex and Invicta are two separate companies.
Rolex was founded in 1905, and today is owned by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, a private family trust. They also own Tudor (a subsidiary of Rolex), but no other watch brands.
Invicta was originally founded in 1837, and later re-established in 1991 as the Invicta Watch Group. They own Glycine, Technomarine, and S. Coifman. They are not owned by Rolex in any way.
The confusion as to ownership likely stems from the fact that Invicta is one of the largest affordable watch companies, and their best-selling watch, the Invicta Pro Diver, has a lot of resemblances to Rolex’s most popular watch – the Rolex Submariner. While the designs are very similar, they also bear many crucial differences which explain the 100x price differential.
Invicta and Rolex are fundamentally different companies and brands, serving vastly different purposes and markets. On the one hand, Rolex is the quintessential luxury brand. Today their focus is on providing an exclusive product bolstered by over $50 million in annual marketing all with the message “luxury and exclusivity.”
They follow up this effort by increasing their prices each year, as well as limiting the availability of their watches; some models have a 10+ year wait-list. None of this speaks to the quality of the brand, which isn’t much better than other entry-level Swiss brands (though much higher than Invicta).
On the other hand, Invicta has the opposite strategy – instead of raising prices as high as possible and limiting the number of buyers, Invicta makes their watches as affordable as possible, and as widely-available as possible.
They can be found in Macy’s, Kohl’s, Walmart, and Amazon. For this reason, people scoff at Invicta and praise Rolex, but their attitudes do not speak to objective quality, but subjective impressions based on marketing materials from both brands.
Fundamentally, the brands serve two different customers. Rolex serves ultra-wealthy oligarchs, technocrats, millionaires, and celebrities – the top 1% of wealth owners, and the occasional infatuated watch hobbyist who saved for 15 years (they go on the waitlist while the elite skip the list, of course).
Invicta is for the remaining 99% of the population who can’t afford to drop $10,000 on a submariner like it was an extra cup of coffee. It’s for people who need a functional and aesthetic time-telling device rather than a status symbol. However, in borrowing from the Rolex designs, some of the status benefits of Rolex are also conferred onto Invicta.
Why does Invicta look like Rolex?
Some Invicta watches look just like Rolex watches. In fact, many brands look like Rolex watches. The reason for this is that long ago Rolex came up with many beautiful original designs, which are considered classics today.
Other brands noticed what was selling well, and once the design patent expired, they were free to copy the styles. Today, watches that attempt a 100% copy are known as illegal replicas.
Watches that borrow many or most of the design elements while changing a few aspects are known as “homages.” Sometimes it’s a fine line whether a watch is a good homage or a bad copy, and this has to do with a consumer’s aesthetic and historical preferences and sensibilities.
Rolex Submariner vs Invicta Pro Diver 8926OB
This is a brief comparison of the two most popular watches from both brands – the Rolex Submariner and the Invicta Pro Diver (model 8926 or 8926OB or 9937). Note: Both the Submariner and Pro Diver have evolved drastically since they first came out, and even in the last 5-10 years. As such, this will be a high-level comparison of the similarities and differences in the model lines rather than a specific comparison of particular model numbers.
Invicta Men's 8926OB Pro Diver Stainless Steel Automatic Watch with Link Bracelet
4 used from $73.31
- Round watch featuring corrugated unidirectional bezel, luminous hands/markers, and magnified date window at three o'clock
- 40 mm stainless steel case with mineral dial window
- Japanese automatic movement with analog display
- Also features stainless steel link bracelet with fold-over clasp and safety closure, screw-down crown, and exhibition caseback
- Water resistant to 200 m/660 ft. Length-210mm. Size-20mm. Buckle-Diver
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 40MM Stainless Steel Submariner Date with a Rotable Black Cerachrom Time Lapse Bezel and a Black Index Dial with a Date Wheel.
Origins and Overview
The designs of both watches originate with Rolex in 1953, which (along with Blancpain and Zodiac) introduced the first dive watches to the world.
The Invicta Pro Diver (8926) is a homage of the Rolex Submariner, meaning that, while not quite a replica or copy, it borrows heavily from the design cues of the original. As such, the Invicta 8926OB is a Submariner homage, and first appeared on the market sometime in 1991-1993.
The true test if a watch is a homage or a bad copy is to what degree it attempts to mimic the original watch relative to the degree that it attempts to borrow the best aspects of its style for an original interpretation. This comparison will examine if the Invicta Pro Diver is a good homage or a bad copy.
Invicta Pro Diver vs Rolex Submariner Comparison
- Both watches use the same style of index marker (these are the hour and minute marks): round circles with a steel perimeter (sometimes white gold on Rolexes) for the minor hour markers (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 11), bar indices for the two of the four major indices (6 and 9), and a downward-facing triangle for the 12. These styles are quintessential Rolex staples that nearly every dive watch design since 1953 has copied or borrowed from to some degree.
- The notable differences are that these markers are proportionally smaller on the Invicta, as can be compared to the relative size of the Mercedes-style circular hour hand. However, older Rolex Submariner models did have much smaller indices like the modern Invicta.
B. Date window
- Both watches have a date window at the 3-o’clock position with a 2.5x Cyclops magnifier glass. The Cyclops over the date window was one of Rolex’s many innovations, and it’s purpose was to make the date window more readable for those with poor eyesight. As such, it’s frequently mocked as being for old people. Today, this is more true as Rolexes are no longer affordable to most younger people, and the old folks who can afford them do need the extra magnification due to their failing eyesight.
- The main purpose of the date window on the Invicta 8926 is to imitate the Rolex Submariner rather than to enhance the clarity of the date window. This is because in the first place, the customer base of the Invicta is much younger and has better eyesight, given the price point.
C. Crown and crown guard
- Both watches have a similar-looking crown and crown guard. Both bear the logo on the crown, with Invicta using the alternate logo (a cross). The crown guards on the Invicta 8926 are much smaller and less refined than on the Submariner
D. Text area
- This is the biggest area of contention for both the Invicta 8926 and the Rolex Sub. From a dial design standpoint, a watch ought to choose very carefully what writing it includes on the dial. Besides the brand logo and brand name, a watch will typically include no more than 3 total lines of text in order to preserve a pleasant-to-look-at aesthetic without the over-clutter of paragraphs of text. They could ostensibly include an essay there, and they shouldn’t. The elements to include are the following: water resistance, Chronometer/COSC certification, movement type (Automatic or Quartz), and maybe one other interesting element or feature of the watch, like “sapphire” or “GMT.” For Rolex, 4 of the 5 lines of text are just another way of saying “Rolex Submariner,” and the wall of text has become somewhat characteristic of the watch.
- On the other hand, Invicta 8926 does away with two lines, yet still has another two that don’t really say anything. “Professional” is a joke because no professional would seriously use an Invicta Pro Diver over, say, a Seiko or a Citizen. Invicta does improve on the Rolex design, however, in that the dial is much less cluttered with less writing.
E. Bezel triangle and dial triangle
- On the Rolex Submariner, the 12-o’clock marker is much wider and a larger triangle than on the Invicta. The lume pip on the triangle part of the bezel is quite large as well, and looks like one of the minor hour indices. On the Invicta, the lume pip is also proportional to its hour markers, but looks quite small compared to the Rolex Sub – and also takes up much less space within the triangle.
F. Seconds Hand
- The Rolex has a unique and distinctive hand set, most notably the seconds hand. It has a lumed (glow-in-the-dark) pip at the bottom 1/3 of the hand, which allows verification at night (or underwater) that the watch is running. The placement of the pip is such that it does not run over the hour markers, but is more inward-centered. This hand also has a cute circular shape at the counter-balance point on the other end of the hand which gives it some more style.
- This is the biggest problem with the Invicta 8926, by comparison. While attempting to put an original twist on the rest of the copy, they botched the execution. They placed the lume pip much lower – near the tip of the seconds hand. This makes the hand look heavy at that point by comparison to the Sub; furthermore, it has the added deficit of running the lumed pip over the hour markers, which is somewhat inconvenient in the dark. Second, the counterbalance of the seconds hand is adorned with an Invicta wing-set. While unique, it looks cheap and tacky, and hurts more because they were trying to be cool and innovative. On the one hand, kudos for not being a blatant Submariner copy… but on the other it is poorly executed.
G. Other differences and similarities
- Both cases are 40mm wide.
- Both use automatic movements. The Rolex beats at 8 times per second, while the Invicta 8926 beats at 6. Note that a similar watch, the Invicta Pro Diver 9937 also beats at 8 times per second and is virtually similar to the 8926 in every other regard.
- Both use a coin-edge bezel style (note that the Invicta 8926OB has this kind of bezel while the 8926 has a different wavy-style bezel)
- The Rolex is water resistant to 300m, and the Invicta is water resistant to 200m. Given the expensive price of the Rolex, I would not submerge it in water to test these claims. While many do so without issues, Rolex forums are full of examples of water-logged watches. I would also avoid submerging the Invicta for the same/opposite reason; at the price point, it is dubious whether the water resistance will actually hold up. While many do so without issues, I would only go swimming or diving with an ISO-compliant diver.
- Rolex says “Swiss Made” at the bottom, Invicta 8926 does not
- Hour and minute handset is nearly identical
- The Rolex Submariner has a rehaut (engraving on the space between the bezel and the dial) that says “ROLEX”, and the Invicta one is blank. (It actually looks better blank). Invicta mimics this in their own way by deeply engraving “INVICTA” into the left side of the watch case. Make sure you are aware of this before you buy, some people don’t like it, others don’t care.
- Bracelet is flimsy on the Invicta and mediocre on the Rolex for the price.
- The Invicta has a clear see-through caseback, where you can view the automatic movement, while the Rolex is a solid piece of steel
- The Rolex is COSC-certified with an accuracy of -2/+2 seconds per day. The Invicta’s accuracy is rated at -20/+40 seconds per day, but is usually around -10/+20 per day.
H. Conclusion on Invicta 8926OB vs Rolex Submariner
- The Invicta 8926OB is a pretty good homage of the Rolex Submariner. There are certainly some differences if you put them under a microscope, but the average onlooker won’t notice.
- The Invicta is the same size and shape as the Rolex, and has the same cyclops. The hands and dial layout are the same, and yet Invicta also has a touch of originality that makes it way better than a replica.
- Ultimately, if you want a Rolex Submariner for under $100, this is your best bet – and best of all, people on the street will constantly mistake it for a real Rolex.
Other Invicta-Rolex look-alike homages
Like many brands, Invicta borrows design elements from Rolex to create clones or look-alike “homages” of famous designs. Besides the submariner, here are a few other popular homages.
Rolex Daytona – Invicta Speedway
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is Rolex’s racing chronograph. It was first released in 1963, and was famously worn by Paul Newman. The watch pays tribute to Daytona, FL – the Mecca of motorsport.
Rolex Yacht-Master – Invicta Pro Diver
The Rolex Yacht-Master is visually similar to the Submariner, in a different colorway. The purpose of this watch is more in line with sailing and yachting than diving. The model featured below is made of platinum.
Rolex GMT-Master II – Invicta Pro Diver
One of the most recognizable watches of Rolex is the Pepsi GMT-Master II. It’s called the Pepsi because of the bi-colored red-and-blue bezel. This watch is used to track up to three different time zones (notice the extra hour hand and 24-hour bezel). The Invicta model only copies the bezel.
My name is Tom Leto, and I’m a watch enthusiast at heart. I’m here to steer you in the right direction when looking for your next watch, and to help you avoid common newbie mistakes. Right now my favorite brands are Orient Star, Longines, and Nomos.