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Feature: 5 cheaper Alternatives To The Rolex Daytona

It’s one of the big-hitters in the Rolex line-up, a true alpha watch that hogs the limelight at the biggest auctions and is synonymous with one of the coolest actors that ever lived. But with all this comes a price tag that’ll make your wallet wince.

We are of course talking about—what else? — the mighty Daytona. It’s a watch that’s on many a collector’s ‘want list’, but sometimes in life we have to compromise. For those who aren’t lucky enough to leapfrog the waiting list, or for whom even a pre-used model is beyond their budget, we’ve assembled some worthy alternatives.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch 311.30.42.30.01.005

Yes, the Daytona will forever be surrounded by the sacred aura of Paul Newman but this iconic Omega had the rocket fuel of NASA to propel it to stardom, making it perhaps the most famous chronograph ever made. The Speedmaster Moonwatch has all the kudos of its Rolex rival and is more easily available, while it also comes with both self-winding and, like this version, manual movements—unlike the Daytona, which is only self-winding.

TAG Heuer Carrera CV2010.FC6233

TAG Heuer can claim to have a far stronger motor-racing pedigree than Rolex thanks to models like the Monaco, Monza and the Carrera, which was introduced in 1963. This means the Carrera shares the same birth year as the Daytona, and they were once run on the same movement. Thankfully one thing they don’t have in common is price range. The Carrera costs a fraction of what you’ll pay for a Daytona and for that you get a fine-looking watch that’s soaked in heritage.

Zenith El Primero 95.9010.9004/79.R595

In 1988 Zenith did Rolex a monumental favour when it began selling its El Primero movements to the Crown, who used it in the Daytona—the first time it featured a self-winding movement. Since then the El Primero has developed a loyal following of its own and is regarded as one of the industry’s chronograph kings. This skeletonised version in a titanium case allows you to see that famous movement in all its glory.

Bell & Ross BR126-94

As well as their highly distinctive square-cased models that look like a bird’s eye view of a DJ’s turntable, Bell & Ross make more conventional-looking watches such as this two-register chronograph. More military-looking than the sporty Daytona and with the classic Bell & Ross large-type numerals, it’s an effortlessly stylish piece in PVD-coated steel. Paul Newman himself would approve.

Breitling Navitimer AB0127

In the chronograph Hall of Fame, the Navitimer’s place is assured, thanks to an illustrious history that involves its own space mission. NASA astronaut Scott Carpenter wore one when he orbited the Earth in the Aurora 7 space capsule in 1962. And whereas the Daytona is associated with motor-racing, the Navitimer has proved its mettle in the field of aviation for decades.

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