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Feature: Great Rolex alternatives

If you’re tired of trying to get a Rolex then you’ve come to the right place, because I’m going to introduce you to a whole bunch of alternatives at different price points for each of the brand’s most popular models. Let’s get started!

FORGET the Rolex Submariner… Get one of THESE instead

Can’t get a Rolex Submariner? Here are five great alternatives from cheap to expensive. Number one is the Casio Duro at $70. It may be quartz but it’s got 200m of water resistance and a dive time bezel, just like a Submariner. Then there’s the Halios Seaforth, a watch that packs in Submariner-level spec at just $775 dollars. You can spec it with a sapphire bezel, and even a Tiffany blue dial if you’re feeling fancy. Third is the Tudor Black Bay 58, everybody’s favourite Submariner default alternative. You can choose it in vintage tones, blue and even solid silver or gold, starting at around $4,000. Next is the Breitling Superocean 42 at $5,400, which borrows a lot of its looks from the golden years of dive watches, the 1960s. And last of all is Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms, the OG dive watch at $17,000.

FORGET the Rolex Daytona… Get one of THESE instead

Rolex Daytona too hard to get? Try one of these five instead. From least to most expensive there’s the Seiko Prospex Speedtimer, an $800 quartz chronograph that’s beautifully styled and well-balanced. Second is the quartz TAG Heuer Formula 1 Chronograph, a modern classic that’s available in a range of bold colours. Next, you’ll be unsurprised to see the Tudor Black Bay Chrono, the closest watch to the Daytona’s DNA you can get at below $6,000. Then there’s the watch that beat the Daytona to the moon, Omega’s Speedmaster. Even to this day it remains almost identical to the original—except the $8,000 price. At the top of the tree, and closest to the Daytona’s looks, is the $12,300 Zenith Chronomaster Sport, which combines the Daytona’s good looks with Zenith’s legendary El Primero movement.

FORGET the Rolex GMT-Master II… Get one of THESE instead

Here are five great alternatives to the Rolex GMT-Master II, the watch for international travellers. Starting at the cheapest, there’s the Baltic Aquascaphe GMT at $1,000, which adds an independent GMT hand to the Aquascaphe base. For number two, it’s the $1,700 Christopher Ward C65 Aquitaine GMT, a watch that’s earnt a reputation for providing quality way above its price point. In third is the Tudor Black Bay GMT, which shamelessly enjoys the Pepsi bezel colouration, being part of the Rolex corporation. That’s $4,500. Up next is Grand Seiko’s “Hotaka Peaks” GMT, which combines a rocky dial texture with the brand’s famed Spring Drive technology for $7,300. And last is Omega’s Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT in a fetching monochrome, priced at $10,100.

FORGET the Rolex Explorer… Get one of THESE instead

Looking for alternatives to the Rolex Explorer? Here’s five, starting with the cheapest. It’s the Smiths Everest PRS-25, made by the brand that actually peaked Everest on Edmund Hillary’s wrist at $450. Next is the Sinn 556 A, a $1,700 German watch with a pilot-inspired dial that’s ready for anything. Third is the $3,300 Tudor Black Bay Ranger, the Explorer’s sister watch both back in the 1960s and now, with a history of being well-travelled. For $4,400 it’s yet another Tudor, only this time the Black Bay Pro, inspired by Rolex’s original Explorer II from 1971 with its distinctive orange 24-hour hand. Lastly it’s the unbelievably stylish Patek Philippe Calatrava 5226G, whose rugged good looks will set you back a cool $41,000.

FORGET the Rolex Sea-Dweller… Get one of THESE instead

Can’t fathom a Rolex Sea-Dweller? These five deep sea divers are worth a look. At the cheaper end it’s the Tissot Seastar, clocking in an impressive 600m of water-resistance for just $1,300. For a whopping 1,000m of water-resistance, it’s Seiko’s $3,000 Prospex Professional Diver, nicknamed the “Tuna” for it’s can-like protective shroud. Inevitably, the Tudor Pelagos is here at $5,200 repping 500m of water-resistance from its titanium case, followed by the Sea-Dweller’s original adversary, the visually challenging but incredibly impressive Ploprof with its 1,200m water-resistance and $13,000 price tag. It’s another Omega to round up with, the Planet Ocean Ultra Deep, capable of a 6,000m dive and costing an equally terrifying $14,800.

FORGET the Rolex Sky-Dweller… Get one of THESE instead

The Rolex Sky-Dweller too unobtainable? Here are five annual calendars you can get, starting with the most affordable, the Longines Master Collection Annual Calendar, a $2,500 watch that can change its own date. Then there’s the Carl. F. Bucherer Heritage Bicompax Annual, which adds a chronograph on top of the annual calendar for $8,400. The Omega Constellation Globemaster Annual Calendar offers the complication in a novel way with a pointer month at $11,000, and likewise, IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar has a triple month, date and day display up top for closer to $16,500. For an elegantly Germanic approach to the annual calendar complication, it’s the $35,000 Glashutte Original PanoMaticCalendar, with its big date and numerical month display.

FORGET the Rolex Oyster Perpetual… Get one of THESE instead

Can’t get a Rolex Oyster Perpetual? Here are five alternatives to the classic watch, priced from low to high. At just $330, it’s the Seiko 5 Sports, one of the most basic but still ultimately impressive Seikos you can get with an automatic movement and 100m of water-resistance. Up a rung at $1,050 is the Swiss made Hamilton Khaki Field Murph, a rugged daily wear made famous by the Interstellar movie. The colourful and very elegant Oris Artelier S comes next at $2,050, a strikingly stylish entry into the three-hander watch category. For $3,400, it’s the Nomos Club Sport Neomatik, a watch that somehow looks incredibly elegant whilst also packing 200m of water-resistance. Lastly, the Tudor Black Bay 39 at $4,200, because of course, because it is basically a Rolex Oyster Perpetual.

FORGET the Rolex Datejust… Get one of THESE instead

Even the classic Rolex Datejust is hard to get. Check out one of these five if you don’t want to wait. In at the cheapest end is the $500 Lorier Astra, a watch that captures the zeitgeist of the Datejust’s era to a T. Second is the Christopher Ward C63 Automatic, challenging norms with its deep, shimmering Mulberry Red dial for $1,100. For a Japanese approach to telling the time and date, there’s the Grand Seiko SBGH201 with its high-beat movement for $7,000. At just under $8,000, Omega’s got the Seamaster Aqua Terra Shades edition, in any number of subtly judged colours. For a big bang it’s the Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix, whose time and date combo come together for a princely $15,500.

FORGET the Rolex Yacht-Master… Get one of THESE instead

Want but can’t get Rolex’s luxury diver, the Yacht-Master? Here are five you can get. At the affordable end is the Islander Automatic Dive watch at $329, with its sunburst blue dial and three-dimensional bezel. Seiko power keeps it ticking. For $650, it’s Seiko’s Prospex Antarctica “Save The Ocean” which combines icy fresh good looks with a penguin print dial. It’s a jump to the $2,200 Oris Aquis Date Relief, which matches a familiar bezel with bright colours and a comfortable rubber strap. Next, Breitling’s Superocean 42 In green and bronze takes the 300m diver to a new level of luxury. And finally, in honour of the 2024 Paris Olympics, it's the Omega Seamaster Diver 300m Olympic special edition, which combines steel and gold with a white ceramic dial for the ultimate in yacht-based luxury wrist wear at $10,200.

FORGET the Rolex 1908… Get one of THESE instead

The new Rolex 1908 is impossible to get, but these five aren’t. Right at the cheap end we’ve got the $530 Kuoe Royal Smith, a watch that combines simplicity and elegance with Japanese attention to detail. Second, from Longines’ back catalogue is the Heritage Classic sector dial, a $2,800 beauty that looks far better than its price would suggest. Jumping to $22,000 is the supremely elegant IWC Portugieser Automatic in gold, although you can pick up the steel one for $9,500. For something a bit different, it’s the H. Moser Endeavour Vantablack, a $29,000 watch with a dial painted in the world’s blackest paint. Topping the selection at $32,500 is the classic watch that started it all, the Patek Philippe Calatrava 6119R, complete with its iconic hobnail bezel pattern.

Those are my suggestions. What watches would you switch out for a Rolex?

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