These Rolex alternatives prove big watches can be cheap – Rolling Stone

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The Rolex crown the logo can be taken literally; the Swiss brand is the undisputed king of watches. According to Morgan Stanley’s 2022 report on the state of the Swiss watch industry, Rolex has 29% of the Swiss watch market share – more than Omega, Cartier Watches, Longines and Patek Philippe combined. And Rolex’s celebrity wrist market share is likely even higher, with just about every rapper, actor, and famous personality wearing a Rolex at some point.

Unfortunately, Rolexes have become above all hard to find in recent years. Thanks to Covid supply chain issues and increased demand, prices have soared, pushing many Rolex models past the five-figure mark. Luckily, you don’t need more than $10,000 to get the brand’s classic look. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best Rolex alternatives that can be had for as little as $75.

The best Rolex alternatives to buy online

Because Rolex is so ubiquitous – and hasn’t changed its iconic designs much over the years – it’s not too difficult to find more affordable watches that look like a Rolex. And we’re not talking about cheap fakes. Most of the best Rolex alternatives come from reputable, budget-friendly brands with reliable movements and durable constructions. These are watches you can wear every day, whether it’s to work, to the grocery store, or on vacation.

Below, we’ve selected some of the best Rolex alternatives, with an option for each of Rolex’s iconic models.

1. Timex M79 Automatic

Alternative to the Rolex Submariner

The Submariner is Rolex’s most recognizable model, marked by a rotating diver’s bezel, military-inspired details and stainless steel construction. This Timex M79 delivers on all counts, and even has an automatic movement to start. It’s available in a handful of stylish colors, including classic black, as well as a lovely brown color for the more adventurous buyers. Although not as dive-worthy as a Submariner, the M79 is still waterproof to 50 meters, making it safe to wear while swimming or showering.

Buy Timex M79 Automatic $289

2. Shinola GMT Monster

alternative watch gmt rolex

Designed to track two different time zones, GMT watches were invented by Rolex in 1955. Today, the numbered dial and rugged aeronautical design have made their way to other brands, including this handsome and modern Shinola Monster GMT . The watch is made in Detroit using a Swiss automatic movement with a 50 hour power reserve (this allows the watch to run when it’s not on your wrist) and a sleek navy blue palette. It’s also a very capable diver’s watch thanks to a water resistance rating of 1,000 feet.

Buy Shinola Monster GMT $1,995

3. Invicta Speedway Chronograph S

Alternative to the Rolex Daytona

rolex invitcta watch review

Invicta started out as a Swiss watchmaker, but the brand later closed its doors before being relaunched as an American company. Now, Invicta is a great option for very affordable watches that look a lot more expensive than they are. This Speedway, for example, is almost identical to the ridiculously expensive Rolex Daytona, but only costs $75. Of course, it probably won’t become a family heirloom, but it will look great and keep time perfectly.

Buy Invicta Speedway Chronograph S $75.62

4. Automatic Office

Alternative to the Rolex Datejust

rolex oyster look alike

Ever wanted the casual elegance of a Rolex Datejust? Check out this automatic Burei. The Japanese watch is basically a Datejust dupe with a jubilee strap, fluted bezel, and date complication. But it’s still a solid watch: the movement is a Seiko NH-35A automatic, the crystal is scratch-resistant sapphire, and customers applaud the watch’s premium feel. Keep it handy for your next dressy occasion or add some sparkle to your casual weekend outfits.

Buy Burei Automatic $173.99

5. Seiko 5 SNXS73

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Alternative

rolex dupe watch in silver steel

The Seiko 5 range is full of fantastic Rolex alternatives, especially if you like the clean lines of the Oyster Perpetual. This SNXS73 is a great example of that, with a clean, classic look and a reliable automatic movement. Despite the sub-$100 price tag of most Seiko 5s, they are very well built. I’ve owned one for a few years and it still looks brand new, even after swimming in the ocean, traveling and being pushed around day to day.

Buy Seiko 5 SNXS73 $98.98

6. Vaer C3 Tradition

Alternative to the Rolex Air-King

vaer watch review

For a more military-inspired look, à la Rolex Air-King, check out this Vaer C3. It’s a tribute to vintage military watches and features the durable build quality and water resistance to match them. It’s rated at 330 feet of water resistance, uses sapphire crystal on the face, and has quick-change straps.

Buy Vaer C3 Tradition $279

7. Any Tudor watch

rolex tudor watch review

The best Rolex alternative is probably also… made by Rolex? Tudor, for those unfamiliar, was established in 1926 as a more affordable sister brand to Rolex. Tudor’s watches are just as well-made and just as sturdy as Rolex’s (Tudor supplied US Navy Seals and French Marine Nationale soldiers for a time), but they cost a lot less; the average Tudor is around $4,000. Moreover, they have a very good value and some models look very much like a Rolex.

Buy Tudor Black Bay $3,832.50

About Robert L. Thomas

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