Top 4 Better Alternatives to the Rolex Daytona
If you’re a Daytona lover such as myself, but you’re fed up with all the Rolex AD games and want to just purchase a better alternative, you’ve stumbled upon the correct article. My choices here are not “cheaper alternatives”, but rather equivalent or better.
If you were to muster up the courage to purchase a Daytona at grey market pricing you’ve opened up your budget to the world of high-quality watchmaking – why settle for a Rolex tool watch? If you wanted to keep your budget around the Daytona retail pricing you can choose from an array of luxury tool watch brands and models, and even at this price, you’re also touching the affordable range of high-quality watchmaking. Let’s take a look at these four fantastic alternatives that you may just fall in love with.
1. Girard Perregaux Laureato Chronograph
Number one on my list is a watch I’ve personally been seriously considering as an alternative to the Daytona. The longer I stay on the Rolex “wish list” the more this watch is growing on me. This is the Girard Perregaux Laureato Chronograph, an absolutely stunning piece of art from a brand that was founded in 1791, much before Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe, as a matter of fact, they’ve even built some movements for Patek in the past.
The Laureato Chronograph model is gorgeous, with a higher quality finish than any Rolex model and extensively more detail everywhere on the watch from the bracelet, the case, and the dial as well as hand-finishing touches on the in-house calibre GP03300 movement.
This is a high-quality watchmaking sports watch that retails at nearly the exact same price as a new stainless steel Daytona, best of all it’s readily available at a GP boutique and it can actually be had at a discount on the grey market.
The more I look at this watch, the more I’m beginning to prefer it over the Daytona, it’s just loaded with so much more value. It has a gorgeous integrated bracelet with contrasting polished and brushed H links, it has a sleek case with short lugs, the case is super thin, and it’s sporting angular screw-down chronograph pushers protected by crown guards.
I can go on for ages about the value the Laureato brings to the table, especially when it comes to the dial design with light-catching “clous de Paris” pyramids and the array of dial colour choices. Even better is the choice to buy either the 38mm or 42mm sizes, catering to both small and large wrist collectors.
My one and only single gripe about this watch is the inclusion of the date window between 4 and 5 o’clock, they should have just removed it entirely and kept the dial clean. Although due to the plethora of other positive aspects, I can look past it.
2. Zenith El Primero
The Zenith El Primero has long been considered an alternative to the Rolex Daytona, and some consider it a full-on competitor. This is not just limited to its similar look but is actually rooted in its history, more specifically known as the race to the first-ever automatic chronograph movement which Zenith is widely considered to be the first inventor.
Rolex then inspected this movement and simplified it for actual use in some of the earlier Daytona models, this should tell you a lot about the efficacy of the El Primero model.
The El Primero is a little more daring in style, with some nice touches of colour on the subdials and an overall more artsy take on a sports watch. There are quite a few variations to choose from that are all readily available for purchase from a Zenith boutique.
3. Omega Speedmaster
We’ve all heard of the Speedmaster, as well as the coveted and ultra-popular Moonwatch reference. It happens to be an excellent Daytona alternative, sharing many visual similarities and even some areas of superiority.
The build quality can be subjective, with some enthusiasts saying it’s better quality than Rolex, and others disagreeing with this saying it’s just one notch under the king. Subjectivity aside there’s no denying that the Speedmaster Moonwatch is one of the most iconic watches on the market, it also happens to be a chronograph with some variations sporting a display caseback showing off the beautifully complex movement.
The deal is super clean on Speedmaster Moonwatch, it’s very legible and the lack of a date wheel is a positive in my bookkeeping the watch is a chronograph purist collector’s dream. While most Speedmaster references are readily available for purchase there are some that are quite difficult to obtain and have actually increased in value, it can be fun hunting for these special models as they offer a very unique design compared to the common look of the Daytona or regular Moonwatch.
4. Tudor Black Bay Chronograph
Want a chronograph tool watch with a very similar look to the Daytona that even comes from a Rolex sister brand? Look no further than the new Tudor Black Bay Chronograph that comes in a striking panda dial layout. This watch is an actual “panda dial” chronograph, unlike the Daytona that uses rings for the subdials the Black Bay Chronograph has gone the extra mile and filled in the subdials completely for that full retro panda look.
The Tudor Black Bay Chronograph is very much the most tool-watch-looking design on our list. While the quality is excellent for its price point it will lack in quality compared to the rest of the watches on our list, including the actual Rolex Daytona.
You may ask yourself why these watches are readily available to purchase while also being better alternatives to the Daytona, and the answer is simple, they’re all missing one aspect. The missing pieces have nothing to do with the quality of the watch or functions or even style, but it simply boils down to perceived brand value. The Daytona is so sought after that it becomes a store of value, and this aspect is skewing people’s thought process away from the passion of better watchmaking and transforming it into a status symbol and a form of investing. While the Daytona has an incredible history and great watchmaking behind it, it has the main ingredient the others don’t have. It’s up to you to decide if you’re on this journey for the pure passion of watches or if you have something to prove to others, a thought that I’m still personally grappling with.