Everybody wants a Rolex. It’s, after all, the most popular luxury watch brand the world has ever known.
It goes beyond the prestige of any other name in the watchmaking world, and this can be seen in the sales as well, making for a quarter of all Swiss watch sales back in 2020.
On the other hand though, due to their extremely high price tags, not everybody can afford a Rolex, which is why most people are left to look for Rolex alternatives. There’s plenty of watches similar in styling and features to a Rolex, but very different in pricing, usually at least a few times lower.
If you’re curious what are the best affordable alternatives to Rolex watches, you’ve come to the right place. The watches below are some of our favorites, and definitely the timepieces we recommend.
There are in total thirteen Rolex watch models, some of them extremely cherished, and others a little less popular, and we’ve found alternatives to all of them.
We’ll start this list with one alternative for each of the slightly less popular Rolex models (the Milgauss, Air-King, Sea-Dweller, Yacht Master, Cellini and the Sky-Dweller) and then we’ll give you two alternatives for the most popular Rolex watches (Datejust, Oyster Perpetual, Day-Date, Cosmograph Daytona, GMT Master II, Submariner and the Explorer).
Here they are, in no particular order:
- Rolex Milgauss Alternative: Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium
- Rolex Air-King Alternative: Citizen NJ0100
- Rolex Sea-Dweller Alternative: Tudor Pelagos
- Rolex Yacht-Master Alternative: Invicta Pro Diver 9210
- Rolex Cellini Alternative: Timex Marlin
- Rolex Sky-Dweller Alternative: Stuhrling Northstar GMT
- Rolex Datejust Alternative #1: Burei Automatic
- Rolex Datejust Alternative #2: Seiko SARB035
- Rolex Oyster Perpetual Alternative #1: Seiko Prospex
- Rolex Oyster Perpetual Alternative #2: Citizen Eco-Drive Black Titanium
- Rolex Day-Date Alternative #1: Hamilton Jazzmaster Day-Date Auto
- Rolex Day-Date Alternative #2: Seiko SGF206
- Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Alternative #1: Le Jour Le Mans
- Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Alternative #2: Dan Henry 1962
- Rolex GMT Master II Alternative #1: Lorier Hyperion
- Rolex GMT Master II Alternative #2: Tudor Black Bay GMT
- Rolex Submariner Alternative #1: Gucci Dive
- Rolex Submariner Alternative #2: Orient Kamasu
- Rolex Explorer Alternative #1: Seiko Alpinist
- Rolex Explorer Alternative #2: Vaer C3 Tradition Black USA Quartz
Rolex Milgauss Alternative: Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium
The Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium is a wonderful pick if you’re a fan of the Rolex Milgauss watch, which is a watch used by engineers and scientists all over the world for its anti-magnetic properties, able to withstand magnetic fields of up to 1,000 gauss, hence its name.
The Tissot version comes with the Powermatic 80 movement, based on the renowned ETA caliber 2824-2, but with some required upgrades. One of these upgrades has seen the standard balance wheel replaced with one made out of silicon, which is entirely anti-magnetic.
Other features include an increased power reserve from 38 to 80 hours, and a customized rotor. The watch itself strikes a good balance between a sports watch and a dress one, making it perfectly for every day use.
Rolex Air-King Alternative: Citizen NJ0100
The Rolex Air-King is not as high priced as other Rolex watches, so there aren’t many alternatives to satisfy Rolex enthusiasts out there. But there’s the Citizen NJ0100, with a similar simple design as the Air-King, a stainless steel flat three link bracelet, and automatic movement.
It’s a good and cheaper replacement, at least until you save up some money to be able to buy the real deal.
Rolex Sea-Dweller Alternative: Tudor Pelagos
The Tudor Pelagos is still an expensive watch to be had, but it’s at least half cheaper than the Rolex Sea-Dweller is similar in appearance too. Since Tudor is a sister company of Rolex, it makes sense they make really close alternatives, but more affordable, without skimping on quality.
Their Pelagos watch features a helium escape vent at the 9 o’clock position, which makes it efficient and keeps it ticking even deep underwater. It’s got a 42 mm case, with a superb ceramic black dial and titanium unidirectional bezel, both covered with a luminescent coating.
The watch is COSC certified, and comes powered by the hand wound MT5612 Caliber, and has a good 70 hour power reserve.
Rolex Yacht-Master Alternative: Invicta Pro Diver 9210
The Invicta Pro Diver 9210 is a wonderful choice for those in love with the Rolex Yacht-Master. The Swiss brand, today based in Hollywood, Florida, it has focused on making affordable luxury since its inception back in 1837.
The watch in question is very similar to the Yacht-Master, almost identical, with a case size and dial design that match those of the Rolex. The timepiece is powered by a Japanese NH35A automatic movement, which is visible through the clear case back.
The case itself has a depth rating of 200m, so you can even go diving with it.
Rolex Cellini Alternative: Timex Marlin
A good alternative to the stylish Rolex Cellini watch, the Timex Marlin boasts a simple and timeless design, with a nice and clean dial, which makes for an overall elegant look.
The watch comes in several versions, with either a steel bracelet or leather strap, black or white dial, and the case in either silver or gold. The case is 40 mm, with a water resistance rating of 30m, so you shouldn’t go swimming with it.
The heart of the watch is a 21 jewel automatic movement with a date complication shown in the aperture at 3 o’clock, and a power reserve of 40 hours.
Rolex Sky-Dweller Alternative: Stuhrling Northstar GMT
The Stuhriling Northstar GMT is a superb timepiece, and one that comes with an aesthetic similar to that of the Rolex Sky-Dweller. It’s got the same features, with the positioning differing slightly.
The Rolex Sky-Dweller is known to be hard to replicate due to its many complications, but this Stuhrling comes close enough, with the same color scheme and those small red accents. The hands and hour markers have the same shape as well.
On the other hand though, the Northstar GMT won’t have all the functions and complications of the Sky-Dweller, and it’s obvious since its price is just below $160. But considering the price and the overall aesthetic similarities, it’s a very good alternative.
Rolex Datejust Alternative #1: Burei Automatic
The Burei Automatic is a homage to the modern Rolex Datejust, with a very similar case shape and design, no crown guards, and a fluted bezel. The dial has the same layout as the Datejust, and it’s got that oversized date window with magnifying lens at 3 o’clock.
The watch is powered by an automatic movement, and the dial is protected by sapphire crystal glass, so even if it’s a cheaper alternative to a Rolex, it doesn’t skim on quality materials.
Rolex Datejust Alternative #2: Seiko SARB035
The Seiko SARB035 is a superb alternative variant for the Rolex Datejust. It’s a premium timepiece with a better price tag, and has the very features found on the Rolex, like the case’s shoulders, the beveled edges, the finishing, boxy shape, and the polished bezel.
Inside there’s a Japanese automatic movement which beats 21,600 times per hour, and it can be admired through the case back.
The dial boasts elegance with its cream white background, and super finishes on the hands and the hour markers. The o’clock date aperture comes with a metal frame around it for even more elegance.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Alternative #1: Seiko Prospex
Another Seiko, the Prospex, SPB243J1, is a superb watch on the more affordable side, as most Seiko’s are, but with that premium elegance and materials. It’s a good alternative to the Rolex Oyster Perpetual, but also the Datejust.
It comes with a 38 mm stainless steel case and bracelet, and a jet black dial that sets it apart establishing a nice contrast. The dial features gold tone luminous hands and indices, adding to the overall elegance of the piece.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Alternative #2: Citizen Eco-Drive Black Titanium
While the Seiko Prospex above is priced somewhere above $700, the Citizen Eco-Drive Black Titanium comes in a lot cheaper at only around $200, and it looks the part as a Rolex Oyster Perpetual alternative.
The 41.5 mm case and the bracelet are both made from titanium, the black dial matches the design as it should, with silver tone hands and hour markers, plus a silver framed date aperture at 3 o’clock.
Rolex Day-Date Alternative #1: Hamilton Jazzmaster Day-Date Auto
The very elegant Jazzmaster from Hamilton, in its Day-Date Auto variety, is a great looking and high quality alternative to the Rolex Day-Date.
The most impressive similarity is the day aperture placed at the 12 o’clock position like on the Rolex, making them alike. The date window on the other hand is placed opposite to it, at the 6 o’clock position, unlike on the Rolex, where it’s at 3 o’clock.
Priced at around $845 and powered by the in-house ETA 2834-2 based H40 movement from Hamilton, with its impressive 80 hour power reserve, this is a watch to keep for a lifetime. Or until you save enough money for the one it replaces.
Rolex Day-Date Alternative #2: Seiko SGF206
The Seiko SGF206 has a stunningly similar design to the Day-Date, though some features are missing. The day is placed in the same location as the date, instead of being up at 12 o’clock like on the Rolex.
Overall, and considering the very minimal price of around $250, it’s hard not to take it as a superb alternative. Sure, the quartz movement doesn’t compare, but you won’t have troubles with it coming from Seiko.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Alternative #1: Le Jour Le Mans
Le Jour is an older name in the watchmaking world, forgotten but resurfaced recently. The Le Mans chronograph is a modern reissue of an older classic model from their lineup, and comes with plenty of interesting features, much alike the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona.
It also has very similar crowns, with the shape and the position matching those found on the Rolex.
Its price crosses way higher than the $1,000 mark, but it’s around ten times cheaper than the original Daytona.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Alternative #2: Dan Henry 1962
The Dan Henry 1962 is a nice and very modern take on the Daytona, with the three sub dials in the same position, but a more sharp and elegant dial design.
The crowns are in the same position as those on the Daytona, but they don’t have the same shape. The black tachymeter dial adds a little bit more contrast, being matte black, and overall, you can’t go wrong with this watch.
It’s one of the most interesting chronographs that comes under $300.
Rolex GMT Master II Alternative #1: Lorier Hyperion
If you’re after the look and feel of the first Rolex GMT Master from back in the days, look no further than the Hyperion from the New York based Lorier watchmaker.
It’s got that style and feel, though with a more subdued design and colors. The features are interestingly alike, with an old school domed plexiglass crystall, and the lumed plexiglass bezel that’s very similar to the radium-lit bakelite bezel of the original GMT Master.
Rolex GMT Master II Alternative #2: Tudor Black Bay GMT
Though it’s way pricier than most Rolex alternatives at over $3,700, the Tudor Black Bay GMT is probably the closest match in recreating the appearance of that Rolex GMT Master II.
That recognizable Pepsi bezel and the vintage aesthetic, plus the fact that it’s got a true GMT movement make this the closest thing to a Rolex. It’s coming from the sister company, after all.
Rolex Submariner Alternative #1: Gucci Dive
Gucci might not be the first name that comes to mind when thinking of watchmaking, and surely not one that comes as an alternative to Rolex, but their Dive model, is a solid and much cheaper alternative for the legendary Rolex Submariner.
Gucci Dive is a solid diver and a high quality watch overall, and that dial is strikingly similar to the Submariner. The 40mm stainless steel case has a water resistance rating of 200 meters, so it’s the real deal. And considering that it’s priced around $850, it’s a worthy contender.
Rolex Submariner Alternative #2: Orient Kamasu
The Orient Kamasu is a very good choice not only as an alternative to the Submariner from Rolex, but as a dive watch in itself, offering plenty of qualities for under $300, which is very rare these days.
It comes with an in-house automatic movement, a 41.8 mm stainless steel case, depth rating of 200m, sapphire crystal glass, and below, all the nice features that make the dial similar to the Submariner.
Rolex Explorer Alternative #1: Seiko Alpinist
The Rolex Explorer is one of the most popular Rolex models ever created, and the market for alternatives is quite big, but the Seiko Alpinist easily stands out from the crowd for its astonishing similarities and the price tag of $750.
Part of Seiko’s Prospex watch line, the Alpinist is an impressive field watch that borrows plenty of design elements from the Rolex Explorer. The simplicity of its dial makes it extremely likeable and elegant, and the Seiko Caliber 6R35 Automatic is a high performer with an impressive power reserve of 70 hours.
Rolex Explorer Alternative #2: Vaer C3 Tradition Black USA Quartz
Coming in at just above $250, the Vaer C3 Tradition Black USA Quartz is an extremely good alternative to the Explorer, with that big triangle at 12 o’clock and the 3, 6 and 9 hour marker layout on a black background reminding exactly of the Rolex in case.
The 36mm stainless steel case also fits the profile, and the fauxtina lume, or the three link Oyster style bracelet also look the part.
A legendary brand like Rolex, with so many fans around the world, is sure to inspire other watchmakers to create their own replicas, in the hope that they would appeal to the masses who don’t have the buying power for a true Rolex.
And among the many Rolex alternatives we’ve seen, these are our favorites. We didn’t feature any cheap Rolex knockoffs here, but excellent timepieces with almost the same design and features. We hope you liked our picks!