7 Of The Best Rolex Daytona Alternatives For Every Budget
James Elliott3 December 2020 | 6 min read
Like so many of the Rolex models, the Rolex Daytona defined it’s niche as the premier watch every collector would love to get their hands on. With the Daytona it’s the racing watch market – which as that market continues to evolve, many punters are wanting a watch that not only looks great but has the ability to track highly accurate time.
Inspired by the famous Florida town where racing boomed in the early 1900’s, the Daytona combines the exceptional build quality of Rolex with highly accurate chronograph features for tracking time elapsed and crucially, speed!
But like with all Rolex watches, they don’t come cheap. Luckily, there are many fantastic racing watches on the market which, whilst they aren’t a Rolex, serve as a great alternative to those on a slimmer budget!
We’re going to take a look at the best Rolex Daytona alternatives across the typical budget, mid range and premium price points to ensure you can get yours hands on a great racing watch no matter your budget!
- The Best Budget Rolex Daytona Alternatives
- The Best Mid Range Rolex Daytona Alternatives
- The Best Premium Rolex Daytona Alternatives
The Best Budget Rolex Daytona Alternatives
We start off with one of the most recognised budget watch names in the world, Seiko. Famous for their high spec budget watches, it’s no surprise to see Seiko in this roundup and this time we’ve chosen to pull out their SSB031 model.
Whilst the overall design isn’t too dissimilar to the Daytona, this watch favours a darker face and less definition around the chronograph windows but it still a quintessentially easy to use racing watch.
Features wise the watch packs in a seconds counter, minute counter up to 60 mins, a sweeping seconds hand and a 12/24 hour indicator. There’s of course a tachymeter round the outside of the 40mm case with hardlex crystal and 100m of water resistance rounding the watch off nicely.
A brand that’s fairly up and coming to the watch world is Filippo Loreti with the Italian outfit creating a range of watches that are high in quality but pretty low in price. When it comes to racers, their Ascari Grand Prix GP range is fantastic if you’re looking for a racer that deviates slightly from the Daytona design mould.
This piece in particular shoots for a black rubber strap atop a stainless steel case, with a dark black/rose gold style throughout the dial and bezel. Like any good racing watch, it matches chronograph features with a tachymeter – specifically a tracking window for minutes up to 60 at 9 o’clock which is powered against a sweeping seconds hand.
As always, these watches are also pretty hardy, with 42mm of case accompanied by a sapphire crystal and Seiko automatic movement!
For our last budget watch we move right the way up the budget bracket to look at the Bulova Moonwatch. Whilst not strictly a racing piece, the Moonwatch was originally created for the 1971 Apollo 15 take off, with the watch recreated as a watch for any high-performance scenario.
Critically, the Moonwatch combines everything that’s needed for racing – a chronograph and a tachymeter! Time tracking is incredibly precise here with the dial at 3 o’clock tracking 1/10 seconds, with the other two supporting seconds and minutes up to 60.
This is a big watch at 45mm but it benefits from some big-time features such as a sapphire crystal and a high-frequency quartz movement that’s guaranteed to offer fantastic precision. The tachymeter around the outside has incredibly granular markings again making it perfect for accurate speed tracking.
The Best Mid Range Rolex Daytona Alternatives
We now move up slightly to the mid range bracket where all our watches will sit somewhere between $600 – $1500. Again, this is still a fraction of the price of a Daytona, but here we can expect some more premium features from household watch brands.
No racing watch round-up would be complete without giving a mention to the Tag Heuer Formula 1. As the chief sponsors for Formula 1 for many years, the brand knows a thing or two about racing with their watch of the same name often cited as a great entry point into the plus $1000 market.
Specs wise, the three dials offer time tracking from as low as 1/10 second all the way up to 30 minutes with the fixed ceramic tachymeter bezel great for speed calculations off the back of it.
As you’d expect from a brand such as Tag, the 43mm piece is built from high quality stainless steel with additional features such as a sapphire crystal, high spec quartz movement, 200m water resistance and Super-LumiNova® all included.
Another super brand which can be found within this price point is Rado, who often do a fantastic job of making every type of watch look just that little bit more stylish and designer. The Hyperchrome is no different – whilst it’s definitely a traditional racing watch, the watch wouldn’t look out of place next to any high-end sports car!
As a race watch, the three chronograph windows track 1/10 of a second, 60 seconds and up to 30 minutes with the slimline tachymeter around the outside helping track the speed. A nice mix of black, white and red make the dials super easy to ready, especially where greater accuracy may be needed.
As we’d expect from Rado, the watch is super high quality in general with a sapphire crystal, high spec quartz movement and premium stainless steel completing the Hyperchrome package!
The Best Premium Rolex Daytona Alternatives
Now we’ve reached the big hitters! The two alternatives below are from what some may consider direct competitors to Rolex – whilst the prices are still significantly cheaper (from $1,500+) these brands offer some of the best of the best in racing watch engineering!
As with so many Rolex comparisons, Omega offers stiff competition in the Swiss watch making space and in this category, the Speedmaster is their premium racing watch! There are many different Speedmaster variations to choose from, but in this instance we’re going to put the Racing Automatic Chronograph (3184.108.40.206.01.001) forward for review!
The chronograph windows deliver tracking for 60 second, 30 minute and 12 hours with a date window blended nicely into the bottom window at 6 o’clock. There’s a tachymeter around the outside for converting your recorded time into speeds as well.
Crucially with Omega you’re getting a premium Swiss watch that holds its value incredibly well. The 40mm piece packs in an automatic movement with a 52-hour power reserve, a scratch resistant sapphire crystal and 100m of water resistance.
Tudor are a brand which often find themselves on Rolex comparisons articles and that’s no coincidence. As many of you may know, Tudor is owned by Rolex so similar themes in design and functionality run in the family.
In particular the Black Bay Chrono tracks seconds and uniquely, up to 45 minutes with the tachymeter around the outside offering great steel and black contrast for easy reading. In many ways, it echoes the look of some Breitling watches.
Given it’s so close to a Rolex you’re going to get similar quality. A high spec COSC certified movement is accompanied by a sapphire crystal, a 70 hour power reserve, 200m of water resistance that’s all covered by Tudor’s 5 year guarantee.
The Rolex Daytona is an absolutely iconic racing watch that many people have on the dream watch list. For those that aren’t able to spend the money on the Rolex Daytona, there’s some great alternatives on the market to ensure you can race in style!
Some truly budget friendly options from the likes of Bulova and Seiko will set you on the right path, but you’re going to pay for what you get inside the case. If you can step up to a mid range or premium offering though, you’ll start to get a racer that not only looks great but also performs like a premium race car!
We’ve only scratched the surface of race watches here, so make sure to shop around if you’re in the market or let us know if there’s any absolute gems we’ve missed off!
Thanks for reading and see you again soon for another Watch & Bullion alternatives roundup.