14 Watches That Look Like Rolex: Affordable Alternatives to Every Rolex Model

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by  Karlton Miko Tyack | Last Updated:  Feb 25, 2021

As the most copied watch brand in the industry, there are plenty of affordable Rolex alternatives out there if you’d rather not drop $5-30k. With hundreds of possibilities though, trying to decide on which alternative to buy is one deep, winding rabbit hole.

We scoured the market to find the best affordable aesthetic homage to every Rolex model, so you don’t have to.

Best Cosmograph Daytona Alternative
  • Timeless chronograph design with a versatile color palette
  • Like the Daytona, was a contender for NASA’s moonwatch
  • Features an exclusive and precise 262 kHz quartz movement
Best Submariner Alternative
  • Classic diver design with most of the Submariner’s iconic qualities
  • Features a crisp unidirectional 120-click bezel with little play
  • An affordable and robust mechanical diver with a casual style
Best GMT-Master II Alternative
  • Like the GMT-Master II, capable of telling time in two different time zones
  • Popular and distinct pepsi bezel design, with a sportier look than the GMT
  • Features a reliable Swiss-made caliber
Best Explorer Alternative
  • Impressive 64-hour power reserve, which surpasses the Explorer’s
  • Longines is a respectable Swiss brand with its own heritage
  • Comes in more options for colors and sizes
Best Sea-Dweller Alternative
  • Remarkable 1250m water resistance, good enough for deep sea diving
  • Like the Sea-Dweller features a potent lume
  • Relatively under-the-radar brand makes this watch a unique option
Best Oyster Perpetual Alternative
  • Simple, elegant style that’s more versatile than the average dress watch
  • Punches above its price with a 23-jewel hand-winding and hacking automatic movement and sapphire crystal
  • A well-loved, highly-coveted timepiece by automatic collectors
Best Datejust Alternative
  • The two-tone color palette is meticulously similar to the two-tone Datejust variant
  • The Jubilee style bracelet gives it a fancy look that’s also uniquely Rolex
  • Features an affordable and precise quartz movement
Best Sky-Dweller Alternative
  • Features the Sky-Dweller’s distinctive fluted bezel
  • An accomplishment in the homage industry, as the Sky-Dweller is infamously difficult to recreate, especially affordably
  • The dual time tracking subdial creates a distinct look
Best Day-Date Alternative
  • The combination of the pie-pan bezel and stately Roman numerals recreate the Day-Date’s prestigious aesthetic
  • Features a similar three-link bracelet in the style of Rolex’s President bracelet
  • The gold-plating is a nice, affordable touch that brings it a bit closer to the Day-Date
Best Pearlmaster Alternative
  • 447 Swarovski crystals throughout make for an eye-catching watch
  • The five-piece bracelet, similar to the Pearlmaster’s, adds extra sparkle
  • Its large 42mm case gives it more wrist presence than the Pearlmaster
Best Cellini Alternative
  • Features a swanky cocktail hour style watch
  • The Cellini’s characteristic elegant lines are featured on this watch in the form of long indices and as a pattern on the dial
  • A fun, affordable watch that stands on its own as a strong automatic
Best Yacht-Master Alternative
  • Features the Rolex Yacht-Master’s recognizable robust bezel with 3-dimensional numbers
  • A rugged tool style watch, that’s also fashion-forward
  • Runs on a respectable Miyota 21-jewel self-winding movement
Best Milgauss Alternative
  • The watch face is an exact design homage, differing only in its branding
  • The green glass is an impressive detail, substituting the Milgauss’s exclusive green sapphire
  • Features the popular deep bezel and thick glass aesthetic that Milgauss fans love
Best Air-King Alternative
  • Like the Air-King, its face is simple, defined only by large number indices
  • The case is a noticeable oval shape that separates it from the Air-King
  • Features a robust, workhorse automatic movement

No watch brand has fueled the homage market as much as Rolex has.

I always say that the Submariner is the dive that launched a thousand tributes.

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This is good news for those of us who are interested in affordable alternatives. A strong Rolex look-alike can often even stand on its own. After all, even luxury watchmakers regularly riff on the same classic styles. 

Whether you’re looking for a Rolex twin as a place-holder until you get your grail or you just want something a little different, we’ve lined up affordable aesthetic alternatives, one for every Rolex model.

14 Affordable Rolex Homages in 2021

Best Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Alternative: Bulova Lunar Pilot

1.
Bulova Lunar Pilot

The Bulova Lunar Pilot is for you if you want a Cosmograph Daytona alternative with a completely original story to tell. Despite the Bulova being vastly cheaper, it’s arguably more historically important, but still has the same cool chronograph look.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

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The Bulova Lunar Pilot may lack the Swiss horological chops of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, but it makes up for it in lore. While they both famously lost to the Omega Speedmaster during NASA’s 1962 qualification tests, the Bulova did make it to the moon.

During the Apollo 15 lunar mission, Commander Dave Scott’s Speedmaster broke, so he instead relied on his Bulova—which later went for 1.6million on auction. NASA had a deal with Omega so Bulova couldn’t capitalize on this for years.

Today the Lunar Pilot is officially dubbed Bulova’s Moonwatch. It’s Speedy’s pinch-hitter.

Spec-wise it boasts their exclusive 262 kHz quartz movement which is known for laser precision, a 45mm case, sapphire crystal, and super luminous hands.

What Makes it Similar?

  • Both feature a classic chronograph design with the corresponding subdials located on the same parts of the face.

  • The Bulova has the same black and silver-colored stainless steel palette as the Cosmograph.

  • Both were famous contenders for NASA’s moonwatch.

What Makes it Different?

  • The Bulova’s movement is a high-frequency quartz, while Rolex only makes automatics.

  • It’s significantly bigger at 45mm vs the modern-day Cosmograph Daytona’s 40mm case. 

Is It for You?

The Bulova Lunar Pilot is for you if you want a Cosmograph Daytona alternative with a completely original story to tell. Despite the Bulova being vastly cheaper, it’s arguably more historically important, but still has the same cool chronograph look.

Best Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Alternative
Bulova Lunar Pilot

The Bulova Lunar Pilot is for you if you want a Cosmograph Daytona alternative with a completely original story to tell. Despite the Bulova being vastly cheaper, it’s arguably more historically important, but still has the same cool chronograph look.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

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Best Rolex Submariner Alternative: Invicta Pro Diver

2.
Invicta Pro Diver

If you want a detail-oriented aesthetic twin of the Rolex Submariner for 1/80th of the price, the Invicta Pro Diver is for you. It’s also an affordable mechanical, which adds a touch of fun, especially with the see-through caseback.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Submariner

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I treat trying to find the best Sub alternative like holy ground. There are so many to choose from and everyone has a favorite. Today, our vote goes to the Invicta Pro Diver (8926OB) because of its attention to detail. 

Like the Submariner, the Invicta Pro Diver features a unidirectional bezel, circular indices except for the triangular 12-hour and rectangular 6 and 9, and a date cyclops. Both feature the Mercedes hour hand and lollipop second hand. With a case diameter of 40mm, the Invicta is also close in size.

This watch is a classic homage, taking few liberties, and rebuilding the Submariner’s iconic construction with reasonable materials. If you’re looking for an affordable Sub look-alike that has a following outside of its homage roots, we recommend the Orient Ray II. The Invicta Pro Diver though, is definitely aesthetically closer.

What I Like

  • The Pro Diver lifts its design cues straight from the Submariner, featuring all the classic dive qualities including the 120-click unidirectional bezel.

  • Both watches feature mechanical movements, though the Submariner boasts a superior in-house Swiss caliber.

  • Both watches have a water-resistance suitable for professional marine activity, though the Sub can go 100m deeper.

What Makes it Different?

  • The Invicta features a clear caseback, through which you can see its mechanical movement.

  • It’s a far more affordable construction, featuring a stainless steel bezel instead of a ceramic bezel and a mineral glass instead of sapphire.

Is It for You?

If you want a detail-oriented aesthetic twin of the Rolex Submariner for 1/80th of the price, the Invicta Pro Diver is for you. It’s also an affordable mechanical, which adds a touch of fun, especially with the see-through caseback.

Best Rolex Submariner Alternative
Invicta Pro Diver

If you want a detail-oriented aesthetic twin of the Rolex Submariner for 1/80th of the price, the Invicta Pro Diver is for you. It’s also an affordable mechanical, which adds a touch of fun, especially with the see-through caseback.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Submariner

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Best Rolex GMT-Master II Alternative: Tag Heuer Aquaracer Caliber 7 GMT

3.
Tag Heuer Aquaracer Caliber 7 GMT

The Tag Heuer Aquaracer GMT is a good option if you’re looking for a semi-investment Swiss timepiece with a pepsi aesthetic. It’s also a solid option if you want something with a little more edge than the average red-and-blue GMT.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex GMT Master II

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Though north of a grand, the Tag Heuer Aquaracer GMT is an effective middle-ground. It sits between budget choices, like the sexy Q Timex Reissue, and high-end choices, like the popular Tudor Black Bay GMT. While undeniably well-built, I don’t think the Black Bay is much more affordable than a pre-owned Rolex (Tudor’s sister company).

Tag Heuer gives us a solid, albeit entry-level, watch with this Aquaracer. Its caliber 7 is reliable with a respectable 46-hour power reserve, its crystal is scratch-resistant sapphire, and like the Rolex GMT-Master II you can tell time in two different time zones using the bezel and GMT hand.

It’s more athletic looking than the Rolex GMT. The case is a 12-sided polygon instead of a perfect circle and the face features racing stripes for a rugged and frenetic riff on the original design.

What Makes it Similar?

  • Both watches feature a unidirectional pepsi bezel and a matching red GMT hand, which are used to tell time in different time zones.

  • Both watches have a date cyclops over the 3-hour, though the Rolex cyclops is bigger.

  • Both watches are Swiss-made, and while Tag Heuer isn’t at Rolex’s level, it’s still considered a luxury brand.

What Makes it Different?

  • The Aquaracer is sportier looking, with horizontal stripes on the dial and a polygonic case shape.

Is It for You?

The Tag Heuer Aquaracer GMT is a good option if you’re looking for a semi-investment Swiss timepiece with a pepsi aesthetic. It’s also a solid option if you want something with a little more edge than the average red-and-blue GMT.

Best Rolex GMT-Master II Alternative
Tag Heuer Aquaracer Caliber 7 GMT

The Tag Heuer Aquaracer GMT is a good option if you’re looking for a semi-investment Swiss timepiece with a pepsi aesthetic. It’s also a solid option if you want something with a little more edge than the average red-and-blue GMT.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex GMT Master II

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Best Rolex Explorer Alternative: Longines Conquest

4.
Longines Conquest

The Longines Conquest features the same luxury sport aesthetic as the Rolex Explorer, but comes from a lower market Swiss luxury brand. Opt for the Conquest if you’re looking for a cheaper option at a bigger size.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Explorer

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Longines is another Swiss luxury watchmaker with its own respectable heritage. The Longines Conquest (L3.776.4.58.6) is visually similar to the Rolex Explorer, with just some variation. Still, the Conquest features a Swiss automatic movement, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and a screw down crown. 

The Explorer is obviously a more premium watch. However, there are several qualities that make the Conquest pretty luxurious: It has a higher power reserve at 64 hours vs the Explorer’s 48, it has 300m water resistance vs the Explorer’s 100m, and it comes in more sizes and colors.

If you love the Explorer aesthetic, but want something bigger than the 39mm, look no further than the Conquest’s 41mm option.

What Makes it Similar?

  • Both watches have the exact same color palette, case size, and dial fonts.

  • The Conquest features a smooth, bare, stainless steel bezel which is a defining quality that separates the Explorer from the Explorer II.

  • Both watches are Swiss-made automatics.

What Makes it Different?

  • The face features an aesthetic variation which includes a date window instead of an Arabic 3 and an hour marker instead of an Arabic 9.

  • As far as the case, it comes in 39mm and 41mm, and crown guards give it a slightly different silhouette.

  • It has a higher water resistance at 300m, and a longer power reserve at 64 hours.

Is It for You?

The Longines Conquest features the same luxury sport aesthetic as the Rolex Explorer, but comes from a lower market Swiss luxury brand. Opt for the Conquest if you’re looking for a cheaper option at a bigger size.

Best Rolex Explorer Alternative
Longines Conquest

The Longines Conquest features the same luxury sport aesthetic as the Rolex Explorer, but comes from a lower market Swiss luxury brand. Opt for the Conquest if you’re looking for a cheaper option at a bigger size.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Explorer

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Best Rolex Sea-Dweller Alternative: Oceaneva Deep Marine 

5.
Oceaneva Deep Marine

If you’re looking for a watch that has several of the Rolex Sea-Dweller’s important dive features, but is built with affordable materials, go for the Oceaneva Deep Marine. It’s also a good choice for those who want a unique watch that others likely won’t be wearing.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Sea-Dweller

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If you’re looking for a Rolex Sea-Dweller alternative, it’s likely you’re looking for features as well as aesthetic. The Oceaneva Deep Marine is an effective second-string, made by a US-based watchmaker specializing in 1000m water resistant dives.

The Deep Marine looks a lot like the Sea-Dweller, featuring applied markers and a ceramic bezel. The most noticeable difference is its trademark black mother of pearl face. 

Though it’s lower market than its source material, this dive watch isn’t necessarily a low market watch. It features 1250m water resistance, which is 50m deeper than the Sea-Dweller. Additionally, its lume is strong and its screw down crown is triple sealing and exceedingly grippable. Basically, the Deep Marine features everything you need for actual deep sea diving.

This brand is pretty under-the-radar, which makes this watch a unique option.

What Makes it Similar?

  • Both watches are water resistant enough for deep sea diving.

  • Both watches feature important diver functionalities, including a potent lume, a screw-down triple seal crown, a unidirectional bezel, and a helium escape valve.

  • At 42mm, the Deep Marine’s case size is similar to the Sea-Dweller’s 43mm.

What Makes it Different?

  • It features a black mother of pearl face instead of a stark black one.

  • The Sea-Dweller features a superior in-house Rolex movement, with a 70-hour power reserve compared to the Oceaneva’s 38.

Is It for You?

If you’re looking for a watch that has several of the Rolex Sea-Dweller’s important dive features, but is built with affordable materials, go for the Oceaneva Deep Marine. It’s also a good choice for those who want a unique watch that others likely won’t be wearing.

Best Rolex Sea-Dweller Alternative
Oceaneva Deep Marine

If you’re looking for a watch that has several of the Rolex Sea-Dweller’s important dive features, but is built with affordable materials, go for the Oceaneva Deep Marine. It’s also a good choice for those who want a unique watch that others likely won’t be wearing.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Sea-Dweller

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Best Rolex Oyster Perpetual Alternative: Seiko SARB035

6.
Seiko SARB035

The Seiko SARB035 is a classy, versatile watch that employs sophisticated and high-end design elements. You can very easily transform the design with a simple change of the strap. Originally released exclusively for Seiko’s domestic Japanese market but since discontinued, the SARB035 is also a highly desired watch among serious collectors.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Oyster Perpetual

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The Seiko SARB035’s aesthetic similarities with the Rolex Oyster Perpetual may have more to do with the fact they’re both timeless dress watches. Even if it wasn’t purposeful, the similarities are undeniable.

The main difference—the SARB035’s date window—doesn’t take away from the overall simple and elegant look because it’s so small. Some may even say the SARB035’s sword hands are sleeker than the Oyster Perpetual’s rectangular sticks.

The SARB035 has several high-quality features including 23-jewel hand winding and hacking automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve, a sapphire crystal, and 100m of water resistance.

What Makes it Similar?

  • Both watches’ premium features include a stainless steel construction, automatic movement, and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.

  • Both timepieces sport a minimalist aesthetic with a light color palette.

  • Though different markets, both watches are highly desirable to serious collectors.

What Makes it Different?

  • The SARB035 is smaller at 38mm, while a modern Oyster Perpetual is 41mm.

  • It features a date window on the 3-hour mark.

Is It for You?

The Seiko SARB035 is for you if you’re looking for a slightly bigger automatic Oyster Perpetual look-alike or just a classy versatile watch that can be worn at work or at a wedding.

Best Rolex Oyster Perpetual Alternative
Seiko SARB035

The Seiko SARB035 is a classy, versatile watch that employs sophisticated and high-end design elements. You can very easily transform the design with a simple change of the strap. Originally released exclusively for Seiko’s domestic Japanese market but since discontinued, the SARB035 is also a highly desired watch among serious collectors.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Oyster Perpetual

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Best Rolex Datejust Alternative: Seiko Quartz SGF204 

7.
Seiko Quartz SGF204

The Seiko Quartz SGF204 is for you if you love the Rolex Datejust’s look and color, but don’t care about the functionalities or construction. Seiko doesn’t veer far from the source material here.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Datejust

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The Seiko Quartz SGF204 looks nearly identical to the popular Rolex Datejust 41 Yellow Rolesor. If you’re looking for an automatic, there are some Datejust alternatives in the Seiko 5 collection that are hard to come by or will be missing some key design elements like the pie-pan bezel.

This Seiko hits the mark on basically every design feature including the color, the hour markers, and the bracelet style. The biggest difference is its day/date. As a quartz watch that isn’t actually constructed with precious metals though, this homage is purely aesthetic.

What Makes it Similar?

  • They have the same two-tone color palette including gold-colored hands, bezel, and middle links on the bracelet. Of course, the Datejust uses real gold.

  • They both feature the distinct pie-pan bezel and minimalist face.

  • The Datejust is on Rolex’s Jubilee bracelet, while the Seiko is on an identical multi-link Jubilee style bracelet.

What Makes it Different?

  • Aesthetically, it features a smaller case than the Datejust 41 and features a day/date.

  • Functionally, the Seiko Quartz features a lower end construction including gold-colored stainless steel as opposed to real gold, a hardlex crystal, and a quartz movement.

Is It for You?

The Seiko Quartz SGF204 is for you if you love the Rolex Datejust’s look and color, but don’t care about the functionalities or construction. Seiko doesn’t veer far from the source material here.

Best Rolex Datejust Alternative
Seiko Quartz SGF204

The Seiko Quartz SGF204 is for you if you love the Rolex Datejust’s look and color, but don’t care about the functionalities or construction. Seiko doesn’t veer far from the source material here.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Datejust

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Best Rolex Sky-Dweller Alternative: Stuhrling Northstar GMT

8.
Stuhrling Northstar GMT

The Stuhrling Northstar GMT is for you if you’re looking for a watch that has the same aesthetic vibes as the Sky-Dweller. This watch’s face features all of the same parts as the Rolex, just remixed in their positioning, but is a completely different watch functionally.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Sky-Dweller

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The Rolex Sky-Dweller is infamously un-homageable because of its excess complications. We chose the Stuhrling Northstar GMT as an aesthetic cousin, due to its busy and layered face.

Compared to the black Sky-Dweller, this watch features the same color scheme complete with small red accents. As far as design components, the Northstar GMT’s hands and hour indices are the exact same shape as the Sky-Dweller’s and they each feature a date cyclops.

The most important quality though is the Stuhrling’s dual time zone subdial. It’s placed more centered than the Sky-Dweller’s subdial is, but it still brings it all together aesthetically.

Of course, being in the under $160 range, the Northstar won’t feature the premium functions and construction as the Rolex Sky-Dweller, but most of the look is there.

What I Like

  • Both watches feature the Sky-Dweller’s distinctive fluted bezel.

  • They’re the exact same size with a similarly sized/placed crown for an identical silhouette.

  • Both watches feature a cyclops date, similarly shaped and colored stick hands and hour markers, and a dual time tracking subdial.

What Makes it Different?

  • Its subdial is perfectly-centered vs the Sky-Dweller’s trademark center-bottom placement.

  • The Sky-Dweller is constructed with much higher quality materials including Rolex Oystersteel, 18ct white gold, and a sapphire crystal.

  • The Stuhrling Northstar GMT features a quartz movement.

Is It for You?

The Stuhrling Northstar GMT is for you if you’re looking for a watch that has the same aesthetic vibes as the Sky-Dweller. This watch’s face features all of the same parts as the Rolex, just remixed in their positioning, but is a completely different watch functionally.

Best Rolex Day-Date Alternative
Stuhrling Northstar GMT

The Stuhrling Northstar GMT is for you if you’re looking for a watch that has the same aesthetic vibes as the Sky-Dweller. This watch’s face features all of the same parts as the Rolex, just remixed in their positioning, but is a completely different watch functionally.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Sky-Dweller

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Best Rolex Day-Date Alternative: Peugeot Day Date

9.
Peugeot Day Date

The Peugeot Day Date is a beautiful Rolex Day-Date homage. If you want a thorough tribute for less than a hundred bucks, this is the perfect choice.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Day-Date

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Like the Datejust and the Seiko SGF204, the Peugeot Day Date is a purely visual homage to the Rolex Day-Date, but boy are they similar!

It hits all the design marks flawlessly: The fluted bezel, Roman numerals, and most importantly, the 12-hour placement of the fully spelled-out day. The Peugeot even replicates the prestigious President style bracelet and lug style. 

All of these qualities on a 14k gold-plated construction with a lifetime warranty makes for a solid homage.

What Makes it Similar?

  • The cyclops dates are on the 3-hour mark and the days are at the 12-hour mark, allowing the whole day to be spelled out.

  • They both feature a fluted bezel and stately Roman numerals on the dial.

  • The Peugeot features a similar three-link bracelet in the style of Rolex’s President bracelet.

What Makes it Different?

  • The Peugeot is gold-plated stainless steel, not actually gold constructed.

  • It features a quartz movement.

Is It for You?

The Peugeot Day Date is a beautiful Rolex Day-Date homage. If you want a thorough tribute for less than a hundred bucks, this is the perfect choice.

Best Rolex Day-Date Alternative
Peugeot Day Date

The Peugeot Day Date is a beautiful Rolex Day-Date homage. If you want a thorough tribute for less than a hundred bucks, this is the perfect choice.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Day-Date

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Best Rolex Pearlmaster Alternative: Bulova Phantom Swarovski Crystals

10.
Bulova Phantom Swarovski Crystals

Rolex watches with loads of precious gems don’t hold their value as well as simple, stainless steel models. If you love the flashy look of the Pearlmaster, but don’t want to lose money, go with the Swarovski crystals of the Bulova Phantom.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Pearlmaster

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Today’s Rolex Pearlmaster is decked with diamonds from top to bottom. If you look closely though, you’ll notice that the design is a harmonious pattern, with purposeful movement and size variations among the gems. The Bulova Phantom with Swarovski Crystals does something similar, albeit with much lower priced gems.

This watch features 447 crystals on a stainless steel construction. Swarovski crystals aren’t as precious as diamonds, but the Bulova Phantom achieves a similar look-at-me bling. Moreover, the Phantom is a lot bigger with a 42mm case compared to the Pearlmaster’s 39mm.

What Makes it Similar?

  • Both watches are bejeweled all throughout, including the face, the bezel, and the bracelet.

  • The Phantom features a five-piece bracelet, similar to the Pearlmaster bracelet.

  • Both are eye-catching dress watches with a lot of sparkle.

What Makes it Different?

  • Swarovski Crystals take the place of diamonds.

  • The indices are non-numeral markers instead of Roman numerals.

  • It has a quartz movement.

Is It For You?

Rolex watches with loads of precious gems don’t hold their value as well as simple, stainless steel models. If you love the flashy look of the Pearlmaster, but don’t want to lose money, go with the Swarovski crystals of the Bulova Phantom.

Best Rolex Cellini Alternative
Bulova Phantom Swarovski Crystals

Rolex watches with loads of precious gems don’t hold their value as well as simple, stainless steel models. If you love the flashy look of the Pearlmaster, but don’t want to lose money, go with the Swarovski crystals of the Bulova Phantom.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Pearlmaster

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Best Rolex Cellini Alternative: Seiko Presage Manhattan Cocktail

11.
Seiko Presage Manhattan Cocktail

The Seiko Presage Manhattan Cocktail is for you if you’re looking for a Rolex Cellini alternative that also stands on its own as a good Seiko automatic. It’s a swanky dress watch perfect for cocktail hours.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Cellini

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The Rolex Cellini was inspired by Renaissance goldsmith and sculptor Benvenuto Cellini, so an effective alternative must have the same texture and color palette as the original. Enter the Seiko Presage Manhattan Cocktail, SRPB46J1

It features long slender indices and a pattern of lines on the dial that all point straight into the center, just like its Rolex sibling. The gold case and the croco-leather embossed strap complete the Cellino look.

If the Cellini Dual Time or the Cellini Date is more your style, this sundial-embedded version of the Presage is a great option.

What Makes it Similar?

  • The Cellini’s characteristic elegant lines are also featured on the Seiko in the form of long indices and as a pattern on the dial.

  • They both present with a warm color palette and similar textures throughout including the crocodile strap.

  • They’re similar in size, with the modern Cellini at 39mm and the Seiko just a tad bigger at 40.5mm .

  • They’re both automatic watches.

What Makes it Different?

  • It’s constructed from more affordable materials including a hardlex crystal, and colored stainless steel.

Is It for You?

The Seiko Presage Manhattan Cocktail is for you if you’re looking for a Rolex Cellini alternative that also stands on its own as a good Seiko automatic. It’s a swanky dress watch perfect for cocktail hours.

Best Rolex Cellini Alternative
Seiko Presage Manhattan Cocktail

The Seiko Presage Manhattan Cocktail is for you if you’re looking for a Rolex Cellini alternative that also stands on its own as a good Seiko automatic. It’s a swanky dress watch perfect for cocktail hours.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Cellini

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Best Rolex Yacht-Master Alternative: Parnis Yachtmaster

12.
Parnis Yachtmaster

The Parnis Yachtmaster is for you if you want a robust tool watch that’s also style-focused. It wears similarly to the Rolex Yacht-Master due to its similar weight and size.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Yacht-Master

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Coming from a literal homage maker, the Parnis Yachtmaster is another option that sticks close to the original Rolex Yacht-Master’s design. The most important quality is the Parnis’s robust bezel with 3-dimensional numbers—a defining Yacht-Master characteristic.

While the Parnis is only water resistant at 50m, it does boast some decent features including a sapphire crystal, a unidirectional ceramic bezel, and a self-winding 21-jewel automatic movement.

What Makes it Similar?

  • They both feature the large unidirectional bezel with the 3-dimensional numbers for a rugged, almost robotic aesthetic.

  • The Parnis is 41mm, and most modern Yacht-Masters range between 40mm-42mm.

  • They have similar faces, featuring a date cyclops, a Mercedes hand, and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.

What Makes it Different?

  • Unfortunately, the Parnis features a very weak, uninspired lume.

  • The Parnis features the Miyota self-winding movement, while the Yacht-Master features its premium in-house movement.

Is It for You?

The Parnis Yachtmaster is for you if you want a robust tool watch that’s also style-focused. It wears similarly to the Rolex Yacht-Master due to its similar weight and size.

Best Rolex Yacht-Master Alternative
Parnis Yachtmaster

The Parnis Yachtmaster is for you if you want a robust tool watch that’s also style-focused. It wears similarly to the Rolex Yacht-Master due to its similar weight and size.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Yacht-Master

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Best Rolex Milgauss Alternative: Benyar Explorer

13.
Benyar Explorer

The Benyar Explorer is basically a legal replica of the Rolex Milgauss, all the way down to the green glass. Go for this watch if you love the exact design of the Milgauss. Don’t go for this watch if you care at all about the Milgauss’s anti-magnetic capabilities.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Milgauss

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Out of all the homages, the Benyar Explorer is the most like its source material, displaying not a single design difference from the Rolex Milgauss

The space between the bezel top and the dial is deep, making the crystal look super thick, a quality that Milgauss fans love. 

Of course, Benyar can’t employ Rolex’s proprietary green sapphire crystal, which is used exclusively on Milgauss watches. They did, however, create a green watch mirror that’s scratch-resistant and color-fast. The subtle green makes the face and edges appear nearly fluorescent. This detail proves that Benyar really cares about making a good homage.

What Makes it Similar?

  • The watch face is an exact design homage, differing only in its branding.

  • They’re similarly sized with the Benyar at 41mm and the Milgauss at 40mm.

  • They both feature the same three-link oyster bracelet style.

What makes it Different?

  • The materials are lower quality, including the Hardlex crystal and a lower grade stainless steel.

  • It features virtually none of the Milgauss capabilities, such as its famous anti-magnetism.

Is It for You?

The Benyar Explorer is basically a legal replica of the Rolex Milgauss, all the way down to the green glass. Go for this watch if you love the exact design of the Milgauss. Don’t go for this watch if you care at all about the Milgauss’s anti-magnetic capabilities.

Best Rolex Milgauss Alternative
Benyar Explorer

The Benyar Explorer is basically a legal replica of the Rolex Milgauss, all the way down to the green glass. Go for this watch if you love the exact design of the Milgauss. Don’t go for this watch if you care at all about the Milgauss’s anti-magnetic capabilities.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Milgauss

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Best Rolex Air-King Alternative: Citizen NJ0100

14.
Citizen NJ0100

The Citizen NJ0100 is for you if you can’t afford the Rolex Air-King. Because the Air-King is so simple and one of the lowest priced Rolex watches out there, very few homages are satisfying for Air-King fans. If you absolutely love the Air-King, this Citizen works well on its own right, and as a placeholder while you save up.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Air-King

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The Rolex Air-King is an homage to aviation defined mainly, if not only, by the superlative numbers on the face. It’s otherwise a simple, understated timepiece, just like the Citizen NJ0100

Citizen is a workhorse brand, known for bang-for-buck tool watches. It makes sense that they’d build one of the only justifiable Air-King homages out there. Air-Kings are excellent watches, but notoriously nondescript.

The Citizen NJ0100 is also much bigger with an oval-cased shape.

What Makes it Similar?

  • The face is simple, defined only by large number indices.

  • They both boast a stainless steel flat three-link bracelet.

  • They each feature an automatic movement, though Rolex movements are superior.

What makes it Different?

  • The large numbers on its face indicate hours only, as opposed to a mix of hours and minutes.

  • The case is a longer oval shape and much larger at 44mm.

  • It has a date window on the dial.

Is It for You?

The Citizen NJ0100 is for you if you’d prefer not to stump up for the Rolex Air-King. Because the Air-King is so simple and one of the lowest priced Rolex watches out there, very few homages are satisfying for Air-King fans. If you absolutely love the Air-King, this Citizen works well on its own right, and as a placeholder while you save up.

Best Rolex Air-King Alternative
Citizen NJ0100

The Citizen NJ0100 is for you if you can’t afford the Rolex Air-King. Because the Air-King is so simple and one of the lowest priced Rolex watches out there, very few homages are satisfying for Air-King fans. If you absolutely love the Air-King, this Citizen works well on its own right, and as a placeholder while you save up.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Air-King

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Rolex Overview: What Makes Rolex Watches So Appealing?

With Rolex, you get to own a genuinely high-quality watch and also be part of a fabled world. The Swiss brand isn’t legendary just because of its long list of famous ambassadors. Long before Bond’s iconic Submariner in Dr. No, Rolex watches were always made with topnotch horological skill and artistry.

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Ever since they invented the first waterproof watch in 1926, Rolex has had a proven track record of innovations. Even today, they boast several qualities that make them a superior brand.

Rolex Movements

The in-house automatic movements that Rolex builds are one of the main features that makes a Rolex watch a Rolex. They’re precise and durable, and they continue to fashion their exclusive calibers even as many luxury brands outsource their movements.

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If it weren’t for Rolex’s success and esteem, there likely wouldn’t even be a traditional watch market.

Exclusivity

No, we’re not referring to the intimidation factor or expensive prices here.

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Rolex has patented over 500 in-house innovations. This means that when you buy a Rolex watch, you’re literally paying for something, or multiple things, no other watchmaker can give you.

Genuine Quality

One of their patents is their Oystersteel, which is a leveled-up stainless steel much shinier and tougher than the 316L stainless steel often used by high-end brands. 

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Rolex watches are also subject to rigorous testing by the COSC (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute), which ensures durability and accuracy in high-pressure conditions.

These are just two reasons, of many, as to why a Rolex watch can last forever. This also makes them a great investment piece.

Memorable Design

Today’s Submariner isn’t that visually different from the one that debuted in 1953. The fact that your grandfather would recognize your Rolex based on the one he wore decades prior is a contributing factor to why their designs are so iconic.

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It’s also why their designs have inspired so many homages.

Which Rolex Alternative is Right For You? 

Each affordable alternative recaptures the aesthetic of its Rolex counterpart in different ways.

The Benyar, the Parnis, the Peugeot, and the Invicta, for example, are direct design twins of the Milgauss, Day-Date, Sea-Dweller, and the Submariner, respectively.

Invicta Pro Diver

If you want a detail-oriented aesthetic twin of the Rolex Submariner for 1/80th of the price, the Invicta Pro Diver is for you. It’s also an affordable mechanical, which adds a touch of fun, especially with the see-through caseback.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Submariner

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Then you have watches like the Tag Heuer Aquaracer and the Longines Conquest, which are visually similar to the GMT-Master II and the Explorer, and come from other luxury Swiss brands, be they lower market.

Tag Heuer Aquaracer Caliber 7 GMT

The Tag Heuer Aquaracer GMT is a good option if you’re looking for a semi-investment Swiss timepiece with a pepsi aesthetic. It’s also a solid option if you want something with a little more edge than the average red-and-blue GMT.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex GMT Master II

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Since diamond bedazzled watches don’t alway hold their value, the Bulova Phantom may even be a more practical option over the Pearlmaster in the long run.

I love the Bulova Lunar Pilot. It’s a great alternative to the Cosmograph Daytona, and even the Omega Speedmaster, at a fraction of the cost, with just as much historical importance.

Bulova Lunar Pilot

The Bulova Lunar Pilot is for you if you want a Cosmograph Daytona alternative with a completely original story to tell. Despite the Bulova being vastly cheaper, it’s arguably more historically important, but still has the same cool chronograph look.

Affordable alternative to: Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

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Through affordable alternatives, there are many ways for you to enjoy Rolex’s iconic designs without breaking the bank.