A watch purpose-built for the track and crafted with racing DNA — the Rolex Daytona (also known as Rolex Cosmograph Daytona).
The iconic watch from the Swiss luxury brand remains sought after by racers, watch aficionados, celebrities, motorsport fans, and more. Over the years, the Rolex Daytona has remained a mainstay of racing culture. However, owning one is no easy feat. Much like every other Rolex, the Daytona, too, commands a hefty price tag. For instance, the oyster steel variant of the Rolex Daytona currently retails for over eleven thousand USD. However, don’t let the price drop limit your need for speed or the Daytona.
In this article, we will recommend watches that serve as great homage and affordable alternatives to the Rolex Daytona. The intent is to provide a host of options for you to consider. To better judge the alternatives, we must first understand the history, features, and stature of the Rolex Daytona. Subsequently, the article will shed light on brand information and features offered by the recommended alternatives.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
Designed and developed in 1963, the first Rolex Daytona drew inspiration and focused on the demands of a racing driver. Track focused and purpose-built, the iconic timepiece combined unparalleled high-performance with Rolex craftsmanship. Considered the ultimate sports chronograph, the Daytona remains a benchmark in motor racing even fifty years after its introduction.
The watch borrows its name from the historic Daytona Beach in Florida. The sandy stretch hosted numerous land speed record runs. As a result, it earned the nickname – the world capital of speed. British driver Malcolm Campbell made history as he set a World Land Speed Record of 276 mph here. He then went on to break the 300mph barrier. More importantly, he achieved these feats with a Rolex wrapped around his wrist. As a result, Rolex has always maintained a close connection with speed.
Following this, the Daytona International Speedway opened doors in 1960, and Rolex has since been the official timekeeper. To commemorate this track-based connection, Rolex named its newest release the Daytona in 1963. Furthermore, the legendary Paul Newman wore a Rolex Daytona. At a recent auction, his timepiece went for over 17 million US dollars.
Powered by Rolex’s Calibre 4130 movements, the current timepiece features a host of race-inspired features. These include its tachymetric scale, pushers, and three counters. As a result, the watch can measure elapsed time on track through hours, minutes, and seconds. In addition, the iconic bezel hosts a tachymetric scale measuring average speed over specific distances based on elapsed time. In addition, 2013 marked the year of Rolex’s association with Formula 1, a testament to the Daytona’s stature.
As a result of such pedigree and quality, the 40mm Daytona commands a great price. You also have the option to choose the more expensive options made of gold, platinum, etc.
Best Rolex Daytona Alternatives
Having understood the key features, functions, and design of the Rolex Daytona, here is our list of recommended alternatives.
Our list is ordered very roughly by price, starting with the most affordable budget options and working our way up the range including a few mid-range value picks, a pick from Rolex sibling Tudor as well as a few premium watches.
Bulova Marine Star (96B255)
The Bulova Marine Star 96B255 features a six hand calendar chronograph. The lack of traditonal hour makers except for the five o’clock position ofset in red font gives the dial a unique look and keeps it from looking overly busy. The white dial and stainless steel with silver-tones give it an elegant finish. The three subdial include a chronograph that measures time up to 60 Minutes, 60 Seconds and timed to 1/20th of a Second
The 43mm case is protected by flat mineral glass and screw-back case and water resistance to 100 meters.
Seiko Solar Chronograph (SSC446)
The Seiko Solar Chronograph (SSC446) fuses the trendy charm of panda dial design with a few simple yet highly effective design tweaks such as the inclusion of gold accents between the bracelet links and bezel.
Apart from aesthetics, the Seiko SSC446 is built with Seikos Solar-powered technology that provides a 6-month power reserve once fully charged
It features a high-precision and reliable Japanese quartz Caliber V175 movement with an analog dial display, LumiBrite hands and markers. The chronograph measures up to 60 minutes in 1/5-second increments and has a split time measurement function. and water resistance of up to 100-meters.
Stührling Formulai 891
A fairly new entrant to the watchmaking industry, Stührling officially launched in 2002.
Founded by Chaim Fischer, the brand’s Formulai 891 makes a great case as a Daytona alternative.
Slightly larger at 42mm, the watch bears a similar look to the Rolex Daytona. Apart from the tachymeter bezel, the three dials, the watch also features a date display at 4.30. The stainless steel case hosts the Japanese VK63 quartz movement and is water-resistant up to 100m. In addition, the markers and hands on the dial are luminous ensuring legibility in dark environments. The brand offers this model in a host of dial color and bracelet options. Another alternative from the same brand to consider is the Concorso 665B.
You can also read about Stührling here.
Invicta Speedway (Model: 9211)
Currently based out of Florida, the Swiss brand Invicta offers a good alternative at a fraction of the price. The brand’s history traces back to 1837 when Raphael Picard founded the company in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. Consider the Invicta Speedway 9211, it holds a close resemblance with the Rolex Daytona.
In a similar vein to the Rolex, the 9211 features a tachymeter bezel on the 39.5mm case. In addition, the quartz-powered watch features a date display along with the three counters and pushers. The stainless steel case is water-resistant up to 200m. Furthermore, Invicta offers this design in several color options to choose from. For bigger wrists, there is also a 45mm case.
Seiko Chronograph (SSB025PC)
Japanese watchmaker Seiko garners acclaim and patrons globally for its high-quality and affordable watches. Founded by Kintaro Hattori in 1881, the Tokyo-based brand has constantly upheld Japanese craftsmanship through their watches. Likewise, the brand offers a great alternative to the Rolex Daytona with their Seiko Chronograph SSB025PC.
Visually very similar in design, the Seiko watch hosts a quartz movement. Like the Rolex, the dial hosts three counters and an additional date display. The tachymeter bezel sits on the 40mm stainless steel case. In addition, the hour markers and the hands are luminous. For a sportier dial, consider the Seiko SSB345P1. Great Japanese alternatives at affordable pricing.
Tissot V8 Quartz Chronograph (T1064171105100)
Another Swiss luxury watchmaker to consider as a Rolex alternative is Tissot. Founded in 1853 by Charles-Félicien Tissot and his son, Charles-Émile Tissot, it remains in the upper echelons of Swiss brands. The luxury watchmaker has been a subsidiary of Swiss Swatch Group since 1983. Tissot’s V8 collection offers a worthy alternative to the Rolex Daytona.
The V8 Quartz Chronograph offers similar features, functions, and looks like the Daytona.
The case hosts the Swiss quartz ETA G10.212 movement and features three counters along with ADD and SPLIT functions. The tachymeter bezel design bestows the watch with a rugged look. Furthermore, this model is available in five unique and sporty color options.
Tudor Black Bay Chrono (M79350-0003-001)
To ensure a Rolex-like build and quality, it is always best to look closer to the brand.
Rolex’s sister company Tudor crafts equally premium and capable watches. As a result, Tudor also offers an alternative to the Rolex Daytona.
The Tudor Black Bay Chrono features two counters on the dial as opposed to the Rolex’s three. However, this watch features a date showcase at six o’clock, and the stainless steel case measures 41mm.
Powered by Calibre MT5813 movement, this is a more than capable track instrument with its tachymetric scale on the bezel. In addition, the Black Bay Chrono is water-resistant up to 200m. However, if you are absolutely keen on three counters on the dial, consider the Tudor Fastrider Black Shield. This all-black timepiece features a sportier face.
Tag Heuer Formula 1 Chronograph
If you are looking for an alternate luxury brand offering a Daytona-like watch, consider Tag Heuer. Like Rolex, this Swiss luxury brand boasts of rich history. Founded in 1860, Tag Heuer remains a highly sought-after brand. For this list, we’re looking at the Tag Heuer Formula 1.
This collection offers a host of chronograph watches that are capable alternatives to the Rolex Daytona. Powered by a quartz movement, this watch measures 43mm and uses materials otherwise utilized in Formula 1. The PVD steel tachymeter bezel features bolder digits. On the dial, we find three counters and a date display. Superluminova treated markers and hand ensure legibility in low light conditions. In addition, the watch is water-resistant up to 200m.
Graham Silverstone RS Racing
If you are looking for something more loud and bold, then turn to Graham Watchmakers. Named after the English circuit Silverstone, this model (2STEA.B17A) looks the part too. From the chequered dial, black tire tread rubber strap, and the British racing green tachymeter, every detail remains race-inspired.
The watch features seconds, 30 minutes, 12 hours counters along with a date display on the sporty dial. Powered by the G1749 movement, this timepiece is ideal for racers thanks to its Incabloc shock absorber. The 46mm steel case features two pushers on either side of the crown and a clear sapphire crystal back. With its brake disc-shaped seconds counter-like intricate details, this watch makes a great alternative to the Rolex Daytona.
Omega Speedmaster Racing
For those of you who don’t mind the staggering Rolex price tag, but need an alternative anyway, look no further. Just like the Rolex, Omega manufactures timeless and luxury watches for the premium market. Omega’s Speedmaster Racing collection offers a technologically capable, beautifully designed, luxury Swiss alternative. In other words, this is as good as it gets. Available in ten models, this watch features a Daytona-like ceramic Tachymeter bezel, but the case measures 44.25mm.
The stainless steel case hosts the OMEGA Co-Axial Master Chronometer 9900 under the dial and features two subdials. In addition, the dial features a racing-style minute track, giving the collection its name. The hands and hour markers remain SuperLuminova treated. Furthermore, the watch is water-resistant up to 50m, anti-magnetic, and shock-resistant. Above all, the watch comes with Omega’s notable five-year warranty.
Davosa Speedline Quartz
The ‘Davosa’ name bears a unique and rich history. Originally a collection, it grew tremendously and today the brand offers many capable and affordable watches under its five collections. Making this list is the Davosa Speedline Quartz. This watch shares a similar look and design to the Rolex Daytona along with its functions.
Powered by Swiss chronograph Ronda 5030 movement, the watch features three counters and a date display. The 42mm stainless steel case hosts luminous hour markers and hands. In addition, the tachymeter bezel bears a similar resemblance to that of the Daytona. Davosa offers this model in many different colors and strap options. For fans of the racing strips, some models also feature it on the dial.
Read our review on Davosa here.