At a retail level, most of Rolex’s top models are entirely unattainable, and buying one from your local authorized dealer typically involves spending a considerable amount of time on a waiting list. Of course, you can always skip the line and buy from a seller on the secondary market; however, the premiums being asked can often range from significant to flat-out insane.
It is not uncommon for Rolex watches to trade hands for values that are anywhere between two and three times their original retail prices. However the issue with this is that you can find yourself in a situation where you are paying nearly $50k for a watch like the stainless steel Daytona, which Rolex themselves believes is only worth about $15k (hence its official 2022 retail price of $14,550 USD). Although logic will tell you to simply be patient and deal with the waiting list, if you have money burning a hole in your pocket, you probably still want to buy a new watch anyway.
Therefore, to hold you over until your name comes up on the waiting list, here are 3 Tudor watches that make excellent Rolex alternatives - and all of them can be purchased for less than the additional price premium that accompanies your favorite stainless steel Rolex model on the secondary market.
Tudor Back Bay Chrono
Although it was first released in 2016, the stainless steel Rolex Daytona 116500LN has only become more difficult to buy at retail over the years, and you can pay as much as $50,000 for one on the secondary market. However, Tudor offers a similar stainless steel chronograph that checks a lot of the same boxes as the Rolex Daytona; however, adding one to your collection will only set you back about $5k.
Just like the Rolex Daytona, the Tudor Black Bay Chrono also offers an in-house chronograph movement with a column wheel and vertical clutch. However, you also get twice the water resistance of the Daytona (200 meters vs. 100 meters) and the added utility of a date display. Although it is also available with the option of either a black or white dial, the Tudor Black Bay Chrono measures 1mm larger than the Daytona (41mm vs. 40mm) and it also features a bezel with a traditional black aluminum insert rather than the scratch-resistant Cerachrom bezel fitted to the Rolex Daytona.
Beyond that, there are a number of other important differences, such as how the Tudor Black Bay Chrono uses a two-register layout, while the Daytona has an additional chronograph register on its dial. However, when you consider that you can buy a Tudor Black Bay Chrono for about 1/10th of what you will pay for a stainless steel Daytona on the open market, it’s fairly easy to justify picking up a Black Bay Chrono to wear while you wait for your name to come up on the Rolex Daytona waiting list.
Tudor Black Bay Dive Watch
The Rolex Submariner might be the brand’s most famous sports watch of all time, and even the classic no-date model from the current lineup will set you back nearly twice it’s official $8,950 retail price on the open market. However, for less than 1/4th the price of a Submariner, you can take your pick from the current range of Tudor Black Bay dive watches.
Just like the current Rolex Submariner, the standard Tudor Black Bay measures 41mm in diameter. Although the Submariner does offer a greater depth rating (300 meters vs. 200 meters), the classic no-date Tudor Black Bay diver is available in three different colors, while the no-date Submariner is exclusively offered in black.
One of the biggest differences between the two watches is that the Tudor Black Bay has a standard aluminum bezel insert which will scratch and fade over the years, while the Submariner’s is made from Cerachrom. However, in this instance, a ceramic bezel and an extra 100 meters of water resistance will cost you at least $10,000 more than the $3,900 retail price of a brand-new Tudor Black Bay dive watch on a bracelet, making the option from Tudor seem like a relative bargain.
Tudor Black Bay GMT
Although the stainless steel Rolex GMT-Master II with a red and blue “Pepsi” bezel costs about $10k at retail, available examples will set you back about three times as much when purchased on the open market. However, Tudor also sells a multi-timezone travel watch with a red and blue bezel, and it can be purchased brand-new for around $4k.
The Tudor Black Bay GMT and the Rolex GMT-Master II both feature in-house movements capable of simultaneously displaying two different timezones with independently adjustable local hour hands. Additionally, both watches also feature date displays and rotating 24-hour bezels that enable quick access to a third timezone.
With that in mind, the bezel insert on the Tudor Black Bay GMT is made from anodized aluminum, rather than scratch-resistant Cerachrom like the Rolex GMT-Master II. However, the Black Bay GMT offers twice the water resistance as Rolex’s travel watch (200 meters vs. 100 meters), and it can be purchased for about 1/8th of the price of a stainless steel Rolex GMT-Master II on the secondary market.
BONUS: MONTA Noble
For decades, Rolex’s entry-level Oyster Perpetual collection was readily available; however, the most recent update from 2020 has brought a lot of attention to this classic line of watches. Although the full-size models cost about $6k when purchased at retail, open market prices can reach north of $35,000 for certain highly desirable dial colors, and even the least expensive examples cost around twice their original brand-new retail prices.
The closest alternative from Tudor would be one of the non-diver models from the Black Bay lineup. However, these watches are significantly more tool-like in their appearance than the Rolex Oyster Perpetual collection and they really have more in common with a sports watch like the Rolex Explorer. Therefore, for everyone wanting a classic and versatile timepiece like the Oyster Perpetual but who doesn’t want to pay over $10,000 to own one, the MONTA Noble makes an excellent and significantly more affordable alternative.
Although the MONTA Noble isn’t available with the same crazy and vibrant dial colors that can be found within the Rolex Oyster Perpetual lineup, it offers significantly more when it comes to everyday versatility. Not only does it include the added functionality of a date display (which is thoughtfully placed at the 6 o’clock location to preserve the symmetry of the dial), but it also offers greater water resistance than the Oyster Perpetual (150 meters vs. 100 meters).
With an official retail price of just $1,760, the MONTA Noble represents a strong value proposition compared to the $6k that Rolex charges for an Oyster Perpetual, let alone the $10,000 (or more) that will take to secure one on the open market. Additionally, not everyone likes Tudor’s signature “Snowflake” hands, which are a staple on many of its models, and if you still want a classic go-anywhere, do-anything timepiece but this Tudor-specific aesthetic detail is a deal-breaker, then the MONTA Noble might just be for you.