The Rolex Daytona is considered by many to be the ultimate watch in the Rolex portfolio. These days, very few people are afforded the opportunity to purchase one from an authorized dealer and most have to resort to paying more than double the cost of retail to own one. I’ve played the AD game for the last five years and I’m still waiting for the call. Lucky for us, there are plenty of other great chronograph options that are more affordable and readily available. Sure, they aren't the Daytona, but maybe they can scratch the itch in the interim.
Anyone into watches has probably heard about the Omega Speedmaster. It’s iconic status was cemented in July 1969 when Buzz Aldrin wore it during the Apollo 11 moon landing mission and it became the first watch on the moon. Since then it has built a loyal following and expanded into various sub-collections like the racing Speedmaster. In recent years, the Speedmaster has seen a spike in popularity with the release of the #SpeedyTuesday editions and the last two Snoopy watches. All of which are selling for more than their retail prices.
The Speedmaster’s build quality is comparable to Rolex and the latest iteration of the Speedmaster comes with new upgrades to the bracelet and a master certified 3861 manual wind movement. At $6300 for the hesalite version and $7150 for sapphire, the Speedmaster is a great alternative to the Daytona that is half of its retail price and readily available.
Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Sport
Another great alternative to the Daytona is the Zenith El Primero. In fact, these two models are linked in history. Zenith was the first watch maker to release an automatic chronograph caliber in 1969. Nearly 20 years later, Rolex would heavily modify Zenith movements and use them in their 165XX Daytona models from 1988-2000.
Today, the Zenith El Primero Chronomaster is a popular sports watch with a bit more flair than the current Daytona with its colored sub dials and modern styling. At $10,300 it's a bit more expensive than the Speedmaster but is also readily available.
Tag Heur Monaco
In 1969, Heuer released a watch that would later become a future icon. The Monaco was the first square-cased, water resistant, automatic chronograph to ever be released. In the last 50 years, the Monaco is still considered a timeless design with today’s models looking nearly identical to its predecessors.
The Monaco got its jump start in popularity for being featured on the wrist of Steve Mcqueen in the 1971 movie “Le Mans.” Since then, it’s been a watch synonymous with auto racing and remains one of Tag Heuer’s most popular models.
Tudor Black Bay Chronograph
Tudor’s popularity among American watch enthusiasts has grown tremendously since re-entering the US market in 2013. Arguably its most popular collection within the Tudor catalog is the Black Bay, which has eight sub-collections under its umbrella. The Black Bay Chronograph was revised for 2021 to be slimmer, more comfortable, and have a similar colorway to the current black and panda dial Rolex Daytona models. With Tudor being Rolexes sister brand, you’ll get that crown quality at a fraction of the price.