RS Recommends: These Rolex Alternatives Prove That Great Watches Can be Cheap

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The Rolex crown logo can be taken literally; the Swiss brand is the undisputed king of watches. According to Morgan Stanley’s 2022 report on the state of the Swiss watch industry, Rolex has 29% of the Swiss watch market share — more than Omega, Cartier Watches, Longines, and Patek Philippe combined. And Rolex’s celebrity wrist market share is probably even higher, with just about every rapper, actor, and famous personality seen wearing a Rolex at some point.

Unfortunately, Rolexes have become especially hard to come by in recent years. Thanks to Covid supply chain issues and more demand, prices have skyrocketed, tipping many Rolex models past the five-figure mark. Luckily, you don’t need $10k+ to get the brand’s classic good looks. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best Rolex alternatives that can be had for as little as $75.

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The Best Rolex Alternatives to Buy Online

Because Rolex is so ubiquitous — and hasn’t altered its iconic designs much over the years — it’s not too hard to find more affordable watches that look like a Rolex. And we’re not talking about cheap knock-offs. Many of the best Rolex alternatives come from reputable budget-friendly brands with reliable movements and durable builds. These are watches you can wear every day, whether to work, to the grocery store, or while on vacation.

Below, we’ve selected some of the best Rolex alternatives, with an option for each of Rolex’s iconic models.

1. Timex M79 Automatic


The Submariner is the most recognizable Rolex model, marked by a rotating dive bezel, military-inspired details, and a stainless steel build. This Timex M79 delivers on all counts, and even boasts an automatic movement to boot. It comes in a handful of stylish colors including classic black, as well as a handsome brown color for the more adventurous shoppers. Although not as dive-worthy as a Submariner, the M79 is still water resistant up to 50 meters, making it safe to keep on while swimming or showering.

Buy:Timex M79 Automaticat$289

2. Shinola Monster GMT


Designed to keep track of two different time zones, GMT watches were invented by Rolex back in 1955. Now, the numbered dial and rugged, aeronautical design have made their way to other brands, including this modern, handsome Shinola Monster GMT. The watch is made in Detroit using a Swiss automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve (this keeps the watch going when not on your wrist) and a stylish navy blue palette. It’s also a highly capable dive watch thanks to a 1,000-foot water resistance rating.

Buy:Shinola Monster GMTat$1,995

3. Invicta Speedway Chronograph S


Invicta began as a Swiss watchmaker, but the brand later shut down before being re-launched as a U.S. company. Now, Invicta is a great option for highly affordable watches that look much more expensive than they are. This Speedway, for example, is almost identical to the ridiculously expensive Rolex Daytona, but costs just $75. Sure, it probably won’t become a family heirloom, but it’ll look great and keep time perfectly well.

Buy:Invicta Speedway Chronograph Sat$74.90

4. Burei Automatic


Always wanted the casual elegance of a Rolex Datejust? Check out this automatic Burei. The Japanese timepiece is essentially a Datejust dupe with a jubilee bracelet, fluted bezel, and date complication. But it’s still a solid watch: the movement is an automatic Seiko NH-35A, the crystal is scratch-resistant sapphire, and customers applaud the watch’s premium feel. Keep it handy for your next dressy occasion, or add some shine to casual weekend outfits.

Buy:Burei Automaticat$173.99

5. Seiko 5 SNXS73


The Seiko 5 line is chock-full of fantastic Rolex alternatives, especially if you like the clean lines of the Oyster Perpetual. This SNXS73 is a great example, boasting a streamlined, classic look and a reliable automatic movement. Despite the sub-$100 price tag of most Seiko 5s, they’re very well-built. I’ve owned one for a few years and it still looks new, even after swimming in the ocean, traveling, and being bumped around day-to-day.

Buy:Seiko 5 SNXS73at$98.98

6. Vaer C3 Tradition


For a more military-inspired look, à la the Rolex Air-King, check out this Vaer C3. It’s an homage to vintage military watches and features the durable build quality and water resistance to match them. It’s rated at 330 feet water resistance, uses sapphire crystal on the face, and has quick-swap straps.

Buy:Vaer C3 Traditionat$279

7. Any Tudor Watch


Probably the best Rolex alternative is also… made by Rolex? Tudor, for the unfamiliar, was created in 1926 as a more affordable sibling brand to Rolex. Tudor’s watches are equally well-made and just as rugged as Rolex’s (Tudor supplied U.S. Navy Seals and French Marine Nationale soldiers for a time), but they cost significantly less; the average Tudor is about $4,000. Plus, they hold value quite well and certain models look very similar to a Rolex.

Buy:Tudor Black Bayat$4,600.00

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