When you first develop an interest in luxury watches, the diversity of established brands, historic manufacturers, and independent watchmakers can seem overwhelming. Most of us only come across a fraction of what the market has to offer from advertisements or social connections. The entry point into the world of watches for many novice collectors is a popular model from one of the industry giants.
Whether that timepiece really is their dream watch is another matter. Is the brand too ubiquitous and not individual enough? Does the watch align with their personality? Is their true dream watch just out of their budget? You’ve probably had similar thoughts at some point and may have even questioned whether a different timepiece might suit you better. Our new series of articles will introduce some surprising alternatives to the industry’s most popular models. Who knows, you may even be inspired to look outside the box when buying your next watch.
In our first installment, we’ll be exploring alternatives to the Rolex Datejust, the bestselling watch on Chrono24. You can spot this classic Rolex on the wrists of politicians, celebrities, and “normal” people alike. The Datejust is a versatile timepiece. It has the subtle lines of a dress watch but is also sporty enough for everyday use.
The Vintage Alternative: Tudor Prince Oysterdate
The first alternative is perfect for anyone who wants to stay true to the iconic Datejust look. This watch features a ribbed bezel similar to that of the Datejust. However, as a vintage watch, the Tudor Prince Oysterdate is currently available at comparatively attractive prices. Rolex and Tudor were both founded by Hans Wilsdorf, who created Tudor as a more affordable sister brand. This explains why many Tudor and Rolex models share similar characteristics.
Over the years, Tudor has gradually become more and more independent. They now have their own unique designs and movements – and they are more popular than ever. Vintage models are benefiting from this boost in popularity, though prices remain stable for the time being.
The Oysterdate, like the Datejust, is available in a wide range of variations. The older the model, the smaller the case diameter tends to be. Seeing as case diameters of modern watches seem to be trending downward, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
In summary, if you’re after an affordable alternative to the Rolex Datejust that shares a similar aesthetic (albeit without the prestigious Rolex logo), look no further than the Prince Oysterdate.
The Sporty Alternative: Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra
The only brand that can hold a flame to Rolex’s omnipresence is Omega. This Swatch Group member is the manufacturer behind the sporty yet streamlined Seamaster Aqua Terra, another favorite among Datejust fans. The distinctive minute hand with its prominent arrow tip, the textured dial, and the optional rubber strap emphasize the Aqua Terra’s sporty side.
While Rolexes tend to feature heavy, screw-down case backs, the Aqua Terra boasts a sapphire crystal display case back that provides a view of the Co-Axial movement at work. This feature is certainly a must-have for anyone who enjoys witnessing the technical brilliance of mechanical timepieces.
In terms of everyday practicality, the current Datejust and Aqua Terra models are pretty comparable with their 70 and 60 hours of power reserve, respectively. Omega’s modern Co-Axial caliber provides the Aqua Terra with an impressive level of magnetic resistance; however, the Datejust also features some anti-magnetic components. Thus, Omega doesn’t really have an advantage in terms of everyday wear.
In summary, the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra is a great option for anyone looking for a sporty alternative to the Rolex Datejust. Even the most technology-oriented fans will be pleased with the innovative Co-Axial caliber and sapphire crystal case back. The Aqua Terra is slightly more affordable than comparable Datejust models. There are also stainless steel versions available, which have a much sportier look than a solid gold Datejust.
The Unexpected Alternative: Vacheron Constantin Overseas
Before getting into the finer details, I want to acknowledge that this watch deviates much further from the Datejust in terms of technology and price. I’d like to begin with a bit of general information about Vacheron Constantin and the Overseas model. This manufacturer has been around for more than 250 years and is often mentioned in the same breath as Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. Together, the trio is often referred to as the “Holy Trinity” or the “Big Three,” which gives some indication as to their reputations. Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe have garnered some fame beyond the world of watches, but the same can’t really be said for Vacheron Constantin.
The Overseas can trace its roots to the limited edition Vacheron Constantin 222, which was crafted by famed watch designer Jörg Hysek in celebration of the manufacturer’s 222nd anniversary. The design is closely linked to Gérald Genta’s famous stainless steel sports watches, including the Royal Oak and Nautilus. In 1996, the bones of the 222 were adjusted slightly and became the Overseas. A central design feature of this watch is its bezel in the shape of the company logo: a Maltese cross. The current Overseas model boasts a stainless steel bracelet with a distinctive middle link. The watch comes with several band options and features a patented quick-change band system. It’s also marked with the Geneva Seal, meaning it meets strict criteria in terms of construction and finishing.
So what makes the Overseas a good alternative to the Datejust? The watch is notably sportier, more expensive, and the brand is much less known, but that might be the perfect reason to choose it. Vacheron Constantin timepieces are known as classic understatements, while Rolex has a somewhat dubious reputation outside the watch world. The Overseas is an underdog among stainless steel sports watches, but one thing is for sure: If you purchase an Overseas, don’t do it to save money or to impress your friends, do it for yourself.