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The 10 Best Rolex Daytona Alternatives In 2024 For Every Budget
Image: watchfinder.com.au
— Updated on 29 December 2023

The 10 Best Rolex Daytona Alternatives In 2024 For Every Budget

— Updated on 29 December 2023
Nick Kenyon
WORDS BY
Nick Kenyon

The best thing about being into watches in 2024, is the incredible number of high-quality timepieces that are being designed, produced, and ultimately, sold around the world. If there’s a watch you want, but can’t get, there are likely dozens of other fantastic alternatives available — the kind that you just might be even more impressed by than what you initially set out to collect.

One of the posterchildren of this category must surely be the stainless steel Rolex Daytona. Suffice it to say: a notoriously difficult watch to find.

If you’re simply after a great watch, and not necessarily a splashy wrist-flex, there are lots of compelling Rolex Daytona alternatives that you can actually get onto your wrist today.

Rolex Daytona Alternatives
Image Credit: watchfinder.com.au

To be clear: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying Rolex Daytonas — they’re legendarily collectible watches (particularly in the vintage space) for a reason. However, if you’ve ever had the unique (dis)pleasure of visiting your local Rolex AD in an effort to try and buy one; you’ll almost certainly have left disappointed, or worse still, had your own version of the infamous ‘Dorsia reservation’ phone call play out in real-time.

Rather than letting that (admittedly terrible) experience sour your day; we like to think this presents an opportunity to demonstrate some independent thinking and look elsewhere for an alternative sporty chic chronograph you’ll arguably enjoy wearing just as much.

The main elements that make the stainless steel Rolex Cosmograph Daytona such a popular watch are its oyster bracelet, chronograph functions and ceramic bezel. The 40mm stainless steel case of the Rolex Daytona Ref. 116500LN (its full name is the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona) is another important part of its charm, thanks to its almost universally comfortable proportions.

RELATED: 5 Vintage Rolex Watches Worth Your Time And Investment

However, many other chronograph watches offer everything the Rolex Daytona collection does, and sometimes even better value. Of course, vintage Daytona models can be extremely expensive, similar to the significant platinum Daytona cost, but even Rolex Daytona watches in stainless steel can cost a fortune.

If you’re looking for the best value chronograph, as well as one that is well-made, we’ve hunted down 10 of our favourite alternatives to the Rolex Daytona.

Table of Contents


Boss Hunting’s Favourite Rolex Daytona Alternatives

Tudor Black Bay Chrono

Tudor Black Bay Chrono

Tudor Black Bay Chrono

  • Case Diameter: 41mm
  • Case Thickness: 14.4mm
  • Case Material: Steel
  • Bezel Material: 316L steel bezel with matt black anodised aluminium disc
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Steel
  • Dial Colour: White with black subdials
  • Water Resistance: 200m
  • Movement: Manufacture Calibre MT5813 (COSC)
  • Power Reserve: 70 Hours

Perhaps the most closely related timepiece to the Rolex Daytona is the Tudor Black Bay Chrono, even without the historical links to Daytona Beach motorsports racing. Instead, its DNA comes from an amalgamation of styles, blending design cues from both dive watches and racing chronographs.

Offered by Tudor with both “Panda” (white with black subdials) and “Reverse Panda” dials (black with white subdials), the Black Bay Chrono features a 41mm stainless steel case and bracelet. The timepiece also features a black stainless steel bezel, while the sharp lines of the case are highlighted thanks to it having a mix of both brushed and polished surfaces.

Rather than the three subdials you might be used to seeing on chronograph watches, the Black Bay Chrono has two subdials balanced on either side of the dial, while the 6 o’clock position is kept free for a date display. The chronograph counters are activated via the two screw-down pushers, which along with the solid caseback, guarantee the timepiece to 200m of water resistance. Powering the watch is the Manufacture Calibre MT5813, which is COSC certified and has a power reserve of 70 hours.

The Tudor Black Bay Chrono is a release that has proven popular with watch collectors, and at around a third of the price of a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, represents very good value.

  • As Tudor is owned by Rolex, the Tudor Black Bay Chrono can be thought of as a sibling to the Rolex Daytona
  • High quality COSC certified movement
  • Impressive 200m of water resistance, double that of the Rolex Daytona

  • Only two subdials, so a slightly different dial design to the Rolex Daytona
  • At 14.4mm it could be too thick for some wrists

Zenith Chronomaster Sport

Zenith Chronomaster Sport

Zenith Chronomaster Sport

  • Case Diameter: 41mm
  • Case Thickness: 10.96mm
  • Case Material: Steel
  • Bezel Material: Black ceramic
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Steel
  • Dial Colour: White with grey and blue subdials
  • Water Resistance: 100m
  • Movement: El Primero caliber 3600
  • Power Reserve: 60 hours

The Zenith Chronomaster Sport was launched in 2021 to an enthusiastic reception from watch collectors and journalists alike, representing a new progression for the famed El Primero movement. Featuring a sleek, sporty design, its glinting ceramic bezel perfectly framed the iconic tricolour subdials.

Also available in either a white or black dial colour, the recent release from Zenith arrived in a 41mm steel case with a matching bracelet. Featuring pump pushers to activate the chronograph mechanism, and a sapphire crystal caseback to display the impressive automatic movement within, it was fittingly Zenith’s most successful watch last year.

Beneath the dial is the El Primero 3600 1/10th of a second automatic chronograph movement, which is a new calibre from Zenith. While adapted from the original El Primero movement that was launched in 1969 (incidentally used by Rolex once the “Paul Newman” Daytona was retired, known to collectors as the Zenith Daytona), it features a contemporary twist in its ability to measure 1/10th of a second, with the chronograph hand making one rotation every 10 seconds.

Boasting 100m of water resistance and a power reserve of 60 hours, the Zenith Chronomaster Sport is a properly modern sports chronograph, ready for anything your day-to-day might demand of it.

  • Zenith provided the chronograph movements to Rolex for all of the first automatic Daytonas, so if there’s any brand that can manufacture a similar design to the Daytona it’s Zenith
  • Visually interesting chronograph movement that makes one revolution every 10 seconds
  • High frequency movement that ticks 10 times per second or 36,000 times per hour

  • Polished bracelet centrelinks can scratch easily
  • Date window at 4:30 is a little unbalanced

IWC Pilot’s Chronograph 41

IWC Pilots Chronograph 41

IWC Pilot’s Chronograph 41

  • Case Diameter: 41mm
  • Case Thickness: 14.5mm
  • Case Material: Steel
  • Bezel Material: Steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Steel
  • Dial Colour: Blue
  • Water Resistance: 100m
  • Movement: 69385 Calibre
  • Power Reserve: 46 hours

The IWC Pilot’s Chronograph 41 is the latest expression of the Schaffhausen-based watchmaker’s iconic pilot’s watch. Admittedly, its design is somewhat different from the Rolex Daytona watches, originally born for the skies instead of the racetrack, but still represents one of the best modern chronographs on the market.

Featuring a 41mm steel case, shrunk down from the 43mm size of the previous generation, it’s a timepiece that will comfortably fit most wrist diameters. With pump pushers to activate the chronograph, the watch also offers an indication of both the day and date on the sunburst blue dial.

You’ll notice it doesn’t feature the same ceramic bezel that other chronographs have, which offers a tachymeter scale for calculating lap times, instead, using the additional real estate for a larger more legible dial. As legibility is key for pilot watches, it features large Arabic numerals on the dial that are filled with luminous paint for low-light environments.

Arriving on a stainless steel bracelet with the EasX-CHANGE system, and powered by the 69385 calibre, the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph 41 is both approachable and versatile.

  • Important design in the history of chronographs
  • Attractive blue dial can be dressed up or down
  • 5-link steel bracelet is extremely comfortable

  • 43 hours of power reserve is a little low for today’s standards
  • Blue dial gives a substantially different visual impression compared to the Rolex Daytona

Breitling Chronomat B01 42

Breitling Chronomat B01 42

  • Case Diameter: 42mm
  • Case Thickness:
  • Case Material: Steel
  • Bezel Material: Steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Steel
  • Dial Colour: Silver with black subdials
  • Water Resistance: 200m
  • Movement: Breitling 01 caliber
  • Power Reserve: 70 hours

Breitling is a watchmaker with a long history of making timing equipment for the roads and skies, with the Chronomat B01 42 proudly continuing that legacy. Originally launched as a quartz chronograph in 1983, this new Chronomat collection was launched in 2020 as one of the most immediately recognisable chronographs thanks to its integrated rouleaux-style bracelet.

The Breitling Chronomat B01 42 features a bold, 42mm stainless steel case with a matching steel bracelet and bezel, all of which have been finished with a blend of polished and brushed surfaces. The chronograph pushers are ergonomically shaped and nearly designed to fit into the crown guards, while the specific shape of the half-onion crown is a signature design of Breitlin.

Featuring a black and silver Panda dial with a trio of subdials, the timepiece doesn’t offer a date window, which keeps the layout of the dial nicely balanced and easy to read. Contrasting against the black and white are a series of red highlights, including the chronograph hand, which bring some pop to an otherwise reserved dial. Powered by the Breitling 01 movement, the automatic calibre offers approximately 70 hours of power reserve.

An increasingly popular timepiece within the world of sports chronographs, the Breitling Chronomat B01 42 is a worthy daily companion.

  • Solid power reserve of 70 hours
  • The rouleaux-style bracelet is very comfortable
  • Strong water resistance of 200m

  • Case and bracelet integration is a different style to the Rolex Daytona

TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph 160 Years Special Edition

TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph 160 Years Special Edition

  • Case Diameter: 44mm
  • Case Thickness: Unspecified, but likely 15.3mm
  • Case Material: Steel
  • Bezel Material: Black ceramic
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Steel
  • Dial Colour: White with black and white subdials
  • Water Resistance: 100m
  • Movement: Heuer 02 automatic
  • Power Reserve: 80 hours

TAG Heuer is another Swiss watchmaker whose history is directly linked to the world of motorsport and race car drivers. Like Zenith, TAG Heuer also debuted their first automatic chronograph movement in 1969, of which the TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph 160 Years Special Edition is a descendant.

As a thoroughly modern chronograph, it features a 44mm stainless steel case, with the sharply sweeping lugs the design has become famous for. Around the circumference of the dial is an equally sharp black ceramic bezel, featuring an engraved tachymeter scale around it. The white dial boasts a trio of black subdials, with a date window neatly tucked away at the 12 o’clock position just above the watchmaker’s logo.

Powered by the manufacture Heuer 02 automatic movement, the TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph runs at 28,800vph and has a power reserve of 80 hours. The watch arrives on a steel H-link bracelet, which is secured with a comfortable folding clasp.

The TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph 160 Years Special Edition is the La Chaux-de-Fonds-based watchmaker’s go-anywhere, do-anything chronograph, with a competitive price to boot.

  • A strong and legitimate connection to the history of motorsports chronographs
  • Impressive power reserve of 80 hoours
  • Balanced date window at 12 o’clock position

  • May be too large for some wrists with its 44mm diameter and (likely) 15.3mm thickness

Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraph GT Steel Silver Black

Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraph GT Steel Silver Black

Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraph GT Steel Silver Black

  • Case Diameter: 42mm
  • Case Thickness: 13.7mm
  • Case Material: Steel
  • Bezel Material: Steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Steel
  • Dial Colour: White with black subdials
  • Water Resistance: 100m
  • Movement: Caliber PF043
  • Power Reserve: 45 hours

Despite producing some of the finest finished watches in the world, Parmigiani Fleurier remains a brand that isn’t on many enthusiasts’ radars. Founded by Michel Parmigiani, who cut his watchmaking teeth by maintaining the largest collection of antique pocket watches in Switzerland, Parmigiani Fleurier blends the best of traditional watchmaking with contemporary tastes.

Inspired by the 2017 GPHG-winning Tonda Chronor Anniversaire, the Tondagraph GT Steel Silver Black is a modern sports watch, complete with an integrated steel bracelet to match the 42mm case. As you’d expect from such a creative independent watchmaker, Parmigiani wasn’t satisfied with a simple chronograph mechanism, adding an annual calendar complication to display the date and month as well.

With a textured Panda dial, the three contrasting subdials are crowned by the large date windows you see at 12 o’clock. The fixed coin-edge bezel serves to break up the visual impression of the highly polished case and bracelet, presenting a traditional way to frame the dial.

If you’re looking for a Rolex Daytona alternative that sits a little off the beaten track but offers some of the finest traditional watchmaking at its price point, don’t ignore the Parmigiani Fleurier Tondagraph GT Steel Silver Black.

  • Fine quality ‘Guilloché Clou triangulaire’ dial finishing
  • High level of movement finishing and construction
  • A genuinely rare watch with Parmigiani Fleurier only creating a few thousand watches per year

  • Large central date window dominates the dial
  • 45 hours of power reserve is a little low for today’s standards

Affordable Rolex Daytona Alternatives

Baltic Tricompax

  • Case Diameter: 39.5mm
  • Case Thickness: 13.5mm
  • Case Material: 316L stainless steel
  • Bezel Material: Aluminium
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: 316L stainless steel
  • Dial Colour: Light beige, with black registers
  • Water Resistance: 50m
  • Movement: Sellita SW510-M
  • Power Reserve: 63 hours

Both a literal and spiritual successor to the original Tricompax that Baltic made in collaboration with Peter Auto, this vintage-inspired racing watch invariably has a lengthy waiting list.

And you know what? In our view, it absolutely deserves to.

Powered by the same Sellita chronograph movement in the original limited edition; this production-grade Tricompax distinguishes itself through the application of such clever, quietly stylish details as original serif fonts (most noticeable in the 12-hour chronograph totaliser) and a variety of surface finishes.

The just-shy-of-40mm case wears true to size; and for those who love the romance and unmistakable presence of early motorsport chronographs, it’s hard to argue with just how much watch Baltic has managed to deliver, especially at this price point, through its latest Tricompax.

Available in both ‘panda’ (white dial/black registers) and ‘reverse panda’ (black dial/white registers) configurations.

  • Sellita chronograph with hacking seconds
  • Use of multiple, functionally stylish typographies

  • Crystal plays sizable role in the watch’s overall thickness

Seiko x Nano Universe SZSJ005 Chronograph

Seiko x Nano Universe SZSJ005 Chronograph

Seiko x Nano Universe SZSJ005 Chronograph

  • Case Diameter: 40mm
  • Case Thickness: 11.7mm
  • Case Material: Steel
  • Bezel Material: Steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Steel
  • Dial Colour: Black with white subdials
  • Water Resistance: 100m
  • Movement: Quartz 8T67
  • Power Reserve: Battery life of 3yrs

In watch collecting history, the “Paul Newman” Daytona stands alone as one of the most collectible wristwatches ever made. Known as the “Paul Newman” Daytona thanks to, you guessed it, Paul Newman’s famed ownership, the Cosmograph Daytona reference 6239 served as a direct inspiration for Seiko’s SZSJ005 Chronograph, made in collaboration with retailer Nano Universe.

Featuring a reverse Panda dial with a date window at 3 o’clock, the watch is contained within a 40mm steel case with a matching brushed bracelet. Around the dial, you’ll see a polished steel bezel with a tachymeter scale, just like the original “Paul Newman” Daytona. Another similarity shared with the instantly recognisable Cosmograph Daytona is the polished pump pushers to activate the chronograph.

Where it does differ from the “Paul Newman” Daytona is the movement inside, which is a quartz 8T67 movement, boasting a three-year battery life and an accuracy of ±15 seconds per month. It’s also got better water resistance than the “Paul Newman” Daytona probably has, guaranteed to 100m.

As far as affordable Rolex Daytona alternatives go, the Seiko x Nano Universe SZSJ005 Chronograph is the gold standard. When launched, the “Paul Newman” Daytona lookalike sold out in minutes with a price of around $405, but today you can expect to pay around $1,400 for an example in good condition.

  • Excellent design for its affordable price
  • Quartz movement allows the case to be thin and lightweight

  • A limited edition that is sold out

Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph

Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph Panda No Date 1000x

Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph

  • Case Diameter: 39mm
  • Case Thickness: 13.5mm
  • Case Material: Steel
  • Bezel Material: Steel
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Leather
  • Dial Colour: White with black subdials
  • Water Resistance: 50m
  • Movement: Seiko caliber VK63 meca-quartz
  • Power Reserve: Battery life 3yrs

In watch collecting circles, Dan Henry is a legend of good design, for an even better price. Founded by a passionate Brazilian watch collector (who has more than his fair share of Rolex Daytona watches), his mission was to offer iconic watch designs that were affordable for everyone. To this day, the most expensive watch he sells is just US$350 with an automatic movement and quality control performed by hand.

The Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph is one of his more recent releases, first announced in 2019, and offers a 39mm steel case with a supple leather strap. With strong inspiration coming from the Universal Geneve chronographs of the 1960s (hence the 1962 Racing Chronograph moniker), it’s a classic aesthetic that has been executed thoughtfully.

With a Panda dial and black tachymeter bezel around its circumference, the watch is powered by a Seiko calibre VK63 meca-quartz movement, which has the advantages of a smooth motion centre chronograph hand and instant reset.

Limited to 1,962 pieces, the Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph had an RRP of US$270 before it sold out. There is a trio of other variants still in stock, otherwise, expect to pay around $700 for a pre-owned example.

  • High quality design with direct references to motorsports chronographs
  • Very affordable price

  • Isn’t available with a steel bracelet making it visually quite different to a Rolex Daytona

Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Chronograph H

Hamilton American Classic Intra Matic Chronograph

Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Chronograph H

  • Case Diameter: 40mm
  • Case Thickness: 14.35mm
  • Case Material: Steel
  • Bezel Material: N/A
  • Bracelet/Strap Material: Leather
  • Dial Colour: Cream with black subdials
  • Water Resistance: 100m
  • Movement: Manually wound H-51 caliber
  • Power Reserve: 60 hours

While the last couple of years has seen countless heritage-inspired reissues, Hamilton is a brand that does them better than most. It certainly helps to have an archive of designs and history as deep as that of Hamilton, which was founded in 1892 in Pennsylvania, America. Now produced in Bienne, Switzerland, the Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Chronograph H is a finely executed mechanical chronograph.

While its design is inspired by the classic mid-century chronograph style more than that of a Rolex Daytona, it’s still one of the best Panda dial chronographs on the market for its price. Featuring a 40mm stainless steel case, it offers a pair of contrasting subdials, with a date window maintaining the symmetry of the dial at 6 o’clock.

Powered by the H-31 automatic chronograph movement, the watch offers 60 hours of power reserve – more than enough as a daily companion. With a solid screw-down caseback, the Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Chronograph H is guaranteed to have 100m of water resistance and arrives on a calf leather strap.

Despite not being a 1:1 recreation of a Rolex Daytona, it’s an attractively designed timepiece, which is sure to catch the eye of other watch enthusiasts.

  • Strong balanced design
  • Quality movement for its price

  • Is only available with a steel mesh bracelet or leather strap making it visually quite different to a Rolex Daytona

Best Rolex Daytona Alternatives – Frequently Asked Questions

What watch looks like Rolex Daytona?

There are a number of watches that look like the Rolex Daytona, with similarities including a black and white chronograph dial, tachymeter bezel and stainless steel bracelet. The most similar-looking Rolex Daytona alternatives include the Zenith Chronomaster Sport and the Tudor Black Bay Chrono.

What is the best alternative to a Rolex?

The best alternative watch brands to Rolex include Tudor, IWC, Zenith, Grand Seiko and many more.

Why is Rolex Daytona so popular?

The Rolex Daytona is a popular watch for a number of reasons. Rolex is a good brand, known for its quality watches and the stainless steel Rolex watches are typically more affordable than the gold watches. The Daytona is also very popular as looks good with most outfits, looking the part if you’re wearing a suit or a t-shirt on the weekend.

Nick Kenyon
WORDS by
Nick Kenyon is the Editor of Boss Hunting, joining the team after working as the Deputy Editor of luxury watch magazine Time+Tide. He has a passion for watches, with other interests across style, sports and more. Get in touch at nick (at) luxity.com.au