“In this episode, we have a line-up of great watches, ranging from affordable racing chronographs, which were inspired by one of the most famous watch collectors, to some very exciting pieces from established watch brands. Either way, I’m sure you will find what you are looking for.”
Before we begin, I know from personal experience, that some of you just want to see the list of potential watches. And I got you covered. Here is the shortlist of the 9 Affordable Alternatives to the Rolex Daytona Chronograph, which are featured in the articles below.
- Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph ($270)
- Yema Rallygraf Panda ($349)
- Farer ELVINGTON ($625)
- Maen Skymaster 38 – Panda ($1,120)
- Yema Speedgraf ($1,499)
- Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono ($2,150)
- Tudor Black Bay Chrono ($4,950)
- Omega Speedmaster Anniversary Series Chronograph 39.7 MM ($5,800)
- Zenith Chronomaster sport ($9’900)
But if you are like me and want to take a closer look at a watch, before buying it, please take your time and read through the article. I would appreciate it. But let’s get started.
The Rolex Daytona Cosmograph
The Rolex Daytona. By many, this watch is considered to be one of most iconic watches ever made. And they are right. Introduced in 1963 the Cosmograph Daytona was made for professional racing drivers and therefore marketed as an ideal timepiece for the sophisticated, automobile enthusiast which enjoys a piece of swiss luxury.
It has been a long time since 1963, but the Rolex Daytona is still going strong. In fact, owning a Daytona is considered even more prestigious than it was at the time. If you want to get one now, expect to pay around $13,000 in retail… Jokes on you, with the current shortage of Rolex steel sport watches, you would be very lucky to get one for under $27,000.
And since you clicked on this article, I assume that the modest price of $27,000 is just a teeny tiny bit above your budget? No worries I got you. In this new series, called “9 Affordable Alternatives to…”, we will go through the most prestigious and sought-after luxury watches, that cannot be bought at a retail price and/or are just way too expensive for the average watch enthusiast. And you will get a list of affordable alternatives to satisfy your cravings. Usually, the prices of the watches in the lists range anywhere between $100 to $10,000. In this range, I assume, we will find something for every budget. Oh, and by the way, this list is sorted after price, going from most affordable to most expensive, not personal taste or preference.
But let’s get started with Part 1 – 9 Affordable Alternatives to the Rolex Daytona Chronograph from $270 to $10,000
Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph ($270)
Let’s start off with the first pick of the day. The 1962 Racing Chronograph from Dan Henry.
The story behind the Dan Henry brand is quite unique. It all started with a collector named, you guessed it, Dan Henry. Dan Henry collected over 1500 vintage watches over the span of 30 years and managed to acquire some the most iconic and sough-after timepieces of the last century. After he shared his collection on social media, he had an idea. What if he would take the most striking pieces of his collection and make the timeless design accessible to much more people? And this is exactly what happened. The brand Dan Henry now sells vintage inspired, mechanical watches for very modest prices.
And one of the watches that they offer, is the 1962 Racing Chronograph. The watch is heavily inspired by the chronographs, worn by racing drivers in the 1960’s
The 1962 Racing Chronograph is a limited edition of just 1962 pieces (100 points to Dan Henry for creativity) and is available in 4 different color variations. The watch is powered by a Seiko caliber VK63 meca-quartz movement. The meca-quartz has a sweeping chrono hand and therefore mimics the hand-movement of a mechanical watch. It’s a solid choice, especially when the brand is trying to make the watch affordable.
When it comes to the case proportions, Dan Henry hits the mark. The watch has a diameter of just 39 mm. Combine this with a 13.5 mm in height and a lug-to-lug distance of 45.9 mm and you’ve got yourself a very wearable piece. Additionally, the watch is water resistant up to 50 meters (165 feet) and has a mineral glass crystal. The case and dial gets complemented by a black leather strap.
Interested? You can purchase the watch for just $270 on Dan Henrys website.
Yema Rallygraf Panda ($349)
Moving on to the second watch on the list. The Yema Rallygraf Panda. This time a piece of the French manufacturer Yema. If you already looked at some previous articles, I’ve written about Yema, you know that I am a big fan of their brand.
Yema was founded by Henry Louis Belmont. Henry Louis graduated top of his class from the National Watchmaking School of Besancon in 1931. And 17 years after that, in 1948, he went on to found the brand, which is known today as Yema
The first watch of Yema, that we are going to look at today (yes, there is another one coming later in this list), is the Yema Rallygraf Panda. The Rallygraf takes its inspiration from the era of vintage racing cars and their dashboards. The influence of the vintage dashboards can be seen in the design of the subdials at 3 and 9 o’clock and in the checkered racing flags, which pay tribute to the Grand Prix races.
The watch comes in 3 different color variations, which all are powered by a Seiko VK64 Mechanical-Quartz movement. Other than that, the Yema Rallygraf features a 39mm 316L stainless steel case, double domed mineral crystal, date window, tachymeter bezel, 60-min chronograph and 24-hour indicator.
As you see, you get a lot of punch for a watch that is priced at just $329/$349, depending on the choice of strap. Speaking of those, you either can choose a steel mash bracelet or a rally inspired brown leather strap.
You can now preorder one on Yema’s website.
Farer ELVINGTON ($625)
Now, on to a watch from a brand which I just recently wrote about. If you want to get to know the brand in more detail, click here for the latest article. The brand, which I’m talking about is called Farer. As I mentioned, I recently ordered a World Timer watch from them and was very impressed with the quality of the watch.
Farer was founded in 2015 and they operate out of Great Britain. The foundation of Farer was laid when the founders were fed up with the overpriced watch market and wanted to build a brand that combines a modern take on vintage watches with premium quality.
This watch from Farer, which takes the 3rd place in this non-ranking list, is their Elvington Flyback Chronograph model. The watch doesn’t really fit the sporty Daytona aesthetic, but this isn’t the goal of this list. My goal wasn’t to include homages that look like they came out of a photocopier. Nothing bad with owning a homage by the way.
And the Elvington is certainly not part of that category. The watch has its own distinctive design, but still takes a lot of inspiration from the 1970’s racing culture. Speaking of design, the black dial with white sub-dials on it, looks gorgeous. But what really makes this watch special, are the splashes of color on the hands. This gives the watch even more of a vintage feeling to it. The 39.5mm 316L stainless steel case houses a Swiss-made Quartz ETA 251.294 movement.
When it comes to functionality the Elvington has a lot to offer: a 60 second chronograph split-timer, 1/10 second counter, 30-minute counter, small seconds, date display and a flyback start. Additionally, the watch features a sapphire crystal and is water resistant up to 50 meters (160ft).
Overall this is a good watch. Sure, it’s a quartz movement and I would understand you if that were a deal breaker for you. But trust me when I say that this watch is indeed worth your money. The watch has a very good design, and its overall built quality is very good considering the retail price of $625.
The Farer Elvington is sold out at the moment, but I’m sure you can find a used one online.
Maen Skymaster 38 – Panda ($1,120)
Moving on to a watch from a brand, that is quite new to myself. I discovered them when I was doing some research for this article. Introducing the Maen Skymaster 38.
The brand Maen was founded by two guys from the Netherlands. The inspiration behind the brand name is coming from their fascination with the history of New York City. In 1626, the island of Manhattan was renamed to New Amsterdam after it was discovered by captain Hudson on the Dutch ship the Halve Maen (‘Half Moon’). So, there you have it, the idea behind the name.
The love for the city of New York is not necessarily shown in their Skymaster 38 model. But the love for the past certainly is. With its modest case size of just 38mm, narrow bezel and overall vintage style, the Maen Skymaster is a real eyecatcher. And Maen really pays attention to the small details. The indicators are slightly brushed with a polished beveled edge. This combination plays very nice, if you decide to take the watch outside and let the sunrays dance on the dial.
The swiss made watch is powered by an ETA 2894-2 Automatic Movement, has a 316L stainless steel case and is waterproof up to 50 meters (160ft). A cool detail which they included, is the open caseback, through which you can see the heartbeat of your watch. When it comes to the straps, you have a choice between a stainless steel bracelet, a black leather strap and a black tropical rubber strap.
For the price of just $1,120, you get a lot of watch for the price tag. This of course if you are into classic looking, vintage styled watches. If you are looking for more of a sporty look, I would rather go with one of the two options from Yema or the likes of Tudor and Zenith.
You can now preorder the Maen Skymaster 38 on their website.
Yema Speedgraf ($1,499)
Continuing with my love for the Yema brand: Introducing the Yema Speedgraf. Since I covered the story behind the Yema brand a few paragraphs above, I will skip this part and save you the history lesson about the brand (thank me later).
The Yema Speedgraf is inspired by the racing culture of the mid 1960’s. And this inspiration shines through when we look at the design of the watch. Starting with a high contrast combination of a black diver bezel and white sub-registers which were placed on a matte black dial. The domed sapphire crystal and the modest case size of just 39 mm, make the watch feel even more vintage.
The watch features a 60-Minutes bidirectional rotatable bezel, which is made from matte black aluminum. And since it is a racing chronograph, the watch also features a vintage racing inspired telemeter and tachymeter scales. The overall aesthetic of the watch is perfectly rounded off by the hour markers and the red-tipped second hand, which gives the dial some touch of color.
The Yema Speedgraf is powered by an automatic Seiko NE86 movement, which they also used in their latest Yachtingraf. The movement is a solid choice for the price tag of $1,499 and delivers a good performance. The Movement has a power-reserve of 45 hours and the whole watch is water resistant up to 100 meters (330ft).
Overall, Yema did meet my expectations of a 60’s inspired Racing Chronograph. They really managed to capture the vintage feeling. And this feeling should be the reason that you spend 1.5 grands on this watch. The Movement isn’t necessarily the most important part of a watch in this price range. Nevertheless, the NE86 from Seiko is a very reliable Movement, which will serve your watch for a long time.
Are you a car enthusiast and are in the market for a new watch? Then this will be a very good choice and worth the $1,499, that you will have to spend to get your hands on this watch. You can pick one up on Yema’s website.
Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono ($2,150)
And because I can’t get enough from the 1960’s, here is another watch, that takes its inspiration from that frame in time. The Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono. Just to keep this light and breezy, I will call the watch the Intra-Matic Chrono from now on.
The brand behind this 60’s inspired timepiece is Hamilton. I’m sure you have already heard of Hamilton, but for those of you that have not or just are curious, here is a little Hamilton history lesson. Hamilton was established all the way back in 1892. Impressive right? This brand has more heritage than a big luxury brand like Rolex.
But enough with the history lessons, let’s look at the Intra-Matic Chrono. The watch is described by Hamilton as a
“Modern reworking of a 1968 signature piece that offers a sporty but classic look. Combining authentic 60s appeal with the exclusive H-31 automatic movement, its distinctive panda dial is a guaranteed eye-catcher.”
And I would say that this describes my impression of the watch pretty good. Usually watch brands put a lot of good sounding words into their description (Naturally, since they want to sell you the watch), but in this case, Hamilton nailed it. The crisp white/off-white dial, the two subdials, the hands, the hour markers, the date window and the tachymeter on the outer ring, are all kept in a very classy but sporty look, which represents the typical 60’s style perfectly.
The 39mm stainless steel case houses an in-house H31 Automatic movement, which is very impressive for a watch that will cost you around $2,150. If a perfectly executed in-house movement is very important for you, the extra $650 compared to the Yema Speedgraf, are well spent.
You can get one for yourself at a Hamilton Retailer in your area.
Tudor Black Bay Chrono ($4,950)
Now we are entering some very exciting but less affordable territories. Hands down one of my favorite watches on this list has to be the 2021 Tudor Black Bay Chrono. Tudor released this updated version of the older Black Bay Chrono, as a tribute to mark the 50-year anniversary of Tudor chronographs.
The new Black Bay Chrono comes in true Daytona style, in two different color variants. One with a white dial and black sub-dials (panda) and one with a black dial and white sub-dials (reversed panda). The cases are made entirely from stainless steel and measure 41mm in diameter. The stainless-steel case is complimented by an aluminum matte black bezel, which features white Tachymeter markers. When it comes to the strap choice, you can choose between a stainless-steel bracelet, a black leather strap or another black strap, but this time made from fabric.
The watch is powered by the self-winding Caliber MT5813, which is fully COSC certified and made in-house by Tudor. The movement has an impressive power reserve of 70 hours, and the whole watch is waterproof up to 200m (660ft, for our American readers).
I think it’s clear to everyone by now, that the Tudor takes some inspiration from the modern Rolex Daytona. Duh, the brand is owned by Rolex. But the main inspiration behind the Black Bay Chrono comes from the iconic Paul Newman Daytona, which is currently selling for astronomical prices. The similarities in the bezel, the crown and pushers are quite obvious. If you want to read more about the connection between those two, I’ve wrote an article about that.
To sum it up, if you have around $4,500 to $5,000 to spend, the new Tudor Black Bay Chrono will be the perfect choice. Not only because Tudor delivers a very good quality, but also you will get the real Daytona feeling, which you might not get with some more affordable alternatives.
Omega SpeedmasterAnniversary Series Chronograph 39.7 MM ($5,800)
We are continuing with a very special timepiece from Omega, which in my opinion, isn’t getting enough attention from watch enthusiasts. Some of you may have guessed it, I’m talking about the Omega Speedmaster Anniversary Series Chronograph. The watch takes its inspiration from the original OMEGA CK 2998, which was released in 1959 and has since become one of the most iconic Speedmasters in the world.
The 316L stainless steel case has a diameter of 39.7mm and is topped off by a sapphire crystal. The case also features an off-white dial with a black minute track and a red chronograph seconds hand, as well as blackened indexes and blackened hours and minutes hands. The 3 black subdials are placed on the off-white dial, in a typical racing chronograph manner.
To make the case complete, Omega went for a black ceramic bezel with a white pulsometer scale on it. The watch is presented on a black leather strap, which is made in a racing-typical design.
The watch is powered by the manual wound OMEGA Caliber 1861, which features a power reserve of up to 48 hours. Omega only made the watch 2998 times and is therefore limited. The number of produced pieces pays tribute to the name of the original watch, which they based this one on.
The watch comes in at $5,800, which is about a grand more than the option from Tudor. But if you are in to vintage inspired racing chronographs, with a lot of history, then the extra $1000 may be well spent. You can purchase one at your local AD.
Zenith Chronomaster sport ($9,900)
And now on to a watch which made a lot of noise when it was released back in January of this year. And the reason for that? It looked a lot like the modern Rolex Daytona. Honestly when I saw it for the first time, my initial thoughts were that Zenith, the brand behind the watch, just knocked off the Daytona design to a certain level.
I think at this point, most of you will know the watch I’m talking about. The Zenith Chronomaster Sport. But I will not go into more details regarding the whole discussion if this watch has some knocked of parts in it or not. But what I am going to talk about today is, if this watch can compete with the almighty Rolex Daytona
The watch comes in 2 different colored variants. One version has a white dial with a black bezel and the other has a black dial also with a black bezel. But this is the only difference, the rest of the watch stays the same, independent of which one you choose.
Let’s continue with the case. The Chronomaster sport has a diameter of 41mm, which is slightly larger than the Daytona. The case features a beautiful white matte dial with 3 different colored subdials. The colors of the subdials remind you of the El Primero heritage that this watch has. And this heritage can also be seen when we look at the movement of the Chronomaster sport. Zenith used their latest El Primero chronograph movement, which they produce in-house. The movement enables the watch to have a power reserve of 60 hours. Besides that, when it comes to straps, you have the choice between a stainless-steel bracelet or a black/blue rubber strap. I love that they included the blue rubber strap. The blue of the strap makes an excellent combination with the white dial variant.
When it comes to functions, the Chronomaster Sport delivers. Besides the centered hours and minutes hands, it also has a 1/10th of a second Chronograph, including a central chronograph hand that makes one turn in 10 seconds, a 60-minute counter at 6 o’clock and a 60-second counter at 3 o’clock.
Overall, this this watch has a lot to offer for a lot less money than the Rolex Daytona. And, since you obviously love the design of the Daytona (The reason you clicked on this article, I assume), you will get a more affordable version of the Daytona without making any compromises when it comes to the design or the quality. So, if you have $9,900 laying around, I would say: go for it!
Let’s face it, the Rolex Daytona is a legendary watch. And it’s not easy to find a watch that scratches that itch you have for the Daytona. But in this list, there were some pretty good competitors, which for the money they cost, may be even a better choice than the iconic Rolex Daytona.
In case you made it this far, thank you for taking the time and reading the article! I hope I was able help you in finding timepiece of your dream.