“The Rolex Datejust managed to gain the respect of the watch community, which led to the current prestigious reputation, that the Datejust enjoys within the industry”
Affordable Alternatives To The Rolex Datejust
- Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 ($775)
- Ball Engineer II Marvelight ($1,400)
- Monta Noble ($1,760)
- Tudor Royal ($2,250)
- Tudor Style ($2,575)
- Baume & Mercier Clifton ($3,250)
- Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 ($5,600)
- Omega Aqua Terra ($5,700)
The Rolex Datejust
Introduced back in 1945, the Rolex Datejust was the world’s first-ever automatic watch with a date complication. The first Datejust was given the reference 4467, was crafted entirely out of 18kt yellow gold, possessed a minimally fluted bezel, and was attached to the iconic Jubilee bracelet, which back at the time, was the first one ever made. And ever since its launch, the Rolex Datejust managed to gain the respect of the watch community, which led to the current prestigious reputation, that the Datejust enjoys within the industry.
History Lesson About The Rolex Datejust
But in order for you to understand the status and reputation of the modern Datejust, we first have to rewind the time, to around 1926, when Rolex introduced the world’s first waterproof watch, the Rolex Oyster.
Water- and dustproof, the innovative watch featured a hermetically sealed case that provided optimal protection for the movement. In 1931, Rolex then went on to invent and patent the world’s first self-winding watch mechanism, which powered itself with the help of a Perpetual rotor. This system marked the second biggest breakthrough in the history of wristwatches and basically was the predecessor of every modern automatic watch.
But why am I telling you all of this? Well, all of Rolex’s innovative work over the previous years, was what ultimately led to the creation of the iconic Rolex Datejust. In 1945 Rolex officially launched the Datejust, which at the time, was the first, self‑winding wristwatch to indicate the date in a window on the dial. Made entirely from 18kt yellow gold, the original Datejust was equipped with a Jubilee bracelet, that was specially created for this watch, and a fluted bezel, which made it immediately recognizable as a Rolex. The Datejust went on to become the pillar of Rolex’s Oyster collection and became the incredible watch it is today.
Now that you had to endure this history lesson, let’s get to what this article actually is about. Affordable alternatives to the Rolex Datejust. With prices ranging from $6,500 all the way to around $10,000, or even more if you decide to go with one made of precious metals, the Rolex Datejust isn’t really what is considered to be an affordable watch. And since you clicked on this article, I think that you agree with me and just don’t want to spend that amount of money on a watch or just aren’t able to justify that much money. Either way, I got you. Today we are going to look at affordable alternatives, that share some of the same cool and refined looks of a typical Datejust. And I will do this as a part of the series “Affordable Alternatives to…”. A series of articles, in which we will go through the most prestigious and sought-after luxury watches, that cannot be bought at a retail price and/or are just too expensive for the average watch enthusiast, and we will make a list of affordable alternatives. Usually, the prices of the watches in these lists range anywhere between $100 to $10,000, since I assume, that in this range, 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.
Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 ($775)
Starting off the list is the Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium. Founded back in 1853, in a small Swiss town named Le Locle, Tissot is known to deliver high-quality mechanical timepieces at very modest price points. This can be seen throughout their lineup, making it a very attractive choice when on a budget.
The Tissot Gentleman was designed to be used as a watch that can be worn every day. It is equally suitable for wearing at your next business meeting, where you have to be dressed up, as on the weekend, when it makes for a perfect companion for a chilled afternoon in your garden. And this design philosophy can be clearly seen in the case and the dial. The durable stainless steel case measures 40mm in diameter and 11.5mm in thickness, making it suitable for virtually every occasion. Complementing the brushed case and the polished bezel is the beautiful blue dial, which features applied indexes, arrow-shaped hands, a date window at 3 o’clock, and a rather conservative branding. The stainless-steel bracelet, on which Tissot presents the watch, features a combination of brushed and polished links.
In the Tissot, Gentleman beats the Swiss-made, automatic Powermatic 80.811 movement, which provides a whopping 80 hours of power reserve. This impressive power reserve was achieved with a Silicium balance spring, which was built into the movement, and enables the watch to have increased magnetic resistance, increased accuracy, and the before mentioned impressive power reserve.
Now that you know all the specs, there is only one question left. Where can I get one? You can order the watch online or visit your local Tissot AD. The $775 you will have to pay, is certainly worth it.
Specifications: Price: $775, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 11.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 48mm, Lug Width: 21mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic, Swiss-made Powermatic 80.811 movement, Power Reserve: 80 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Ball Engineer II Marvelight ($1,400)
Next up is a watch from the US-based watch company Ball. Namely, their Engineer II Marvelight model, which is part of their famous Engineer lineup, and received a ton of positive feedback from watch enthusiasts all around the world. But besides having a cool brand behind it, the Ball Engineer II Marvelight also shares a lot of the same design DNA with the Rolex Datejust. And that’s why it landed on this list.
The Ball Engineer II Marvelight features a beautifully polished stainless-steel case, which measures 40mm in diameter, 13.15mm in thickness, and 46.5mm from lug to lug. On top of the case sits the smooth stainless-steel bezel, which, in my opinion, is one of the biggest reasons that this watch makes the visual connection to the Rolex Datejust. Another one would be the cyclops glass, which sits on the durable sapphire crystal. The sapphire crystal, on the other hand, is protecting the refined, deep blue dial, which features applied indexes, dauphine hour and minute hands, and the date window with the prior mentioned cyclops. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Ball’s watches; the indexes and the hands feature micro gas tubes, which enables the time-telling components of the watch to be luminous in stunning blue and green colors.
The watch is powered by the automatic Ball RR1103 movement, which is based on the ETA 2824-2/Sellita SW200-1, beats at 28,800 BPH, and provides approximately 38 hours of power reserve.
If you are looking for a watch that shares some of the same looks as the Rolex Datejust, but still want a watch that has its own little characteristics and distinctive design features, this watch is for you. And for a price of $1,400 you can get one for yourself on platforms like Chrono24.
Specifications: Price: $1,400, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 13.15mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46.5mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Ball RR1103 movement, Power Reserve: 38 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Monta Noble ($1,760)
Coming up next is the Monta Noble, a watch that managed to gain the respect and recognition of the watch community and experts alike. The brand first came into the picture back in 2016, with the launch of their Oceanking watch, which to this day, is still one of Monta’s best sellers. After successfully introducing additional timepieces like the Skyquest or the Triumph, Monta, in 2020, announced that they would release a new timepiece. The Monta Noble. From its release on, this watch managed to turn a lot of heads in the industry.
Designed for the sophisticated watch enthusiast, the watch features a brushed stainless-steel case, which measures 38.5mm in diameter, 9.7mm in thickness and 47mm from to lug. The polished, smooth bezel that sits on top of it, reminds me a lot of the one of the Rolex Datejust, and in combination with the stunning blue dial, was the main reason it landed itself a spot on this list. Speaking of which, the sunburst blue dial of the Monta Noble features a multidimensional rehaut, applied indices, straightforward hands, and a date window just above the 6 o’clock position. Complementing the case and the dial smoothly is the brushed stainless-steel bracelet, which Monta claims to be the “Most Comfortable Watch Bracelet On The Planet”. Not sure if that is entirely true, but the bracelet certainly is of high quality and well done by Monta.
Inside of the case beats the automatic, Swiss-made, Monta Caliber M-22 movement, which has a frequency of 4Hz and provides around 42 hours of power reserve. For those of you wondering, the M-22 caliber is essentially a Sellita SW300, that was decorated and adjusted by Monta.
If you are looking for a great watch with sophisticated looks and a reliable movement, then the Monta Noble is perfect for you.
Specifications: Price: $1,760, Case Size: 38.5mm, Thickness: 9.7mm, Lug-to-Lug: 47mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 150m, Movement: Automatic Swiss-made Monta Caliber M-22 movement, Power Reserve: 42 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Tudor Royal ($2,250)
And now finally a watch for the Tudor fans out there. The Tudor Royal. A watch that with its release back in September 2020 kind of went under the radar of the community. Why is that you ask? Well, Tudor decided to launch their highly anticipated Black Bay 58 in navy blue at the same time. So today, I want to shine the spotlight on the Tudor Royal.
Inspired by a watch from the 1950s, the Tudor Royal is Tudor’s new Luxury-Sports watch. While the Black Bay 58 takes on the role of the typical dive/sports watch, that you can wear with nearly every outfit, the Royal is targeted at the more sophisticated buyer. The Tudor Royal comes in different variants and case sizes, ranging from 28mm all the way to 41mm. But today, I will focus on the 38mm version with the blue dial and stainless-steel case, since I believe that this watch comes closest to the typical Rolex Datejust.
The Tudor Royal features a carefully brushed stainless steel case, which measures 38mm in diameter, and 10.5mm in thickness. The conservative case size and the slim profile make this watch wear rather comfortably on a broad range of wrist sizes. Complementing the steel case is the deep blue dial, which features Roman numerals as hour indexes, simple minute markers around the outer rim, baton hands, and of course the Date window on the 3 o’clock position.
The watch is powered by the automatic T601 caliber (Sellita base) and provides around 38 hours of power reserve, which is a far cry from Tudor’s recent in-house movements, which deliver up to 70 hours. This, unfortunately, means, that taking the watch off on Friday evening after work and coming back to it Monday morning, will require you to reset and wind it.
Priced at $2,250, the Tudor Royal packs a lot of punch. The only two things that I would change on this watch, is to switch out the textured bezel with a smooth bezel and to increase the power reserve. But other than that, this watch is a solid choice if you are looking for a Datejust-like piece.
Specifications: Price: $2,250, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 10.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: n/a, Lug Width: n/a, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic T601 movement, Power Reserve: 38 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Tudor Style ($2,575)
Continuing with another watch from Tudor. The Tudor Style. Considered to be a typical everyday/allrounder watch, the Tudor style caters not exclusively to the hardcore watch collectors, but also to normal customers, who want to have a pretty watch from a reputable brand and the quality that comes with it. But that isn’t meant in a bad way, the opposite is the case. With its sophisticated looks, all-rounder qualities, and the typical Tudor finishing, this watch packs a lot of punch for its price tag.
The watch features a 41mm stainless steel case, which thanks to its slim profile and refined lugs, will serve you well as an allrounder timepiece, that you can combine with more formal attire like a suit, or a very casual outfit, like a white shirt and blue jeans. Adding a little bit more to the refined part of the watch is the fluted bezel, as well as the deep blue, sunburst dial, which features simple, applied hour markers, polished steel hands, and a date window on the 3 o’clock position.
Powered by the self-winding T601 movement (Sellita base), the watch provides approximately 38 hours of power reserve to its user.
The combination of the nice design, the functionality, the reliable movement, and the $2,575 price tag, makes this watch a great option for people looking for a more affordable alternative to the Rolex Datejust.
Specifications: Price: $2,575, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 11mm, Lug-to-Lug: 49mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic T601 movement, Power Reserve: 38 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Baume & Mercier Clifton ($3,250)
Moving on to a handsome piece from Baume & Mercier. The Baume & Mercier Clifton. And while their Clifton model is inspired by the contemporary era, the history of Baume & Mercier’s reaches way back. It all started in 1830, when the two brothers, Louis-Victor and Célestin Baume, decided to open a watch dealership in Les Bois, a village in the Swiss Jura mountains. This small venture then continued growing, which ultimately, led to where the brand and its watches are today.
The watch features a polished stainless-steel case, which measures 40mm in diameter, 11.1mm in thickness, and 46mm from lug to lug. The modest case proportions with the short lugs allow for a very comfortable wearing feeling, which is something that I really appreciate in a watch. Adding to that feeling is the 5-link stainless steel bracelet, which features a satin finish, giving it a sense of visual contrast. But the real star of the show is, without any doubt, the striking gradient blue dial, which features applied hour indexes, alpha hands, minimal branding, and a date window on the 3 o’clock position. Other than that, the watch has a water resistance of 50 meters and a sapphire crystal to top it all off.
Powered by the self-winding, COSC-certified Baumatic BM13-1975A movement, the watch has a whopping 5 days of power reserve, setting it way apart from most other watches out there. It even outperforms the Rolex Datejust by 50 hours, which is just amazing.
With a price tag of $3,250, this watch certainly isn’t cheap. But considering the COSC-certified movement with 5 days of power reserve, the awesome dial, and overall finishing quality, this watch is certainly worth it.
Specifications: Price: $3,250, Case Size: 40mm, Thickness: 11.1mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46mm, Lug Width: n/a, Water Resistance: 50m, Movement: Automatic COSC-certified Baumatic BM13-1975A movement, Power Reserve: 5 days, Crystal: Sapphire
Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 ($5,600)
When Rolex unveiled the new Oyster Perpetuals back in 2020, the watch community went crazy and erupted in fierce discussions. Why is that? Well, Rolex decided to discontinue the beloved 39mm version, and instead introduced a broad range of newly sized, way more colorful models into the collection. But what they also introduced were Oyster Perpetuals in 36mm, that feature more subtle dial colors, like blue or silver, and that share quite a big chunk of DNA with the Rolex Datejust. So, in this paragraph, we will take a look at the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 with the dark blue dial.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36 features an Oystersteel case, which measures 36mm in diameter, 12mm thickness, and 43mm from lug to lug. Thanks to its slim profile and short lug to lug distance, the OP 36 sits comfortably on slimmer to medium-sized wrists, and in case you have a larger wrist or don’t like smaller watches, you also have the option to go for the 41mm version. While on the Rolex Datejust, you can choose between a fluted and smooth bezel, the Oyster Perpetual only comes with a smooth bezel. But that doesn’t really matter because it still looks very good. Speaking of looking good, the sunburst, deep blue dial, with its applied indexes, the polished hands, and the iconic crown on the 12 o’clock position, is absolutely gorgeous. And, of course, coming with the watch, is also the iconic Oyster bracelet, which honestly, is the best watch bracelet that I’ve ever tried on in my life. And I mean that.
Powered by the automatic Rolex caliber 3230, the watch provides a cool 70 hours of power reserve.
And there you have it, for a price of $5,600, you will get an awesome timepiece with awesome specs. And you won’t regret getting one for yourself, let me tell you that.
Specifications: Price: $5,600, Case Size: 36mm, Thickness: 12mm, Lug-to-Lug: 43mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Water Resistance: 100m, Movement: Automatic Rolex caliber 3230 movement, Power Reserve: 70 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
Omega Aqua Terra ($5,700)
Moving on to the last watch on the list. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra. Designed as a tribute to Omega’s rich maritime history, the influence of the sea can be seen in every design aspect of the watch.
The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra features a brushed and polished, 316L stainless steel case, which measures 38mm in diameter, 12.5mm in thickness, and 44mm from lug to lug. The combination of the slim profile and the very short lug to lug distance of just 44mm, make this watch wear very comfortably on a broad range of wrist sizes. And as you all know, I usually prefer more modest-sized timepieces, so this Aqua Terra from Omega has quite the plus points with me. But as nice as the case proportions may be, the real star of the show is the dial, which is one of the main reasons, this watch landed itself a spot on this list. The deep blue dial features a wooden-floor-like texture, applied hour indexes, a white minute rail on the outside of the dial, the Aqua Terra typical hands, and a date window, which, compared to the Rolex Datejust, isn’t placed at the usual 3 o’clock position, but rather on the 6 o’clock position. By the way, fun fact about the dial, the wooden-floor texture of the dial is inspired by wooden decks of luxury sailboats, that sail around the world and served as an inspiration for Omega. Rounding off the outer appearance of the watch is the sapphire crystal and the stainless-steel bracelet, which flows effortlessly into the case.
The Omega Aqua Terra with the reference 18.104.22.168.03.001, is powered by the METAS certified (Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology), automatic Omega Master Chronometer caliber 8800, which can be seen through the transparent caseback. And there you have it. The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra. A watch that features an in-house movement, a Datejust-like design, and says Omega on it. What do you want more?
Specifications: Price: $5,700, Case Size: 38mm, Thickness: 12.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 44mm, Lug Width: 19mm, Water Resistance: 150m, Movement: Automatic METAS certified Omega Master Chronometer caliber 8800 movement, Power Reserve: 55 hours, Crystal: Sapphire
As I demonstrated with this list, there are several great affordable alternatives to the Rolex Datejust. And each one of them has its own rich history and its own distinctive design features, making every single one of them worthy of having in your collection.
And in case you made it this far, thank you for taking the time and reading the article! I hope I was able to help you in finding the timepiece of your dream.