01/13/2022
 5 minutes

Three Chronographs That Are Cheaper (and Better) Than the Rolex Daytona

By Donato Andrioli
CAM-2081-Rolex-Daytona-2-1
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A few months ago, I made a list of five chronographs that are cheaper and better (in at least one respect) than the Rolex Daytona. It’s looking likely that market prices for the coveted Rolex chronograph will continue to rise in 2022. Bearing that in mind, I’ve chosen three more alternatives that are cheaper and, again, in some ways even better than the legendary Daytona. 

Alternative No. 1: The Chronograph of the Sea

The Omega Seamaster as a Daytona alternative, really? Yes! While the Omega Seamaster 300M is first and foremost known and beloved as a diving watch, you shouldn’t underestimate the chronograph version. The Seamaster Chronograph features a modern design and high-quality craftsmanship, making it a perfect alternative to the Rolex Daytona. The ceramic dial is one of a kind and breathtakingly beautiful on both the standard Omega diver and its chronograph counterpart. No other watch on the market offers anything quite like the hypnotic laser-etched wave pattern. 

The Seamaster 300M Chronograph: fresh design, great technology, and cheaper than the Daytona.
The Seamaster 300M Chronograph: fresh design, great technology, and cheaper than the Daytona.

The Omega Seamaster Chronograph boasts a highly precise and refined METAS-certified movement visible through the sapphire crystal case back. It offers 300 m (984 ft) of water resistance, minimal deviation from the reference time, and can withstand magnetic fields up to 15,000 gauss. The rotating bezel is made of ceramic, as are the two chronograph push-pieces – a nice touch that only adds to the watch’s appeal. Purists will rejoice in the perfectly integrated date display at 6 o’clock that is barely noticeable thanks to its date disc being the same shade as the dial. While the Daytona is too small for some enthusiasts, the Omega Seamaster Chronograph may be too large for others. With a diameter of 44 mm, the Omega Seamaster 300M Chronograph is hardly a small watch – be sure to try it on before you buy! That being said, the larger diameter does pair well with the watch’s sporty nature. Overall, the Seamaster 300M Chronograph makes a great alternative to the Rolex Daytona. It offers some technical advantages over the Rolex icon and is available to buy for less than $8,000. 

Alternative No. 2: A New Version of the Legendary Chronomat

The Chronomat is a true icon that Breitling only reintroduced into their collection in 2020. This model dates back to 1941 and is considered a forerunner of the famous Breitling Navitimer. The slide rule bezel enables wearers to calculate things like distance traveled, speed, and more. The reissued variant from 2020 takes many cues from the 1984 reinterpretation, which the manufacturer released to celebrate its 100th anniversary. You can instantly recognize the model by its unidirectional rotating bezel with four rider tabs – just like back in the day. While the design may remind you of times gone by, the Chronomat offers everything you’d want from a modern watch. The timepiece features an in-house movement with a 70-hour power reserve, a date function integrated into the 12-hour subdial, 200 m (656 ft) of water resistance, and a sapphire crystal case back that offers a view of the movement at work. 

The Breitling Chronomat has a robust, unmistakable design.
The Breitling Chronomat has a robust, unmistakable design.

However, the true hidden gem of the Chronomat is the highly comfortable Rouleaux bracelet. It offers a excellent craftsmanship and a unique look that you won’t find elsewhere. Like the Omega chronograph, you want to have a larger wrist or prefer sizable watches to wear this model. With a diameter of 42 mm and measuring over 50 mm lug-to-lug, the Breitling Chronomat has some serious wrist presence, but it’s wholly intentional and suits the watch’s robust design. At around $6,500, the Chronomat costs significantly less than the Rolex Daytona but comes with several advantages like increased water resistance and a practical date function. However, the best thing is that you can purchase this unique chronograph immediately – and you can even find it for less than the official list price! 

Alternative No. 3: The Elegant Chronograph

My final pick is probably the watch that I would most likely consider buying myself as a Rolex Daytona alternative. Why is that? Well, what makes the Daytona so desirable in my eyes is its perfect blend of sportiness and elegance. Both the Omega and the Breitling have a lot to offer in terms of sportiness, but neither is particularly elegant. The Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph is another story. Here, sportiness effortlessly meets sleek, refined design. This timepiece has a long history to look back on and could easily be described as Girard-Perregaux’s flagship model. Unfortunately, the Laureato is an extremely underrated watch that many collectors view as a copy of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Granted, the Laureato did debut three years after the Royal Oak, but it’s important to remember that the Audemars icon was not very successful at the time and received some very mixed reviews. That’s why I personally think the design is more attributable to the zeitgeist of the 1970s, which of course, was influenced by Gérald Genta, the mastermind behind the Royal Oak. But a Royal Oak imitation? I don’t think that does the Laureato justice. 

The Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph deserves more attention and is a more affordable alternative to the Daytona.
The Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph deserves more attention and is a more affordable alternative to the Daytona.

The current Laureato looks more like the lovechild of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak and the Patek Philippe Nautilus – and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. The Laureato Chronograph is a symbiosis of everything that has made the 1970s icons so desirable to this day, but it also has its own unique DNA. The 42-mm case suits most wrists and will delight those who find the Daytona too small. The Clous de Paris pattern gives the dial a nice 3D effect, and it pairs perfectly with the case design and integrated bracelet. The 100 m (328 ft) of water resistance and in-house movement with a 46-hour power reserve don’t outperform the Rolex. Still, overall, I think the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph offers a more complex design, making it the preferred choice for some watch lovers. In fact, the high-quality timepiece isn’t just a great alternative to the Rolex Daytona; it can also hold its own up against the Nautilus and Royal Oak. In contrast to these three iconic timepieces, which are constantly appreciating in value, however, the Girard-Perregaux Laureato Chronograph is still available for under $15,000, thus, offering a more affordable alternative with an elegant look. 


About the Author

Donato Andrioli

With the purchase of my Tudor Black Bay 41, I discovered a passion for mechanical watches. I am particularly drawn to iconic watches with long and exciting histories.

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