Since its debut in 1963, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona has become something of a legend, a true icon in the high-end luxury watch world. The thing is, chances are you have a price point to consider, and the Daytona carries a price tag as hefty as its reputation. The good news is, whether you’re someone looking to make their first watch purchase, or you’re a long-time watch collector with a luxury timepiece for every occasion, there’s an affordable alternative to the Daytona waiting for you. Whatever that price point might be, here are some of our favorites:
Under $750 – Seiko Prospex Speedtimer SSC911
The watches of the Seiko Prospex collection are truly special, because with each of them you’re getting two watches for the price of one—both a world-class dive watch, with state-of-the-art precision, reliability and features; and a stunning dress watch for when you’re ready for a night on the town. The men’s Prospex Speedtimer SSC911 is all that and more, an affordable, full-featured alternative to the Daytona, with a 41.4mm case crafted of stainless steel, screwed caseback, and anti-reflective sapphire crystal. The silver dial includes chronograph counters, date indicator, and sleek Lumibrite hands and hour markers for enhanced legibility. Water resistance to 100 meters. A stainless steel bracelet completes the look.
Under $1,000 – Bulova Archive Series Lunar Pilot
Bulova’s history as a manufacturer of luxury timepieces stretches back nearly 150 years, and their list of horological firsts is unparalleled. Much as the Daytona has a rich history, the Lunar Pilot has a heritage in the history of space exploration. Part of the Archive collection that salutes Bulova’s rich past, it reimagines some of Bulova’s most iconic designs in a celebration of excellence. The Lunar Pilot model is a 44mm men’s chronograph with a silver-tone stainless steel case and flat sapphire crystal. The deep black dial is ornamented with a tachymeter ring, recessed sub-dials, and a retro Bulova logo that harkens back to previous classic designs. The slim hands and bold rectangular markers are applied with Super-LumiNova for exceptional legibility. Built with a high-precision, highly accurate quartz movement. Finished with a stainless steel bracelet.
Under $2,500 – Hamilton American Classic Intra-Matic Chronograph H
The Hamilton American Classic collection—American styling and modern Swiss movements in a marriage made in heaven (actually, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where Hamilton began perfecting its craft 1892). If you’re drawn to the classic look of the Daytona, the American Classic may be the timepiece for you. The men’s Intra-Matic Chronograph H with hand-wound movement features a beautifully proportioned 40mm round stainless steel case with an anti-reflective box sapphire crystal. Two white chronograph counters stand out in brilliant contrast to the rich black dial, and the hands and indexes are applied with Super-LumiNova. The supple black leather strap is a luxurious accompaniment.
Under $5,000 – Bell & Ross Vintage BR V2-94 Black Steel
The Daytona was originally designed for racing drivers who require split-second precision. Bell & Ross was born in 1992, when a team of watch designers and aeronautical control panel specialists united to create tool watches for professionals—divers, fighter pilots, elite military and police units, and all those who require the utmost in precision. As befits that history, the watches of the vintage collection are inspired by timepieces worn icons of old. The men’s Vintage BR V2-94 Black Steel, with a 41mm case of satin-polished stainless steel, sapphire crystal caseback, black anodised aluminum bezel insert, and ultra-curved anti-reflective sapphire crystal. The matte black dial is richly featured with date indicator, chronograph counters, metal skeleton Super-LumiNova-filled hands and coated hour markers. With a black calfskin strap.
Under $10,000 – Breitling Chronomat B01 42
When the Frecce Tricolori, the aerobatics display team of the Italian Air Force, required timepieces of unparalleled precision, they came to Breitling, and the Chronomat collection was the justly celebrated result. They’ve remained the watch of choice for discerning pilots. If the Daytona is celebrated for its combination of design and innovation, the Breitling Chronmat is a worthy alternative. The men’s Chronomat B01 42 has a 42mm steel case with screwed-in sapphire crystal caseback, unidirectional ratcheted bezel, and dual glareproof cambered sapphire crystal. The deep black dial is set with a date indicator and silver chronograph counters. And should you prefer the deep blue ocean to the wild blue yonder, this watch is water resistant to 200 meters.
Under $15,000 – Zenith Chronomaster Sport
There are iconic watches, and then there are timepieces that are downright legendary. Like the Daytona, and very much like the men’s Zenith Chronomaster Sport. The design is as pleasing to the eye as it is on the wrist, with a 41mm stainless steel case, anti-reflective domed sapphire crystal, and transparent sapphire crystal caseback. The dial features chronograph counters, rhodium plated hands and hour markers, and Super-LumiNova C1 hands and hour markers. With many options, including a black or blue rubber bracelet, there is a Zenith Chronomaster Sport for every wrist!
BONUS! Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Sport Chronograph Gold
What if – and go with us on this – the sky was the limit, and you didn’t have a price point? Coming in at more than 3x the price of a regular steel Daytona, the gold Tonda PF Sport Chronograph from Parmigiani Fleurier is the very definition of a high-end luxury timepiece. The men’s 42mm automatic chronograph has an 18K rose gold case with sapphire crystal caseback and arunic anti-reflective sapphire crystal. The stunning silver and black dial features clou triangulaire guilloché, and 18K gold appliques. The watch is finished with a sleek black rubber strap. It’s the perfect timepiece for making a statement.
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