When you first develop an interest in luxury watches, the diversity of established brands, historic manufacturers, and independent watchmakers can seem overwhelming. Most of us only come across a fraction of what the market has to offer from advertisements or social connections. For many novice collectors, the entry point into the world of watches is often a popular model from one of the industry giants.
Whether that timepiece is really their dream watch is another matter. Is the brand too ubiquitous and not individual enough? Does the watch align with their personality? Is their true dream watch just out of their budget? You’ve probably had similar thoughts at some point and may have even questioned whether a different timepiece might suit you better. Our new series of articles will introduce some surprising alternatives to the industry’s most popular models. Who knows? You may even be inspired to look outside the box when buying your next watch.
Alternatives to the Iconic Rolex Day-Date
In this installment, we’re taking a look at alternatives to the legendary Rolex Day-Date, also known to many as the “President’s Watch.” Introduced in 1956, the Day-Date is considered the ultimate luxury Rolex because it is only available in precious metals. The Day-Date is characterized by its day window at 12 o’clock and date display at 3 o’clock. Over the decades, this model has become a powerful symbol of wealth and success.
Although Rolex has barely altered the design of the Day-Date over the years, they have introduced new sizes and different precious metals for both ladies and gentlemen. The Rolex Day-Date is currently available in 36 mm and 40 mm and comes in white gold, Everose gold, yellow gold, and platinum. You can also choose between a smooth or fluted bezel, and there is a wide range of dial variations available. If you really have a craving for bling, you can choose to have the bezel and/or dial of your Day-Date encrusted with diamonds or gemstones.
The classic way to go, however, is the 36-mm full gold Day-Date with a fluted bezel and a champagne dial. It’s the iconic original, but if you don’t have some 38,000 USD to spend on a Day-Date, are there any other options? Let’s find out.
1. Tudor Oyster Prince Date+Day
The first alternative on our list is a Tudor. How could it not be? Many consider the Tudor Prince Date+Day the only affordable alternative to the Rolex Day-Date. Vintage models even have the famous Rolex Oyster case, making it literally as close as you can get to a real Day-Date.
Tudor introduced the Tudor Date+Day in 1969. The watch looked a lot like its Rolex sibling, but the Date+Day was only available in stainless steel or steel and gold instead of exclusively precious metals. Plus, the Date+Day models were powered by more affordable yet reliable ETA movements. The Date+Day has come in a number of sizes and variations over the years with different dials, bezels, and bracelets.
The Prince Date+Day is no longer part of the Tudor collection. However, the brand did recently introduce the all-new Tudor Royal collection, which also features a day and date watch with a similar dial layout. The new timepiece looks quite different than the Rolex due to its case shape and integrated bracelet, but if you are looking for an affordable new or pre-owned Day-Date alternative, Tudor is your best bet.
2. Orient President Day-Date
A second, more affordable option is the Orient President Day-Date. Some people call this watch an homage to the Day-Date, while others call it a downright rip-off. I’ll leave that up to you to decide. Orient has been around since 1950 and is part of the Seiko Group, so there is definitely some history behind it.
The Orient President Day-Date looks strikingly similar to the Rolex Day-Date, but uses cheaper materials and movements and has less impressive specs overall. The collection is no longer available, so while you may be able to still find a new one in Asia, enthusiasts have been quick to buy up new models elsewhere in light of its recent performance. The original list price was around 200 USD, but some of the more popular models now sell for up to 700-800 USD.
When hunting for an Orient President Day-Date, keep in mind that the models differ greatly in looks as well as build quality. Make sure you dive into the history of different models before you buy. Who knows what you might find?
3. Hamilton Jazzmaster Day Date
A third option is the Hamilton Jazzmaster Day Date. Hamilton definitely scores points with the collection name on this watch. Jazzmaster simply sounds good, and refers back to the cool musical style of the 1950s and 1960s. The design of the Jazzmaster collection is also inspired by the 1950s, pairing the retro style with modern-day touches. The Jazzmaster Day Date looks nothing like the Rolex Day-Date except for its day display at 12 o’clock. The date window is located at 6 o’clock, which differs from the Rolex.
The Jazzmaster Day Date is powered by the H-40 automatic movement, which is essentially a reliable ETA 2834-2 caliber. The watch is available in 40 mm or 42 mm sizes, and features a variety of dial and band options. The Jazzmaster Day Date on a leather strap is more of a dress watch, while the versions on stainless steel bracelets give the watch a more contemporary look. I especially like the 42-mm model with a black dial and a white outer ring on a five-piece link bracelet. It has a great deal of appeal and for around 1,200 USD, it’s a seriously cool Day Date watch.
4. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra Day-Date
Our fourth and final alternative to the Rolex Day-Date comes from Omega. The brand introduced the Seamaster Aqua Terra Day-Date at Baselworld 2013. The model was available until Omega updated the Seamaster Aqua Terra collection in 2017.
The Seamaster Aqua Terra collection was first introduced in 2003. The series is inspired by yachting culture, something that is very apparent on the striped dials reminiscent of wooden boat decks that are found on some watches. The 2013 Seamaster Aqua Terra Day-Date features a day window at 12 o’clock and a date display at 6 o’clock.
The 41.5-mm watch is available in a steel, red gold, and bicolor version. The steel and bicolor watches are available on a leather strap or metal bracelet, while the red gold model comes on a leather strap. If you want the same outstanding quality from an iconic brand, but don’t want to spend a fortune on a Rolex Day-Date, the Seamaster Aqua Terra Day-Date is a seriously appealing option. Pre-owned steel timepieces start at 4,600 USD, while 9,400 USD will buy you a stunning red gold version that can hold its own against any Rolex Day-Date.