Whether you already have a Rolex or two in your collection or are looking for watch brands like Rolex, we’ve compiled a handy shopping guide for you. Similar to Rolex in terms of the level of quality, design appeal, and technical innovations, here is a buying guide to luxury watch brands like Rolex including Omega, Panerai, Tudor, Oris, and more.
Omega is a brand that gets compared to Rolex most frequently – and for good reason. Both brands are known for their high-end watches (particularly professional watches) both are heavily associated with sports sponsorships and celebrities, and both occupy the top two spots of best-selling Swiss luxury watches on the market.
While the Omega collection is vast in terms of assortment, the watches are essentially categorized into four main collections: Speedmaster, Seamaster, DeVille, and Constellation. However, these collections then branch off into sub-collections.
For an iconic chronograph, there’s the legendary Speedmaster “Moonwatch” and for a casual everyday watch, there’s plenty to choose from within the Seamaster Aqua Terra collection. On the other hand, if divers are your thing, then Omega makes plenty of them ranging from the popular Seamaster Diver 300M to the robust Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M to the mega Seamaster PloProf 1200M. Finally, Omega also makes some fantastic dressier watches fitted with intricate complications within the relatively new Constellation Globemaster collection, complete with the brand’s new-generation Master Chronometer movements.
The Panerai and Rolex relationship stretches back to the early-20th Century. Though it wasn’t common knowledge back then, Panerai used Rolex cushion-shaped cases and manual-wound movements to create their now-famous military dive watches for the combat divers of the Italian Royal Navy in the 1930s onwards.
Known for their generous case sizes, stark dials, and excellent legibility, today’s Panerai watch lineup is organized into four main collections: Radiomir, Luminor, Submersible, and Luminor Due.
The Panerai Radiomir are direct descendants of the prototypes the company supplied the Italian Navy, characterized by oversized cushion-shaped cases, wire lugs, big onion-shaped crowns, and simple dials. Luminor watches are also inspired by vintage Panerai dive watches, but they include a lever-operated crown-protecting bridge that serves to hermetically seal the watch. The Luminor Due collection debuted only a few years ago and houses Panerai’s range of smaller and slimmer watches (while still sporting the signature Luminor silhouette) for those who can’t pull off the brand’s other oversized offerings. The Submersible is Panerai’s modern dive watch collection, fitted with necessary components such as unidirectional rotating bezels, high water resistance ratings, and dials legible underwater.
Naturally, as its sibling company, Tudor is a brand like Rolex in many ways. Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf, established Tudor over 90 years ago as a more affordable alternative to Rolex. Tudor still carries that flag today yet proudly flaunts its own design language, in-house movements, and unique character thanks in large part to a re-launch in 2007 and reintroduction to the American market in 2013.
Tudor’s revival has been hugely successful and today the brand boasts an impressive collection of sports and dress watches, mostly with vintage-inspired touches like “snowflake hands” but executed with modern tastes and expectations in mind.
The Tudor Pelagos is home to the brand’s no-nonsense diving watches while the Tudor North Flag is all about exploration and adventure. The Tudor Black Bay – the company’s flagship line – encompasses a large range of different watches from divers (Black Bay, Black Bay Bronze, Black Bay 58) to chronographs (Black Bay Chrono) to GMTs (Black Bay GMT) to time-only models (Black Bay 32/36/41). As its name suggests, the Tudor Heritage line features reissues of iconic old school Tudor watches such as the Heritage Chrono, Heritage Advisor, and Heritage Ranger.
Perhaps a surprising contender for a brand like Rolex, those who are familiar with Oris watches recognizes the independent brand’s solid mechanical watch offerings. And the affordable price points are a great bonus. It’s important to note that Oris exclusively manufactures mechanical watches today, having completely abandoned making quartz watches several decades ago.
As a brand that has over a century of history behind it, the modern-day Oris brand organizes its watches into four distinct categories: diving, culture, aviation, and motorsport.
Oris’ diving watches have proved to be particularly popular, available in contemporary styles within the Aquis range or as vintage-inspired versions amongst the Divers Sixty-Five lineup. Oris is no stranger to making aviation watches either – having produced pilot watches as early as the 1910s – and continues to do so today. Oris aviation watches vary from flagship retro timepieces like the Oris Big Crown to professional-grade Oris Big Crown ProPilot models to high-tech executions like the new Oris Big Crown ProPilot X.
Another Swiss luxury watch brand to keep your eye on is Breitling, which has been manufacturing fine timepieces since 1884. The brand has its roots firmly planted in the world of aviation, although Breitling also boasts an extensive collection of professional dive watches and classic dress-inspired watches.
The catalog consists of several models, including the SuperOcean, SuperOcean Heritage, Navitimer, Chronomat, and Avenger. Together, they offer countless design variations to suit nearly any wrist.
The SuperOcean competes with the likes of Rolex’s Submariner with a 60-minute diver’s bezel, luminous hour markers and hands, and substantial water-resistance. Of course, it also follows its own design aesthetic unique to Breitling that, as of 2022, now includes a 1960s-inspired boxy minute hand. Breitling started producing dive watches in the 1950s alongside their already-established collection of pilot’s watches, beginning with the SuperOcean. The SuperOcean Heritage followed in 2007 to celebrate the dive watch’s 50th anniversary. It features a distinctive neo-vintage design set honoring the design of the 1950s generation. It’s also worth mentioning the Navitimer, which will appeal to you if you love the Rolex Daytona. Features include stopwatch functions and an innovative slide rule bezel.
Audemars Piguet, or “AP” for many avid luxury watch enthusiasts, belongs to the revered “Holy Trinity” of luxury watches comprised of Vacheron Constantin, AP, and Patek Philippe. It is easily one of the top watchmaking companies in the world, dating to 1875. Its design code is distinctive and unique to AP, often featuring angular lines and waffle-pattern dials. However, its quality more than matches up with the respected Rolex brand, earning it a spot on our list of brands comparable to the Big Crown. The
Audemars Piguet’s catalog consists of just a handful of models, including the Code 11.59, Royal Oak, Royal Oak Offshore, and Royal Oak Concept. From there, each model boasts numerous variations using different metal finishes, case sizes, dial colors, bracelets, and movements.
The most iconic collection is easily the Royal Oak, which came to market in 1972 and features an octagonal case decorated with visible screws and the famous “Grande Tapisserie” dial. The collection includes simple models with a date mechanism, more complicated chronographs, and even those with a Perpetual calendar. The Royal Oak Offshore hit the market a few decades later in 1993, just in time to celebrate the Royal Oak’s 20th anniversary. It features a chunkier, sportier aesthetic than the Royal Oak, complete with a larger “Méga Tapisserie” dial. The slightly more “experimental” Royal Oak Concept hit the market in 2002, focusing more on revolutionary design elements. Finally, there is the Code 11.59, AP’s newest and somewhat controversial model, which debuted in 2019. Instead of a sharp angular case, the Code 11.59 embraces more elegant, curved lines with a classic round case and domed crystal.
Swiss watchmaker Longines has been in business since 1832, eventually becoming a part of the Swiss Swatch Group in 1983. It’s on the more affordable end of the spectrum, boasting watches retailing for as low as just a few thousand dollars. Compared to Rolex, both offer classic and sports models, making it easy to find the perfect luxury watch for your lifestyle and at a price that won’t hurt your wallet, either.
The classic collection includes the Watchmaking Tradition Collections and Elegance Collections. Each includes a handful of classically styled dress watches, such as the popular DolceVita from the Elegance collections featuring a contemporary rectangular case and the Longines Heritage Classic from the Watchmaking Tradition Collections sporting a retro-inspired design.
The Sport category is divided into three sub-categories: the Diving Collections, Avigation Collections, and Performance Collections. The HydroConquest is a classic diver with water resistance up to 300 meters and a time-lapse bezel. If you love the Rolex GMT-Master II aesthetic, you might find the Longines Spirit attractive with a similar 24-hour bezel and 4-hand dial.
Patek Philippe is credited with creating the very first wristwatch, a coveted title, indeed. They have since become one of the world’s most respected watch brands, known for its impeccable craftsmanship, exclusivity, and elegant designs. Patek often costs more than Rolex on the retail level, but both companies are innovative and offer the highest quality available on the market. If you have the budget, we highly recommend peeking at what the famous Swiss watchmaker has in store.
The Patek Philippe catalog is vast, with 13 new watches joining the lineup in 2022 alone. Pillar models include the Grand Complications, Complications, Calatrava, Gondolo, Golden Ellipse, Nautilus, Aquanaut, and Twenty-4.
The Nautilus and Aquanaut are by far the most popular Patek models, both featuring unique case shapes and intricate dials. The Nautilus collection has been in production since 1976 and currently includes 27 models. It’s distinguished by a curved octagonal porthole-inspired case and horizontally embossed dial. To put it simply, the Nautilus is sporty elegance at its best. It is also one of the most sought-after watches on the secondary market, often trading hands for incredible prices. The Aquanaut is a newer model, hitting the market in 1998. It was inspired by the Nautilus, featuring a similar case shape but with a fresher, more contemporary design with a square-embossed dial and often a “Tropical” strap.
We may be partial the Crown around these parts, yet there’s a slew of brands like Rolex out there that also make fantastic watches.
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