There are a few reasons we can think of why people might be looking at luxury watch alternatives. The most obvious is budget. If you don’t have the budget for the best, what is a good entry point into the world of luxury watches? 

The second most popular reason is style. Maybe you don’t want to wear the same watch as everybody else. Amongst watch enthusiasts, the GMT Master ‘Pepsi’ is quite a common watch and deservedly so. However, for those with an individual flare, something a little bit different might be more suitable. 

Whether it’s budget or style, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are alternatives. What you’ll find below, are what I consider to be genuine alternatives to five of the most popular luxury watches on the market today. 

Please note the prices are ‘pre-owned’ not ‘retail’prices as that’s a whole other article! 

Rolex Datejust - £6,000 'v' Omega Aqua Terra - £2,000

Starting with the market leader in the gents luxury dress / daily business wear category for decades – the Rolex Datejust. The reason for this is because they are superb at what they do. A perfect size for an understated business or dress watch, the 36mm Rolex Datejust exudes good taste quality and style. And they have ‘Rolex’ written on the dial.

In the negative ledger, you can expect to pay around £6000 for a really nice one and you are likely to spot more than the odd one around on the wrists of colleagues and contacts. And maybe you don’t like that they have ‘Rolex’ written on the dial.

As an alternative, you could consider the 36mm Omega Aqua Terra. The Aqua Terra is a very high quality watch with some equally tasteful styling touches. The case and bracelet are beautifully made and with dials in white, black or blue among other colours. The whole thing quietly declares its class and style.

Compared to the Rolex Datejust, you’ll see very few around and the kicker is that the Omega Aqua Terra starts from about a third of the price.  Leaving you spare money to buy more watches…

Rolex GMT Master 11 - £14,000 'v' Tudor Black Bay GMT - £3,000

Probably the most famous watch design ever, the GMT Master ‘Pepsi’ is instantly recognisable with its blue and red bezel insert.  It’s the choice of champions – “The Gentleman’s sports Rolex”.  Magnum PI wore one. Fidel Castro wore one. I wear one.

Once again though, you might find that they are a bit too commonplace for you and of course the price has gone through the roof.  You can’t buy any kind of decent Full Set for much under £14,000 these days.

Enter the Tudor Black Bay GMT.  Introduced a few years ago, this watch succeeded immediately in bringing the blue and red pilots’ watch to a different audience.

Still very popular today, you might even find a new one and shouldn’t have to pay much over £3,000 for a minter.
Ok so they’re not as refined as the Rolex but they do offer similar styling on a much more affordable budget.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak - £40,000 'v' IWC Ingenieuer - £5,000

Designed by Gerald Genta in 1972, the original AP Royal Oak quickly became a design classic, much copied and much admired.  These days a nice Royal Oak ‘Jumbo’ (39mm) can easily set you back £40,000. Plus, they are of course pretty much impossible to buy from ADs.

Consider as an alternative the IWC Ingenieuer, one of the lesser known models from the classic International Watch Company. Made in relatively small numbers since 1955, the Ingenieur was originally designed with a Faraday cage inside for genuine engineers.

These days its angular styling, relative rarity and sheer quality make it a great alternative to the Royal Oak from around the £5,000 mark.

Rolex Daytona - £30,000 'v' Omega Speedmaster - £5,000

When the Rolex Daytona was first made back in the mid 1960’s its most obvious rival has always been the Omega Speedmaster. Somehow however, almost immediately the Daytona began to pull ahead in the race for popularity and desirability.  Even the incredible cache of being the First Watch On The Moon couldn’t help Omega to catch up.

Fast forward over a quarter of a century and the situation has escalated to proposterous levels for both vintage and new models of these close bedfellows. Let’s be honest here, there’s really no  big difference in quality between the Speedmaster and the Daytona, and there never has been, and yet …..

The Daytona is impossible to buy in stores while the Speedmaster is often in the ADs window.

  • The Daytona retails around £10,000 while the Speedmaster is around £6,500
  • Pre-Owned a current model Daytona sells for up to £30,000 while a Speedmaster sells for around £5,000
  • An early 1970’s (non Paul Newman) Daytona will cost around £60,000 while a similar Speedmaster can be had for less than £10,000

This situation is beginning to correct itself with Speedmaster prices steadily on the rise but there’s still a LONG way to go.  This makes the Speedmaster an excellent alternative to the much hyped and high cost Daytona.

Patek Phillipe Calatrava - £25,000 'v' Jaeger LeCoultre Master £7,000 - £10,000

Patek Phillipe is one of the best known and most coveted horological brands ever. The company’s classic strap line : 

“You never really own a Patek Phillipe, you simply look after it for the next generation” 

has been around since 1996 and sums up the brand perfectly. A Patek Phillipe really IS far more than just a watch.

All of this brings with it a high price, low deprecation rates and long waiting lists.  Consequently, they’re very hard to get new and can be very pricey to buy pre-owned.

I’ll be honest, there can also be a bit of ‘them and us’ reverse snobbery in the watch world when it comes to PP.
The owner of a Platinum Calatrava or blue dialled Nautilus can sometimes be seen as a ‘level above’.

Now if I could afford a blue 5711 on my wrist I honestly wouldn’t care what anyone else thought. I would just be looking at it all day! But not everyone is like me, so what’s your alternative ?

Enter centuries old Grande Maison, Jaeger Le Coultre and their classic lines.  Probably best known for their Art Deco Reverso models, they also do a very fine line in more traditional dress watches in the Patek Phillipe style.

At between £7,000 and £10,000, a pre-owned JLC Master has all the heritage, quality and class of a Patek Phillipe Calatrava but without the price ticket or occasional baggage. Well worth a look.

In Conclusion ....

Of course a subject like this can’t really be tackled in a few paragraphs and for every one of us, the questions and considerations will be different.

However I hope that maybe this article has made you think a little.  If you want to discuss any of the luxury watch alternatives that I’ve raised here, I would be delighted to hear from you.

We have two collections, the original Oakleigh Watches Collection where you’ll find a range of high end pre-owned luxury brands and Alderleigh by Oakleigh Watches

Our Alderleigh collection launched last year giving us the opportunity to offer quality used watches at a more affordable level. We love the idea of helping people get their foot on the pre-owned luxury watch ladder. Plus, we get to welcome old stock back as customers trade up to the next level. 

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