6 Best Rolex Daytona Homages & Alternatives in 2023

The iconic chronograph’s road course ringer

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by  Karlton Miko Tyack | Last Updated: 
best Rolex Daytona Homage

Thanks to its coveted and masterfully engineered movement, and its icon status, it’s impossible to find a Rolex Daytona for less than five digits. Even if you’ve got the budget, there’s that one to three year waitlist.

Our six Daytona homages are the best on the market, and we’ve also rounded up three quality alternatives that you might prefer.

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Movement In-house swiss automatic Manual wind mechanical In-house swiss automatic Non-chronograph automatic
Case Size 40mm 39mm 44mm 40mm
Lug to Lug 46.5mm 48mm 48mm 44mm
Band Stainless steel bracelet Stainless steel bracelet Stainless steel bracelet Stainless steel bracelet
Water Resistance 100m 30m 100m 30m
Key Benefits
  • Runs on Rolex’s innovative 4130 Chronometer movement, which boasts several patents and less friction than the average chronograph, resulting in superior reliability, and a 72-hour power reserve
  • Every colorway has a slick and recognizable look, whether it’s the modern standard black, the Paul Newman panda dial, or the precious metal variations
  • The bezel numerals are well spaced and are adorned with a thin layer of platinum, making it one of the most legible monobloc tachymeters on a chronograph
  • Seagull’s beautiful 20-jewel mechanical movement is arguably the most affordable non-quartz chronograph in the industry, making this watch a true bargain
  • Lustrous silver dial sophisticatedly contrasts with black panda subdials, achieving a close aesthetic to the popular Paul Newman Daytona
  • Alpha’s one year manufacturer warranty and excellent customer service make for a reassuring buying experience
  • Dial features complexity and depth, while the case possess a mix of hard and curved angles, resulting in an exquisitely delicate design that’s unique for Tag Heuer and big sport watches in general
  • High-frequency in-house automatic movement retains superior precision and an 80-hour power reserve
  • Moderately-sized lugs gives more real estate to the dial for extra legibility and a comfortable wear
  • Sub-$100 21-jewel automatic caliber isn’t a chronograph, but is more accurate than similarly-priced mechanical chronograph movements
  • Applied indices and subdials are clear, legible, and attractively glossy
  • Polished finishing on the bezel makes the watch look more expensive than it is
Get It Buy Now at Bob’s Watches Buy Now at Alpha Buy Now at Jomashop Buy Now at AliExpress
Rolex Daytona Rolex Daytona
Movement In-house swiss automatic
Case Size 40mm
Lug to Lug 46.5mm
Band Stainless steel bracelet
Water Resistance 100m
Key Benefits
  • Runs on Rolex’s innovative 4130 Chronometer movement, which boasts several patents and less friction than the average chronograph, resulting in superior reliability, and a 72-hour power reserve
  • Every colorway has a slick and recognizable look, whether it’s the modern standard black, the Paul Newman panda dial, or the precious metal variations
  • The bezel numerals are well spaced and are adorned with a thin layer of platinum, making it one of the most legible monobloc tachymeters on a chronograph
Get It Buy Now at Bob’s Watches
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Alpha Paul Newman Alpha Paul Newman
Movement Manual wind mechanical
Case Size 39mm
Lug to Lug 48mm
Band Stainless steel bracelet
Water Resistance 30m
Key Benefits
  • Seagull’s beautiful 20-jewel mechanical movement is arguably the most affordable non-quartz chronograph in the industry, making this watch a true bargain
  • Lustrous silver dial sophisticatedly contrasts with black panda subdials, achieving a close aesthetic to the popular Paul Newman Daytona
  • Alpha’s one year manufacturer warranty and excellent customer service make for a reassuring buying experience
Get It Buy Now at Alpha
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Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph
Movement In-house swiss automatic
Case Size 44mm
Lug to Lug 48mm
Band Stainless steel bracelet
Water Resistance 100m
Key Benefits
  • Dial features complexity and depth, while the case possess a mix of hard and curved angles, resulting in an exquisitely delicate design that’s unique for Tag Heuer and big sport watches in general
  • High-frequency in-house automatic movement retains superior precision and an 80-hour power reserve
  • Moderately-sized lugs gives more real estate to the dial for extra legibility and a comfortable wear
Get It Buy Now at Jomashop
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Steel Bagelsport Chronograph Steel Bagelsport Chronograph
Movement Non-chronograph automatic
Case Size 40mm
Lug to Lug 44mm
Band Stainless steel bracelet
Water Resistance 30m
Key Benefits
  • Sub-$100 21-jewel automatic caliber isn’t a chronograph, but is more accurate than similarly-priced mechanical chronograph movements
  • Applied indices and subdials are clear, legible, and attractively glossy
  • Polished finishing on the bezel makes the watch look more expensive than it is
Get It Buy Now at AliExpress

It makes sense that chronographs tend to be pretty expensive.

After all, when it comes to common and popular complications, watchmakers often claim that mechanical chronographs are one of the more difficult ones to build.

And of course, even among the already elite chrono group, the Rolex Daytona is a high-ranking general. So, it’s understandable that you’re considering a good homage, especially considering a Daytona can set you back $15,000 at best.

Our six choice Rolex Daytona homages are the best in the market. Read on to figure out which of them, or the three alternatives, is the best for you.

How Did I Come Up With My List?

Using my hands-on experience with several Daytona-like watches, as well as multiple variations of the Rolex Daytona itself, I whittled the pool down to these most effective homages and alternatives.

I also scoured countless forums and reviews, deliberated with colleagues, enthusiasts and genuine watch experts alike. Each timepiece in this roundup encapsulates important qualities that make the Daytona special.

6 Best Rolex Daytona Homages


Running on Seagull’s mechanical ST1903 movement, Alpha’s Paul Newman Daytona homage is an impressive watch in its own right. No matter how deep you dive into any Citizen or Seiko catalog, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a mechanical chronograph in this price range.

Plus, this movement is fun to observe, which you can do, thanks to the exhibition caseback. You can get a solid back version, but the glossy polished caliber, with its blue screws and column wheel deserve to be admired.

The case is polished on the sides and brushed on the lugs, which makes the face pop. Meanwhile, all the markers and the logo are applied onto the shiny silver background, perfectly complemented by the panda black subdials.

Even the crown is signed, which showcases an attention to detail rarely seen in this price point.

What I Like

  • The movement is a 20-jewel Seagull, making this one of very few chronographs under $150 with a mechanical caliber.
  • A clear attention to detail is seen throughout the design, from the silver dial, applied indices, brushed and polished surfaces, and signed crown.
  • Alpha offers a one year manufacturer warranty making each purchase secure, no matter how affordable.

What I Don’t Like

  • There’s a “chronometer” appellate on the face. This watch definitely isn’t a Chronometer with a capital C, meaning it isn’t COSC-certified like an actual Rolex is. The common noun “chronometer” simply means clock, so the dial label technically isn’t a lie, but it’s misleading.

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

While I try not to make all-or-nothing hard-lined statements, reviewers and forum-goers all over the internet are shamelessly bolder: Many claim that this is the only mechanical chronograph in this price range. My in-depth research has yet to prove them wrong.

The Alpha Europe website also gets a lot of props for their excellent customer service, having an evident reputation for answering emails quickly, and rectifying any order mishaps.

There are two main complaints, besides the use of the word chronometer on the dial. Some mention that the crown is a bit wobbly, and others wish the water resistance is more substantial.

The Verdict

Alpha’s Daytona homage is truly a gift to chronograph fans and the horologically curious. Not only is it an affordable mechanical, but the exhibition caseback is an opportunity to experience a real chrono movement, at a bargain price of admission.

On top of function, this watch sports good looks, with its well-designed dial and case. The shiny silver background and complementary black subdials are delightfully inspired by the Paul Newman Daytona.

Our Top Pick
Alpha Paul Newman

Alpha’s Daytona homage is truly a gift to chronograph fans and the horologically curious. Not only is it an affordable mechanical, but the exhibition caseback is an opportunity to experience a real chrono movement, at a bargain price of admission. On top of function, this watch sports good looks, with its well-designed dial and case. The shiny silver background and complementary black subdials are delightfully inspired by the Paul Newman Daytona.

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The Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph is more robust than the modern-day Daytona, yet it uniquely features minute graceful details, not often found on Tag Heuer’s bigger-is-better sport watches. This unique combination distinguishes it from the brand and from sport watches in general. 

Its case shape is a mix of hard angles, which is very Carrera, and elegant curves, which isn’t. The dial flaunts a lot of depth, especially since the recessed subdials each have raised flanges. Even the pushers are beveled. 

The bracelet is no different, with its deep center links and staggered satin and polished pieces.

When it comes to function, the bezel is made of durable ceramic, which also serves as a heat protector along with the sapphire crystal, and the movement is a 33-jewel in-house automatic. 

When it comes to big Swiss brands, Tag Heuer doesn’t have the resale value that auction house golden children, like Rolex or Patek, have. Go for this watch if you plan on keeping it forever or passing it on to your son, vs selling when you’re done with it.

What I Like

  • The design is a mix of hard sporty aesthetics and subtle delicate features, making for a unique and stately sport watch.
  • With its moderately-sized lugs, the timepiece is comfortable to wear despite its size, and more surface space is given to the dial.
  • Among several premium-level construction qualities, the in-house automatic movement is especially precise because of its high frequency, and has an 80-hour power reserve.

What I Don’t Like

  • The convex sapphire crystal picks up glare despite the AR coating.
  • Its resale value isn’t as consistently excellent as other price-comparable Swiss brands

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

Many reviewers mention how much they love watching Tag Heuer’s complex movement through the exhibition caseback. It has a Côtes de Genève treatment, which is a striped decorative pattern, and a red column wheel for color and clarity.

The Verdict

If you’re looking for a watch that’s bigger and more rugged than the Daytona, but doesn’t compromise the delicacy in design, the Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph is for you. While definitely a luxury pick, it’s still a fraction of the cost of the cheapest Daytona, and has that coveted Swiss pedigree too.

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Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph

If you’re looking for a watch that’s bigger and more rugged than the Daytona, but doesn’t compromise the delicacy in design, the Tag Heuer Carrera Chronograph is for you. While definitely a luxury pick, it’s still a fraction of the cost of the cheapest Daytona, and has that coveted Swiss pedigree too.

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Fast becoming an internet legend, the Steel Bagelsport Chronograph is a charming Daytona homage that does its best to fit in as much function and design in a ~$50 package.

Commendably, the indices are applied, the finishing is clean throughout, and it runs on a simple but reliable automatic movement. This combination already punches above its price point.

The trick here is that the automatic movement doesn’t actually have a chronograph stopwatch complication. The three and nine o’clock subdials are day and date displays, while the six o’clock subdial is a 24-hour display. Is it a misrepresentation? A little bit, but not if you really consider the price.

What I Like

  • As an automatic timepiece, its sub-$100 price tag offers a rare and impressive money-for-value ratio.
  • Details like the applied indices, glossy subdials, and good finishing make this watch look more luxurious than its price.
  • The self-winding movement is decently accurate, and is more precise than price-comparable mechanical chronographs.

What I Don’t Like

  • This watch is exceedingly elusive, and the brand doesn’t even have a dedicated store on AliExpress. If you want one, you’ll have to keep a constant eye out. 
  • It’s not an actual chronograph.

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

Reviewers love the way this watch looks and the fact it’s an automatic in its price category. Many mention they wouldn’t recommend it to very serious collectors, but to those who love the look of the Daytona but can’t afford it.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a few grievances over the fake chronograph situation.

The Verdict

The Steel Bagelsport Chronograph is popular because of its low price and its chronograph-style dial face. It’s the best homage for you if you’re on a budget and are predominantly concerned about the look of the watch versus the actual stopwatch function. Meanwhile, the automatic movement is the very exciting icing on the cake.

Best on a Budget
Steel Bagelsport Chronograph

The Steel Bagelsport Chronograph is popular because of its low price and its chronograph-style dial face. It’s the best homage for you if you’re on a budget and are predominantly concerned about the look of the watch versus the actual stopwatch function. Meanwhile, the automatic movement is the very exciting icing on the cake.

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The Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph sports a vintage Daytona look, with its unflanged subdials, domed dial protector, and twisted lugs. What really makes this homage stand out, however, is that it comes in colorways that are exceptionally difficult to find in the Daytona. 

The “Evil Panda” dial is a reverse panda featuring a black dial with white subdials. Meanwhile, the all blue version has lively orange accents. If you can even find the Daytona versions of these, they’ll set you back anywhere between $40,000 and upwards of $100,000.

Another unique feature is its meca-quartz movement, which combines the dependability of a quartz watch with the performance of a mechanical chronograph.

What I Like

  • This watch comes in four distinct colorways, including the unique “Evil Panda” version, which is a reverse panda dial and the popular all-blue variation.
  • The meca-quartz movement brings quartz accuracy and reliability to the watch’s timekeeping, but the mechanical tactileness to the stopwatch.
  • The domed acrylic goes well with the vintage look, but is also more structurally sound that a flat dial protector.

What I Don’t Like

  • The dial’s lume is weak and illegible, and looks like a bunch of unstructured dots and lines when the lights are off.

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

Dan Henry has a loyal fan base, many of which praise the 1962 Racing Chronograph for its vintage style, fun colors, and affordability.

Style aside, reviewers find the Seiko movement to be of great value considering its dependability and the satisfying operation of the pushers.

The Verdict

If you want to save a few hundred thousand dollars on unique Daytona colorways, the Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph has four excellent variations for less than a percent of the price of the cheapest blue dial Daytona. It’s also quartz accurate and as satisfying to use as a mechanical.

Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph

If you want to save a few hundred thousand dollars on unique Daytona colorways, the Dan Henry 1962 Racing Chronograph has four excellent variations for less than a percent of the price of the cheapest blue dial Daytona. It’s also quartz accurate and as satisfying to use as a mechanical.

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The Gigandet Race King is a no-nonsense Daytona look-alike that’s accurate, affordable, with a nicely executed design.

The dial has multiple layers, starting with the very legible minute track, then the main dial, then the subdials underneath it. This adds a refined dimensionality to an otherwise classic chronograph dial face. 

On the operation side, the Racing King has easy pump pushers though they’re designed to look like screw-downs, and its acrylic crystal is hardened for extra durability and scratch-resistance. 

Basically, Gigandet takes standard materials and levels them up in style and functionality, without having to drive the price of the watch up. 

What I Like

  • Timeless chronograph style made with standard materials that’s economically and stylistically upgraded, like the hardened acrylic and the layered dial face.
  • The pump pushers are super easy to operate.
  • The Miyota 6S20 movement uses a tuning fork, which is accurate and reliable, but limited in frequency and hence requires very little power.

What I Don’t Like

  • While the date window distinguishes it from the other homages, it’s just one element too many and crowds the dial a bit.

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

Fans of the Gigandet praise the design details, many bringing attention to the polished finish on the bezel and the depth of the dial, despite its simplicity. are especially impressed with the polished finish on the bezel and the layers

A few mention that the instructions that come with the watch are all in German, but that the watch’s functions aren’t difficult to figure out.

The Racing King is also a popular piece to mod since it’s so low-priced.

The Verdict

With the Racing King, Gigandet takes standard materials and a standard design and implements subtle upgrades. This makes it better than the standard budget buy, without compromising price, overall offering a unique value.

Gigandet Race King

With the Racing King, Gigandet takes standard materials and a standard design and implements subtle upgrades. This makes it better than the standard budget buy, without compromising price, overall offering a unique value.

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Thanks to the extra-thin and bare bezel, the Orient Neo sports a much roomier dial face than most chronographs. This clean and broad aesthetic is classic Orient, and also gives this homage a more refined style.

The panda subdials aren’t crammed together, and the expansive cream background further adds to the neat look and feel. Still, the watch is the second biggest on the list. So while it’s more subtly designed than many chronographs, it still makes an impression.

Since this watch runs on a solar quartz movement, the subdials are slightly translucent so that the sun can shine through them and power the cell inside. As such, the batteries last forever, only needing to be recharged under light.

What I Like

  • The bare, extra thin bezel leaves room for the sub dials to space out, for a generally more refined aesthetic.
  • Powered by solar power, the quartz movement never needs battery replacements and has a six-month power reserve that’s constantly charging under light.
  • The lume is incredibly bright and effective.

What I Don’t Like

  • The bracelet is flimsy and rattly, especially at the clasp.

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

Reviewers on Amazon praise Orient for their roomier take on the chronograph.

The date window is a bit controversial. While most agree that there’s enough room for it, some think it’s too small to read, or is a superfluous addition.

One common complaint is that there’s a lack of contrast between the hands and the subdials, making the watch hard to read sometimes.

The Verdict

The Orient Neo, like the Tag Heuer, is another elegant-meets-sporty homage. Both are large on the wrist with a sophisticated attention to detail. The Neo means slightly harder on the elegant side though, and is also much more affordable.

Orient Neo
$173.41

The Orient Nero, like the Tag Heuer, is another elegant-meets-sporty homage. Both are large on the wrist with a sophisticated attention to detail. The Nero means slightly harder on the elegant side though, and is also much more affordable.

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04/22/2024 12:21 am GMT

3 Quality Rolex Daytona Alternatives

While a Daytona homage is designed to be an affordable look-alike, non-homage alternatives are often competitor pieces. They’re comparable to the Daytona in function or category (the category being chronograph), but aren’t modeled to look like it.

Before pulling the trigger on a Daytona or Daytona homage, check out one of these alternatives. You just might like one of them a little more.

The Zenith Chronomaster Sport runs on the legendary El Primero movement. Considered one of the most accurate and best chronograph calibers in history, even the Daytona ran on it before Rolex went fully in-house in 2004. 

Zenith is the only alternative Daytona brand that can literally claim that there might not even be a Daytona if it weren’t for them. Besides its topnotch movement, the Chronomaster also has its own visual signature: The fun and distinct overlapping subdials.

Ever since the Omega Speedmaster beat the Daytona during the space race, it’s arguable that the Speedy is Daytona’s main rival. The first watch ever worn on the moon, the Speedmaster boasts historical importance as well as superior function and design.

A COSC Chronometer, this icon’s trademark co-axial escapement ensures that this watch just gets more accurate over time.

Since the two brands are siblings, there’s a Tudor equivalent for every important Rolex model. The Black Bay Chrono is a great example of how Tudor has more to offer than just being slightly more affordable.

Like the Daytona, it runs on a Chronometer movement and is built with all premium materials. The Black Bay Chrono, however, comes with the Tudor-specific snowflake hands and only has two subdials. If you want a watch that’s as good as a Rolex, with more modern visuals and without the big brand energy, Tudor’s the way to go.

Which Rolex Daytona Homage Should You Get?

When it comes to function, price, and style, the Alpha Chronograph scores high all around. 

Our Top Pick
Alpha Paul Newman

Alpha’s Daytona homage is truly a gift to chronograph fans and the horologically curious. Not only is it an affordable mechanical, but the exhibition caseback is an opportunity to experience a real chrono movement, at a bargain price of admission. On top of function, this watch sports good looks, with its well-designed dial and case. The shiny silver background and complementary black subdials are delightfully inspired by the Paul Newman Daytona.

Buy Now
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The Tag Heuer Carrera is a Swiss pedigreed timepiece that mixes sophisticated features with sporty qualities. If that’s too expensive, the Orient Neo does something similar, though it falls closer to the clean and tidy aesthetic.

Only have a hundred dollars to spend? With the Steel Bagelsport, that’ll still get you an automatic.

Best on a Budget
Steel Bagelsport Chronograph

The Steel Bagelsport Chronograph is popular because of its low price and its chronograph-style dial face. It’s the best homage for you if you’re on a budget and are predominantly concerned about the look of the watch versus the actual stopwatch function. Meanwhile, the automatic movement is the very exciting icing on the cake.

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Meanwhile, Gigandet and Dan Henry take the textbook chrono template and make it their own.

The Daytona is no doubt a fine watch. Just keep in mind that by going the homage or alternative route, you can have a lot of its best qualities for a smaller price tag.

FAQs

Are Rolex Daytonas a good investment?

Absolutely. Many second market Daytonas are much more expensive than primary market watches, since there’s no waiting list.

How long is the waitlist for a Rolex Daytona?

One to three years.