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, and Oris.
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.
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.