Posted on March 02 2021
Or Coke, Pepsi and Root Beer?
They’re all nicknames given to our favourite Rolex watches. Affectionate monikers used to rename the world’s most desirable timepieces.
But if you’re like me, you’re unable or unwilling to drop half a year’s salary on a watch.
So what can you do if you’re a fan of the watch Clint Eastwood wears but you want something more affordable?
You buy an affordable Rolex alternative.
Here are 6 inexpensive watches. Each influenced by a Rolex with a famous nickname.
Rolex Daytona or ‘Paul Newman’
The Daytona is Rolex’s desirable chronograph. It’s iconic and the most notable version is the one worn and popularised by Paul Newman. His original was a record-breaker when it sold at auction.
Unfortunately, there’s a waiting list for the Daytona. Even if you want one you’ll have to join a queue. Picking up a fun, inexpensive homage is a great idea.
Stuhrling would be my first choice for a Rolex Daytona homage model. It’s an excellent combination of aesthetics, price and quality. It has the Rolex appearance - with the build quality of an established US brand.
And importantly, it’s very affordable.
The original is a sporty chronograph that Newman wore when motor-racing. He wore it exactly as the designers envisioned. The Daytona is a motorsports watch - named after the Daytona International Speedway in Florida.
Newman favoured the Panda dial look - a white dial with black sub-dials. The modern Stuhrling release faithfully recreates this. It successfully retains Rolex’s mix of sport and style. This makes for a versatile watch aimed at men with an active lifestyle.
With that in mind, it’s not large or flamboyant. And it manages to keep all the functionality of a chronograph without being too busy.
The Stuhrling uses a reliable Japanese movement and boasts 100M water resistance.
Stuhrling Formulai 891
Rolex GMT-Master II or ‘Clint Eastwood’
It has the same features as the Rolex. A two-tone bezel and strap, GMT hand and a cyclops lens over the date.
If you want the Root Beer style - this Swiss quartz model is an ideal candidate.
Like the Stuhrling it has a comfortable 42mm case, making it a practical everyday watch. Also, like the previous model you’re not limited in how you can wear it. That’s particularly true with this colour palette - the gold gives it a dressy edge.
When Clint Eastwood wore this - you can spot it in a few of his movies - he wore it with a suit or with smart casual clothing. So although it’s an aviation watch, you don’t need to be a pilot to wear it.
The original isn’t a popular Rolex model and its nickname isn’t as well-known as some others. But for me, this is a beautiful piece and Mathey-Tissot have done a great job of recreating it.
Mathey-Tissot GMT H903RNM
Rolex Submariner or ‘Hulk’
The Hulk is Rolex’s green monster.
It’s their most colourful version of the Submariner. It’s also a watch that has recently been discontinued.
Rotary has released its own green dive watch. An attractive limited edition that would make a worthy alternative.
The source of the Rolex’s nickname is simple. The full green version of the Submariner - both bezel and dial - is the same colour as the Hulk. Despite the name, it’s not a large or chunky watch.
The Rotary is a mid-sized legitimate dive watch that takes inspiration from the Rolex. It’s not a true homage. It has a similar style and colouring, but it’s not trying to be a Rolex. This is a Rotary watch at heart.
And what a watch it is. For the money, you can’t go wrong. It has a Japanese automatic movement and 300M of water resistance. And remember, it’s a limited edition too.
Rotary isn’t an obvious choice for a distinctive dive watch. But the Super Scuba is an exception. It’s a real dive watch - with all the specs you’d expect - but at a very affordable price. The fact that its numbers are limited adds to the appeal.
Rotary Super 7 Scuba S7S003S
Rolex Submariner or ‘Kermit’
The full green Submariner has made way for the partially green version. The Kermit has the same green bezel as the Hulk but replaces the green dial with a more traditional black one.
The result is a slightly safer watch. Not too eye-catching or colourful.
The best affordable alternative is from one of my favourite Swiss brands, Glycine. They’re a brand that has its own proud history. This includes the release of their legendary 24hr pilot’s watches - the Airman.
Central to their range is the Combat collection, with the Combat Sub being their dive watch. It’s available in a selection of colours and styles. With most having a recognisable Rolex Submariner DNA.
It’s a high-quality piece that represents a step-up from the previous three watches.
This is a Swiss-made model with Glycine’s own automatic movement. Again, it’s a legitimate dive watch, with decent water resistance and a sapphire crystal.
The styling is very close to the Rolex whilst still being an impressive watch in its own right. The case, hands and bezel are all like the Kermit.
But the dial is different. Glycine uses Arabic numbers rather than the Rolex’s round markers. It’s only a small change, but it gives the Combat Sub its own look.
If you want a Swiss watch that resembles the Kermit version of the Submariner, this would be my first choice. It’s not a Rolex homage, instead, it’s Glycine’s take on a classic dive watch.
Glycine Combat Sub GL0253
Rolex GMT-Master II or ‘Batman’
Batman is Clint Eastwood’s more popular sibling.
It’s the Rolex GMT Master II again, but with a much more sought after choice of colours. Rather than the unusual colour scheme of Clint’s watch - brown and gold - the Batman uses a simple black and blue.
Hence the nickname.
Italian brand Mondia has a Rolex Batman homage. It’s an attractive watch, powered by a Swiss Quartz movement. It doesn’t have the specs or reputation of the Glycine, but then it doesn’t have the higher price either.
And it does its job well. This is a close reworking of the Rolex, with all the major designs points on display. It has a two-tone bezel, Mercedes hands and the cyclops lens. It’s all there. As it should be in a homage.
Of the two GMT-Master Homages I prefer the Root Beer. I favour the quirky colour scheme and the fact that it’s a less obvious choice. But if you’d like a more straightforward watch. More traditional and mainstream. Try this.
It has all the style of a Batman Rolex at a tiny fraction of the price.
Mondia GMT MI-799-SSBLBK-BK-GB
Rolex Day-Date or ‘President’
The Rolex Day-Date was the watch of choice for Presidents.
This is the watch worn by President Johnson and the watch that Marylin Monroe gave JFK. It’s a watch that took the basics of the successful Rolex Datejust and added a day of the week window.
It’s a stylish and conservative dress watch, more popular with statesman and businessmen than actors and sports stars.
Again, Rotary make a very affordable and faithful version.
The Havana is available in a few colours, but I’m most taken with this deep blue variation.
It’s based on the less ostentatious style of the presidents watch. Stainless steel construction rather than the gold option with jewelled indices. I prefer this understated look. It still has the fluted bezel and prominent day window at 12 o’clock, but it’s more tasteful than the style worn by Jay Z.
And it has to be. This is a very affordable quartz model.
It doesn’t have high specs or an expensive mechanical movement. It has a simple mineral crystal and a modest 50M of water resistance. At this price point, only stainless steel works. Fake gold plating would cheapen the look.
This is a humble piece, available on the high street. A classic Rolex design on what is essentially an affordable everyday watch.
Rotary Havana GB02660-05
Watch fans love to give watches nicknames.
Sometimes it’s as simple as the watches colour. It’s green? Let’s call it the Hulk. It’s less green than the Hulk? That’ll be Kermit.
It’s fun and adds some backstory to the watch.
With Rolex things get interesting.
They’re expensive and often worn by men with fame or influence. When we see Clint Eastwood on screen we look at his watch. If we find that he has a strong preference for a particular model we want to know more.
Before you know it, his favourite Rolex is now renamed The Clint Eastwood.
But we can only play along with this for so long. Often a Rolex isn’t a realistic buy. Like the Hulk, it could be discontinued. Or subject to a waiting list like the Paul Newman.
But let’s be honest. It might simply be too expensive. Trust me, price is the number one reason I’m not wearing a Rolex while I type this.
There’s a market for similar, more affordable watches. Models that take design cues from those luxury watches that we desire.
I hope you found something suitable on this list. A watch that has the styling that you’d like, with specs and a price that works for you.
As ever, let me know in the comments.