03/27/2024
 5 minutes

3 Expensive Luxury Watches and Their Cheaper Lookalikes

By Sebastian Swart
Rolex-Seiko-2-1

Watches Similar to Expensive Models

Luxury doesn’t come cheap. This is especially true when it comes to luxury watches. Popular timepieces from renowned manufacturers like Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Rolex, and Omega can cost a fortune. There’s often a reason why so many people find certain watches alluring, but interest can falter when someone checks their bank account or gets a disapproving look from their partner.

Thankfully, there’s a solution to this problem that won’t rob you of your future financial security: the doppelgänger. There are plenty of high-quality watches out there that share key characteristics with their pricier counterparts. The possibilities are endless; just think of all the Rolex Submariner homages – or knock-offs. You can literally find everything from convenience store quality to Swiss-made watches with Submariner flair. Here, we’re introducing three watches that offer the aesthetics and high-quality craftsmanship you crave, but for much friendlier prices.

1. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak vs. Tissot PRX Powermatic 80

The Tissot PRX Powermatic 80 has only been on the market a short time, but it already feels like an old friend. Since it debuted in 2021, the model has enjoyed some serious hype among watch lovers. There are over 130,000 posts about this model on Instagram, and the hashtag #tissothas been used nearly 1 million times. The PRX has gone from humble beginnings to serious fame very quickly, especially among younger watch lovers.

Äußerst erschwinglicher Zwilling der Audemars Piguet Royal Oak – Tissot PRX Powermatic 80
Affordable Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Look-Alike: The Tissot PRX Powermatic 80

We aren’t making a groundbreaking comparison here; the model has been considered the cheap Audemars Piguet Royal Oak alternative of choice from the get-go. The PRX – like the Royal Oak with its roots in the 1970s – has a retro charm that is irresistible – thanks in large part to the integrated bracelet and simple, guillochéd dial. The man behind the look is famed Swiss watch designer Gérald Genta, who is also responsible for the Patek Philippe Nautilus, IWC Ingenieur, and Cartier Pasha.

The Tissot PRX is available in a range of different designs and sizes and even comes with a chronograph option. The three-hand ref. T137.407.11.041.00 is a great Royal Oak lookalike, with its blue dial and 40-mm stainless steel case and bracelet. As is the case for all automatic, three-hand PRX variants, the Powermatic 80 caliber from fellow Swatch Group company ETA keeps things ticking. This movement is hardly as exclusive as the one that powers the Royal Oak, but it does come with a power reserve of 80 hours, which is 20 hours more than the caliber 3120 from Audemars Piguet.

Pricing for the PRX is what really sells this watch, however; it will set you back just $675. For comparison, a Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 15400ST.OO.1220ST.03 requires an investment of over $45,000. If you opt for the PRX instead, you could get a watch and a new mid-range car to boot!

2. Omega Moonwatch vs. Swatch MoonSwatch

Our second example enjoyed a lot of hype in spring 2022: the Omega & Swatch MoonSwatch “Mission to the Moon.” This model is part of a larger collection that includes a total of 11 different variants. At the time of its release, it caused quite a stir in the watch world. At the start, there was a limited supply of each version, causing fans to overrun Swatch boutiques and attempt to resell copies for many times the official asking price.

The “Mission to the Moon” variant is more or less an affordable lookalike of the legendary Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch. As you’re probably aware, the Moonwatch earned its title of the first timepiece on the Moon in 1969. The watch has been inextricably bound to that landmark event ever since. For many watch enthusiasts, the Moonwatch is considered one of the most important chronographs of all time, making it a popular choice around the globe. The MoonSwatch “Mission to the Moon” draws on the design of its muse without copying it one for one. The manufacturer did make sure to include a couple of key details from the original, including the tachymeter scale with the iconic “dot over 90” bezel and recessed subdials.

Zum Verwechseln ähnlich – Omega Moonwatch und Omega & Swatch MoonSwatch
Strikingly similar: the Omega Moonwatch and Swatch MoonSwatch

Despite all the similarities, there are a few significant differences. The MoonSwatch’s 42-mm case is not made of stainless steel, but rather of gray Bioceramic. The material consists of two-thirds zirconium oxide ceramic powder and one-third biosourced material derived from castor oil.

If you take a closer look, you’ll see that the subdial arrangement differs from the original Moonwatch. The Omega’s subdials are located at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, while the MoonSwatch’s are placed at 2, 6, and 10. The reason behind the difference of course comes down to the caliber. The original features a manual movement, while the Swatch is powered by quartz. The black Velcro NATO strap, on the other hand, is akin to the one used by astronauts and, therefore, more authentic.

While you’ll have to reckon with prices upward of $6,000 for an Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch, you can buy a MoonSwatch “Mission to the Moon” for just $270.

3. Rolex Day-Date “Arabic Dial” vs. Seiko 5 SNKP21J1

If you like the Rolex Day-Date ref. 228206 with an Arabic dial, but can’t quite scrape together the $200,000 needed to call this rare model your own, not to worry: We’ve found an affordable and high-quality Japanese alternative for you! The Seiko 5 ref. SNKP21J1 is an exotic-looking model featuring Arabic-Indian numerals, just like the coveted Rolex.

The Seiko 5 “Arabic Dial” is admittedly not as luxurious or exclusive as the Rolex Day-Date, but with an average price of just $225, it offers unbeatable value for money. In contrast to the Rolex, which features a platinum case, Seiko crafts the SNKP21J1 from stainless steel. Measuring 42 mm across, the latter is also 2 mm larger than the Rolex, which means it suits those with slightly larger wrists. If you prefer a straightforward black dial instead of an ice blue or olive green one, the Seiko 5 is also the right choice for you.

In addition to the shared Arabic numerals, both watches have another thing in common: an in-house caliber. Like Rolex, Seiko is known for manufacturing their own movements, even for their more affordable watches. This means that Seiko enjoys a good reputation despite their reasonable price points. The Seiko 5 is powered by the caliber 7S26, which you’ll find in many Seiko watches. It’s considered the brand’s first-level caliber and is, of course, more basic than the Rolex caliber 3255. Nevertheless, it has proven itself very reliable for decades now.

Gut, günstig und exotisch – die Seiko 5 SNKP21J1 mit arabischem Zifferblatt
Reliable, cheap, and exotic: the Seiko 5 SNKP21J1 with an Arabic dial

While the Rolex features a day display at 12 o’clock, Seiko links it to the date display at 3. The day-date display of the 7S26 has a quick-set function, but unlike the Rolex, it has no stop-seconds mechanism and no manual winding. The Rolex 3255 also has the edge when it comes to power reserve: 70 hours versus just 40 hours. However, when you’re looking at a price difference of around $200,000, these minor differences tend to fade into the background.


About the Author

Sebastian Swart

I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

Read more

Latest Articles

IWC-2-1
05/17/2024
Watch Guides
 3 minutes

IWC Schaffhausen: Timeless Elegance and Swiss Precision

By Donato Emilio Andrioli
Patek-Philippe-2-1
05/16/2024
Watch Guides
 5 minutes

Three of the Most Affordable Patek Philippe Watches

By Aaron Voyles
Rolex-vs-Cartier-2-1
05/15/2024
Watch Guides
 4 minutes

Cartier vs. Rolex – Can the Jeweler beat the Crown?

By Jorg Weppelink

Featured

Top5-under-5000-2-1
Top 10 Watches
 4 minutes

Five Luxury Watches Under $5,000

By Sebastian Swart
Rolex-Oyster-Perpetual-124300-2-1
Watch Guides
 5 minutes

The Best for $24,000 in 2024: Aaron’s Perfect Watch Collection

By Aaron Voyles
ONP-929-Donatos-Uhrensammlung-2024-2-1
Watch Guides
 5 minutes

The Best for $24,000: Donato’s Perfect 2024 Watch Collection

By Donato Emilio Andrioli
Top5-under-5000-2-1
Top 10 Watches
 4 minutes

Five Luxury Watches Under $5,000

By Sebastian Swart
ONP-929-Donatos-Uhrensammlung-2024-2-1
Watch Guides
 5 minutes

The Best for $24,000: Donato’s Perfect 2024 Watch Collection

By Donato Emilio Andrioli