The first brand most people associate with a watch is Rolex. While expensive and renowned, they are also ubiquitous and standard. There has been nothing new or innovative from the brand in a while, and their collections are not particularly functional.
With this week’s editorial at Swagger magazine, we wanted to focus on watches outside the box. High class, technical, exceptional timepieces guaranteed to turn heads and take the conversation away from the norm. The Rolex really hasn’t changed in 50 or 60 years, but let’s explore some watch brands that have. More tough, more stylish, and more functional here are the top Rolex alternatives you need to consider.
Marathon Watch – Jumbo Diver’s Automatic
Designed for search and rescue missions Marathon Watches’ military spec JDD is a heavy-duty watch that looks good. One of the top Rolex alternatives, Marathon Watch has a long history in the military, and its purpose-built watches have only recently become available to the public.
The JDD takes on an elite appearance combined with Marathon’s solid-link stainless steel dive bracelet. The JDD watch features include a stadium dial, 24hr markings along the case wall, domed sapphire crystal for magnified viewing, and a bi-lingual day of the week display. It also hosts a venerable 25 Jewel ETA 2836 Swiss Made automatic, self-winding movement, and Incabloc® shock-protection. These hand-made features all guarantee reliable and accurate timekeeping. Interestingly, the JDD uses self-contained tritium gas tubes to ensure constant visibility in low lighting situations. Tritium, an isotope of hydrogen, does not dull down in brightness as it does not require an external source to glow. The tritium gas tubes are placed on each hour marker and on all hands. The watch is available with no markings or YAMAM markings (as shown).
The Marathon Jumbo Divers Automatic is built to withstand the most extreme conditions. It is certified water-resistant to 30ATM or 300 meters. Made from 316L stainless steel, with reliable Swiss manufacturing, the highest level of quality and accuracy is guaranteed. Just as required in the service. The JDD combines military toughness with Swiss craftsmanship in a watch that will look great while you get any job done.Buy Now
Panerai – Luminor Marina Carbotech
The Panerai Luminor is now more robust than ever. The Panerai Luminor features ultralight Carbotech, big luminescent numerals, and a unique locking crown. Using Swiss watchmaking technology and high tech materials such as the carbon fiber composite, which makes the watch super light and water-resistant to 300 meters. The case diameter is 44m, has a sapphire crystal lens, is powered by Panerai P.9010 movement, and has a power reserve of three days. The date appears at 3 o’clock and the small seconds at 9 o’clock. The Luminors’ luminosity is untouched with super-luminova X1, a new compound generously applied to the case and strap.
These collections are often limited, adding to the allure of Panerai. The simple functionality and new cleaner lines of this Panerai Luminor Marina Carbotech make it a fan favorite. Combined with Panerai’s legendary toughness, these watches are guaranteed for 70 years, perfect if you have grandchildren in mind.Buy Now
Marloe Watch Company – Haskell
On the 1st November 1911, Captain Robert Falcon Scott set out on the Terra Nova Expedition to reach the South Pole. Eleven weeks later, the naval officer became the first British explorer to ever reach the pole but sadly perished on his return journey. The world was informed of the tragedy when the Terra Nova arrived on land in New Zealand over a year later. Within days, Scott became a celebrated hero and national icon.
Marloe Watch Company set out to create a modern-day adventurer’s watch, something that could be worn everywhere. This fantastic Rolex alternative is a watch that is robust enough to withstand the daily rigors of the modern traveler and elegant enough for the urban adventurer. The Haskell was inspired by such great British exploration. The watch is named after the Haskell Strait, the ocean passage which Scott crossed as he set off from Ross Island in Antarctica. The Haskell has everything it needs to accompany you every step of the way; as you bustle through the daily commute or trek over the next peak. It’s ready to serve.
British-designed and Swiss-made, the Haskell is powered by a manual, hand-wound Sellita SW-215 movement. This movement beats at a brisk 28,800 bph, and the running seconds hand moves around the dial at 8 beats per second. Compared to a quartz watch running at one beat per second, the Haskell displays a gloriously buttery smooth sweep to its running second hand. Evidence enough that something special ticks within.Buy Now
Tense Watches – Cambridge Chrono
This unisex 6-hand chronograph features 3 sub-dials showing the minutes, 24-hour clock, and seconds. The Cambridge is made from 100% recycled or reclaimed wood, with Miyota 0S90 watch movement from Japan and is adjustable in size. With this Miyota movement, the center Chrono second-hand moves only when the Chronograph function is activated. Made from Leadwood, the case height is 51mm with a thickness of 11mm and a width of 40mm. The 20mm band is also expertly crafted from leadwood and features a stainless steel clasp.
Due to the nature of wood, all products are unique and one-of-a-kind purchases. All Tense Watches are Proudly Made In Canada. These highly customizable, bespoke, and personalizable watches with engravings make the perfect groomsman gift or something to pass down through your family. For more on this Family-owned company, check out the following YouTube videos on Tense Brand History and Customization Options for your new Tense Watch.
Almost every single style of watch can be fully customized from the crown, dial, case, and straps on the Tense Watch website. Personalized engraving can be added to the watch back or to the box. Tense watches have over 8 different fonts and a wide selection of icons and emojis that can be added as well. Conveniently, delivery time is not affected by the watch being customized, it still should take only 7-10 business days to get to you (within Canada and the US)Buy Now
Raymond Weil – Freelancer Calibre RW1212 Skeleton
The Freelancer collection provides a window into Raymond Weil’s 44-year history of Swiss watchmaking excellence. The openwork dial and sapphire case back reveal the in-house Calibre RW1212 self-winding movement. It features a 5.47 mm movement caliber height within a robust 42.5mm diameter case. The watch beats at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour and has a 38-hour power reserve.
Created in honor of the free-spirited man, the Freelancer mixes classic and modest to create this unique design free of all constraints. Some of these watches’ impressive specs include stainless steel with rose gold PVD plating, screw-down sapphire crystal case back, a brown genuine calf leather strap, and a stainless steel folding clasp with a double push security system. A distinctive purchase, the Freelancer Calibre RW 1212 Skeleton openly exposes the unique beauty and richness of Raymond Weil’s watchmaking expertise.
Raymond Weil distinguishes itself as one of the last independent, family-owned and operated companies in the Swiss watch industry, creating a fine line of Rolex alternatives. The company got its start in 1976, in the middle of a watch industry crisis. The visionary watchmaker, Raymond Weil, seized the opportunity to found his own brand to offer more creative and accessible Swiss watches. Driven by craftsmanship and an unwavering passion for watchmaking, Raymond Weil has become a well-known international brand that is now lead by Elie Bernheim, grandson of the founder.
From design through to the final stage of assembly, Raymond Weil’s attention to quality and detail is constant. Each watch undergoes 360 checks before receiving the Raymond Weil quality mark by experienced watchmakers. This ensures the longevity of their watches for many years to come.Buy Now
Victorinox – I.N.O.X. Mechanical
Resilient. Modern. Relevant.
The launch of the first I.N.O.X. was in 2014, and the mechanical version has been eagerly anticipated ever since. This exceptional collection needed a robust caliber addition. Due to the delicate nature of automatic movements, extensive research, and design were necessary to bring this model to life. At first glance, nothing distinguishes the quartz model from its mechanical version, with an identical style, proportions, and features. However, an exhibition case back shows the mechanism behind it. The guilloche dial, in the style of the Swiss officer’s knife is what makes the design stand out. The signature I.N.O.X. bezel has been coated to ensure resistance to wear and tear, keeping the shine intact for longer.
The technical features of this watch include ETA 2824-2 Swiss-made automatic movement and scratch-resistant triple-coated anti-reflective sapphire crystal. The I.N.O.X. is water-resistant to 200m, 20 ATM, or 660ft. The case is 43mm stainless steel with scratch-resistant treatment on the bezel, screw-in exhibition case-back, and protected screw-down crown. The monobioc dial with “Swiss Army Officers” knife inspired guilloche detail has luminescent hands and indexes. The different strap types available are genuine wood or a stainless steel bracelet. Additional features include a date calendar at 4:30.
The I.N.O.X. Mechanical would be a welcomed addition to any luxury watch aficionado’s collection.Buy Now
Detroit Watch Company – M1-Woodward® Moon phase
The Detroit Watch Company is Detroit’s First Hand-assembled Timepieces with Swiss Automatic Movements. Following a successful launch in 2013, the Detroit Watch Company is releasing its latest collection with the introduction of the M1 Woodward moon phase automatic Timepiece in 42mm size.
M1-Woodward Avenue is a highway notably referred to as Detroit’s Main Street. It follows the route of the old Saginaw Trail that linked Detroit with Pontiac, and at the time, Flint and Saginaw. Woodward Avenue was created after a devastating fire in 1805. It is one of five principal avenues in Detroit devised by Augustus B. Woodward as part of a street plan intended to make Detroit the Paris of the West, by emulating its wide avenues. Woodward Avenue was the first mile of concrete roadway in the entire country and, in 1970, bore the M1 designation. Woodward Avenue is synonymous with cruising. As early as 1848, carriage drivers would race up and down Woodward Avenue after the roadway was converted from logs to planks. The Detroit Watch Company celebrates Detroit’s M1-Woodward Avenue history with the introduction of the M1- Woodward® Chronograph series of exclusive automatic timepieces.
The M1-Woodward® Moon phase Timepiece as exclusively designed by the Detroit Watch Company. Polished with brushed accents 42mm case. Automatic self-winding 7751 movement. Polished and blued hands, hour and minute with Superluminova. A crown with black and white Detroit Fleur-de-Lys. The Woodward chronograph case back displays all cities the Woodward Avenue crosses from Detroit to Pontiac and is fastened to your wrist with a calf leather band with deployant clasp.
The Fleur-de-Lys continues to be a mark of distinction for the Detroit Watch Company collection, symbolic to its creators Patrick and Amy Ayoub, together with the region’s founding heritage. The first series moon phase is numbered from 001/100 to 100/100 for the exhibition back with decorated movement.Buy Now
Shinola – Harbour Monster
Built to weather any storm, the Shinola Detroit Harbour Monster is a diver’s watch. With its glossy cardinal enamel dial colored after the red lighthouses of Lake Michigan, this watch too will be a long-serving guide. Other handsome features on the Shinola Detroit Harbour Monster include a semi-matte midnight blue bezel powered by SW200-1 Swiss automatic movement featuring 26 jewels (to reduce friction and maintain accuracy) and a 38-hour power reserve. The bezel is unidirectional to help you keep track of elapsed time underwater.
This high-grade 316L stainless steel timepiece is impeccably engineered to withstand extreme pressure, resist corrosion, and has a depth rating of 1,000 feet. The stainless steel casing also acts as an anti-magnetic shield, protecting the movement from magnetic field disruption. Sapphire crystal is favored among watch collectors for its hard, scratch-resistant properties. In the case of the Harbour Monster, the Sapphire crystal also provides an anti-reflective coating to ensure maximum visibility underwater. Other features of the lacquered dial are the Shinola name and logo, the unique diver down marker used as the 12’oclock marker, and the inclusion of a calendar aperture. The Shinola Monster has a stainless steel three-link bracelet that adds a refined style to have this watch wrist ready.
The micro-adjustable clasp allows easy lengthening to ensure the perfect fit underwater and on land. Your Shinola Detroit Harbour Master arrives packaged to you in what can only be described as a Diver’s treasure chest. You can purchase the Shinola Detroit Harbour Monster Timepiece directly from the Shinola Detroit website. You don’t have to dive deep to know this is an excellent selection for your collection.Buy Now
Swagger’s list of Rolex alternatives are doing some really cool things outside of the standard Rolex. Similar in price point but superior in toughness, style, and functionality, you will not be disappointed you stepped outside the comfort zone. Consider a watch best for your unique self.