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Which Watches are Cheaper than a Rolex, but Higher End?

Updated: Oct 18, 2019

Which watches are cheaper than a Rolex but higher end?

To most people, Rolex is the king of all watch brands. However, a watch enthusiast will immediately know that Rolex is actually a very middle-of-the-road brand when it comes to luxury horological timepieces.

Brands such as Jaeger le Coutre, A. Lange & Sonne, Breguet, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantine and Patek Phillipe can be considered superior brands. It could even be argued that Seiko (especially the Grand Seiko line-up) is a superior brand to Rolex when it comes to innovation (just check out the spring drive movements).

Here are just some watches that can easily be identified to be higher-end in terms of fit and finish than a Rolex Submariner.

First of all, let's examine some of the benefits of the Rolex Submariner.

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Rolex Submariner - an iconic Rolex diver watch

Rolex Submariner Date - Steel


Iconic design

Great waterproofing

Silky smooth bezel

Rolex build quality

Probably the most versatile watch

Very durable

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The original divers watch. The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms


The original dive watch (came out before the Rolex Sub)

Higher end finishing - more attention to detail

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H.Moser Pioneer - not really a diver but still fantastic quality

H Moser Pioneer


More exclusive - they only produce around 1200 watches per year

Everything made in house - ALL of their parts

Higher end finishing

Hand finishing on the movement

Serious horological prestige for a serious watch collector (definitely more than a Rolex)

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Roger Dubuis Easy Diver - part of the Richemont Group

Roger Dubuis Easy Diver


More exclusive - very few made each year

Extremely high-end finishing (much higher than a Rolex) - polished screws, anglage and perlage finishing (see below for descriptions)

Styling is very unique

Can be acquired for almost half the price of a Sub

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Glashutte Sport Evolution - a love or hate design

Glashutte Sport Evolution


Small brand from Germany, owned by Swatch group

Stainless steel, in-house movement

Bigger complication

The founders of the "slide-lock" clasp

Interesting design but won't be for everybody

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Vacheron Constantin - a Holy Trinity watch brand

Vacheron Constantin Oversees


Holy Trinity brand watch - much higher brand prestige

Movement not built in-house (however, it is built by JLC) but bracelet and case construction very, very high end

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Breguet Marine Big Date

Breguet Marine Big Date


Blancpain movement

Breguet brand prestige - inventor of the tourbillon

Perhaps 20-30% cheaper than a Rolex sub

Perlage movements

Easily a higher-end brand

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Breguet Type 20

Breguet Type 20


Added complication - chronograph

About half the price of the Rolex Sub


Anglage, (or chamfering or bevelling) smoothens the edges of movement parts. This is done by filing the components at a 45-degree angle, and subsequently polishing them to high gloss. Look out for consistent smoothness and width on the edges. The most difficult type of anglage is found on interior angles, and can only be done by hand.


*The overlapping circular patterns commonly found on top and base plates are the result of perlage, which gives the plates cleaner and smoother surfaces. The movement finisher applies emery paste of the end of a piece of peg wood, which is fitted on a rotating head. He then presses on the surface of the plate to create the pattern.

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