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.
Rolex Submariner Date - Steel
Silky smooth bezel
Rolex build quality
Probably the most versatile watch
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
The original dive watch (came out before the Rolex Sub)
Higher end finishing - more attention to detail
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)
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
Glashutte Sport Evolution
Small brand from Germany, owned by Swatch group
Stainless steel, in-house movement
The founders of the "slide-lock" clasp
Interesting design but won't be for everybody
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
Breguet Marine Big Date
Breguet brand prestige - inventor of the tourbillon
Perhaps 20-30% cheaper than a Rolex sub
Easily a higher-end brand
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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