Despite the liberal use of the term in marketing, only a small number of watches qualify as genuinely "iconic." Though many of those were born of practicality, they're inevitably luxury items today with status and prestige linked to their price tags. They might be worth saving up for, but what if the name on the dial is less important to you than a satisfying watch-wearing experience?
The good news is that those covetable classics have had outsized influence on the industry. Many watchmakers have outright tried to cop the style of iconic watches, while others have learned from their success and integrated their lessons in subtler ways. In other words, there are some good options out there offering similar looks or features that don't cost as much as the classics.
The Rolex Submariner, Omega Speedmaster, Cartier Tank... below you'll find great alternatives to these and more classic watches to scratch your itch or hold you off while you fill those penny jars.
Three dive watches offer handsome, versatile and strong-value alternatives to the most iconic watch of all time.
Watches from Bulova, Farer and Bell & Ross offer a similar look and versatile appeal of the Speedy for far less money.
Three dress watches offer alternatives to the Cartier Tank experience, with classic looks that stand out among so many round watches.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
Watches from Tutima, Maurice Lacroix and Dietrich offer compelling alternatives the watch that defined the integrated-bracelet, steel-luxury-watch look.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
These three handsome chronograph watches offer attractive alternatives to the classic Rolex Daytona.
Rolex GMT Master II
Watches from Timex, Baltic and Tudor offer the distinctive bicolor-bezel look you're after.
Patek Philippe Calatrava
The Calatrava is perhaps the platonic ideal of the dress watch — but they ain't cheap. Here are a few watches with a similar look for much less scratch.