As watch prices climb higher and higher, do you ever wonder which iconic timepiece you’ll ever be able to afford with your hard-earned dollars? Chrono24 Magazine tackles this question by making the ultimate comparison between an affordable entry-level watch under $1,000 and one of THE biggest watch icons of all time. Can the less expensive model hold its own?
$1,000 vs. $10,000: Same design, better price?
The Rolex Datejust 41 ref. 126300 could not look more alike. But for just under $1,000, you can get your hands on the Tissot watch, whereas nowadays you’d have to pay over $10,000 for the iconic Rolex. I’d like to compare these two watches and settle the question once and for all: What’s the difference between a $1,000 entry-level watch and a $10,000 luxury watch?and the
In terms of overall design, the two watches could be twins, especially when comparing their cases and dials. Thanks to their domed bezels, partially polished bracelets, and dates on the right-hand side, both candidates make for a perfect everyday watch while also looking great on special occasions. They also have similar dimensions: the Tissot Gentleman measures 40 mm in diameter, 11.5 mm in height, and 48 mm from lug to lug. The Rolex Datejust 41, on the other hand, comes in slightly smaller than its Tissot competitor with a diameter of only 39.5 mm (despite the 41 in its name) and a lug-to-lug of 47.5 mm. While its 11.7-mm height makes it ever so slightly thicker than the Tissot, I find the dimensions of the Rolex to be more harmonious and better conceived than its budget counterpart. With its display case back showcasing the Tissot’s movement, the entry-level watch technically wins a point against its $10,000+ rival, which in typical Rolex fashion forgoes the transparent case back. This may strike some watch wearers as pretentious, but I personally would rather have a boring steel case back than an unattractive display case back. The visible movement of the Tissot Gentleman simply does not offer much of a feast for the eyes and I think Tissot would have done much better by opting for an engraved steel case back. Overall, the Tissot Gentleman is a truly remarkable watch, and its design is strikingly similar to the Rolex Datejust 41—with an important exception. The unmistakable Cyclops lens is the one distinguishing feature that makes the Rolex stand out.
$1,000 vs. $10,000: Is the quality of a Rolex ten times better?
When it comes to watch quality, Rolex is unrivaled in my opinion. Especially when it comes to overall haptics, no one in the luxury watch world will be beating the Genevan powerhouse anytime soon. So, is it even worth comparing the quality of a Rolex to the Tissot? Actually, yes, because the Tissot Gentleman surprisingly has more to offer than I would have suspected. The case, above all, has a very high-quality feel. Unlike Rolex, which went for completely mirror-polished sides for its Datejust 41, Tissot chose a matte finish. The upper edges feature polished bevels that are visually striking and beautiful to behold. Moving on to the dial, the watch continues to impress with carefully finished details: in addition to applied steel indices, the dial also boasts a date window with a stainless-steel inner ring. I’m a big fan of the intricacy of the Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 dial; it’s a pleasure to look at and not something you’d expect to see in watches at this price point.
The Rolex, for its part, features logos and indices made of white gold. While such fine details are a must-have for such an expensive luxury watch, they are hardly noticeable. When it comes to the bracelet, the Tissot Gentleman clearly falls short in quality. It has no chance against the Rolex bracelet, which is very substantial, but at the same time feels silky smooth on the skin. And the clasp is utter perfection: simply closing it and hearing the loud, rich click will fill you with pure joy. When it comes to the small details, the Rolex Datejust 41 is playing an entirely different ballgame than the Tissot Gentleman. But please keep in mind that the Rolex costs over $10,000, while the Tissot is not even $1,000! For that price, the Tissot all-rounder does an excellent job, particularly the case and dial.
$1,000 vs. $10,000: Can the Tissot Gentleman hold its own against the Rolex Datejust?
It should come as no surprise that the Rolex Datejust 41 can do no wrong in terms of technology. Therefore, I’d like to focus more on the Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80, which also has something to offer in this department. When it comes to water resistance, the Tissot may not quite reach the 150 m (15 bar, 492 ft) of the Rolex Datejust 41, but its 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft) of water resistance is more than enough for everyday wear. Just like the Rolex watch, Tissot uses a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. Its modified ETA movement offers a whopping 80 hours of power reserve, a full 10 hours more than its Rolex counterpart. Thanks to a silicon hairspring, the Tissot movement is anti-magnetic.
Ultimately, however, the movement can’t keep up with the in-house Rolex caliber of the Datejust 41. The Tissot also lacks the small details that make the life of a watch wearer more convenient. You’ll be searching in vain for something like Rolex’s Easy-Link system on the bracelet of the Tissot Gentleman. Still, all the pros of the Tissot are remarkable for a watch in this price range. All things considered, Tissot offers quite an impressive overall package. The power reserve and silicon hairspring are by no means standard features, even in watches at higher price points. The built-in ETA movement is extremely reliable and easy to maintain, meaning that you won’t have to plan for major servicing costs. This is very important to consider, especially for an entry-level watch under $1,000. What’s more, given that Tissot and ETA both belong to the Swatch Group, the movement could even be considered a kind of in-house movement, right?
What’s the difference between a $1,000 watch and a $10,000 watch?
Even if it doesn’t reach the level of the Rolex Datejust 41 in terms of materials, in-house movement, quality, and feel, the Tissot Gentleman is a great entry-level watch that truly amazed me when I tried it on. The case, dial, and indices make quite an impression with their surprisingly high quality. The movement offers more than enough power reserve. With 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft) of water resistance and a sapphire crystal, the Tissot is also extremely suitable for everyday wear. Like the Rolex, it’s the perfect all-rounder for all occasions. Only the bracelet and clasp have clear qualitative drawbacks. The Rolex Datejust 41, on the other hand, offers total perfection in all respects: the finest materials, perfect aesthetics, an unmatched feel, and an in-house, meticulously designed movement that will last at least 10 years without servicing. But the most beautiful thing that Rolex offers you is its legacy, the prestige behind the famous luxury brand, and the swell of emotions you’ll feel when wearing the timepiece. In the end, this is the biggest difference between a watch under $1,000 and one over $10,000. Things like white-gold logos and indices are small, interesting details, but ultimately barely catch your eye. By contrast, that feeling every watch enthusiast gets when wearing such a historical watch is priceless. While a $1,000 entry-level watch won’t be able to replicate that special feeling, the Tissot Gentleman is still probably the best watch you can buy for under $1,000.