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These 8 men’s watch brands might topple Rolex, Cartier, and Bulova

Watch brands poised to overtake the big dogs of the luxury timepiece market

Omega Globemaster watch dial
Courtesy of Omega Watches

There has been one name at the top of the pyramid of luxury watches for over a century. And despite other competitors, like Cartier and Bulova, Rolex has always been the peak of luxury when it comes to the timepiece industry. But the times are a changing. Now that the number of brands has multiplied exponentially over the years, there are new challengers to the throne of the greatest luxury watch company in the business.

Some of these companies are not new to the game, some of them have much more affordable options than the luxury market provides, but all of them are offering high-quality watches with exceptionally respectable price points that help them rival Rolex and the other brands at the top of the pyramid. Here are the men’s watch brands that are primed to take over the industry.

Tag Heuer watches on display
Andy Boxall/The Manual

Tag Heuer

Tag Heuer is a watch company that Abraham Lincoln would have been around to see the start of if he had been in the right place at the right time. Beginning in 1860, Tag received patents on numerous chrono features, including the start and stop push buttons and the timing instruments in vehicles of the early 1900s.

The Carrera collection of watches is an iconic piece of driving history, designed for the guys who reach for the highest speeds on the track, looking to leave Rolex and the rest of the luxury world in the dust. It also has the Aquaracer watches for the purveyors of the deep and the Formula 1 moto-inspired collections, all of which scream rugged luxury.

Man wearing Tissot watch
Austin Lowman/Unsplash / Unsplash

Tissot

Tissot made a name for itself in the 1930s when it saw the problem electricity was having on watches. When electricity began to see more widespread use, it would magnetize watches and pull off its precision, making regular everyday watches less dependable. Tissot addressed this problem by creating the world’s first-ever non-magnetized watch.

Today, it takes pride in its Swiss connection with the Swiss brand in its logo and participates in many Swiss betterment projects like Swiss Alpine tourism and the Swiss Alpine Club. With ambassadors from NBA players to international actors, Tissot is one of the top brands in the world and is coming for Rolex’s top spot.

Man in suit wearing an Omega
OMEGA Watches

Omega

The goal of any good watchmaker is to blaze new trails and reach new heights. No one can claim that quite like Omega, which did both literally and figuratively. When Buzz Aldrin stepped out onto the lunar surface for the first time in 1969, the Omega Speedmaster Professional became the first watch on the moon. Omega has been the choice of astronauts for the last 50 years.

Of course, 25 years after the watch reached the moon, it found itself among the other stars when James Bond donned the watch brand with Pierce Brosnan’s Bond. Daniel Craig continued the tradition and wore Omegas until the end of his tenure in No Time to Die. You can’t go wrong with any of its four stellar collections (Constellation, Seamaster, Speedmaster, and De Ville). And if Omega watches are strong enough for astronauts and 007, they are perfect for you and the top of the luxury watch pyramid.

Mont Blanc watches
Courtesy of Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc

Of course, you may be thinking, “Mont Blanc … as in the pens?” But the company has widened its purview for a long time, and it has become one of the top watch companies in the world. One of the reasons is its focus on creating not just products like watches, pens, and leathers, but heirlooms that people can hand down to their grandchildren.

While it has created dozens of products that you can wear nearly everywhere, they are best suited for dressing up on date nights and with your suits for work. Making them the new go-to for your luxury dress watches and passing Cartier and Bulova’s claim of the swankiest luxury watches.

Breitling Navimeter
Courtesy of Breitling

Breitling

Starting in the late 1800s, Leon Breitling was obsessed with creating quality products that lasted a lifetime and worked better than anything on the market. Of course, the best way to do that is to do something new, and he accomplished that by creating a pulsograph, praised by physicians for its ability to measure their patients’ pulsed. He was also the first to get his precision to within 2/5 of a second.

While it’s most known for its Navimeter, considered the quintessential tool for pilots everywhere, it also created many collections for diving (Superocean) and driving (Top Time). There are few watches that have a stranglehold on an industry the way Breitling has with flying.

Tudor Black Bay
Courtesy of Tudor

Tudor

Starting in the early 1900s, Tudor found its place in the chronograph history by supplying the U.S. and the French Navy for decades. It used that innovation and expertise to create one of its most iconic watches, the Black Bay. While it didn’t come to fruition in the 1960s, a nod to the iconic experiment is now available.

Breitling and Omega may own the sky, but Tudor is the only one to truly challenge the Rolex for dominance of the deep blue sea.

Panerai watch
Courtesy of Panerai

Panerai

Panerai is by no means a new company, having been around since the late 1800s. It not only established a workshop and storefront in its hometown of Florence, but it even established the first watchmaking school in the city. The Radiomir was one of the most iconic watches of the last century, having been created for the Italian Royal Navy. It was the official watchmaker of the Navy until 1993, in the meantime copywriting the name Luminer.

Today, Panerai offers four different collections, including two Luminer lines, Radiomir, and a new Submersible collection that makes up an inventory of some of the most stunning and stylish watches on the market.

Man wearing Norqain watch and adjusting his hat
Mark D. McKee/The Manual

Norqain

After a century of innovation and getting bigger and better, there is something to be said about simplicity. Norqain has become the newest in a world of overabundance and analysis paralysis. It offers three lines, Independence, Adventure, and Freedom. All of them are perfect for exploring the world, from the plains in Africa to the mountains of Nepal.

Born out of the drive for exploration, Norqain’s emblem is two Ns back to back to resemble a mountaintop. Putting on one of these watches makes it impossible not to crave adventure. As the youngest brand on the list, the others have something to prove if they want to keep from being overtaken by this Swiss brand.

There you have it. If you’re on the hunt for a new luxury watch, do yourself a favor and go for one of these watch brands that are primed to knock Rolex, Cartier, and Bulova off the top of the pyramid of luxury watches. No matter what your lifestyle demands, there is a watch on this list that is perfect for you.

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Mark McKee
Contributor
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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