By Harlan Chapman-Green

A great big massive welcome to one and all as WristReview now begins its third comparison series, where we pit two completely different watches against each other every month in order to find you our top-rated watches. Every watch we review here is a winner in its own way, but there can only be one per edition and choosing the winner often comes down to the tiniest of details that really wouldn’t make a difference in every day wear.

In the first series, we looked at watches which specifically featured chronographs in them and we certainly weren’t restrictive when it came to the overall complexity of the chronographs, for example, in week five we featured an exquisite flyback chronograph watch which also featured a complete calendar as well! You can see the full list of Clash of the Chronos by clicking here to go to the results table (a link to the archive is conveniently located at the top of this page).

After this came The Tourbillon Trials. In this series, the sequel to Clash of the Chronos, we took 12 of the best tourbillon watches we could find and pitted them against each other in the ultimate complicated showdown. My favourite article to write was the last one where we looked at a Jaeger Le-Coultre Sphérotourbillon moon watch and the Breguet Classique Complications Double Tourbillon watch.  As with Clash of the Chronos, a link to the archive for The Tourbillon Trials can be found at the top of the page, or you could click here to go straight to the results table.

For this new series, we let our audience decide what they want us to compare next. We had a poll at the end of the final article where our readers could choose between calendar watches, minute repeater watches and diving watches. The results of our poll are pretty clear as our new series has the word ‘Divers’ in it.

What is a diving watch to us? Well, it’s actually pretty simple. A diving watch is a professional tool designed to withstand very deep water pressures for extended periods of time. While we are very much aware that even 100 meters is a serious depth, for us that just isn’t enough, we believe that the minimum should be 200m. This means that watches such as the Rolex DateJust cannot be classed as diving watches in our eyes, even though their ability to go from beach to the office comfortably is one of their biggest selling points. Another feature of any watch that wants to be considered a true diving watch is a unidirectional rotating bezel (we’ll make an exception for Omega’s 1930s Art Deco watch as it was the genesis for diving watches). This means that sports watches such as the Breguet Marine and Patek Philippe Nautilus will also not be able to qualify for this competition.

Apart from this we don’t have many criteria for the watches and we are thrilled to see where this series will go so, without further ado, we’ll begin our series with this, the classic sports watch showdown!

Note: The poll is now closed, however, we will have another one at the end of this series, so stick around until then!Rolex-Submariner-Old-New-Comparison-1957-2014

The Rolex Submariner is THE iconic sports watch. Sure, Blancpain beat them to it by a year with the Fifty Fathoms, but almost every famous actor/actress, wealthy person, secret agent and watch aficionado has owned a Submariner at some point. Everyone knows what a Rolex Submariner looks like, and for some it’s their grail.
Rolex-SUBMARINER-NoDATE-04

The current generation Submariner, reference 114060 (no date model), is no exception to Rolex’s long-term commitment to providing perhaps the best watches in the business. Just like all the previous incarnations of the Submariner, the 114060 watch faithfully continues the Submariner lineup in just the same way, by being functional enough to be practical for a scuba diver, but un-decorated enough to be worn with a suit or tuxedo convincingly, a stunt that its larger brother, the DeepSea Sea Dweller, has trouble pulling off due to its enormous dimensions.

The only other watch that does this perfectly is the DateJust, but this is more focused on the office side of things whereas the Submariner is on the sporty/active side, but both can handle the other’s tasks really well indeed.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner 2012 - front angle

Happily the standard Submariner is able to jump between the two with ease because the case is 40mm in diameter and the dial is relatively uncluttered. I say relatively simply because Rolex appears to have stamped War & Peace on the dial. This paragraph of writing actually contains some useful information regarding the watch, such as water resistance (300m) and the fact that this watch, like all of Rolex’s current lineup, has been officially verified by COSC as a chronometer watch.

Reference 116619LB White gold

The Oyster case and bracelet on this watch have been made of 904L steel, which is surgical grade and, therefore, less prone to scratches and chemical damage than normal 316L steel. To keep the water out the Submariner is fitted with the patented Rolex Triplock system which is made up of ten individual elements which when brought together hermetically seal and are as tight as a submarine’s hatch.

The reference 114060 Submariner is also fitted with an automatic 3130 workhorse movement (calibre 3135 for the date). This movement and the previous incarnations of it have been used in Rolex watches since the dawn of time, they are very robust and can often go for ten years or more of daily wearing without requiring a service, although Rolex still recommends you have your watch serviced every 5 years or so to keep it in peak condition. The movement also makes use of another Rolex invention, the parachrom blue hairspring, this spring system makes use of non-magnetic materials, which Rolex closely guards, to make it not only antimagnetic but also ten times as shock resistant as a normal spring which is made of ferrous metals.
Suprcase-Ceramic-Submariner

Reference 116610LN

The Submariner is the standard daily wear watch for most because of the robust build quality, high precision movement and, of course, the image, being seen wearing a Rolex Submariner means you’re a classy person. Although features such as the Glidelock bracelet extension system mean that this class can come with you when you’re visiting the depths. You can go further than 300m with this watch too, as water resistance is guaranteed for an extra 25% of the original depth.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner 2012 - CU

Rolex doesn’t make the only diving watch of choice for most. In 1957, Omega came up with the Seamaster as a response to Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms and the aforementioned Submariner. The Seamaster, Speedmaster and Constellation have been with Omega for a very long time now, but the Seamaster is perhaps the most up-to-date watch out of all three.

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  • Stefan

    I totally agree with your choice, the Seamaster is the winner in my books too.
    The Sub is a very good tool watch indeed, but lets face it that Omega delivers the same thing as Rolex nowadays.

    • Tandem

      I agree with the choice as well! Very good article! Looking forward to the next “battle”…

      • Harlan Chapman-Green

        Hi Tandem,

        Thank you for following us so far, we’re very excited to see what innovations these companies have to offer in the future!
        We hope you enjoy the upcoming battles we have planned.

        Thank you,
        Harlan

        • Gary

          As someone who has just bought a new Omega (Speedmaster pro, two year warranty unlike to co ax, which is four), and a new OP six months ago, there is one huge point in the Sub’s favour when bought new: five year warranty AND Rolex now says 10 years is ok between services. Omega does not meet that. With the co ax it will never be able to say leave servicing for 10 years. Personally I love the 300, it is.my choice too. Omega has produced a winner. But a sub is a sub, even with the chunky lugs, nothing else is.

          • Korz

            Actually, there’s no basis in fact for Rolex to say 10 year intervals are okay. The interval for coax should actually be 12 years or more; the early 2500 calibres were still getting over-lubricated until recently.

            Swiss lever escapements are five years, no matter what Rolex says. You’ll also be paying for parts that will wear out.

    • Harlan Chapman-Green

      Hi Stefan,

      We think that gap is minuscule now, but we’re also excited to see what these companies will do to try and change this. Innovation, innovation, innovation, right?

      Thank you for following WristReview so far.
      Harlan

  • watchguy

    I know Omega has come long way, but they still have some to go before they can take or win over Rolex. I own watches from both of them.

    • Harlan Chapman-Green

      Hi there Watchguy

      I’d like to start by saying thank you for following WristReview so far.
      I’m really excited to see what innovations both companies come out with next to take the watch business to the next level.

      Thank you
      Harlan

  • Eric

    I own a Sub with date and a Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial. The Omega is close but still doesn’t got what the Rolex has. When you did this “vs” did you only go on the facts or have owned these watches or just tried them out?

    • Harlan Chapman-Green

      Hi Eric,

      First off thank you for supporting our website!

      Regarding the question you asked I sadly do not have the funds to outright purchase both watches or I would’ve done so. Instead, Jovan kindly offered to allow me to wear both of them for a two week duration.

      I am unsure as to what you mean when you say the Omega hasn’t got what the Rolex ‘has’, they are both very nice timepieces. We all have our own preferences regarding watches, but as I have stated before, Omega is producing more technologically advanced movements at the moment, whether it will stay this way only time can tell.

      Thank you,
      Harlan

      • Eric

        Hi Harlan,

        I read your guys article regularly. Wristreview, has given me lot of help in decision when I have bought my watches. So, I thank you guys! I see, but I couldn’t find it in your article that you have mentioned that you have tested them out for a couple of weeks. It would have been better if you did this with live pics. I meant the overall built quality of the watch.
        I agree that the movement is better in the Omega, but the Rolex movement is a more of a workhorse.

        /Eric

        • Harlan Chapman-Green

          Hi again Eric,

          Next time we get hands-on with the watches I’ll make sure that it’s mentioned and the pictures are live, thank you for picking me up on that!
          Please understand that we cannot always use live pictures as we don’t always get a hands-on with the watches.

          Thank you for following WristReview so far.

        • Muie Voua

          No, I don’t think he got these two watches for wearing. it is clear to me it is a review based solely on some pictures without wearing the watches. Or at least not wearing the Rolex. I own both watches, the Rolex 114060 and the SM300 titanium with blue dial.
          I tell you, the Rolex is something else. On a bracelet, the Rolex is the king. Omega is nice with the new Bond (black/grey) nato tough.

          At the end of the day, it may be a matter of preferences, but you certainly did not wear the Rolex or both of them, period.

  • Jason

    Difficult, I think I need both of them!

  • Jonathan Lorse

    Nice article! What’s next?

    • Harlan Chapman-Green

      Hi Jonathan,

      You’ll have to wait and see. 😉

      Thanks,
      Harlan

  • Forever Young

    Did Omega pay to wins this “battle” or what? The Rolex movement and the overall quality is superior to Omega.

    • Harlan Chapman-Green

      Hi there,

      I can assure you that neither Rolex S.A, the Swatch Group or WristReview’s Masthead had any involvement with the writing of the article.

      As I have stated before, the gap between the two companies has been narrowing for years and is now equal, however, Omega applies more recent technological improvements to the 8400 such as parts immune to magnetism altogether as well as a shock absorbent silicon balance.

      Thank you for following WristReview so far
      Harlan

  • Thaiwatchdog

    Despite being a Rolex owner, I would agree that if movement and aesthetic are the main factors for this comparison, Omega Seamaster 300 edges out Rolex Sub. However, if resale value and prestige are the main factors, then Rolex still beat out ] Omega.

    • Harlan Chapan-Green

      In your opinion that is

      • Thaiwatchdog

        It is indeed my opinion…based on fact (in regard to resale value of average Omega versus Rolex). Unless you have contrary to dispute this statement?

        • Harlan Chapman-Green

          Do I need one? I’ve made my choice for the winning piece in the article.

          • Thaiwatchdog

            Okay. I guess intent of your article is to give your subjective opinion with no room for constructive counterpoint (with fact to back it up at that) or conversation. Moving forward I’ll just read and not comment since it provokes strangely defensive behaviour.

          • Archduke Ferdinand

            I’d suggest removing comment boxes if one can’t tolerate courteously expressed, but differing opinions.

          • Thaiwatchdog

            Well said

  • Thaiwatchdog

    Rolex is the single company in the world that can do everything Omega can do and more. How many watch company has its own metal foundry for goodness sake. However, Rolex is so afraid of the unofficial but powerful Rolex purists that it makes overly cautious and slow incremental innovation.

    Rolex can make haute horologie caliber decorated movement (i.e. the Prince) but market response is indifference. 42mm Explorer II? That’s bigger than the ideal 40mm. Display caseback that retains 10 ATM or higher water resistant like the Omega? No way. Titanium case like the Omega or the Tudor? Not a chance.

    This is in no way in defense of Rolex. If anything, it’s frustration for what couldn’ve been. Instead, Tudor is the one in the family that can freely innovate and have all the fun (see Tudor’s Heritage line including the wonderful Black Bay).

    • Korz

      Omega has had a foundry longer than Rolex has been a company. Rolex cannot produce their own hairsprings at the level Omega can (Nivarox produces all silicon hairspring except for Ulysse Nardin at the moment), nor can they do ceramics or movements at Omega’s level.

      Omega makes a tourbillon, and has made minute repeaters in the past. The most complicated Rolex is an annual calendar GMT.

  • Alex Crouch

    As the owner of ‘a few’ high end brands, Rolex being one of them, I can honestly say that as much as I occasionally feel they have lost their lustre and appeal for me now, they do have a horrid way of pulling it out of the bag.
    I was happy to never again invest in one until recently when they released the Rose Gold 2015 Yachtmaster on the painful (trust me) rubber Oysterflex but order one I did.
    After several weeks on the wrist, it was in no way comfortable or enjoyable, certainly not as much as my AP ROOs and so it had to sadly, go to someone who might feel differently.

    Rolex have cornered themselves I suspect, although making (and selling) over 800,000 pieces each year to customers, they are quite clearly not too concerned by this.
    Are they the best watches in the World, clearly not even close however, due to their enormous investment in sports, personalities and advertising, they remain the brand for the likes of Omega, Breitling and co to follow in terms of financial gains.
    Which leads me to my point.

    Rolex do not make great watches.
    Compared to AP, Patek, VC, JLC and many, many more, they are mere emblems of perceived success in the eyes of many but far from the gaze of the few that see them as garish and obvious.
    This is not to say that I don’t still enjoy occasionally wearing my two tone Submariner but it is soon put back into the box and replaced by another, more personal piece.
    And this is my issue with Rolex. They are far from being a personal statement. How anybody could assume that a watch made on such enormous volume could be such a thing is obviously beyond me.
    They are solid watches with a valued history and excellent re-sale but for me at least, that is not the only reason why I choose the watches in my collection.
    Omega on the other hand are doing what they do very well.
    Not trying to be Rolex.
    And I salute them for that.
    Invicta and a score of ‘hommage’ brands are trying to be Rolex and that is what happens when you try and appeal to the audience as a whole.
    Richard Mille appeals to a very select market as does Patek. I suspect they are a close match in terms of financial reward but whereas one attracts a group whose taste is more refined, the other does so for those with an eye on the innovations of the future.
    And Rolex simply refuse to do either.

    I hope it will not be their undoing.

    • JayK

      Hmm…that made me reconsider buying a rolex as my first luxury watch! I do like the Omega Seamster 300 with its fantastic new movement. Antimag is important to me, but i also wanted a lot of history. Do AP or PP even produce a movement with antimag or a watch comparable to the Omega 300? I know they are not a direct comparison but Im talking specs here…

      • Korz

        No brand makes a movement that can be directly compared to the new Omega calibres. They’re at least 5x more antimagnetic than the next brand.

        Omega also has one of the richest histories in the industry. Rolex was founded over 50 years after Omega (Rolex: 1905, Omega: 1848).

      • Harlan Chapman-Green

        Not that I’m aware

        Thanks

        Harlan

  • Jason Blankovich

    Well. I see from the comments before mine that some battle lines have been drawn here. First, I own the current 114060 Rolex Submariner. It is the most expensive watch I own, so that means I don’t have a lot of hand on experience with high end watches. The Rolex is as bullet proof as a watch can be and still have a clear crystal to see the time. Tough, heavy and I like the classic look. Is it accurate? Well, I’ve read a lot about this topic and from what I’ve read it should be gaining or losing 1 to 1.5 seconds a day. Mine, as measured by an Android phone app that takes the system time and displays hours/minutes/seconds seems, over the last two months or so, to be accurate to about two seconds A MONTH. Pretty darned good if you ask me.

    Soooo. I’m in the market for an Omega Seamaster basic steel with no date or other complications; just like my Rolex Sub. I’m about to pull the trigger on one and I have to say after looking at the Omega in person in several shops and on-line, the styling between the two is completely different. The Rolex is a big, obvious thing. I like that. I’m a blunt person. The Omega is much more refined looking; it’s subtle. It does have the same water resistance as the Rolex, but it looks dressier. To me this means that these two watches should NOT be in head to head competition. While they are both “divers” and “tool watches,” it is obvious to me that Omega is more attuned to a sleeker, more subtle look. As far as “tool watch” goes, the Omega does not have the minute markers between 0 and 15 like the Rolex. This seems to be an oversight for a “divers tool watch,” where you would want some easy to see granularity at a glance. But I’m not a diver so what do I know?

    Anywho, these are both great watches.

    I’ll close by saying as far as value for money goes the Omega wins hands down. I buy grey market and the Rolex is about $6900 – $7100 and the Omega is around $4000. That’s a huge difference; advantage Omega unless you are into money snobism.

    Blankovich OUT!

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