The strong competition between Rolex and Omega has been raging for years. You are currently amid this battle, and there seems to be a ton of arguments for and against both these watchmakers.
Even though the Rolex Submariner and the Omega Speedmaster are not even in the same category, a lot of collectors seem to be torn between chosing one or the other. Time and time again, the questions has been asked all over the internet: Which watch should I choose between the Submariner and the Speedmaster?
This article is here to put an end to all the discussions and opinions thrown around by giving a definitive comparison stating all the important facts.
Since there are numerous models across both lines, the review will be centered on the black dialed version of both timepieces: the Rolex Submariner 114060 and the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Chronograph.
The first reason why the Submariner and the Speedmaster get compared so often is their similar size. While the case diameter of the Omega is 2mm bigger than the Rolex, their lug-to-lug length is separated by only 1mm, meaning they will look almost the same on your wrist.
The lug width of 20mm is pretty standard for a medium-sized watch, and both timepieces share this measurement. One of the few complaints about these watches come from this width, as some people prefer 22mm for watches this size.
The biggest difference between the Submariner and the Speedmaster comes from the case thickness. At 14.3mm, the Omega is much thicker than your average watch, including the Rolex Submariner.
This out of the norm thickness is explained by one simple fact: the Speedmaster's crystal. The bulbous shape of the domed crystal adds that much more thickness to the watch.
If you're wearing tight-fitting dress shirts on a daily basis, the Submariner will undoubtedly be the most comfortable option for you.
Domed Hesalite / Sapphire
Exhibition / SS
The crystal is also part of the discussion when it comes to the features of these two watches. The Submariner is equipped with a simple but effective flat sapphire crystal. Unfortunately, it isn't anti-reflective coated, which can lead to legibility problems in the sun.
The Speedmaster Pro's crystal is a whole other story. First of all, the material will depend on which iteration of the Speedmaster you get. The first model is equipped with an Hesalite crystal, a fancy word for acrylic.
These are very sturdy and almost impossible to shatter. On the other hand, they pick up scratches extremely easily. Fortunately, these acrylic crystals can be polished back to their original form using Polywatch.
Omega hesalite vs sapphire
The second Omega Speedmaster Pro model is equipped with an AR coated sapphire crystal, which for all intent and purposes is scratch-resistant, but will be more prone to shattering.
Since the Submariner is a diver's watch and the Speedmaster is a moonwatch, there's a great disparity when it comes to water resistance. The Omega only has 50m, good enough for recreational swimming, considering it only uses a push-pull crown.
Conversely, as the name states it, the Submariner's original purpose is to dive underwater. With that in mind, Rolex equipped it with its patented Triplock screw-down crown, which helps it reach a 300m water resistance.
The case back is the same for both the Submariner and the Hesalite Speedmaster: a plain old stainless steel case back. On the sapphire version, Omega decided to change things up a bit by implementing an exhibition case back. This allows you to peek through the gorgeous Calibre 1863.
Since the Submariner is built to dive deep into the ocean, and the Speedmaster's designed to go to the moon, good luminous phosphorescent is expected from both these timepieces. Both of them deliver what we want in their own manner.
Rolex uses its classic Chromalight coating on the hands and indices, which gives of a light blue hue. On the Omega, the hands and indices also have a nice layer of lume, this time giving off a green glow. Both these applications are very bright and durable, so you will be satisfied no matter which one you pick.
Omega Calibre 1863
-2 to +2 seconds / day
Shock absorber, Parachrom hairspring, Bi-directional wind
Chronograph (small seconds, 30 minutes counter, 12 hours)
While one movement is technically superior to the other, its hard to choose my favorite one of to two since the second one is so historically significant. The better one is obviously Rolex's 3130 caliber.
Rolex's in-house automatic movement beats at 28,800 bph and has a modest power reserve of 48 hours. Thanks to its -+2 sec/day precision, it is certified by the "Contrôle officiel Suisse des Chronomètres" (COSC).
Not only is it automatic, you also get nice features such as hand-winding, hacking and a bi-directional rotor. It also uses a lot of Rolex's own technology, such as the Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorber.
Omega's Calibre 1863 is a bit more rustic, but to me it is every bit as loveable. The plain-and-simple movement can only be hand-wound, beats at a measly 21,600 bph and has no particular special features (not even hacking).
The sturdy chronograph movement has 3 main complications: small seconds (left), 30 minutes counter (right) and 12 hours counter (middle).
Omega doesn't give the precision benchmark for this exact calibre, but the very similar Calibre 1861 is rated at -1 to +11 seconds per day. This is precise enough for all intents and purposes, but this doesn't earn the Omega any certification.
What makes the Calibre 1863's charm is the story behind it. It is in fact a very resembling brother to the aforementioned Calibre 1861. This caliber is the descendant of the Calibre 321, which was originally used for Speedmasters in space missions.
Omega built a similar movement by using modern materials and technology to create a precise and reliable timepiece, while keeping the traditions of the original moonwatch.
Even if the Omega 1863 is much less precise and refined than Rolex's 3130 movement, the Omega takes the win when it comes to styling and finish. The exquisite details and the beautiful finish of the rhodium plated Calibre 1863 is the reason why Omega HAD to offer an exhibition case back on the Speedy.
Diver / Robust
18 ct gold indices
The best styling between the Sub and the Speedy is up for debate, but they are both usually well-loved by most collectors. As Watchuseek forum user Teeritz puts it:
"No self-respecting collector should be without either of these two watches"
If we lived in a perfect world, we would all have thousands of dollars to spend on the watches we want. Unfortunately, the cold hard truth for most of us is that we have to pick our favorite, as we don't get to buy luxury watches often. So on with the comparison!
The Rolex Submariner is beloved by fans for its diver's look with the hardware to back it up. As for Omega, they stayed true to the Speedmaster's origins, keeping the Moonwatch lunar design.
The two watches have a very different pattern for the dial: the Rolex's sunburst dial glistens under the sun, while the Omega's matte and grainy dial tend to absorb light. The differences continue with the indices, which are rhodium plated on the Speedy and 18ct gold on the Sub.
If you're not familiar with indices plating, rhodium is usually the most valuable of the two, as it barely tarnishes, even after decades of use.
To match its diver's styling, the Submariner uses "plongeur hands", while the Speedmaster Pro is equipped with more conventional baton hands. Also, you can notice on the pictures that neither of these timepieces has a date complication.
The bezel on these watches are different both in their material and in the information they display. The Speedmaster is the less refined of the two, using a combination of stainless steel and anodized aluminum. It features a 500 unit tachymeter that is scarcely used by Speedy owners.
On the other hand, the Submariner has a much more durable Cerachrom (ceramic) bezel insert, which is very resistant to scratches, but more prone to shattering. On this bezel is displayed a 60 minutes graduation. This one rotates unidirectionally, conversely with the Omega's which is fixed.
Bracelet / Strap
The bracelet of the Sub and the Speedy share a few similarities. For example, they both have screwed-in links, 20mm width, and a similar length. Where Rolex separates itself from Omega is in the shape of the links. The Sub's links are slightly curved which makes it that much more comfortable.
This element shouldn't affect your decision that much since the Speedmaster's bracelet is also very good. Furthermore, you can equip the Speedy with over 40 different straps and bracelets directly on Omega's website.
Both watches use brushed stainless steel bracelets. The Rolex has a very fine brushing that gives the watch a rugged look. The Omega's bracelet is also brushed, but the edges of the center links are polished and shiny.
As of the date of writing this article, the Rolex Submariner is offered in 8 variations. 1 of them is the 114060 presented in this article and the 7 others are Submariner Date models. These are almost identical to the normal Submariner, with the addition of a date display under a cyclops lens.
The Submariner range offers colorful dials (blue, green or black) and different bracelet/case materials (Oystersteel, yellow or white gold).
The Omega Speedmaster Professional Chronograph line only has 2 options. The first one uses a sapphire crystal on the front and back of the watch. The second version uses an Hesalite crystal matched with a stainless steel case back. The latter has the "Flight-qualified by NASA manned space missions" marking on its back.
The pricing of the two watches will be a huge determining factor for most consumers. On paper, the Rolex Submariner is about 40% more expensive than the Omega Speedmaster Pro. In reality, the price gap is even more substantial since Rolex watches are often sold out and authorized dealers put a big price markup.
As for resale value, Rolex is the clear winner per usual. As is the case for a new car, both the Submariner and the Speedmaster will take a price drop as soon as it leaves the AD. The difference comes in the next years of ownership.
The price of the Rolex will start to slowly crawl back up, and will probably be worth more than what you paid for in a decade or two if kept in pristine condition. On the other hand, most Speedmasters will retain their value at best, with a few limited editions that will increase in value.
The Rolex Submariner and the Omega Speedmaster Professional are two excellent timepieces that will please the great majority of collectors. Your choice between the two will depend on the following factors:
If you tend to lean towards the left side of the above list, the Submariner is the perfect option for you, if you lean towards the right, the Speedmaster is a better choice.
If you still aren't decided, the rest boils down to your own preference towards the styling and the history of the timepiece and brand. The Speedmaster is known as the first watch to go on the moon, while the Submariner is the first watch to accomplish 100m water resistance.
If you own one or both of these watches, I invite you to leave a comment saying which one is your favorite, and why.