Rolex vs. OMEGA: How to Make the Right Decision
Rolex or OMEGA. Chances are if you talk to any watch enthusiast they have strong opinions on either one. They are two of the most famous watch brands in the world, and both are industry leaders. Since you can’t go wrong with either brand, how do you choose?
Both watch companies have seen their fair share of iconic moments in their lifetimes. Rolex made the first swim across the English Channel with Mercedes Gleitze and survived the elements to summit Mt. Everest on the wrist of Sir Edmund Hillary. OMEGA has explored the depths of the ocean with Jacques Cousteau and discovered uncharted territory on the Apollo moon expeditions with NASA. So, what separates these two?
To many, Rolex is the king of all watches and its name is synonymous with precision. Hans Wildorf founded Rolex in 1905 with his brother-in-law Alfred Davis. Solidifying its place in history, Rolex created the first wristwatch to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision in 1910. In 1931, they pioneered and patented perpetual movement, which is now the foundation of modern automatic watches.
Rolex builds watches to serve as functional tools and keep precise time. These watches were created for activities like aviation, climbing, diving, and exploration. They have been all over the globe, tackling the outdoors and the office with ease. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Submariner. The Submariner reference 6200, a dive watch, debuted in the early 1950’s with an oyster bracelet and a rotating bezel. At the time, it was the first watch that was water resistant and could withstand depths of 100m. As innovations continue, newer models, like reference 16610 and 14060 can withstand depths of 300 meters. It has become the most famous and notable dive-watch ever made.
Their other notable diving model, the Sea-Dweller, is a niche market watch designed to withstand deeper and longer dives than the Submariner, and survive just about anything. The Sea-Dweller, like references 16660 and 1665, is truly a utilitarian watch for commercial divers. Functionally it’s designed to withstand whatever the depths can throw its way. One of the main differences in the two watches is the helium release valve which automatically depressurizes a timepiece when it returns to sea level.
In 1953 the soon-to-be Sir Edmund Hillary became the first man to summit Mt. Everest, with his expedition partner sherpa Tenzing Norgay, and he did it wearing a Rolex Oyster Perpetual. This timepiece was able to reach the highest point on the globe and withstand all the elements that came with it. It would then set the stage for the Rolex Explorer models, like ref. 6610 and 214279, which have become well-known and notable watches in the Rolex line.
OMEGA’s beginnings reach as far back as 1848, when 23-year-old Louis Brandt started an assembly workshop in his family’s villa. His sons took over the company upon his death, and then in 1892 the company created the first minute-repeating wristwatch. They settled on the name OMEGA after the creation of the 19-line OMEGA caliber in the late 1800’s.
In the late 1940s and 50s, OMEGA’s most iconic watches were born. The Seamaster, eventually replacing the Rolex on James Bond’s wrist, is the oldest model in the OMEGA line. Its introductory reference 2913, served as a functional and elegant tool for active individuals who may be diving in the morning and dressing up in the afternoon. It’s made diving history many times over with references like 2531.80.00 and 188.8.131.52.03.011. It also acts as a research and development model for the brand’s testing of alternative case materials and treatments.
OMEGA’s other iconic model, the Speedmaster, changed the game for chronograph watches. It is, perhaps, the most famous chronograph ever and was originally part of the Seamaster line. The intention for the Speedmaster was to create a high precision, waterproof watch that was sturdy and easy-to-read. NASA went on to choose this timepiece with references such as 105.002 and 105.012 as their selection for all manned space flights, and eventually reference 145.022 took the most famous journey of all – to the moon.
Like Rolex, OMEGA is also a force in precision. They are the official timekeepers of the Olympics, creating innovations like the underwater touchpad that accurately times all of the swimming events. Since 1927, they have been in charge of every event and every second of the Olympics, putting them front and center for some of the most memorable moments in sports.
At the end of the day, when choosing between Rolex and OMEGA, it comes down to personal preference. Both brands are pioneers of precision, and accuracy. They produce models for sea, land, and air and their watches can easily go from adventure to boardroom. So either way, Rolex or OMEGA, you won’t be disappointed.