Luxury watch collectors often come to a point where they must choose between two brands. One of the most common battles is Omega watches vs. Rolex watches. The primary reason why is that these are two of the most successful companies in the timepiece industry, and both offer a great deal of allure to consumers. Below, I help you make this decision by comparing these brands in a variety of domains.
Both of them have an exciting and impressive history. Both were started over 100 years ago and have made significant contributions to the greater culture of horology. Rolex has a variety of feats to choose from, including creating the first waterproof watch and sending one of their products to the bottom of Marianas Trench. Omega is no slouch either, with their most famous achievement being outfitting the first astronauts who went to the moon. Though you might have a preference between them, I wouldn’t say one of these companies has a more impressive history than the other.
Nearly every timepiece in the world is made from a standard form of stainless steel. While some companies seem to have sturdier products than others, the metal that makes them up is almost always the same. One thing that makes Rolex unique is their use of a special kind of steel called 904L. Experts consider this material to be more resistant to rust, corrosion, and scratches.
This is another category Rolex has an upper hand in. The truth is that almost no manufacturer in the world takes as much time and care as they do. Nearly every aspect of the watches they make are both produced onsite and assembled by hand. In fact, it takes a full year for one product to come out of their factory. A company like Omega, while exceptional in this category, doesn’t put quite as much time or care into production.
The quality of the machinery inside your watch can be a bit hard to measure. One of the better metrics we have is power reserve, which tells you how long the timepiece should keep ticking after you stop wearing it. In general, Omega watches and Rolex products have very similar reserve capabilities.
One difference is that Rolex makes their movements in-house, while Omega outsources to extremely high-quality manufacturers. I personally have no issue with that, but some collectors prefer in-house production.
Luxury dive watches most often have 300m water resistance. Rolex and Omega watches both adhere to this guideline, as their most popular models have that precise capability. One thing they’ve both done, though, is create products with resistance that you will likely never need. Rolex did so with their Deepsea series, which functions up at a ridiculous depth of 3900m. Omega has a similar line in their catalog, but they only go to 1200m. For 99.9% of us, these numbers won’t matter in a functional sense, but many like to know that their watches can survive in the harshest conditions.
This is a category where Rolex has the upper hand. While Omega watches hold a relatively large amount of value, they don’t come close in this case. In fact, many Rolex pieces gain value right after you purchase them. The demand for them is so high that people are willing to pay a premium to not have to spend a year or more on a waitlist. While you likely won’t want to sell watches from either of these brands, it is nice to know that they will often net you a large proportion of your purchase price.
Perhaps the most significant difference between these two brands is their price. In general, Omega watches tend to be about half the price of their Rolex counterparts. The range for the former is around $3,000-8,000, while the latter comes in at $6,000-20,000.
How to Choose Between Them
While Rolex is pretty even with Omega in some domains, their materials and craftsmanship arguably are on another level. With that being said, I can see Omega watches as a slightly more logical deal for most consumers. Most people are looking for an amazing watch that is well built and resilient. That is precisely what Omega provides.
Ultimately, all you have to do to choose between these brands is get your priorities in order. What you must decide is whether or not the improvements that Rolex offers are worth doubling the price of your new watch. No matter which you choose to go with, what’s certain is that you’ll be adding a horological masterpiece to add to your collection.