When it comes to brands of luxury watches, Rolex and Omega are two of the top contenders. For many watch collectors, choosing their first luxury timepiece usually boils down to Rolex and Omega. In this case, most people are usually faced with the Omega Speedmaster vs Rolex Submariner dilemma.
The Omega Speedmaster vs Rolex Submariner is a debate that’s certainly one for the ages. Time and time again, many watch enthusiasts asked which is the best luxury timepiece between the two. It’s rather perplexing since they don’t even belong in the same category.
Today, we will be comparing the Submariner and Speedmaster. Let’s get to it.
Omega Speedmaster vs Rolex Submariner: At a Glance
For this head to head comparison, we’ll take a look at the Omega Speedmaster Professional Chronograph (reference 3126.96.36.199.01.005) and the Rolex Submariner (reference 114060).
Here are the specs for both watches:
|Model:||Omega Speedmaster Professional Chronograph||Rolex Submariner|
|Model case:||Steel, 42 mm||Oyster, 40 mm, Oystersteel|
|Bezel:||Fixed Tachymeter Scale||Unidirectional rotatable 60-minute graduated, scratch-resistant Cerachrom insert in ceramic, numerals and graduations coated in platinum|
|Winding crown:||Pull / Push crown||Screw-down, Triplock triple waterproofness system|
|Crystal:||Hesalite crystal||Scratch-resistant sapphire, Cyclops lens over the date|
|Water Resistance:||5 bar (50 metres / 167 feet)||300 meters / 1,000 feet|
|Movement:||Manual winding||Perpetual, mechanical, self-winding|
|Caliber:||Caliber Omega 1861||3130, Manufacture Rolex|
|Functions:||Chronograph, Hour, Tachymeter, Small Seconds Sub-Dial at 9 O’Clock||Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous date with rapid setting. Stop-seconds for precise time setting|
|Oscillator:||–||Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring|
|Power reserve:||48 hours||48 hours|
|Bracelet:||Silver-ton stainless steel||Oystersteel|
|Clasp:||Deployment||Folding Oysterlock safety clasp with Rolex Glidelock extension system|
One of the main reasons why the Speedmaster and Submariner are often compared with each other, despite not even competing for the same category, is the size.
True enough, the size is similar between the two watches. The Speedmaster has a 42 mm case while the Submariner has a 40 mm case. Although the case diameter of Speedmaster is 2mm bigger than Submariner, the lug-to-lug difference is only 1mm. Thus, as far as on-wrist appearance goes, both watches will look very similar on your wrist.
The 20mm lug width is a given standard for medium-sized models which is true for both Omega and Rolex. However, most people prefer their 22mm lug watches, so the 20mm lug size is a fairly common complaint against both Speedmaster and Submariner.
Overall, the main difference between the Speedmaster and Submariner is the thickness of the case. Omega’s timepiece comes with a 14.3mm thickness, thicker than most watches including the Submariner. The thickness is attributed to the Speedmaster’s Hesalite crystal which definitely adds to the bulk.
With that said, both Speedmaster and Submariner are very similar in size with some key differences.
This category is one of the hardest ones to decide on because frankly, both the Omega Speedmaster and Rolex Submariner are two of the best-looking watches out there. Both watches feature robust and timeless designs.
If you are an avid reader of WatchIdeas, you’ll know that I am a big fan of the Rolex Submariner. It’s my first luxury dive watch and it’s my go-to if I can’t decide which piece to wear. It’s hard to go wrong with Submariner’s classic black dial, making it a very recognizable timepiece. The Submariner features the beloved dive watch look with the hardware to boot.
On the other hand, we have the Omega Speedmaster with its lunar inspired design. Referred to as the Moonwatch, this iconic piece was worn on the moon. It features a classic chronograph look that makes the watch very versatile. Indeed, you can either dress up or down with the Speedmaster.
Both watches feature a black dial but with some key differences. The Submariner’s dial has this sunburst look that glistens when exposed to sunlight. On the flip side, the Speedmaster comes with a matte and grainy dial that tends to soak up light.
At the end of the day, both watches are a masterclass in watch design. For pure looks alone, it’s no wonder that many people are indecisive about these two luxury watches.
The bezels on these watches are different in many ways, especially with the material used and the displayed information.
The Rolex Submariner features the heavy-duty Cerachrom (ceramic) bezel insert. This gives the Submariner its legendary durability and excellent scratch resistance. Unfortunately, the bezel is quite prone to shatter. On the bezel, you can see the 60 minutes graduation. It’s also worth noting that the bezel has unidirectional rotation.
On the other hand, the Speedmaster comes with a stainless steel and anodized aluminum bezel. As you can see, the Speedmaster is the less refined between these two watches, at least as far as bezels go. However, the bezel is surprisingly slim especially when the face is much larger than it is. The 500 unit tachymeter is a nice touch but not many users are taking advantage of this feature. Fortunately, the bezel’s pushers have a ‘satisfying’ click to them which I’m a big fan of.
Bracelet / Strap
The Sub and Speedy share a few similarities when it comes to their bracelets. For instance, both watches feature screwed-down links, 20mm width, and the same length. The Sub, however, has slightly curved downward links that help with comfort. On the Omega, the links are straight flat.
The Sub’s Oystersteel bracelet delivers in terms of comfort, fit, and adjustability. The Submariner’s iconic bracelet is here and it will serve you well for a long time. However, when it comes to pure versatility, the Speedmaster has the upper hand.
The Speedmaster bracelet’s strength is that it offers plenty of customization options. Swapping bracelets for the Speedy is a cinch. Therefore, if you want to dress up, you can simply use the stainless steel bracelet. For less dressier and sporty events, the Speedmaster package also includes a NATO strap. Frankly, it’s one of the best NATO straps I’ve used, and that’s saying a lot.
Perhaps one of the biggest differences between the Submariner and Speedmaster is the movement. Let me start by saying that both watches feature solid timekeeping features and movements. However, one comes with an in-house movement and the other does not.
First, the Sub is powered by the venerable 3130 movement. This movement is your standard 3-hand automatic movement (hours, minutes, and seconds). I’ve had my Sub for as long as I can remember and I’ve yet to experience any issue with timekeeping. Of course, the movement is “Contrôle officiel Suisse des Chronomètres” (COSC) certified with -+2 sec/day precision. It’s a solid and reliable movement and there’s not much to say about it.
On the other corner, the Speedmaster is fitted with Omega’s caliber 1861. It’s a manual winding movement that has its fair share of charm. The 1861 movement is essentially the downgraded version of the caliber 1863, and contains a plastic piece. Since it’s a hand-wound movement, you have to manually wind the watch which can be a chore for some people.
Overall, both the Speedy and Sub keep time very well. These pieces are the cream of the crop when it comes to luxury timekeeping. If you’re more into in-house movements, the Rolex Submariner has the advantage. Alternatively, if you want a classic movement with a storied history, the Speedmaster’s movement is highly recommended.
Pricing and Value
Another big difference between the Speedmaster and Submariner is the price.
The Submariner is the pricier watch and it’s about 40% more expensive than Omega’s Moonwatch. That is if you can even manage to get the Submariner at market price. In reality, the Rolex Submariner is often sold out and authorized dealers put a significant mark-up to the price.
If budget is an issue, then the Omega Speedmaster is the obvious choice here – that is if we’re talking about pure pricing alone. However, when you talk about resell value, it’s not as straightforward as it seems.
For resale value, the Submariner wins hands down. If you buy a Submariner now, especially with this reference number, you can trust that its selling price will only increase in value. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said with the Speedmaster. Despite the rich history of the Speedy, you can easily get it for retail price or at least very close to it.
To sum it up, the Speedmaster is your best bet if you’re in a budget. The amount of watch that you can get for the price is simply staggering. However, if you care about the resell value of the watch, the Submariner is the obvious choice.
Omega Speedmaster vs Rolex Submariner: The Verdict
Both the Speedmaster and Submariner are both stellar timepieces that you can probably wear forever. They are not at all similar watches except for the size, they’re not even in the same category. However, the Omega Speedmaster vs Rolex Submariner debate is a popular one for good reason.
If you want a less expensive model, the Speedmaster is a hard one to pass. In comparison, the Submariner is nearly twice as expensive. However, the Submariner boasts better resell and many of its elements are leagues better than the Speedmaster.
All in all, it’s hard to go wrong with either watch and I would heartily recommend them to newcomers in watch collecting.