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Old 16 December 2009, 02:32 AM   #1
The GMT Master
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Submariner vs. Seamaster Comparison

Hey all, here's my latest review from my blog - go there to see the pictures that go with this article, and for more watch-related stuff


A Friendly Dive Watch Comparison: Submariner vs. Seamaster Professional


Firstly, my apologies for not updating the blog more recently - work has been catching up with me, hence why it's been a little quiet over here. However, I have a few new articles I've been working on, which should hopefully be written up within the next few days.

The first of which is a comparison between two icons of the diving watch world: the Rolex Submariner Date and the Omega Seamaster Professional. With the introduction of the black dialled version, as well as Omega's reluctance to push prices up as steeply as Rolex, the Seamaster is looking like a better and better buy every day. Conversely, despite coming to the end of its operational life, the Submariner continues to be one of the most popular models in the Rolex range, and has amassed a serious fanbase since its original inception in 1953. The models I will be reviewing are the Submariner 16610, and the Seamaster 212.30.41.20.01.002.



Technical Specifications (Sub vs. SMP)

Case Diameter: 40mm - 41mm

Cal. Number: Rolex 3135 - Omega 2500
Automatic?: Yes - Yes
BPH: 28.8k - 25.2k
Power Reserve: ~40 hours - 48 hours
COSC Certified?: Yes - Yes

Material: 904L Steel - 316L Steel
Waterproofing: 300m - 300m
Screw-down crown?: Yes - Yes
Helium Escape Valve?: No - Yes
Crystal: Sapphire - Sapphire
Anti-reflective coating?: No - Inside only
Luminous Material: Green Super-Luminova - Blue Super-Luminova
Unidirectional Rotating Bezel?: Yes - Yes

Price (UK RRP): 3890 - 1860

The Aesthetics

With the introduction of the black dial on the SMP, there is very little to distinguish between the two at a glance, at least with an untrained eye. Indeed, the basic dial layout of dots-and-dashes hour markers is the classic dive watch look - simple, practical, legible. The biggest difference on the dial itself is the finish - the Submariner goes for a gloss finish, whilst the Seamaster adopts a wave finish, designed to reduce glare whilst diving.

The other large cosmetic difference on the face of the watch would be the cyclops magnifying bubble on the Sub - although some really don't like this feature, I, for one, think it's an essential part of the Rolex look, and handy for looking at the date quickly. The date window on the SMP is pretty small, and can be difficult to read at a glance. As a general rule, the Submariner is a lot shinier than the Seamaster, owing to the gloss finish and lack of AR coating, and whilst this makes for a "dressier" look, it could be a potential problem for legibility in bright light.

As such, there is little to separate the watches in terms of aesthetics, and it really boils down to personal preference. For me, the Rolex just edges it in this respect.

The Bracelet

It's my personal view that the bracelet is just as important as the watch head when considering a watch - after all, the bracelet and clasp determines the "feel" of the watch, and dictates how comfortable it is to wear every day. Certainly, there is a large difference between the two watches in regards to this.

The Submariner uses a brushed-finish Oyster bracelet, with solid end links, but hollow centre links, whilst the SMP uses an exclusive bracelet with polished higlights and solid links throughout. The first thing that I noticed with the Submariner bracelet is just how light the bracelet felt - a positive for someone who wants a dive-watch without the typical dive-watch heft - but also how rattly it felt. One has to bear in mind that the 16610 was launched 20 years ago, and it really is beginning to feel like its age. Submariner enthusiasts will point out that it's a strong and reliable bracelet, ready to take the abuses of every day life, and I completely agree. However, when you put it against one of the new-style Rolex bracelets, such as the one on the GMT IIc, the Submariner's band just feels cheap.

The Seamaster's bracelet, on the other hand, gives the wearer a feeling of confidence. It's substantial without being overbearing, and sits nicely on the wrist. It also looks a little dressier than the Rolex's, with the polished sections of the links just giving it a little bit of contrast.

There's a similar story with the clasps - the best word to describe the Submariner's clasp is outdated. It still uses the folded-metal clasp, which is wafer thin, and, to be quite frank, would feel wrong on a 500 watch, let alone a near-4000 watch. Again, it can be argued that it's served it's purpose for a long time, and I won't deny that, but placed against the brilliant Glidelock clasp (see the Deepsea Review if you haven't come across it yet), it feels like an ancient relic:



I certainly think that the clasp is the biggest drawback on the Submariner, especially in comparison to the Omega clasp:



The Omega uses a push putton deployment clasp which won't have the same problems with the blades bending over time like the Submariner. It feels like a more heavy-duty clasp as well, and the quality of the engineering can't be faulted. Indeed, some argue that Omega's clasps sparked Rolex's drive for updating their own clasps. Omega wins convincingly here.


The Practicality

The Submariner has long been known as one of the best all-rounders out there - bash it around by day, and it'll still look perfect with a tuxedo. It truly is one of the watch world's greatest chameleons. The "James Bond" aspect has a lot to do with this, and applies to both watches - for someone who wants just one watch that can do everything, then the Sub or the SMP is a worthy choice. Neither are particularly chunky, so wearing one under a cuff isn't an issue. There's virtually nothing to distinguish between the two in this respect. A tie.


Value for Money

As I've asserted throughout the article, in many respects, the SMP is the equal of the Submariner, and in other respects, its superior. Indeed, the biggest difference between the two watches is the price, and I don't think this reflects the quality of the watches - the Submariner certainly isn't double the watch that the Seamaster is. It should also be noted that, due to the use of the Co-Axial escapement in the Seamaster, you get a 3 year guarantee on the Omega, as opposed to the 2 year on the Rolex. When buying new, there's also a bigger scope for discount on a Seamaster as well - most ADs will be unwilling to give more than a token discount on a Submariner owing to its continued popularity. Whilst buying new makes the Omega the rational choice, one also has to take into account resale value, and this is where the Rolex really comes into play. You can always rely on a steel sports Rolex to hold a substantial amount of its value, even a few years down the line. However, the depreciation on an Omega is brutal, and you'll struggle to sell it for muh more than half the RRP a year down the line. In some respects, you are paying extra for the Rolex marque, but it will help to give you a better return should you want to move on further down the line

However, it must be noted that an updated Submariner is expected to be launched in March 2010, hitting ADs in this country in around October/November. Whilst this might spark a small spike in demand for the 16610 as its phased out (in th same way there was a small hype for V-series Sea-Dwellers before the arrival of the Deep Sea), in the long term it will, in all likelihood, give second hand values of the 16610 a beatung. As such, the Submariner isn't quite the safe investment that it used to be.

Omega wins on value for money.


Conclusion

The Submariner 16610 has done the Rolex range proud for the past 20 years, and I'd argue that it's the pinnacle of 20th Century dive watches. The allure that it's created is simply phenomenal, and the fact that it's lasted such a long time pays a compliment to Rolex's overengineering at the time. However, its time has come to an end, and for the past few years, the Seamaster has been the sensible choice. I expect things will shift back into Rolex's favour come Basel 2010, and I can't wait for the rebirth of such an iconic watch.



If you asked me tomorrow which one to buy, I'd personally go for the Seamaster - it's quite possibly the best value luxury watch on the market. However, regardless of a rational approach, the Submariner does have the Rolex "magic," and that, for some, will be enough.



On a final note, if you want to get your hands on a new 16610, don't hang around - according to sources on TRF, Rolex USA has already run out of stock of them, and won't be getting any more steel Subs until the new model arrives. I don't know for certain whether this will be the case in the UK - as far as I'm aware, Rolex UK still has supplies in stock.


Thanks for reading

Chris
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Old 16 December 2009, 06:21 AM   #2
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Great comparison, congratz
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Old 16 December 2009, 06:32 AM   #3
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Very great review! Have anymore?
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Old 16 December 2009, 07:12 AM   #4
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Very great review! Have anymore?
I've got one on the Seiko Black Monster and the Datejust II in the pipeline, and you can find a few more on the link to my blog
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Old 17 December 2009, 07:48 AM   #5
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Great review Chris. Great Blog too!
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Old 17 December 2009, 08:02 AM   #6
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Thanks for the review. Good read.
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Old 17 December 2009, 08:55 PM   #7
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Great review - sums up my thoughts exactly about these two fantastic watches.
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Old 18 December 2009, 12:03 AM   #8
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Thanks for the comments guys, very much appreciated
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Old 18 December 2009, 12:35 AM   #9
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In terms of tech, i'd have to say the seamaster is overpriced, but that's probably due to the COSC certifying. It really isnt worth more than 1/2 the price tag and *should be* on par with ORIS.
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Old 19 December 2009, 01:56 AM   #10
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Gee thanks now you have made it much more difficult for me to choose between the two for my next watch.

I didn't notice any coments about out of the box time keeping ability. I've heard that the new co-axial escapement on the Omega is quite accurate.


Having had a SMP for 13 flawless years, Its hard for me to say anything bad about Omega. Except I am appauled that the resale of these watches is dismal, its just plain unfair, given the quality an reliability they provide.

Given the resale of the Rolex and now that I have obtained one, I must say that I will be more inclined to buy their Sub when I decide to get one.
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Old 19 December 2009, 02:17 AM   #11
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Excellent review! Thanks for a great post.
I'm glad you touched on the resale value...
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Old 19 December 2009, 10:47 AM   #12
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Gee thanks now you have made it much more difficult for me to choose between the two for my next watch.

I didn't notice any coments about out of the box time keeping ability. I've heard that the new co-axial escapement on the Omega is quite accurate.


Having had a SMP for 13 flawless years, Its hard for me to say anything bad about Omega. Except I am appauled that the resale of these watches is dismal, its just plain unfair, given the quality an reliability they provide.

Given the resale of the Rolex and now that I have obtained one, I must say that I will be more inclined to buy their Sub when I decide to get one.
Sorry Don As for accuracy, both are COSC certified, so (in theory, at least) they should be at least comparable. The Omega uses the cal. 2500, which is the first use of the Co-Axial escapement - in effect, it's a modified version of the cal. 1120, with the beat rate detuned from 28k beats per hour to 25.2k. As such, I'd argue that the cal. 3135 in the Rolex beats it - if it was the brand new cal. 8500 in the Omega (a movement specifically designed with the Co-Ax escapement in mind) then it'd be a much harder decision between the two mechanically. I think the cal. 8500 is an incredible movement for the price point, and beautifully finished to boot. It's gradually being incorporated into the Omega range - it's in the Aqua Terra, De Ville Hour Vision, Constellation '09 and the PloProf
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Old 22 December 2009, 12:49 PM   #13
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Good review !
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Old 23 December 2009, 09:12 AM   #14
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Great review

I enjoyed the read very much

2 great watches.
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Old 23 December 2009, 12:47 PM   #15
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coaxial escapement movements, that's where Rolex could learn something.
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Old 23 December 2009, 06:32 PM   #16
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Omega lost a ton of credibility by putting a run of Chinese made bracelets on the Seamasters a few years back. They all fell apart and I'm sure there were lots of people lost their watches due to this. Yes you read right.
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Old 24 December 2009, 05:13 AM   #17
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It's well known the Swatch group outsources to the far east, even for movements, however they should still be up to ETAs standards
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Old 24 December 2009, 07:04 AM   #18
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so if they are both same money which one would you buy ? or I am asking a silly question in this "Rolex" forum

Bond wears Omega so it must be very tough and elegant
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Old 24 December 2009, 10:02 AM   #19
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so if they are both same money which one would you buy ? or I am asking a silly question in this "Rolex" forum

Bond wears Omega so it must be very tough and elegant
That's a good question....for me, I'd still have the Seamaster, the bracelet is a major issue for me on the Rolex, and I don't think it's up to modern standards. Yes, it won't fail on you, but it doesn't inspire the same confidence as the Omega's. I might well be in the minority, but in it's current form, I'd never have a Sub - once it's been updated, then I'd consider it.

As for Bond, it could be argued that the "true" Bond watch is not a Seamaster or a Submariner, but actually an Explorer. Dell Deaton's written an excellent article on the subject, and concluded that the original Explorer was the watch Fleming had in mind when writing the Bond novels (I recommend reading his excellent blog here). Although many cite the Submariner 6358 as the original Bond watch (as Sean Connery was wearing one in the first movie - legend has it that it was the Director's watch, and Connery was handed it before filming), it has changed over the years, with Hamilton, Seiko, Breitling and finally Omega being Bond watches. Omega has had the product placement contract for the Bond films since Pierce Brosnan took over the role, with various versions of the Seamaster Pro and Planet Ocean being used. You can read more on Jake's Rolex Blog. So, to conclude, the Sub and the Seamaster are both classified as Bond watches
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Old 25 December 2009, 05:49 AM   #20
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I recently sold a Seamaster Titanium to purchase a Explorer11 and have to say IMO the EXP11 is far superior in fitting to a smaller wrist vs the Seamaster.The Seamaster doesn't have the micro adjustment that my early 90's Seamaster had and the Rolex curved links on the EXP11 are much more comfortable.Even with the greater weight the EXP11 doesn't hurt my hand like the Seamaster did which is my criteria for comfort as my hand has some nerve damage.
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Old 25 December 2009, 06:49 AM   #21
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Yep, in the novels Bond wore what is most likely to be an Exlporer, Fleming chose to give bond a Rolex, where as Omega chose to give Bond an Omega.
Its all advertising that is prevalent through all bond films, especially the newer ones. BMW, OMEGA, Persol glasses, Samsonite, Gucci, and SONY phones

Daniel Craig in reality wears several Rolexs. Its also rumored he has a 6358 Submariner, like the one Sean Connery wore in the old Bond flicks

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v5...llo/Craig4.jpg
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Old 1 January 2010, 08:55 PM   #22
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In terms of tech, i'd have to say the seamaster is overpriced, but that's probably due to the COSC certifying. It really isnt worth more than 1/2 the price tag and *should be* on par with ORIS.
I hope he can back this up somehow. Great review, I enjoyed it very much.
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Old 2 January 2010, 09:13 AM   #23
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A well-written opinion. I also have both watches. If I was to buy again tomorrow, no question it would be the Submariner, hands down.
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Old 2 January 2010, 09:17 AM   #24
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coaxial escapement movements, that's where Rolex could learn something.
Isn't the venerable 3135 calibre one of the most accurate and robust movements ever made? What kind of established history does the coaxial have?
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Old 8 January 2010, 01:45 AM   #25
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Two great watches, but personal preference will win out every time.
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Old 8 January 2010, 03:27 AM   #26
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In terms of tech, i'd have to say the seamaster is overpriced, but that's probably due to the COSC certifying. It really isnt worth more than 1/2 the price tag and *should be* on par with ORIS.
And a Submariner should then be on par with Fortis if we follow your thought process.
The bracelet is cheaper than the Seamaster, the clasp is cheaper, it has no helium release valve... hmmm...

Your logic is very flawed.
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Old 14 January 2010, 05:26 PM   #27
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There IS no "comparison." (with all due respect for Omega). Sub is superior in every way, IMHO, to the Seamaster. Omega is a good brand on par with Breitling, but a notch above Oris. It's no Rolex. Re-sale of Omega is awful. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 15 January 2010, 05:17 AM   #28
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I have experience of both watches first hand and although the SMP strap feels more sturdy the Sub's strap is made of a far stronger metal. When the Sub is on your wrist you dont even think about if the strap is going to hold up or not. It just feels right!


I also had clasp failure on the SMP.


The SMP is a good watch but its no Rolex !!
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Old 15 January 2010, 05:30 AM   #29
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Excellent.

Unbiased.
Professional.
Accurate.

& Informed.




Thankyou Sir!!!!
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Old 15 January 2010, 06:58 AM   #30
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Great review

Thanks for the excellent review, Chris, which is reminiscent of the ever popular John Holbrook review, although with a different calibre of Seamaster.

I read his comparison when considering updating my TAG Sports two years ago and although attracted by the many positive attributes and price of the Seamaster, there were a number of aesthetic issues with the Omega offering which made me eventually decide on a Submariner.
  • I'm not a fan of the skeleton hands on the co-ax model, nor the sword hands on the classic 2254.50.00 reviewed by John.
  • The scalloped bezel produces some odd angles to my eye and does not look like it would be that easy to turn. You'll have to forgive me, as I've only held a Seamaster once and did not turn the bezel, so I'm just going on appearances.
  • The red tip to the second hand seems out of place.
  • The waves on the dial are a nice touch, but I prefer the plain gloss of the Sub.
  • The hour markers on your co-ax model are an improvement in my opinion to those on the 2254.50.00, which were too intrusive.
  • The provision of an external HEV at 11 o'clock, compared to the Rolex implementation, looks uncomfortable, rather clunky and far less sophisticated.

So these are a few of the reasons why I could not have a Seamaster on my wrist.

Don't get me wrong, Omega are a great brand and I bought a Speedmaster to compliment my Sub - sadly this has been away for a new bezel and a repair from new for FOUR MONTHS.

So thanks again for taking the time to post your review and nice blog!
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