Comparing the New Submariner Date with the Seamaster 300M
Choosing between a Rolex or an Omega is a question nearly as old as time itself. With all the hype surrounding the new Submariner Date, we ponder whether the stalwart Seamaster 300M is actually the better deal.
No matter the aspirational product, two fierce rivals typically exist within the space. Cars, clothes, cameras, and most certainly watches are great examples. When it comes to dive watches, there are loads of options out there from loads of brands. But when it comes down to choosing a daily watch that can do it all, it seems that Rolex and Omega rule the conversation. It’s no secret that we’ve loved and felt that the Omega Seamaster 300M represents one of the best deals in the watch universe since its makeover in 2018. However, there’s a new Submariner Date with revised specs and it’s time to bring these watches together.
Narrowing the field
For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll keep things to the stainless 42mm Omega Seamaster 300M with date. Therefore, this article excludes the new no-date Nekton and models with gold touches. Furthermore, we chose the 300M over the retro-inspired 300 and the bulkier Planet Ocean because the 300M is the most focused and popular piece. With the Rolex, we’re sticking with the stainless 126610LN or LV Submariner Date because these models line up well against the Omega in terms of functionality and popularity.
When bringing up the Seamaster 300M as a credible alternative versus the Submariner Date, funny things happen. Often times, I hear things like, “yeah, the Omega is good, but it’s not a Rolex”. Aside from taking that comment at face value, I really wonder if most people could actually elaborate effectively on such a statement. Next, I hear things like, “well, it’s hard to get the Submariner Date so it must be better”. Hmm, that sounds like an informed consumer who isn’t led by others. Or, my favorite one (I say this sarcastically) is, “well, the Rolex offers better resale value”. Ah yes, it’s lovely to buy something only to consider selling it later. I’ll touch on some of these things, but I do think it’s important to understand how these watches compare technically.
In the far corner — the Omega Seamaster 300M
The Omega Seamaster 300M comes in at 42mm in diameter with a lug to lug of roughly 50mm, 13.7mm thickness, and 20mm lug width. It has a ceramic bezel, ceramic dial with wave pattern, and comes on a rubber strap with pin buckle or bracelet with wetsuit extension. One can choose a silver, white, black, or blue dial. Depending on the dial choice, a matching or contrasting bezel is included. The watches are, unsurprisingly, water resistant to 300 meters and, just as they did in 1993, have a screw-in helium valve at 10:00. Omega chooses its in-house Master Chronometer Co-Axial 8800 automatic movement with 55 hours of power reserve. This movement has a silicon balance spring that helps it ignore magnetic fields up to 15,000 Gauss. Pricing sits at €4,385 on rubber and €4,675 on bracelet.
In the near corner — the Rolex Submariner Date
The new Rolex Submariner Date brings in some changes versus prior models. It now has a diameter of 41mm, 12.7mm thickness, we guess a lug to lug of just over 47mm, and a lug width of 21mm. It also has a ceramic bezel, a glossy black dial, and only comes on an Oyster bracelet with wetsuit adjustment. With the stainless Submariner Date, the only options are a green bezel or black bezel on top of the black dial. Water resistance is also 300 meters. Inside, we have the in-house caliber 3235 with Parachrom hairspring and 70 hours of power reserve. The movements receive chronometer certification. The black bezel version (126610LN) retails for €8,300 and the green (126610LV) retails for €8,700.
Breaking down the looks – Rolex…
It’s pretty hard to argue with the Submariner Date when it comes to the looks department. We can lay on the overused term “iconic” because it’s been around in its basic form since the 1970s. Sure, the date came along in the late 1960s, but the distinctive Cyclops magnifier is legendary in its own right. With this rendition, even Rip Van Winkle could open his eyes and recognize this watch as a Submariner Date. Positively, the new model brings back more slender lugs resemblant of earlier generations. Yes, the case and lug width each grow by a single millimeter, but there’s really not a whole lot to pick on here. If anything, the extra diameter creates better proportions for the paragraph of text and other implements on the dial. Ah, and while the Hulk from the last generation was beloved, I personally think that the return of the “Kermit” is a welcome one. Some have complained that Rolex made it way too easy on themselves by keeping all the dials black, but I like the black and green look. No, there’s just not much to complain about when it comes to the Submariner Date.
…and onto Omega
1993 is a heck of a lot newer than the late 1960s, but it’s getting nigh on 30 years! Aside, from making me feel old, that’s when the first Seamaster 300M debuted. Ever since that time, the model has been a seriously popular piece in the Omega catalog. Importantly, it has kept the same basic layout and looks ever since that time. The wave-inspired dial may have come and gone and returned again for this latest generation, but colors like black and blue have always remained. Ditto for the well-known scalloped bezel and skeleton hands. What I like most on these models is the beautiful ceramic dial and the way that the date blends so well into the background. What I don’t love is the helium valve, but I side with the fact that it’s a hallmark 300M trait. At least it’s nicely sculpted in this model and less obtrusive. Finally, there’s a load of choice with the four different dial color options.
Wearing the Rolex
With the Submariner Date, you’re left with one option and that’s the Oyster bracelet. Thankfully, that one choice just happens to be the standard-bearer on the market. Rolex boasts some of the best finishing around and its bracelets articulate beautifully and somehow feel bank vault solid without being clunky. It’s a fine line that so few companies are able to straddle, but they do it with aplomb. The flip-lock clasp isn’t small, but it’s wonderfully crafted. And while I’ve never loved the protruding end links, they’re also well executed. The other thing that helps a Submariner translate to a great daily wearer is the fact it’s under 13mm thick, with a 47mm lug-to-lug. Granted, with those end links, it’s also nearer to 50mm, but they curve down with the wrist.
And the Omega on a rubber strap
Intriguingly, the Seamaster 300M also wears beautifully despite a thickness of 13.7mm. In fact, one hardly notices that extra thickness due to a case shape that fits the wrist. My choice, oddly enough, is to wear it on rubber. I guess one should always buy a bracelet and add rubber later, but I’d add it immediately. I’ve never liked the fussy, somewhat shiny 300M bracelet. But just like that helium valve (and as you can see above), this style of bracelet has been around since the get-go. I also don’t love the large and clunky double-button clasp. It feels like a cuff and dominates the underside of my wrist. That being said, I think that the Omega push-button wetsuit extension is every bit as good as the Submariner’s lift and slide method. The rest of the bracelet is admittedly quite comfortable because it articulates so well. For a smaller wrist like mine, though, it’s the soft rubber that works wonderfully. I also think that the watch still manages to look expensive on the sporty stuff.
I’m no watchmaker, but it’s clear that a big part of the new Submariner Date announcement was the use of the 3235 (the similar 3230 without a date is shown above). The chronometer-rated automatic brings in a longer 70-hour power reserve and keeps the Parachrom hairspring running at +2/-2 seconds per day. It’s a Rolex automatic and my experience is that it should run like a horse for a long time without issues.
The Omega caliber 8800 Co-Axial is no slouch either. It brings a silicone hairspring, 55 hours of power reserve and is Master Chronometer certified (by METAS). It runs at 0 to +5 seconds a day on average. This also means that it’s resistant to magnetic fields up to 15,000 Gauss. I’m definitely no watchmaker, but I find little to complain about with either powertrain. On top, you can admire the movement through the sapphire crystal.
What do I really think?
I’ll be blunt with my thoughts. Firstly, I still think that the Omega Seamaster 300M is one of the best deals, if not the best, in the entire watch world. Minor quibbles aside on the bracelet and helium valve, it’s a beautifully finished serious watch from a great brand with an incredible movement. I also like the fact that Omega has offered a tight range of really attractive colors. And then there’s the massive elephant in the corner. You know, the roughly €4,000 pachyderm? Seriously, you can save almost half on this watch compared to the Submariner Date and you can actually go and buy it without kissing the ring of your Rolex AD. Even if this watch depreciates 20-30% in the beginning, I can’t get my head around spending double just to preserve your supposed investment. This is a great watch and one of the most killer deals around.
Some people, though, simply want a Submariner Date and refuse to look elsewhere. Some want it because they love the looks and the quality, but I have a feeling that even more want it because they think they should. It’s not against the law to want something for even the most baseless reason, but it’s not overly inspiring. Don’t get me wrong — Rolex makes one hell of a robust watch and I’ve never had much reason to complain about their pricing. In fact, I actually think that their prices are borderline reasonable…unless you compare them to the Seamaster 300M.
Like I said, some people are fixated on owning a Rolex and the Submariner Date is their choice even if they can’t walk in and buy one. They’ll never cross shop with anything else much less the Omega Seamaster 300M. Resale value arguments aside, I am really curious to see what you think. Now that we have a new Submariner series, does it distance itself from a high quality competitor like the 300M that just happens to be half the price? Or, do you think I’m crazy to put these two in the same class? Let us know in the comments below.