It’s time for a legendary showdown between the most discussed chronograph watches in the world. It’s the Omega Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch” versus the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona! The latter in stainless steel is one of the most coveted watches on Earth. It’s equally as desirable among those who are new to watches as those in the know. Omega’s Speedmaster Professional doesn’t need much introduction either. It’s the watch that NASA astronauts wore on the Moon and perhaps one of the cleanest-looking chronographs ever. Both watches have their fans, and many enthusiasts own one of each. However, there’s also a little bit of rivalry between them. Even though the prices are quite far apart, these watches do lend themselves to this weekly battle on Fratello.

But before we begin our Sunday Morning Showdown this week, let’s look back at last week’s Rolex battle. The Oyster Perpetual 36 “Celebration” versus the Day-Date 36 “Jigsaw Puzzle” resulted in a close call. In the end, the Oyster Perpetual 36 prevailed by a small margin with 52% of the votes. Although some of the comments were very outspoken towards one or the other, the result were incredibly close.

RJ: Omega Speedmaster Professional 310.

It’s not only very easy for me to defend the Omega Speedmaster Professional, but it’s also very easy for me to dislike the Daytona. Let me rephrase that: I don’t like the post-2000 steel Daytona models. The main reason for that is the way the movement is designed. The sub-dials at 3 and 9 o’clock are centered above the cannon pinion, which, visually, just seems off. But it’s not only that. It’s also the dial itself, which has simply been very cluttered since the 1988 debut of the reference 16520.

There’s lots of text on the dial, and the applied white gold indices don’t make it any easier to read. But hey, it says “Rolex” on the dial… More importantly, it also says “Daytona,” and it’s the watch that will show others you might be well off. In recent times, attracting that kind of attention didn’t end well for some people. In that regard, it’s safer to wear a gold Breguet watch than a steel Daytona. Rolex’s chronograph has become currency, and a stolen one with no box or papers is worth more than its RRP.

Worth it?

Anyway, that has little to do with the Daytona as a watch. It’s a good watch with a good movement, a solid build, a good bracelet, etc. The quality is never a point of criticism with modern Rolex (except for some caliber 32xx issues). If we use the retail price (€15,100), it’s nearly twice as much as the Speedmaster Professional. However, due to its unavailability, the market price is much higher and, therefore, also several times the market price of a Speedmaster Professional. Is it worth that to you?

Putting a price on a luxury item has little to do with the actual cost of the product. If you want a Rolex Daytona, it probably doesn’t matter what it says on the price tag. Part of the issue I have with the Rolex Daytona — or many of its owners, actually — is that it seems only about money. The resale value seems more important to them than actually enjoying the watch. But that only flies if you’re going to sell the watch, and many don’t. If you did buy a Daytona because you genuinely love the watch for what it is, more power to you.

Chrono24 Unveils ChronoPulse

Current Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch ref. 311.

The 2021 Speedmaster Pro Moonwatch is the best

The Speedmaster Professional has been much more affordable in the past, and a pre-owned version from before 2021 might only set you back around €4,500. I like the current reference (310. the best, though, due to its new tapering bracelet, 3861 movement, 1960s Speedmaster Pro 105.012-inspired case design, stepped dial, and vintage-style chronograph seconds hand.

It’s the perfect balance between a vintage Speedmaster Professional and modern watch technology (a Co-Axial Master Chronometer-certified movement and modern manufacturing standards). Now, in my humble opinion, Omega increased the price a few times too often recently, but on the other hand, as I explained in this article, the competition is not much cheaper. It’s just that we were so used to prices of €5,000 or even (substantially) lower for a Speedmaster Pro that €7,700 is a major jump from that.

Without the historical baggage, I’d say €7,700 still buys you an amazing chronograph with proper movement and a wonderful backstory. You can always go pre-owned, of course. Prices are relatively soft and stable (a weird combination, but it’s true) and give you a lot of bang for the buck. Try to get that with a Daytona…


Purists go Hesalite

If I weren’t into collecting watches, the current Speedmaster Professional would be my daily watch. Perhaps even the version with the sapphire crystals would be, although I’m still too much of a purist not to want the Hesalite version. Fun fact, though: we’ve heard through the grapevine that it’s the first Moonwatch reference of which the sapphire version sells better. That said, the Hesalite crystal magnifies the beautiful, clean dial and provides a bit of a vintage look and feel. A hand-wound movement might not be for everyone, but several friends whom I softly influenced to purchase one let me know that they even started to appreciate the morning ritual of winding their Speedmaster.

METAS approved its water resistance — go swim with it!

The Speedmaster Professional is the chronograph that I fell in love with at first sight in the 1990s, and I put all my money aside to purchase one as a student at the time. For a long time, it was my go-to watch for every occasion. I still have that first one. Many followed, and even after purchasing watches from other brands, I still enjoy wearing the Speedmaster (unlike some of the other watches I purchased over the years). Even if you couldn’t care less about the story of the Moon landing, it’s one of the best chronographs out there (and I am very biased).

Oh, and for the swimmers, the current model can even be worn while swimming (but not diving). The METAS certification on the Speedmaster Professional also applies to the water resistance of the watch. As I wrote earlier in another article, “In the case of the Speedmaster, that’s up to 50 meters (167 feet). It’s still not the 100 meters that many (potential) buyers long for, but at least Omega gives a warranty that these new Speedmasters are water resistant and suitable for swimming.”

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 126500LN

Daan: Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 126500LN

Thanks, RJ, and thanks for letting me defend the Rolex Daytona. This seems like an impossible job to do against you, Mr. #SpeedyTuesday himself.  However, to make it a little easier on myself, I’d suggest not thinking of today’s showdown as a “battle” per se. Instead, I’d propose viewing it as a celebration of two of the greatest chronographs ever made. It would almost be impossible to disqualify either of these two watches simply because both the Omega Speedmaster and the Rolex Daytona are loved by so many people.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 126500LN

I appreciate you going over all the Speedmaster’s advanced features, RJ. At the same time, I feel it’s completely irrelevant to start comparing these two icons feature by feature — if you’re really interested in the features of the latest Rolex Daytona, I suggest you read our Sunday Morning Showdown between the current and previous reference. For now, we can all agree that both these watches are of very high quality and that, with proper care, they’ll last many generations to come. In some way, they’re also incomparable since one is a hand-wound watch and the other an automatic. And, as you mentioned, RJ, even price-wise, these watches are so far apart that it’s almost unfair to compare them. This is especially evident when you consider their pre-owned/gray-market values.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 126500LN

It’s all about emotions

No, this Sunday Morning Showdown isn’t about the technicalities of the watches at hand. It’s all about the emotions that these superstars evoke in the wearer. The very true-to-the-original 2021 Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch almost makes you feel like a space traveler when you’re wearing it. It makes you feel related to those very first astronauts who reached higher and higher and eventually set foot on the Moon. I also get the feeling that the people who wear Speedmasters don’t do so to show off. It’s more a sign of appreciation for the past. In conclusion, wearing a Speedmaster makes you a part of a group of enthusiasts.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 126500LN

On the other hand, as RJ already mentioned, the more modernized Rolex Daytona is a symbol or token of wealth and success. You have to crack a secret code or simply know the right people to acquire one at retail or spend an impressive amount of money to get one pre-owned. Buying an Omega Speedmaster already isn’t for everyone, but buying a Rolex Daytona is a whole different story. In that sense, wearing a Rolex Daytona is more about showing off that you are one of the happy few than anything else.

Updated Rolex Daytona steel

Are you an introvert or a bird-of-paradise?

In conclusion, RJ’s argument shows exactly what the Omega Speedmaster Professional is all about. It’s the sum of its history and its features that make people buy this watch. It has a modest design with its matte black dial, and it isn’t there to make a flashy impression. It is, therefore, a watch for the more introverted people out there. And there’s nothing wrong with that, of course.

However, in comparison, the Rolex Daytona is more about what it represents in today’s world. And that image is all about pride in one’s success and acquired wealth. The birds-of-paradise of this world who aren’t afraid to put everything aside buy themselves a Rolex Daytona and wear it with pride. Its polished center links, glossy dial, red accents, and polished ceramic bezel are all there to catch people’s attention. If there’s one thing in the (watch) world that shows one’s true colors, it’s wearing a flashy Daytona.

So, what’s it going to be? Are you going to hide out behind your modest Speedmaster, or will you dress to impress and build your very own success story with a Daytona on your wrist?

Luxury watchmaking Rolex Daytona

Time to vote!

That’s it, folks! It’s time to cast your vote for one of these iconic chronographs! Are you willing to manually wind the Moonwatch, or do you prefer the swooshing rotor in the self-winding Daytona? Make sure to vote for your choice below, and also let us know why you picked it in the comments. See you next week for another installment of Sunday Morning Showdown!

Omega Speedmaster Professional Vs. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona