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You find yourself in the market for a new Swiss-made luxury timepiece. You have narrowed your choices to either a Rolex or an IWC (International Watch Company). In this article, I will juxtapose a few of the most popular models from each company.

We’ll start with the background of each watch house and how they became the respected brands they are today. Along the way, you will learn the features, pros, and cons of each brand and their models and walk away illuminated and ready to make your next purchase.

IWC timepieces

IWC or the International Watch Company, as it is more formally known, was founded in 1868 by the American watchmaker and businessman Florentine Ariosto Jones. While in Boston, Massachusetts, Jones conceived the idea of combining advanced American production technologies with the skilled craftsmanship of Swiss watchmakers.

With this mandate, Jones traveled to Switzerland to start his venture. Upon arriving in Switzerland, he did not receive the warmest reception in places like Geneve or other Swiss centers of watchmaking. Perhaps this was due to Jones being a foreigner or that the watchmakers in these regions were wary of an outsider and his vision. Instead of becoming discouraged, he went as far north as he could and set up shop in Schafhausen near the German border and on the Rhine river.

Being on the Rhine river became a prescient decision because it enabled IWC to harness the river’s flow to provide hydroelectric power for its factory. IWC’s first movement was the Jones caliber which led to the introduction of the Pallweber pocket watch in 1885. The Pallweber pocket watch was innovative due to it incorporating a digital display for both the hours and the minutes.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the company was producing wristwatches that featured their caliber 64-pocket watch movements. Every aspect of the production of an IWC timepiece takes place in-house. IWC is a completely vertically integrated watch manufacturer.

Product design, engineering, case, and movement parts production, and hand polishing are all completed at the IWC facility. In addition to the completion of every IWC watch, each is tested in their laboratory for water resistance and pressure parameters, extreme impact testing, and the final inspection before delivery to their exclusive array of dealers worldwide.

The Use and Development of Innovative Materials

IWC is also renowned for its use of innovative materials. Besides platinum and titanium, IWC uses their patented Ceratanium in some of their watches. Ceratanium is a ceramized titanium that is as tough and almost as light as traditional titanium but as hard and scratch resistant as ceramic. The case is used in the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Top Gun Certanium.

Another patented case material is 18 ct. Armor Gold. This new type of gold is harder and more wear-resistant than conventional 5N gold. 5N gold has a reddish tint due to the combination of 75% yellow 18 ct. gold and 25% copper. The 18 ct. Gold is combined with copper in a process where the microstructure of the alloy is transformed to produce the Armor Gold.

This material is featured in the Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “Le Petit Prince.”
The company also has taken bronze and combined it with copper, aluminum, and iron to produce a case that is 50% harder than standard bronze and nearly as hard as steel. This innovation is reflected in the Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire.

Lastly, IWC has made great inroads into the use of ceramics for creating cases for some of its watches. IWC introduced the world’s first ceramic case watch in 1986. The Davinci Perpetual Calendar featured a white-colored ceramic case. Ceramic is unusually hard and scratch resistant but presents a challenge in the manufacturing of watches.

Ceramic cases are a mixture of powders formed under intense heat. Unfortunately, the cases shrink by almost one-third during the process therefore the design and engineering must be extremely precise so that the accompanying movement fits exactly in the finished case. Today, ceramic cases in black, brown, and sand colors are available in the watch collection.

IWC is a major proponent of using renewable energy, making sustainability a prime focus, and a commitment to accelerating biodiversity efforts within the watch industry. As per the corporate website, the purpose of IWC is “Engineering Beyond Time”. Transparency, circularity, and responsibility are the guiding principles and inspire all that the company pursues.

IWC Models and Collections

Six prominent collections comprise the IWC brand. The “Pilot’s Watch” has a starting retail price of $4250.00. The “Portofino” starts at $5050.00. The “Davinci” with an opening price tag of $5550.00. The “Ingenieur” with an entrance price point of $4750.00. The “Aquatimer” begins at $5950.00. And lastly the “Portugieser” collection.

The “Portugieser” timepieces are some of the most complicated wristwatches produced in Switzerland. The watches exhibit superior craftsmanship and are comparable to works of art. $7500.00 will get you a base model with prices ranging into hundreds of thousands of dollars for the most sophisticated and complicated models.

In addition to the six collections mentioned above, there is also a collection of Grand Complications and a vintage collection of older IWC timepieces. Three IWC Horological specialties are the following watches;

  1. Mechanical Perpetual Calendar is accurate to the year 2499.
  2. The Grand Complication with 659 individual components.
  3. The Tourbillion Mystere is a masterpiece of miniaturization (81 parts weighing a total of.433 grams).

Rolex’s History

Rolex, surprisingly, has been around for a far shorter time than most other luxury Swiss brands. This is an even greater testimony to the success of the Rolex brand and the reputation the company enjoys today. Much of this success is attributable to Hans Wilsdorf, the English entrepreneur responsible for the creation of the brand.

Though conceived in England, Wildorf created the Rolex brand in 1908 and would ultimately move the entire operation to Geneva, Switzerland where he would create the first water-proof self-winding wristwatch with a perpetual rotor. In fact, a patent was issued to Rolex in 1926 for the world’s first waterproof watch, which today is the oyster case.

Rolex has filed for over 500 patents over the history of its existence for innovations that range from its movements to its exclusive Cerachrom bezels and bezel inserts. Cerachrom is a ceramic material that is virtually impervious to scratches and its color is unaffected by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Rolex today is a completely vertically integrated company with every step of the watch’s conception to completion performed by the Rolex team.

To assure the continued success and commitment to producing the highest quality timepieces, Rolex has an exclusive training center that educates, trains, and acclimates every employee to their culture of excellence as well as one of the most rigorous testing labs to ensure the integrity of every watch.

There is even a department of tribology where the scientific study of friction, wear, lubrication, and how moving parts interact in every aspect of a watch’s movement and physical parts exists in order to continue Rolex’s constant perfection in watchmaking.

Another attribute of the Rolex collection is its commitment to precision and accuracy. In this aspect, Rolex and Zenith share a common trait, though every Rolex is not only a certified chronometer but a superlative chronometer as reflected by the certificate and green seal that accompanies each wristwatch. The parameters of accuracy exceed those required by the COSC. which are -4/+6 seconds per day. The superlative identification reflects a deviation of -2/+2 seconds daily.

IWC Aquatimer vs. Rolex Submariner

The IWC Aquatimer is a diver watch that can trace its original design back to 1967. The newest model boasts many modern features and is rather unique in its appearance as it is a diver watch that appears to be less diver and more like an everyday sports watch. The watch case is made of both polished and brushed stainless steel and measures 42 mm. In diameter.

The height of the case is 14 mm. It has an anti-reflective sapphire crystal and is available in either a black or blue dial. The fascinating feature of the dial is that the inner dial indices are treated in a blue color luminescence whereas the outer dial markings shine in a green color luminescence which is evidenced in the dark and underwater.

The combination of colors is striking and distinctly IWC. The watch has a screw-down crown at the three position and a helium escape valve at the nine position. The timepiece is water resistant to 300 meters and available with a textured rubber strap which is slightly tapered or a stainless steel bracelet. The movement is an in-house IWC caliber 30120 automatic self-winding movement vibrating at a frequency of 28,800 A/h, with 21 jewels, 163 components, and a 40-hour power reserve.

Another unusual feature of this timepiece is that the lapsed time markings that are usually on the outside watch bezel are located on the outer dial. The bezel is bidirectional and can be used in one direction to set the lapsed time feature but also move in the other direction without affecting the setting of the inner bezel.

The approximate retail price of the strap mode is $6100.00 or $7000.00 with a stainless steel bracelet. The Submariner is one of the Rolex collection’s most popular watches. For comparison, I will elaborate on the base model’s features, which are available in stainless steel in either a date or non-date version. The dimensions of the case are 41mm.

Wide and 48 mm. From lug to lug. The lug width is 20 mm. And the case is 12.5 mm. Thick. The heartbeat of this watch is an automatic mechanical caliber 3130 in-house manufactured Rolex movement. The watch has a power reserve of two days.

The timepiece is outfitted with a sapphire crystal and a cerachrom bezel with markings filled with platinum PVD coating. To round out its appearance the dial has “Blue” chromalight lume markers for easy visibility in the dark or underwater. Water resistance is rated at 300 meters. The approximate retail for the non-date model is $8950.00 and the date model is $10,100.00.

Conclusion

Both timepieces are beautiful and reflect superb fit and finishes. If one has the means, I would own both watches. The simplicity and nuanced differences incorporated into the design of the Aquatimer, like the bidirectional bezel with bezel markings under the crystal, the use of two different colors of luminescence, and the addition of the helium escape valve make this watch my choice. For the price, this is an excellent everyday watch. Big, bold, simple, and easily readable as well as a quality diving instrument.

IWC Big Pilot vs. Rolex Submariner

Since I elaborated on the Rolex Submariner in the previous comparison, I suggest you refer back to the technical information needed for contrasting the IWC Big Pilot. The IWC Big Pilot is a watch that has a rich history dating back to the 1940s. It has become a smaller, more wearable size in its present configuration. Measurements are as follows; the stainless steel watch case has a diameter of 43 mm., a thickness of 13.2 mm., 52.5 mm lug to lug, and a lug width of 21 mm.

It has a sapphire crystal on both the front and the rear of the watch and comes in a black or blue dial. The markers are treated in a green luminescence and the watch is water-resistant to 100 meters. The riveted leather strap adds a level of distinction as well as sophistication. The caliber 82100 automatic self-winding movement vibrates at a frequency of 28,800 A/h and has a power reserve of 60 hours.

The skeletal back celebrates a host of fine finishes such as Cotes de Geneve (striped and wave configurations), linear brushing, and other artistic embellishments. The approximate retail price for the Big Pilot is $8950.00 on a strap, $9950.00 with a stainless steel bracelet, and $10,500.00 with a ceramic case. Other variations range in price from $9500.00 to 32,800.00.

Conclusion

Both watches are each iconic in their own right. I find that each would appeal to a different potential customer. The Submariner is easily the more recognized of the two, but the oversized beauty of the case and ornate crown, attention to detail, and the skeletal back of the Big Pilot set it apart from the Rolex. At comparable prices both make fine choices.

IWC Ingenieur vs. Rolex Explorer

The Ingenieur is a surprisingly affordable entry into the world of IWC watches. With its 40 mm. Stainless steel case the watch has a height of 10.3 mm. and measures 48.5 mm. from lug to lug. The present Ingenieur model resembles the 1967 Ref. 866 and the 2008 models with its round case and distinct tapered lugs and continues the Ingenieur legacy of water resistance, antimagnetic properties, and high precision.

At the heart of the watch is a Sellita SW300-based caliber 35111 automatic self-winding movement that vibrates at 28,800 A/h and has 25 jewels. It also has a power reserve of 42 hours and is water resistant to 120 meters. The present-day model is available with a silver plated dial (gray in color) with luminescent indices and completed with a black alligator leather strap. The approximate retail price of the strap model is $4750.00. There are four other variations of the Ingenieur available. They are as follows;

  1. The Automatic with 5N gold case                                             $14,000.00
  2. The Chronograph                                                                      $8200.00
  3. Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month                                    $47,900.00

The Rolex Explorer is a rather basic-looking watch that is known for its all-around durability. The Explorer can withstand the toughest conditions and maintain its precision. The diameter of the case is 36 mm. , measures 43 mm. from lug to lug, and has a case thickness of 11.5 mm. The case and bracelet are comprised of stainless steel and the bracelet features the oyster design and has an oyster lock folding clasp.

The watch has a sapphire crystal and a black dial with indexes and the distinct 3, 6, and 9 Arabic numerals treated with chromalight and providing a blue goal in the dark. The in-house manufactured caliber 3230 mechanical self-winding movement highlights several improvements in the areas of precision, power reserve ability (70 hours), resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, and reliability.

The movement incorporates the Chronenergy escapement (Rolex patented) which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. The paramagnetic blue parachrom hairspring along with the palette lever and escapement (made of nickel-phosphorus and produced by Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) are completely impervious to the effects of magnetism.

The movement is also outfitted with patented Paraflex shock absorbers that protect the balance staff and increase the shock resistance of the timepiece by 50% without sacrificing its chronometer performance. Accuracy according to Rolex is +/- 2 seconds per day. The Explorer is water resistant to 100 meters and retails for an approximate price of $7200.00.

If ease of repair and maintenance are determining factors in your watch purchase, the Explorer enjoys a reputation among watchmakers as a relatively simple watch to maintain and repair. In other words, an uncomplicated yet highly efficient timepiece.

Conclusion

I give the edge to the IWC Ingenieur purely for appearance. The Rolex Explorer is an incredibly durable watch and incorporates great technology and innovation as reflected in this article, but the watch is plain and simple. At less than $5000.00 the Ingenieur is an aesthetically handsome wristwatch with classic appeal.

IWC Ingenieur vs. Rolex Milgauss

I refer you to the previous paragraphs to review the features of the IWC Ingenieur as it was contrasted with the Rolex Explorer. The Rolex Milgauss is constructed of 904L oyster steel and measures 40 mm. in diameter and is outfitted with a patented Rolex screw-down crown. At the heart of the Milgauss is a Rolex caliber 3131 self-winding mechanical movement which is a certified Swiss chronometer accurate to +/- 2 seconds per day.

The power reserve feature is 48 hours and the movement’s oscillator is a paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring. The watch sports a Z blue dial with luminescent markers and a green sapphire crystal. Rolex created this crystal and it is scratch-proof, fade-proof, and exclusively found on the Milgauss.

This crystal took years to develop and takes weeks to manufacture. In addition, the watch has a striking orange colored lightning bolt for a second hand and sports orange indices and Arabic numerals every 5 minutes on the outer ring of the dial.

The watch is highly resistant to magnetic fields due to a shield of ferromagnetic alloys surrounding and protecting the movement. Lastly, the watch is water resistant to 100 meters with an approximate retail price of $9150.00

Conclusion

The Rolex Milgauss is a great-looking and distinctive watch in comparison to the IWC Ingeniuer. Granted, the Milgauss is almost twice the price of the Ingenieur but the combination of the blue dial with orange accents and the green-colored crystal give it a unique and very appealing appearance. The technical features and quality of the Milgauss should satisfy any sportsman or anyone looking for something different for their everyday watch. I like both but I give the edge to the Rolex Milgauss.

FAQ’s

Does Rolex or IWC have a better warranty?


The warranty on a Rolex watch is five years. The IWC comes with a two-year warranty, but can be extended for an additional six years (For a total of eight years) if you register the watch on the company website within the initial two-year period.

Is Rolex or IWC the higher quality timepiece?


Both brands are equal in terms of quality. The technology evident in each brand’s movements and design, along with the use of the best possible materials make each comparable to one another. Attention to detail and finishes are superb with either brand.

Does a Rolex or an IWC wristwatch hold its value?


Rolex watches hold their value better than almost any other Swiss luxury brand except maybe Patek Philippe. IWCs will have some depreciation but over the long haul may appreciate especially concerning the more complicated and rarer timepieces.

Is IWC or Rolex more recognizable?


Rolex is the most recognizable Swiss luxury watch brand in the world, but the IWC brand is one of the ten most recognizable names amongst the Swiss watch elite.

In this article, I will take as deep a dive into these two iconic brands as possible to help answer some of the questions you might have concerning the purchase of either a Rolex or Blancpain timepiece. Along the way, you will get an overview of what makes these two brands tick, as I will share a brief history of each brand and then expound on a few of each company’s popular models, their movements, and what makes each brand iconic among watchmakers.

Blancpain- World’s Oldest Swiss Watch Brand

Blancpain was established in Villeret, Switzerland in 1735 by Jehan Jacques Blancpain. It is considered the oldest Swiss watch brand that is still in operation today. In 1825, Blancpain’s grandson Frederic Louis Blancpain improved the original workshop and developed a modified watch escapement design. This along with the pursuit of ultra-thin construction became the foundation for the brand.

In 1830, Frederic Emile Blancpain, son of Frederic Louis, sets up the largest watch manufacturer in Villeret and renames the company Fabrique d’Horolgerie Emile Blancpain. In 1859, Louis Elysee Piguet opens a world-class watchmaking shop in Vallee de Joux and is commissioned by several high-end Swiss brands to create watches with various complications.

1932 saw the passing of Frederic Emile Blancpain. With his passing, the company was left to his longtime assistant Betty Fiechter. Fiechter became the first women CEO of a swiss watch brand. Due to Swiss laws, this presented a dilemma since there was no longer a member of the original founding family involved in the business. The name had to be changed to accommodate these laws and Rayville S.A. succ. Blancpain was established.

For the next twenty years, Betty comanaged the brand with her nephew, Jean Jaques Fiechter. By the end of the 1950s, the company was manufacturing about 100,000 watches per year. Due to the growing demand for their watches, Rayville was purchased by SSIH (Societe Suisse pour l’Industrie Horlogerie). By 1982, SSIH was purchased by Jacques Piguet and the company name changed once again to Blancpain S.A. Today the brand is owned by the Swiss watch conglomerate SMH (the Swatch Group).

Several milestones in the history of Blancpain are as follows:

  1. 1983- created the world’s smallest moon phases display.
  2. 1987- developed the thinnest self-winding chronograph and the smallest minute repeater movement at the time in the world.
  3. 1988- created the thinnest split-seconds chronograph at the time.
  4. 1991- introduced the 1735 Grande Complication (one of the most complicated watches in the world with a tourbillon, minute repeater, perpetual calendar, and split chronograph).
  5. 2000- first self-winding tourbillon and perpetual calendar with an 8-day power reserve.
  6. 2008- introduced the world’s first movement with a one-minute flying carousel and 100-hour power reserve.

An interesting fact is that Blancpain has never offered a watch with a quartz movement. In fact, the brand’s motto is “Blancpain has never made a quartz watch and never will.” Following the success of the Fifty Fathoms collection, Blancpain has made a commitment to supporting the preservation of the oceans and the seas worldwide through various initiatives.

The company has established a three-prong approach to achieving these goals by raising awareness of the beauty of the ocean, contributing to scientific research, and implementing efficient ocean conservation measures.

Rolex’s History

Rolex, surprisingly, has been around for a far shorter time than most other luxury Swiss brands. This is an even greater testimony to the success of the Rolex brand and the reputation the company enjoys today. Much of this success is attributable to Hans Wilsdorf, the English entrepreneur responsible for the creation of the brand.

Though conceived in England, Wildorf created the Rolex brand in 1908 and would ultimately move the entire operation to Geneva, Switzerland where he would create the first water-proof self-winding wristwatch with a perpetual rotor. In fact, a patent was issued to Rolex in 1926 for the world’s first waterproof watch, which today is the oyster case.

Rolex has filed for over 500 patents over the history of its existence for innovations that range from its movements to its exclusive Cerachrom bezels and bezel inserts. Cerachrom is a ceramic material that is virtually impervious to scratches and its color is unaffected by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Rolex today is a completely vertically integrated company with every step of the watch’s conception to completion performed by the Rolex team.

To ensure continued success and commitment to producing the highest quality timepieces, Rolex has an exclusive training center that educates, trains, and acclimates every employee to their culture of excellence as well as one of the most rigorous testing labs to ensure the integrity of every watch.

There is even a department of tribology where the scientific study of friction, wear, lubrication, and how moving parts interact in every aspect of a watch’s movement and physical parts exists in order to continue Rolex’s constant perfection in watchmaking.

Another attribute of the Rolex collection is its commitment to precision and accuracy. Every Rolex is not only a certified chronometer but a superlative chronometer as reflected by the certificate and green seal that accompanies each wristwatch. The parameters of accuracy exceed those required by the COSC, which are -4/+6 seconds per day. The superlative identification reflects a deviation of -2/+2 seconds daily.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms vs. Rolex Submariner

The iconic Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was launched in 1953 and was the first real deep-sea scuba diving watch. Shortly thereafter, the Rolex Submariner was brought to market in that very same year but Blancpain was first to the party. The watch was birthed out of the efforts of Captain Robert Maloubier and LT. Claude Riffaud of the French navy.

The two were commissioned to pioneer underwater special operations which required a timepiece that could withstand great depth and with great water resistance. There were four features that the two desired to have incorporated into the watch. High water resistance, a black dial, an external bezel to track time, and luminous markers so that it was easily readable in the dark and underwater.

Then Blancpain CEO Jean-Jacques Fiechter, also a fellow diver, took the mandate of these French naval officers and the Fifty Fathoms was created and launched. The Fifty Fathoms has a stainless steel case that measures 45 mm. in diameter. It is 15.5 mm. thick and is 23 mm. between each lug. The watch is available in either a black or blue dial with an interesting smaller circle on the dial as if the markers were perched on it, and a date window between the four and five o’clock markers.

It has Arabic numerals at the three, six, nine, and twelve positions with triangular-shaped indexes in between the Arabic markers. All are treated with luminous for easy readability. The watch is protected by a sapphire crystal. The watch has an in-house Blancpain caliber 1315 mechanical automatic movement featuring 227 components, 35 jewels, and vibrates at 4 Hz with a 120-hour power reserve.

The movement is shielded by an antimagnetic cage. The approximate retail price of the three base models are as follows:

  1. Stainless steel case with a sail canvas strap with buckle             $14,500.00
  2. Titanium case with a sail canvas strap and buckle                       $15,700.00
  3. Stainless steel case and bracelet                                                 $17,200.00

The Submariner is one of the Rolex collection’s most popular watches. For comparison, I will elaborate on the base model’s features, which are available in 904L stainless steel in either a date or non-date version. In keeping with a more accurate comparison with the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms watch, I will elaborate on the Rolex date model.

The dimensions of the case are 41mm. wide and 48 mm. from lug to lug. The lug width is 20 mm. and the case is 12.5 mm. thick. The heartbeat of this watch is an automatic mechanical caliber 3235 in-house manufactured Rolex movement. It consists of 201 components, 31 jewels, and vibrates at 28,800 V/h. The watch employs a bidirectional rotor, a paramagnetic blue parachrom hairspring, high-performance paraflex shock absorbers, Chronergy escapement (Rolex patented, combining high energy efficiency and superior dependability), and a paramagnetic oscillator balance staff.

The virtually scratchproof Cerachron ceramic bezel is sixty clicks and unidirectional The watch has a power reserve of 70 hours. The timepiece is outfitted with a scratch-proof sapphire crystal and a cerachrom bezel with markings filled with platinum PVD coating. There is a cyclops magnifier over the date window, a common characteristic of Rolex watches.

To round out its appearance the dial has “Blue” chromalight lume markers for easy visibility in the dark or underwater and, according to the company, last for up to eight hours. The rugged oyster steel bracelet with oyster lock clasp compliments the appearance of the Submariner. Water resistance is rated at 300 meters. The approximate retail for the non-date model is $8950.00 with the date model running about $10,100.00.

Conclusion

In comparing the movements in each of the watches, I would give the edge to the Fifty Fathoms for its power reserve feature, but the new Rolex caliber 3235 movement is no slouch. As per Rolex, the caliber 3235 movement replaces the caliber 3135 movements in previous Submariner date models. This movement is constructed with 90% newer components and is covered by fourteen patents.

Great improvement has been made in efficiency and dependability, and as always, the Submariner enjoys a solid reputation among watchmakers as being easy to service and maintain. One advantage of the Fifty Fathoms is that it is available in a strap model, unlike the Submariner, and you do have the choice of a titanium case if that is your preference.

On the subject of price, the Rolex appears to be a better purchase choice. The Rolex is equally as comfortable worn in the office and for diving and there is always the cache of wearing a brand that is equally recognizable and prestigious. I would go with the Submariner.

Rolex Submariner vs. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms No Radiation

The technical information for the Rolex Submariner is found in the previous paragraphs. Now I will dive into the features of the Fifty Fathoms No Radiation model. The Fifty Fathoms No Radiation watch is a limited edition tribute to the original model that was introduced in the 1960s. At that time awareness of the harmfulness of radioactive materials to the human body was rising.

Many of the lume used in watches at the time employed radioactive materials. Blancpain set out to create a “no radioactive” luminous treatment for their indexes, hands, etc. This model is easily recognizable by the yellow and red no radiation stamp on the dial right above the six o’clock position. This is on a stark black dial with a date window at the three o’clock position.

The luminous is colored super-luminova which recreates the patina of the original “old radium” look that was retired. The case is 40.3 mm. In diameter and 13 mm. Thick. The distance between the lugs is 20 mm. And the case is polished as opposed to brush finished as in other Fifty Fathom variations. The mechanical automatic caliber 1151 movement measures 27,4 mm and 3.25 mm. Thick.

It is a 28-jewel movement with 210 components, vibrating at 3 Hz, and possessing a silicon balance spring. The power reserve capacity is 100 hours. It has a sapphire bezel which is unidirectional and sixty clicks. The diver is water-resistant to 300 meters and comes with a black rubber strap. Another aspect of this particular timepiece is that it is considered one of Blancpain’s “ultra-thin” models. One of these 500 limited edition pieces will cost approximately $14,100.00.

Conclusion

I will stick with my recommendation, and choose the Rolex Submariner over the Fifty Fathoms No Radiation timepiece. For reasons set forth in the previous conclusion in this article, I believe for the price, you get a fuller package with The Submariner. Appearance, utility, rugged construction, and an easy-to-use watch. The allure of the Fifty Fathoms No Radiation being a limited edition piece will attract its share of potential customers, but for the most part, I believe the Submariner has the edge.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms vs. Rolex Sea Dweller

I refer you to the characteristics and technological aspects of the Fifty Fathoms watch mentioned earlier in this article. I will now delve into the Rolex Sea Dweller and its features. The Rolex Sea Dweller was introduced in 1967, and quickly became a classic amongst deep-sea diving enthusiasts. The Sea Dweller is water resistant to 1220 meters or 4000 feet.

The deep sea features were amped up to include a 60-click unidirectional ceramic bezel with a Cerachrom (Rolex patented) bezel insert that was scratchproof. The dial features a chromalight display with a distinctive blue glow luminescence that lasts for up to eight hours and makes the watch very easy to read in the depths of the sea. The hands and indexes were also enlarged for easier readability.

The case measures 43 mm. in diameter and is constructed of 904L stainless steel which is highly durable and non-corrosive. The crown is a screw-down type that features Rolex’s Triplock triple waterproof system. The Sea Dweller also comes equipped with a helium escape valve that operates automatically. When the difference in pressure between the inside and the outside of the watch reaches three to five bars, the valve opens allowing the built-up helium to escape the case.

The Caliber 3235 mechanical automatic movement is the latest incarnation from Rolex and is the same movement found in the new Submariner. For all the improvements and descriptions of this movement, I refer you to the Rolex Submariner information written earlier in this article. The Sea Dweller in all 904L stainless steel sells for approximately $12,950.00. You can opt for an oyster steel and 18-carat model (Featuring Rolesor- the Rolex patented name for the combination of these two materials) for approximately $17,000.00

Conclusion

I give the advantage to the Rolex Sea Dweller. The watch has superior water resistance to the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and the added security of the helium escape valve keeps the watch intact. The Rolex Sea Dweller is also available for approximately $4000.00 less than the Fifty Fathoms. For my taste, I prefer the look of the Sea Dweller. Coupled with all the advancements and enhancements of the current caliber movement, I believe this is a solid choice.

Blancpain Caliber 1315 Movement vs. Rolex Caliber 3135 Movement

The Blancpain Caliber 1315 movement measures 30.6 mm. in diameter and is 5.65 mm. Thick. The mechanical automatic is comprised of 227 components, 35 jewels, and vibrates at a speed of 4 Hz. For an excellent deconstruction and explanation of this movement, I have provided the following link: https://www.thenakedwatchmaker.com/decon-blancpain

The Rolex caliber 3135 movement is regarded as one of the most well-known and recognized automatic self-winding movements within the Rolex brand. The COSC-certified automatic self-winding movement measures 28.5 mm. In diameter and has a height of 6 mm. The in-house manufactured movement is made up of approximately 200 components and 31 jewels. The movement operates at 28,800V/h. Standouts of the movement include a Parachrom blue hairspring, a Swiss lever escapement, a bidirectional winding Teflon-coated rotor, and a Glucydor balance wheel. The power reserve is 48 hours.

Note: Parachrom blue is a combination of niobium and zirconium / Glucydor is a combination of beryllium and copper.

Conclusion

Both are excellent movements The Rolex caliber 3135 has been upgraded to a caliber 3235 which has been discussed at length in this article. The biggest and most obvious difference is in the power reserve features for both movements. With the Blancpain, you get a 120-hour power reserve as opposed to the Rolex which is 48 hours.

If this is an important trait of the watch you wish to wear then the Blancpain would be your choice. The Blancpain may be more elegant in its finishes, but this model comes with a steel back so you can not enjoy the artistic nuances. Since Rolex has never offered a skeletal back, finishes have taken a back seat to precision and durability.

Best Alternative to a Rolex

There are several alternative watch brands that offer timepieces that have the appearance and features of many Rolex models. They range in price from very affordable to Rolex-level prices. I have assembled an extensive list of timepieces that are comparable to the basic oyster gent’s watch. Their approximate retail prices are reflected on the list. Many of the models even exceed the features available in the basic oyster perpetual watch. They are as follows:

  1. Tissot Gentleman Powermatic 80 Silicium                              $  775.00
  2. Longines Conquest 39 mm.                                                    $1250.00
  3. Sinn 5561                                                                                $1530.00
  4. Monta Noble                                                                          $1795.00
  5. Ball Engineer lll Marvelight                                                      $2350.00
  6. Tag Heuer Carrera Date                                                          $3000.00
  7. Tudor Black Bat 36                                                                  $3050.00
  8. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra                                                $5700.00
  9. Grand Seiko SLGA009                                                            $9100.00

Three other alternatives to popular Rolex models are the following:

  1. For the Rolex Submariner, the Omega Seamaster Diver 300 m. @$5400.00
  2. For the Rolex Daytona, the Zenith Chronomaster Sport @$11,000.00
  3. For the Rolex GMT Master 2, the Tudor Black Bay GMT @$4175.00

FAQ’s

Who has a better warranty, Rolex or Blancpain?


Rolex offers a five-year international warranty whereas the Blancpain watches come with a standard two-year warranty that is extended an additional year if you purchase your Blancpain watch at one of their boutiques.

Better value, Rolex or Blancpain?


Rolex watches retain their value probably better than any other Swiss luxury watch brand except Patek Philippe. Blancpain watches do appreciate over time due to their limited quantity produced yearly and because of their reputation for complications and longevity. Over longer periods of time, and maintaining the watch’s condition, you should experience appreciation in value over time.

If you’re new to the luxury watch scene, it’s easy to quickly say “Longines or Rolex” is a brain-dead comparison. See it this way. Rolex is the number one watchmaker in the world, and any timepiece from the brand is synonymous with wealth, craftsmanship, and engineering wonder.

Longines is also a prestigious watchmaker with a long and successful history. It’s been one of the top 5 swiss watchmakers for centuries and produces precision watches that appeal to a mass audience. But how do they compare with the King, Rolex?

Folks come in asking about these two brands, so we’ve shared this guide to explain all you need to know. Whether you’re trying to choose between buying a vintage Longines or considering if a Rolex is worth saving up for, you’ll find answers. This article explains their history, craftsmanship, watch quality, popularity, and price to help you make an informed decision.

Similarities and Differences Between Longines And Rolex

It’s always a long read to cherish the culture of a watchmaker, so here’s a summary of their similarities and differences before we dive in.

Similarities

  • Both are Swiss watchmakers
  • They are both older than a century
  • Both make precise mechanical watches
  • Both started with a different name
  • Both created their masterpieces with outside help
  • Both offer COSC-certified watches

Differences

  • Longines is an entry-level luxury watch brand, while Rolex is both a luxury and ultra-luxury brand.
  • Rolex has a 5-year warranty, whereas Longines offers a 2-year limited warranty. 
  • It’s cheaper and more convenient to buy replacement straps for a Longines watch than a Rolex

Now let’s dive deeper into the history of these prestigious watchmakers to unearth the values and traditions that kept them in business.

Longines’ Long and Rich History

Longines was established in 1832 by Auguste Agassiz in the mountains of St Imier, Switzerland.
Because of Auguste’s partnerships with two lawyers, Henri Raguel and Florian Morel, the company was initially called Raiguel Jeune & Cie. After the duo retired fourteen years later, Auguste assumed sole ownership.

Auguste then set the wheel of success and prestige in motion when he brought in his nephew, Ernest Francillon, as a mentor years later. His mentee made a bold first impression of producing only crown-wound pocketwatches in an era of key-wound pocket watches (time flies!). So Auguste ultimately passed on the company to Ernest when he retired from weary health.

Under Ernest Francillon, the swiss watch manufacturer focused on mass production in the 1860s. He built a solid reputation for Longines, but they soon became the target of counterfeiters, who stole business and nearly tarnished that image (crucial for a luxury watch company). So he patented the company name in 1880 and registered the oldest valid trademark, Longines’ iconic winged hourglass logo, in 1889.

They survived and flourished well into the 1980s with constant innovative designs while still affordable. Longines joined the 35 billion dollars valued Swatch Group – which includes big wigs like Omega SA, ETA, and Tissot – in the 1980s. The Saint-Imier-based watchmaker now uses movements from ETA (a prestigious conglomerate of swiss movement manufacturers). It’s not the best look for a luxury brand to outsource movement making, but it is perfect for Longines’ dedication to mass production.

Mass-Production Marketing

Longines’ quick transition to mass production started under Ernest Francillon when he built the factory in 1867. But we must credit the genius of his Technical Director, Jacques Davido, who ran the factory and created its first in-house movement in the same year – the 20A. Since then, they’ve sealed their place in history books as one of the largest watch brands with retailers and distributors worldwide.

Fun fact: Longines is named after the field its factory has sat on since 1867. It was called Es Longines, meaning the “Long Meadow.”

Rolex’s Century-Old Quest for First

Rolex entered the watchmaking industry relatively late but came in with a bang in 1905. The brand was first known as Wilsdorf and Davis but changed to Rolex SA in 1920 (and moved to Geneva, Switzerland).

A 24-year-old, Hans Wilsdorf, and his brother-in-law, Alfred Davis, established the company in London. It all started as a hustle. They imported Hermann Aegler Swiss movements, fit them in Dennison watch cases (all iconic watchmakers in their right), and sold them to Jewelers (without branding).

Rolex released many firsts, but the creation of the renowned oyster case – still used in most Rolex watches – put them on the trajectory of world domination in 1926. Hans Wilsdorf’s innovation was sparked by an issue of water and dust damaging watch movements. So he hired a case maker to build the world’s first waterproof and dustproof watch. He bought the patent from the innovators and marketed aggressively and exclusively – a tradition Rolex has held on to.

Exclusivity Marketing

Rolex’s founder, Hans Wilsdorf, believes, “Only marketing is needed to make a company successful.” Some of his many striking campaigns include displaying Rolex oyster watches in aquariums at their point-of-sale stores. But Hans’s genius 1927 marketing put Rolex on the map, as we hinted earlier. He gave an oyster-cased necklace watch to Mercedes Glietze as she prepared to become the first British woman to swim the English Channel.

The neck watch remained accurate and completely dry after the 10-hour swim in murky waters. In typical Rolex fashion, Hans Wilsdorf brilliantly advertised the historic feat on Daily Mail’s front page for a month straight. Since its inception, the brand has used this strategy of gifting pioneers appropriate Rolex watches to test in the field.

The first people to summit Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, for example, wore Rolex watches and were honored with the release of the Explorer models. Today, Rolex combines aggressive marketing, sponsorships, and limited supply to seal its place as one of the most valuable watchmakers in history.

If you didn’t know, Tudor is a Rolex subsidiary targeting enthusiasts who want a “cheap” Rolex – they use similar cases and bracelets but use off-the-shelf movements. Rolex has continued the tradition by sponsoring prestigious events, signing artists and sports icons, and testing timepieces in historic expeditions.

Fun fact: Rolex is a private firm operated through the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation (no public shares).

Prestige And Popularity

Longines and Rolex control half of the Swiss watch market shares along with Omega and Cartier. So we know they both sell like crazy, even though Longines has to achieve this with more units sold. In recent research, they dropped to fifth but remained a force to reckon with. Rolex, however, is in a different league and more in competition with brands like Richard Mille and Audemars Piguet for prestige for world domination.

I won’t be surprised if anyone knew about Rolex watches since they were teenagers, but it will amaze me if they know Longines. Rolex outshines Longines mainly because they not only market to high society circles but also target mainstream media. As a result, Rolex is present in the entertainment, sports, arts, exploration, technology, and even the wildlife scene, with sponsorships, endorsements, and loyal fans doubling as influencers.

Longines And High-Life Sponsorships

The St-Imier-based watchmaker, started supplying prestigious New York sporting officials as far back as the 1800s. With such early momentum, you’d already expect Longines to be a behemoth in mainstream sports. But instead, they only dominate elegant sporting events like horse racing, archery, and equestrianism.

Longines is the official timekeeper of the FEI Show Jumping World Cup, Archery World Cup, French Open, and Commonwealth Games. They even sponsored Formula One during the 1980s and continue to support other international skiing and horse racing events.

Rolex And Planet Domination

Rolex’s official sponsorships go deeper than sports into sea and space exploration, wildlife and arctic research, motorsports to yachting, and equestrian sports. They are also timekeepers for multicultural organizations and political leaders.

The Swiss luxury brand boasts o durability by regularly giving explorers, researchers, and astronauts Rolex watches on their expeditions. As a result, Rolex watches have survived space, the deepest ocean dives, arctic regions, and the highest mountains.

Rolex doesn’t fail to leave a mark in sports. Almost every sporting legend has at one time been a Rolex ambassador. In addition, they’re official sponsors of all four grand slam (U.S, Wimbledon, French, and Australian Open) tournaments and the Paris, Monte-Carlo, and Shanghai Masters. It’d take a long-form blog post to capture the depth of Rolex’s reach in sports, arts, and exploration.

See the list of superstars and celebs who’ve worn either watch brand to compare:

Most Iconic Rolex Wearers

  • Paul Newman – his Rolex Daytona (Ref. 6239) is the most expensive watch Rolex sold at an auction
  • Roger Federer
  • British Royal Family
  • Too many notable figures to mention

Most Iconic Longines Wearers

  • Charles Lindbergh
  • Albert Einstein
  • Jennifer Lawrence
  • Humprey Bogart
  • British Royal Family
  • Andre Agassi

Hopefully, you’ll notice a trend of how Rolex attracts only the best of the best. As a result, it’s not fair fighting ground regarding who’s more famous between both brands. So, let’s see who fairs better in craftsmanship.

Craftsmanship

Avid horologists know it’s not just telling time that makes a luxury brand but its prestige, complications, and attention to detail, among others. Look at it this way, the Swiss industry is known for world-class watchmaking, and Rolex and Longines use the best crop. While Longines and Rolex employ world-class artists, the quality of their timepieces varies as much as we want to think Rolex is overpriced. Here’s an overview of how they craft watch parts.

Cases

The most common case material both swiss watchmaking behemoths use is stainless steel. The Longines steel is known to be durable and reasonably scratch-resistant, simply as durable as a Rolex. But Rolex uses a patent steel material, Oystersteel, which is exclusive to the brand and has been field-tested in the harshest conditions, as you’ve learned earlier.

Movements

The two brands produce mechanical movements in-house, but Rolex makes it a tradition. The Swiss watchmaker stopped all production of quartz movement in 2001 after 30 years of experiments. The dedication to in-house production and obtaining COSC accuracy certifications could take a year to produce one Rolex timepiece.

Nevertheless, the traditional craftsmanship of the Geneva-based watchmaker is what many watch lovers, enthusiasts, and collectors value over any Longines. That’s not to say Longines movements are inferior. However, they also produce Quartz movements that are cheaper and unartistic to most connoisseurs.

But the dealbreaker is that Longines’ mechanical movements also come from their sister company ETA SA, not in-house. Nevertheless, they are still reputable watchmakers, with an output of only 20 percent quartz watches and 80% mechanical movements. But the attention to detail and finishing of Rolex is unmatched.

Bracelets

We see a similar trend of functionality and exclusivity in making Longines and Rolex bracelets. The former makes durable watches that are readily available for replacement. But Rolex bracelets combine durability, exclusivity, and function.

These qualities justify the price gap between both brands that you’ll see soon in this article. For one, Longines sells replacement stainless steel, leather, rubber, and NATO straps that you can swap for under $300. In addition, you can have a collection of watch bands to dress different occasions.

Meanwhile, only Rolex Cellini models use a leather strap, and you must contact their service center for a replacement bracelet (of any Rolex watch). Also, Rolex’s Oysterflex rubber bracelet is only available in 18-carat gold editions of the Yachtmaster, Daytona, and Sky-Dweller. Finally, Rolex’s celebrated stainless steel bracelets, the Oyster and Jubillee, are highly scratch-resistant and comfortable with on-the-fly micro-adjustments.

Here’s the thing. A typical Rolex strap replacement costs anywhere from $1,000 to about $5,000 and could take weeks. You must have the corresponding watch model as proof, plus Rolex keeps the old band. It’s this exclusive in-house servicing that makes Rolex more valuable. But Longines gives the owners to buy straps online or at an authorized local watch repair shop.

Ultimately, Rolex bracelets are one of the best in – if not the best – industry. Longines can only be proud that its straps are durable and comfortable, not compete with Rolex.

Price Is A Big Rolex Win

Rolex is unsurprisingly out of Longines’ league for watch price points. The cheapest new or used Rolex costs more than 10x the price of a Longines. To put it in perspective, a Rolex Datejust (the brand’s most affordable collection) costs around $5,000 to $6,000, and a Longines Conquest V.H.P. (their most inexpensive model) for under $1000.

It looks unfair to compare a Longines’ quartz watch to a Rolex. So we’ll size up Longines flagship line, the HydroConquest, which costs anywhere from $1200 to around $2,500. That’s still less than two times the price of a Rolex Datejust.

Although some critics appeal that Rolex watches are overpriced, they’re clearly in different luxury brand categories. Longines (entry-level luxury) has focused on mass production for nearly 200 years, but Rolex becomes more exclusive by the year (ultra-luxury brand).

Comparing Longines HydroConquest To The Rolex Submariner

Coming off a price revelation, it’s only practical you see what makes the difference with a side-to-side comparison of both watchmakers’ watches. For this, we use pit Longines HydroConquest against Rolex’s flagship diver’s watch (this is a hot debate among watch connoisseurs).

HydroConquest ref. L3.883.4.96.9 Vs. Submariner

This won’t be an apples-to-apples comparison. It will take an entire post to cover. But you’ll understand why Longines might appeal to you and not just drool over Rolex’s glaring value. That’s why the price difference is the first thing that jumps at you between the two watchmaker’s diver’s watch collections.

The HydroConquest ref. L3.883.4.96.9 (the most expensive model) costs around $3,000, and a Submariner No Date ref. 114060 (one of the cheapest models) costs anywhere from $11,000 to about $15,000. What makes Rolex more expensive? Do they have superior features to Longines’? Or are they overpriced, as rumored?

Diving

The HydroConquest can reach depths of 300 meters, while the Rolex Submariner is field tested for 300 meters. Of course, most wearers won’t take a swim to talk less of a dive with either, but it’s refreshing to know they’re equal in dive capacities.

Steel Casing and Bracelet

Both watches have corrosion-resistant ceramic bezels for underwater use and stainless steel case and bracelets. But the Submariner dorns Rolex’s famous and more functional oyster bracelet. Also, unlike the HydroConquest or any Longines steel strap, you can adjust the Submariner’s bracelet to 5mm without using tools to remove links.

In-House Movements

The Longines HydroConquest uses a self-winding automatic caliber that beats at 25,200 vibrations per hour. It’s built in-house and has a 40-hour battery reserve. On the other hand, Rolex’s Submariner No Date also uses a self-winding, in-house movement, the 3235 caliber. However, it’s two steps ahead of the HydrConquest, with its magnetic field resistance and 42-hour battery reserve feature.

Whether these features are worth the $12,000 value difference and hassle is up to you. If you are searching for a functional diver’s watch, the HydroConquest is well-qualified. But a connoisseur, wealthy fanboy, or diver would prefer a Submariner to stack his collection, enjoy the symbol status, or the battery edge.

Does Longines Retain Value?

Like any luxury watch brand, you may wonder if buying a Longines watch would prove a good investment. Of course, many folks buy a Rolex to hedge against inflation, but you may see a different value in a Longines.

Rolex is hailed as the King of Resale Value for a good reason. It’s basic economics. Demand for Rolex watches outstrips supply straight from the factory, so authorized dealerships are always out of stock or carry older models. So instead, determined investors or buyers shop from trusted online dealers, preferably with a verifiable store, but pay more than the official retail price.

Exquisite Timepieces, for instance, sells authentic, pre-owned, and unworn Rolex watches online and in-store in Florida. The only way you’re getting a Rolex effortlessly is if you’re an ambassador or notable figure who received one as a gift. Conversely, Longines has an official online store, and many trusted stores and distributors worldwide.

Read that again. Yes, distributors too. So you see how Rolex is the king of resale? Ultimately, the resale value – for any watch – depends on the previous owner’s status, model, and condition. Typically, a Rolex could see a 16% to over 100% increase in two years, but only a mint-condition Longines will scratch this value.

Pros of Longines

  • Affordable
  • Prestigious Swiss watchmaker
  • Micro-adjustable leather straps
  • Can be bought without a “wait list” in stores
  • Oldest active trademark logo
  • COSC-certified

Cons of Longines

  • No micro-adjustment in stainless steel bracelets
  • ETA-made caliber

Pros Of Rolex

  • Most valuable swiss watch manufacturing brand
  • One of the best bracelets in the watch industry
  • King of resale value
  • Exclusivity
  • All watch parts are made in in-house
  • COSC certified chronographs

Cons of Rolex

  • Time-consuming after-sale service due to exclusivity
  • Overwhelming replicas and fakes

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Longines Considered A Luxury Watch?

Yes, Longines is a luxury brand established in the 1800s. Although they use quartz movements, they also build mechanical movements in-house at their St-Imier factory. However, Longines is an entry-level watch brand offering watches that cost around $1,500 to about $7.000.

Is Longines an Entry Level Watch?

Yes, Longines carries many entry-level watches that cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000. Their best-selling models, Flagship Heritage and Conquest, sell for around as low as $1,500 and $800, respectively. However, some of their more pricy models with precious metals and complications, like the 47.50MM Longines Weems Second Setting Watch, sell for over $20,000.

Longines Vs. Rolex: Final Thoughts

In the end, Rolex is a better luxury watchmaker than Longines. As the largest swiss brand, it produces all its parts exclusively in-house, sponsors all walks of life, signals success, and is the king of resale value.

If you don’t fancy the attention and time-consuming after-sale service, Longines will appeal to you. And prefer a prestigious yet affordable vintage or modern timepiece. But if I had to pick between a Rolex and Longines (with no budget), I’d grab a Rolex model without a second thought.

What do you think? Was the Longines vs. Rolex comparison a fair battle? If you found this comparison interesting, share it with other watch lovers and collector friends in your circle. Check out the Exquisite Timepiece store for authentic, new, and pre-owned Rolex and Longines masterpieces.

Rolex vs Patek Phillipe

Both Rolex and Patek Philippe are incredibly iconic watchmakers known all throughout the world. These two companies are innovators and creators of their own original designs and have been leading the pack in the world of watchmaking.

Although these two are comparable, there are several big differences that make up each respective brand’s distinctive identity.

In this article, we will be looking at the similarities and differences between the two companies, and the pros and cons that come with each one. Though, there are more differences than similarities between the brands that we will discuss.

To begin this conversation, we have to talk about a sort of elephant in the room:

Why would you buy a Rolex over a Patek Philippe?

3 Rolex watches on display

The main reason one might consider a Rolex watch over a Patek Philippe one comes down to a unique factor that this brand holds true over every single other watchmaker out there: popularity and recognition.

For many decades, Rolex has expertly marketed itself better than any other brand in the game and has become synonymous with concepts such as wealth, fashion, success, style, and more. The company has overall become the epitome of a “luxury wristwatch” to the general public. The golden standard.

Simply think, if you asked someone right now about Rolex, who is generally not in touch with knowledge regarding wristwatches, they will very likely be guaranteed to be familiar with the brand and those concepts stated earlier. It is a company that has remained in pop culture for decades similar to Apple, Nike, Coke, etc.

On the other hand, if you ask that same person about Patek Philippe, there is a slight chance that they might not know anything about their company; as Patek is targeted towards people of very high wealth, more so than Rolex, and their niche market are already aware of their existence, reputation, and offerings.

From this one very unique factor from Rolex, there come other unique advantages as well. One of these being that there will always be a very high demand for their watches from people all over the world. What this means for Rolex owners is that if you purchase one of their watches, you are almost certainly guaranteed to be able to resell that watch–likely for an even higher price than what you bought it for. This is one extremely appealing advantage to any sort of investor looking into the brand.

Pricing

Rolex vs Patek Philippe pricing is another big differentiating factor between the companies. As alluded to earlier, Rolex watches generally retail for much less than Patek Philippe’s offerings; and this could either be a good or bad thing depending on what kind of value you are seeking.

Patek Philippe watches of course hold their value and appreciate similarly to Rolex, but the number of people who are able to afford the high cost of a $100,000 Patek Philippe watch is diminished as opposed to the amount of people who won’t have to sell their car after buying a $10,000 Rolex. From this standpoint, it really does depend on an individual’s personal preferences and lifestyle. 

To put this in perspective, at those prices listed earlier you could buy ten whole Rolex watches at the cost of that one Patek Philippe watch (if taxes didn’t exist).

To explore an example of this idea, let’s compare two of the most popular and iconic watches of each brand and ask a bit of a subjective question–Which is better, Rolex Submariner or Patek Philippe Aquanaut?

In this comparison, we find that the Submariner, as the name suggests, is designed for deep diving, having a high water resistance of 300m, and retails at around $10,000 – $40,000 usd. It is essentially built to withstand robust activities, has an outer timing bezel to time your dives or any other situation, and can be dressed up or down quite a bit.

The Patek Philippe Aquanaut on the other hand is also a type of “dive” watch withstanding 120m of water resistance, which is suitable for swimming but a bit riskier when diving,

Still, the Aquanaut is arguably more versatile than the Submariner. The reason for this is that it can be worn naturally with the highest end suit, but at the same time it can be rocked with jeans and a tee shirt. However this watch has a much wider range of price at approx. $30,000 – $130,000 usd.

So based on that, we once again find that this argument depends on an individual’s preferences and lifestyles. And speaking of lifestyles, that is another thing to consider when deciding between Rolex or Patek Philippe.

Types of Watches

Throughout the previous century, Rolex designed watches like the Submariner and their GMT to be robust and reliable in order to be used by personnel in the United States military. Doing so, they have created their catalog to consist of professional sport watches that have been tried and tested in true critical applications.

Additionally, their Explorer model was the primary watch provided by Rolex to be utilized by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in their expedition to become the first people to ever climb the top of the tallest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest.

Today, these models are still in production, updated every year, and are in very high demand. Models like these can be easily worn every day for any situation at 100m – 300m of water resistance with shock resistant movements.

On the other side of the spectrum, Patek Philippe’s highest water resistance timepieces come at 120m, which is not bad either, for the very popular Nautilus and Aquanaut. Extremely versatile and beautiful watches that are swimmable but are not able to be worn without precaution in deep diving or in heavy water sports as stated before.

These two watches are actually more so comparable to the Rolex Explorer in all of those regards.

Another very popular watch known from Patek is their Perpetual Calendar. This beautiful timepiece is a staple when it comes to dress watches with complex movements. On the dial, it features a day, date, month, even a leap year indicator, and most iconically, its moonphase.

It is important to note that the moon phase design was first introduced by Patek Philippe themselves, and now lives on in this iconic model of theirs.

This leads our conversation into the opposite standpoint previously taken:

Why would you buy a Patek Philippe over a Rolex?

Patek Philippe Store

Although Patek does not offer any sort of 200m – 300m water resistant dive watch, as they are not primarily a tool watch kind of company, what they instill instead are some the highest end works of art–and that is how one should look at Patek Philippe as a whole. 

When you think of it this way, those high prices are much more justified.

Think of a painting from a renowned artist. Now, that is simply colors being placed in specific areas of a canvas to make a work of art. Let’s say that painting sells for $100,000 like a Patek Philippe might. As a whole, the artist will likely have spent very little to create that art, as the real value comes from their name, talent, and work.

So although you might not know exactly who created your Patek Philippe watch, there is no denying that these are clearly artworks inside and out made by masters at their craft, consisting of precious metals, and house extremely advanced mechanical technologies inside the watches themselves. 

What’s more, these ‘art pieces’ can of course be used in real life applications of primarily telling time, as part of an outfit or ensemble, and can carry the stories of the people who have worn them in the past.

It is also important to emphasize the incredible complexity in the watches that Patek Philippe make. They strive to really push the boundaries in terms of what is possible to function inside a watch, using only mechanical features.

They can go from a simple date-only complication in a Nautilus, to their Grandmaster Chime, which boasts twenty (yes, twenty) separate complications. Patek truly have no limits, and I doubt that they will stop at that twenty.

While both companies create their own in-house caliber movements, Rolex mostly focus on perfecting their original designs in order to provide the most efficient and reliable movements possible, while Patek focus more on creating those complex designs with many complications added onto it.

Nevertheless, we cannot forget to mention this simple powerful fact: Patek Philippe was the company that started it all and created the very first wristwatch in the late 1800s. That could be all the information you need if you are looking for the winner between these two companies.

Design

In terms of exterior design, Rolex has created some of the most recognizable layouts that have become blueprints for all other watches designed today–which could either be a pro or a con depending on how you look at it.

Let’s start with the most obvious: the Submariner. The design of this watch with its geometric circles, rectangles, and triangle indexes, as well as the outer bezel’s timing layout, have been a standard in dive watch design for its form and functionality.

There is not much that can be improved in this and that is why it has rarely changed since its inception, and continues to thrive today. However, like stated before, this could be a con for some people as these designs are very often similarly seen in many other companies.

Because the design has somewhat reached a peak in simplicity and functionality, many others will struggle to come up with anything different, which leaves many of the same-looking watches all over the place.

However, that is what does make Rolex so sought after–they are THE original. But again, although some companies have managed to slightly break the mold, it is extremely difficult to change what is not already broken.

Now moving on to Patek Philippe, their outer designs are generally much more unique to their respective brand.  If you look around, you do not find many similar watch layouts like the Nautilus, Aquanaut, Perpetual Calendar, and especially not the Grandmaster Chime (I’d actually be shocked to see that). That can be a huge draw for someone looking for something very iconic, luxurious, but unique all at once.

Furthermore, Rolex cases and bracelets are very similar from model to model, such as their famous Oyster designs; whereas Patek Philippe seemingly strive to create differentiating and original cases for each one of their timepieces. So let’s summarize some of these points as they are commonly asked:

Frequently Asked Questions

Why would you buy a Rolex over a Patek Philippe?

Rolex has the unique advantage of popularity and recognition throughout the world; which Patek Philippe does as well, but Rolex is generally more known and accessible. Their average rough estimate price for one of their watches is somewhere around $15,000 usd, which is much less expensive than that of Patek Philippe’s. 

Furthermore, Rolex has its rich history in professional sport watches, which they continue to manufacture today, and that is what primarily makes up their catalog if that is what you are looking for. Lastly, the value of their watches become investable, as they often appreciate over time.

Why would you buy a Patek Philippe over a Rolex?

Now, Patek Philippe can be quite a bit more expensive than Rolex depending on the model and make, but they must be thought of more as functional works of art than watches, really. 
Moreover, their catalog consists of very unique designs that are not easily duplicated by other companies like the ones from Rolex are.  Like stated before, Patek Philippe are some of the most expensive timepieces out there, but they are also the most reputable and recognized from best of the best when it comes to that arena

Patek Philippe, Rolex, or Omega?

Another common debate being thrown around is that of Patek Philippe vs Rolex vs Omega. If we analyze these companies altogether, it is quickly evident that Patek Philippe is much more of a high end luxury and dressy brand, rather than a luxury sport watch one as both Rolex and Omega are.
Both Rolex and Omega have many more similarities than Patek Philippe in this regard, and they are real rivals when it comes to this.

Both have their own defining dive watches (Submariner vs Seamaster), ‘adventure’ type watches (Explorer vs Railmaster), chronographs (Daytona vs Speedmaster), and dress watches (Datejust vs Constellation)–just to name some of the more prominent categories. Both are also very highly marketed and recognized. Although Rolex definitely wins above all brands when it comes to that, Omega still holds its own against Rolex in that regard.

Nonetheless, their true differences lie in their price ranges, as Omega is a sort of entry-level in the world of luxury sport watches, ranging anywhere between approx. $3,000 – $15,000 usd. Whereas Rolex can range a bit higher in price as previously discussed. So this debate mostly depends on an individual’s preference in brand and their budget

Do Rolex or Patek Philippe keep more accurate time?

Interestingly, both companies likely average around the same time of accuracy. This is due to Patek’s incredibly complex movements with many different complications, and more complications mean more things that can vary an accuracy.

Meanwhile, Rolex have mostly focused on perfecting their movements with maybe one or two simple complications. After decades of testing, and thousands of people wearing their watches, Rolex have come a very long way in terms of functionality in their movements. And in doing so, they compete with Patek Philippe in the topic of accuracy.

Who was created first, Rolex or Patek Philippe?

Patek Philippe was founded in 1839, and Rolex in 1905. As previously discussed, Patek Philippe was also the company that first introduced the world to watches, but Rolex still has a lot of “firsts.”
For instance, they created the famous GMT movement for United States aviators in the 50s, which became one of their crowning (no pun intended) achievements. Patek, however, invented other features now commonly known such as the moon phase complication; which they still use in the Perpetual Calendar as one of their main lineups.

Conclusion

In summary, both Rolex and Patek Philippe are giants in the watchmaking industry. They pioneered many of the designs we see today, but they are not all that similar to one another overall. Rolex built their reputation based on creating professional sport watches to be tested in real life situations, and at the same time marketed those watches towards the average citizen. 

Whereas, Patek Philippe built their own brand based on perfecting the concept of a mechanical wristwatch, and pushing the boundaries in terms of materials, movements, complications, and designs overall.

Rolex is more affordable than Patek Philippe, but both are creators with distinct identities, rich histories, and iconic catalogs to choose from. So as stated before, choosing between these two comes down to an individual’s personal preferences, how they live their life, their budget, and the kind of value they seek. Or just get both, why not?

Panerai vs Rolex

If you’re still confused between Panerai and Rolex, then you’ve come to the right place! We’ll take a deep dive into the differences, similarities, and pros & cons of both the brands. Let’s begin with their origins and see how they came to be what they are today!

Panerai History- Early Years

Panerai was founded in 1860 by Giovanni Panerai in Florence, Italy. From its inception, the shop was both a retail establishment and one of the first watchmaking schools in Italy. By 1916, Panerai was producing high-precision instruments at the request of the Italian Royal Navy. As a requirement, the Navy wanted dials that could easily be read in the dark and underwater. 

Hence, the patented process of a highly luminous compound (originally a radium paste) was created and patented and the original “Radomir” was produced. This luminescence became a key element of the Panerai collection.

In 1936, the Radiomir prototype was developed for the Italian Royal Navy. These pieces needed to meet the parameters of a high-strength diving timepiece. This was accomplished by modifying a watch case supplied by Rolex which was referred to as the 2533 prototype.

By the 1940s the “Radiomir” had evolved into the instrument that most are familiar with today (ref. 3646). The characteristics of this watch consist of the following:

  1. A large cushion-shaped steel case with a 47mm diameter
  2. Highly luminous dial and markers
  3. Wire lugs that are welded to the watch case
  4. High-quality manual mechanical movement (at that time a Cortebert/Rolex 618 caliber.)
  5. A tan, water-resistant strap long enough to be worn over any protective clothing.

An additional advancement was the addition of a modified dial using overlapping discs, known as sandwich dials. The upper part consisted of anodized aluminum with perforated indexes and numbers to make the radium paste more luminescent and legible.

The Luminor

Panerai The Luminor

In 1949, the “Luminor” name was issued a separate patent due to the luminescent properties of the dial. Instead of a radium paste (which carried various risks due to emissions), Panerai developed a tritium-based substance, a hydrogen isotope, that was safer and did not sacrifice luminosity. Because of these developments, the patent was acquired and became synonymous with the dial qualities.

Another significant engineering feat was achieved in 1956, when Panerai, in developing a diving watch for the Egyptian Navy, introduced the patented crown-protecting device which is structurally most identifiable within the Panerai collection today.

Throughout the 1960s the “Luminor” continued to evolve and was improved upon. The crown protection bridge was adapted to the watch case and advancements were also made in its movement.  The Swiss-made Angelus SF240 mechanical movement featured an 8-day power reserve. This power reserve feature would become part of the very DNA of the brand.

Another major innovation is that some of the solid and closed-back watches were replaced with a plexiglass window allowing one to view the movement. At this time, Panerai was one of the first watch houses to outfit a watch accordingly. Today, this is a common feature on high-end brands bearing either mechanical or automatic watch movements.

Panerai Tourbillon in the 21st Century

As Panerai entered the 21st century, the first of many in-house created movements were introduced. In 2005 the P2002, a hand-wound mechanical with GMT  function and an 8-day power reserve was unveiled. Then, in 2007, the P2003, P2004, and P2005 were introduced. What distinguishes the P2005 is its most elegant tourbillon complication.

A tourbillon is an addition to the mechanics of a watch escapement to increase accuracy. In a tourbillon, the escapement and balance wheel are mounted in a rotating cage aiming to eliminate errors of poise in the balance giving a uniform weight. It was initially developed by the watchmaker Abraham Louis Brequet in 1795.

The unique characteristic of the Panerai tourbillon is that the cage housing the balance wheel and the escapement rotate on an axis that is not parallel to the balance wheel axis but perpendicular to it. Unlike traditional tourbillons in which the cage completes one rotation per minute, the cage in the Panerai completes one rotation in thirty seconds. Very innovative.

 Panerai continued to develop and create more in-house movements and incorporated more and more complicated features into their collection. In 2010, a commemorative watch and clock were introduced to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first celestial observations. Incorporating a variety of complications, these models continued to build on the creative and innovative reputation of the brand.

2013 saw the launch of the P9100 caliber, an automatic movement with a chronograph flyback function, the  P9100/R with a regatta countdown feature, and the P5000 caliber hand-wound movement with an eight-hour power reserve. A pocket watch with both GMT and a tourbillon with a ceramic case was also introduced to the watch world.

2014 saw Panerai open a brand new watchmaking facility in Neuchatel, Switzerland. The innovation continued with the P4000 caliber, an automatic movement distinguished by an off-centered oscillating weight.

Panerai Radiomir and Luminor Due

Over the past eight years, Panerai launched the Radiomir 1940-minute repeater carillon tourbillon and the new Luminor Due case. The Radiomir is the most complicated watch Panerai has ever produced. It incorporates the exclusive tourbillon regulator and the unique double repeater mechanism that chimes either local time or a second-time zone with the ability to sound every hour, every ten minutes, and every single minute using 3 hammers striking three different sounds.

A low sound for hours, an intermediate one for 10-minute periods, and a higher tone for minutes. The Luminor Due reflects the thinnest automatic movements ever created by Panerai and is faithfully inspired by the classic 1950s model.

Panerai Latest Innovations

Strides in using various materials such as carbon and the development of BMG-TECH which is a bulk metallic glass with a disordered atomic structure obtained through a high-pressure injection process at a high temperature further advanced the Panerai collection.

2018 was marked by the unveiling of two remarkable innovations, the first being the Lo Scienziato-Luminor tourbillon GMT with a 3D printed titanium case coupled with the P2005/T skeletonized movement with a tourbillon regulator. The second complication was the L’Astronomo-Luminor 1950 tourbillon moon phases equation of time GMT.

This is the first Panerai creation to have a moon phase indication and an innovative system using a polarized crystal to indicate the day. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the patented Luminor name, the company created a brilliant innovative model with a greater luminosity that is guaranteed for seventy-plus years.

Rolex’s History

Rolex, surprisingly, has been around for a far shorter time than Jaeger LeCoultre and compared to most other luxury Swiss brands. For a brand that has been around for less than 115 years, is an even greater testimony to the success of the Rolex brand and the reputation the company enjoys today.

Much of this success is attributable to Hans Wilsdorf, the English entrepreneur responsible for the creation of the brand. Though conceived in England, Wildorf created the Rolex brand in 1908 and would ultimately move the entire operation to Geneva, Switzerland, where he would create the first water-proof self-winding wristwatch with a perpetual rotor.

A patent was issued to Rolex in 1926 for the world’s first waterproof watch, which today is the oyster case. Rolex has filed for more than 500 patents over the history of its existence. These patents showcase their innovations that range from internal movements to their exclusive Cerachrom bezels and bezel inserts.

Cerachrom is a ceramic material that is virtually impervious to scratches and its color is unaffected by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Rolex today is a completely vertically integrated company with every step of the watch’s conception to completion performed by the Rolex team.

To assure the continued success and commitment to producing the highest quality timepieces, Rolex has an exclusive training center that educates, trains, and acclimates every employee to their culture of excellence as well as one of the most rigorous testing labs to ensure the integrity of every watch.

There is even a department of tribology where the scientific study of friction, wear, lubrication, and how moving parts interact in every aspect of a watch’s movement and physical parts exists to continue Rolex’s constant perfection in watchmaking.

Another attribute of the Rolex collection is its commitment to precision and accuracy. In this aspect, every Rolex is not only a certified chronometer but a superlative chronometer as reflected by the certificate and green seal that accompanies each wristwatch. The parameters of accuracy exceed those required by the COSC. which are -4/+6 seconds per day. The superlative identification reflects a deviation of -2/+2 seconds daily.

Panerai Luminor Marina vs. Rolex Submariner

Pnaerai Luminor vs Rolex Submariner

The Luminor Marina is available in different sizes and ranges from $8100-$13,900 with a top-of-the-line model offered at approx. $24,300 (available in a Goldtech case which is made of gold, 24% copper, and titanium).

The basic 44mm case models range from the strap version for $8100.00 or the all-steel version for approx. $8900.00. These models have a Panerai caliber P9001 31 jewel automatic movement. A Glucydor balance and the incabloc anti-shock mechanism as well as two barrels and a total of 200 components and a power reserve of three days complete the movement.

There is also a carbotech model available which has a carbon ceramic case and bezel and brushed titanium back. These models are water-resistant to 300 meters. These 44mm models are available in either blue, olive green, or dark gray with complimenting straps.

There is also a limited edition Luminor Marina which has a 47mm case and retails for approximately$10,100.00. This model has a Panerai P3001 caliber movement and is available with a dark brown dial and a brown strap.

Lastly, within the Marina collection, there are the ESteel models. They retail for approximately $8700. And have polished steel bezels. What differentiates these watches is that the cases are constructed of recycled materials comprising 58.4% of the weight of the case.

The  Submariner is one of the Rolex collection’s most popular watches. For comparison, I will elaborate on the features of the base model which is available in stainless steel in either a date or non-date version. The dimensions of the case are 41mm. Wide and 48 mm. From lug to lug. The lug width is 20 mm. And the case is 12.5 mm. Thick.

The heartbeat of this watch is an automatic mechanical caliber 3130 in-house manufactured Rolex movement. The watch has a power reserve of two days. The timepiece is outfitted with a sapphire crystal and a cerachrom bezel with markings filled with platinum PVD coating.

To round out its appearance the dial has “Blue” chromalight lume markers for easy visibility in the dark or underwater. Water resistance is rated at 300 meters. The approximate retail for the non-date model is $8950.00 and the date model is $10,100.00.

Panerai Submersible vs. Rolex Submariner

In comparing these two watches against one another, I refer you to the previous paragraph for technical details of the Rolex Submariner.

The Panerai Submersible has a 42mm. 316L  brushed stainless steel case and is also water resistant to 300 meters. The mechanical automatic movement is an in-house Panerai P9010 caliber that vibrates at 28,800 A/h. It features an incabloc anti shock device, glucydur balance, 2 barrels, a total of 200 components, and a power reserve capacity of 3 days.

One distinguishing feature of both the Submersible and the Luminor Marina is the ease with which the wearer can change straps and bracelets. This process is easier with the Panerai models than with most other Swiss luxury brands. The approximate retail price of the Submersible is $9300.00 retail.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Panerai Submersible superior to the Rolex Submariner?

Given the comparison of both timepieces and their attributes, both are superior-quality dive watches. The Rolex is the more recognizable of the two, but Panerai has a devout following of watch enthusiasts and professionals that swear by the brand, and production often falls short of demand for their watches. Either is a brilliant choice for a high-end Swiss luxury watch /  professional instrument.

Is the Panerai Luminor Marina a Better Choice than a Rolex Submariner?

As in the comparison of the Panerai Submersible and the Rolex Submariner, the same side-by-side analysis pertains to the Luminor Marine and the Submariner. Both have similar attributes and are water-resistant to the same depth. Both have luminous treatments for easy visibility in the dark and underwater.

The greatest departure is in the overall appearance of the timepieces. The Panerai case is highly unique whereas the Submariner possesses the distinct oyster case that has made Rolex famous. Both are on equal footing in aspects of quality and materials. The ultimate decision of which to purchase lies with the wearer and which watch they prefer to wear on their wrist.

Are the Panerai Luminor Marina and Submersible comparable to the Rolex Submariner in price points?

The suggested retail prices for each model are as follows;
-Panerai Submersible: $9300.00
-Panerai Luminor Marina: $8900.00
-Rolex Submariner (Date): $10,100.00

Does Rolex own Panerai?

Rolex does not own Panerai. Since 1997, Panerai has been part of the Richemont Group. This is a luxury goods conglomerate that owns other fine Swiss luxury brands such as Cartier and IWC.

Rolex and Panerai did work in partnership together in the 1930s. Their collaboration was built around Panerai’s luminous technology and Rolex’s patented waterproofing technology. The ultimate result was a dive watch produced for military use named the Radiomir. The watch had superior legibility underwater and in the dark.

What is the difference between the Panerai and Rolex Warranty?

Rolex offers a five-year warranty. Panerai’s warranty is for two years but can be extended to eight years if the purchaser registers the watch with the company online during the initial warranty period.

Is Panerai a better value than Rolex?

I believe that both are excellent values for the price paid. Each employs superior materials and is a meticulously crafted timepiece. One can spend far less to get a quality diver watch, but both of these brands are in a distinct class due to their history and exclusivity.

Does Rolex or Panerai Hold its Resale Value?

Rolex watches hold their value better than most other Swiss luxury watch brands. Due to their popularity and demand, the Rolex brand has a secondary market that is the envy of most brands. Panerai watches are also in high demand but are produced in far lesser quantities than Rolex. They do experience depreciation after purchase but do enjoy demand as used timepieces.

Who wears a Panerai watch?

Some of the individuals wearing Panerai watches are Mike Horn, the world’s greatest modern-day explorer, Gregorio Paltrinier, a world champion Olympic swimmer, and  Sylvester Stallone who chose to wear a Panerai in the 1996 film Daylight. Panerai timepieces are treasured for their accuracy and ruggedness among these types of elites.

In conclusion, both the Panerai and Rolex brands are excellent choices. They each reflect distinctly different designs but are each diver worthy and reflections of the taste and discerning choice of the wearer. The Panerai may be more of a conversation piece and enjoy a more colorful history, but the Rolex is also a great-looking alternative and speaks for itself due to its recognizability as a swiss luxury watch

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