Is Rolex actually better than Omega, or just Rolex’s expert marketing team is brainwashing us? Well, this is an incredibly daunting question, we hear it all the time, “Why is Rolex better than Omega?”, “Is Rolex better than Omega?“, and the much rarer question “Is Omega better than Rolex?“. Let’s focus on Rolex and Omega separately and then we are going to see what “went wrong with Omega” to have Rolex generally seen as being a higher tier. Let’s dive into the question “Is Rolex better than Omega”.
Let’s focus on Rolex
Rolex on paper is actually a much younger company than Omega. Rolex was officially founded in 1920. Early on, Rolex attained some pretty impressive achievements because in 1926, only six years after they were officially founded, Rolex created the proprietary waterproofing system that is the Oyster case with the threaded crown, making Rolex one of the first companies to ever use a threaded crown. Sure, all that really cool technology is impressive, but the best thing Rolex ever did for their company early on was creating a product line and not deviate from it. We’re going to have to forget that the Cellini series was ever a thing because they made way too many of them, kind of what Omega made, and Cellini never was very popular or wasn’t very prominent so we “forget” Rolex Cellini.
For the most part, consistency is key, and Rolex knew that and ever since the 1920s. they’ve created a catalog and they’ve been very stubborn and very rigid and they have not deviated from their products and the consumer base has rewarded them for it.
Nowadays, people complain that Rolex is scared of trying new things, they’re not risky enough, they don’t want to deviate from their catalog, but Rolex is doing this deliberately. They know that this fosters effective communication with their consumer base, people know what they’re getting when they get a Rolex, but most importantly people have a very clear image of what a Rolex is and people know immediately what they want and that’s invaluable to Rolex. Rolex wants that!
So this effective communication, the stubborn rigidity to their catalog, the confidence that their consumer base has with Rolex, all this has allowed them to expand and have the hugest brand equity out of any watch company ever.
Finally the last positive about Rolex is that they’re not controlled by any larger watch company. Rolex is controlled by a family trust technically, so no one really calls the shot except for Rolex, and this is in contrast to Omega.
Let’s take a look at Omega
Omega on paper is a much older company than Rolex, officially founded in 1848. We will start with the fact that Omega has made way too many watches throughout the years. They started in 1800s and they’ve been just churning out reference numbers ever since, having really obscure, random and confusing reference numbers. The unfortunate thing for them is that this is the exact opposite of what Rolex has done for their company.
Again, people criticize Rolex for not being risky enough and not deviating from their main catalogue, but Omega deviates from their catalog all the time and no one really knows a lot about their different watches. People know about the Speedmaster, Seamaster, maybe people know about the Railmaster, but not really.. But because all the obscure reference numbers, people missed some really cool watches throughout the years. To recap, a whole lot of reference numbers. a whole lot of variations a whole lot of movements.. It doesn’t do well for Omega.
Another big difference between Omega and Rolex is that Omega is controlled by Swatch group, and that means Swatch group can control what movements Omega uses, they can control where Omega is allowed to go or not, like for example Omega is not allowed to go to Baselworld, and that’s not good for Omega.
While all these heavy hitters like Rolex, Panerai, Vacheron, and some really high-level companies are showing off their new watches, Omega is not even allowed to be spoken about, because they just won’t go because Swatch group won’t let them go. This is business 101, the worst thing a brand can do for themselves is be obscure and that’s exactly what Swatch group is doing for their brands when they don’t let them show up at Baselworld. The more people see you, the more people talk about you and hopefully the more consumers you will have.
Another interesting thing that Omega did brandwise, is the fact that they kind of always seems to be playing catch-up with Rolex. Some older generations when they think James Bond they think Rolex. In the novels and in the movies James Bond wore either Rolex Explorer or some people say it was a Submariner. Definitely, Sean Connery wears a Rolex Submariner as James Bond but then in the books, it says that it had a numeral bezel so some people say it was an Explorer and some people say it was a Submariner. either way, it was definitely a Rolex sports watch. The younger generations will recall James Bond wearing an Omega Seamaster. We don’t state that the Omega Seamaster is a Rolex wannabe, we just point the fact that the James Bond wears a Rolex before Omega.
One big plus we have to give to Omega is that they subjectively have always made better coronagraphs than Rolex, the only issue is again Omega just made way too many of them. A lot of random reference numbers, random variations instead of sticking with what the customer know and make them good.
To recap Omega is an older company than Rolex but in our opinion they played it a little bit loose. They’ve made way too many reference numbers, they’ve made way too many different kinds of watches. When you think Omega you probably just think Speedmaster. They’ve deviated too much throughout the years. Looks like now they’re doing a better push into cleaning up their catalog, but unfortunately, the damage has been done brand-equity wise. The majority of people when they think of a watch, they think Rolex but they don’t necessarily think Omega, and for that reason, we think Omega is stuck playing catch-up with Rolex.