As another week comes to an end, the time for Sunday Morning Showdown is here. This week, it’s a battle between two titanium dive watches from two of the most popular watch brands. Titanium watches have been around for decades, but they’ve recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. Many brands have joined in by releasing titanium alternatives to steel watches and even titanium-only models. The metal lends itself well to chunky sports watches, where shedding some weight favors the larger dimensions. We decided to take a titanium diver from both Rolex and Omega and put them up against each other.
The recent titanium Rolex Yacht-Master 42 released during Watches and Wonders this year was an obvious choice. We’ve paired it against the Omega Seamaster Professional 300M released for the last of Daniel Craig’s silver-screen outings as Bond in No Time To Die. Two titanium divers from two of the world’s most popular watch brands battle it out today. In the Rolex corner is Nacho with the new titanium Yacht-Master 42 ref. 226627. And in the Omega corner is Daan with the titanium Seamaster Diver 300M ref. 220.127.116.11.01.001. Which of these titanium titans will take the win today? The choice is yours! But first, let’s take a look at last week’s winner.
Last week’s victor: the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor
Last week, the Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor went up against the H. Moser & Cie. Streamliner Centre Seconds. In the end, it was the Parmigiani that emerged victorious with a 14% margin. Many of you commented that it was a tough one, and I must agree. Both of these watches do what they do exceptionally well, offering an integrated-bracelet luxury sports watch with an in-house Haute Horlogerie movement. The Moser’s futuristic yet oddly organic lines and fumé salmon dial were no match for the Parmigiani’s more traditional profile and guilloché dial. But reading your comments, the difference in thickness was a deciding factor. It looks like Moser will have to sharpen its filleting knife to cut a thinner slice of its smoked salmon and try again in a future installment. For now, you have your winner — the lovely Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda PF Micro-Rotor.
Nacho: Rolex Yacht-Master 42 titanium ref. 226627
In today’s matchup, I find myself in a bit of a conundrum. I don’t hate the Seamaster, nor do I have too many bad things to say about it. In fact, I quite like the watch. However, I do prefer the titanium Yacht-Master 42. So in trying to keep things brief, I’ll only touch upon some of the critical weaknesses of the Seamaster, which famously has one or two, and keep the attacks based on personal preference to a minimum. There’s only one there for me to point out. But before we get into that, let’s take a look at why I love the Rolex Yacht-Master (words I never thought I’d write).
Rolex has not done much that I find truly appealing since the end of the five-digit-reference era. The glossy, luxurious nature of new Rolexes doesn’t do the trick for me. Clearly, it’s not a feeling shared by most, but it saves me both the heartache of waiting lists and the money pit that is the secondary market. I’ve spoken about how the one Rolex I’d aspire to own is the Explorer II ref. 16570. I’ve heard it called “the least Rolex of all Rolexes,” but I don’t quite agree. Rather, it is unlike the other Rolexes of today, even those that share its name.
This is something that can also be said about the Yacht-Master 42 in titanium. It’s an odd departure from the norm. It even goes against the luxurious roots of the Yacht-Master name, famously an opulent alternative to the classic (and more pedestrian) Submariner. This departure from the norm established by the brand is a key part of what I find appealing about the titanium Yacht-Master 42. It doesn’t use any precious metals. It’s not shiny at all. Quite the opposite, its brushed surfaces, coupled with the darker tone of titanium and a matte black bezel and dial, make it closer to the familiar and extremely capable Tudor Pelagos than any other watch in Rolex’s current catalog.
An unexpected yet welcome shift
I first saw the titanium Rolex Yacht-Master 42 in the window of Rolex’s booth at Watches and Wonders. I hardly had time to soak it in amid the rush of it all, but I remember finding it odd. Later that day, in a meeting room deep within the bowels of the Rolex booth, I realized why. It was the black sheep in the herd. Among a flock of gilded, colorful, and shiny sheep, this was the outlier, and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Once I put it on my wrist, I didn’t notice any of the other watches brought out. This watch felt like a sharp left turn in the otherwise-steady straight line that Rolex tends to drive. In that sense, it was as exciting as it was charming with its sharp lines, matte surfaces, lightweight titanium, and the undeniable charisma of a Rolex diver.
I couldn’t believe it. It felt like an impossibility in the current state of the Rolex universe. Something that I didn’t know I wanted or even thought would ever happen but that was very much real and absolutely brilliant. I’ll address its Achilles’ heel before going any further. Sure, the Yacht-Master looks like a dive watch. It even has the bezel of a dive watch. But it’s only water resistant to 100 meters. It should be said that this is a number that Rolex puts down on paper. The watch still has a screw-down crown, and we know that these tests are always carried out with a 30% margin (at least) over the stated water resistance. That coupled with Rolex’s standards of quality should mean that it will be more than enough for most people’s use of the watch.
Quality through and through
I promised I’d give some fair criticism to the Omega, and I’ll get to that soon. But first, I want to get to my final pro-Rolex argument. And that’s the incredibly high level of quality that you can expect from a modern Rolex watch. Whether you love or hate the brand (and its infamous waitlisting practices), it’s hard to deny the consistency with which it produces watches to the highest quality standards. Holding one in your hand, you can feel it. From the watch head to the bracelet, it’s all as sturdy and expertly made as possible. There’s a certain inexplicable something to Rolex watches that oozes quality, and the titanium Yacht-Master 42 is no exception. On the other hand, I seem to recall the Seamaster’s mesh bracelet having significant issues. I have also heard that this weirdly overlapping bracelet is as uncomfortable as it is hard to get to fit perfectly.
For a watch that is now priced at almost €11,000, you’d expect better. Some might have an issue with the crown for the helium escape valve and even with the “fauxtina” lume. To me, one is a classic staple of the 300M, and the other is simply a design choice, a color picked to elevate the aesthetic. However, I will critique the AR coating that Omega used. Having only briefly worn this watch, it was truly difficult to tell the time through the glare when standing by a window. My final argument is that it almost feels like a piece of Bond merchandise first and an Omega watch second. To me, the direct association with a big film franchise is simply too distracting. In both quality and looks, the Yacht-Master is a clear winner here.
Daan: Omega Seamaster Diver 300M titanium 18.104.22.168.01.001
I agree, Nacho, that the Milanese bracelet on the Seamaster is not up to par with Rolex’s Oyster bracelet. It’s too bulky (especially at the clasp), there’s no taper, and I don’t like those big gaps it leaves between the lugs. I also think that paying a €1,300 premium for it over the version on the excellent Omega Bond NATO strap is a bit much. But I’d suggest you get the Seamaster on that very nice NATO strap and forget about the bracelet. That’s also the way Bond would wear it anyway. I know you don’t care about that all too much, but still.
To imply, though, that the watch itself can’t compete with the Yacht-Master’s level of quality is a bit much, I think. All right, the Seamaster’s bezel might be made of aluminum instead of ceramic. But I truly think that the level of finishing on both of these watches is very comparable. And let’s not forget about Omega’s more advanced (in my eyes) Co-Axial and Master Chronometer-certified caliber 8806. It’ll likely have longer service intervals, and it’s more accurate than the Yacht-Master’s automatic movement.
It’s not a special agent’s watch; it’s just a special watch
In terms of looks, just like Nacho, I quite like both these watches. The Rolex designers did a great job with the brand-new Yacht-Master 42. But as I think a titanium watch will probably not be your first watch in the collection, its design could be a little more daring. Again, the titanium Yacht-Master looks great, but its design is a bit on the safe side, right? If it weren’t for that black ceramic relief bezel, you might even think it’s a titanium version of the brand’s famous Submariner. And that’s exactly why I appreciate the Seamaster’s bolder design choices.
Heck, it might actually be my favorite version of Omega’s Seamaster 300M. Like Nacho, I don’t see that creamy orange color that Omega used for the lume and the bezel as fauxtina. To me, it looks more like a nice color that matches the dark brown aluminum bezel and dial perfectly. Both of those also work fantastically with the darker gray tones of the titanium bezel ring and case. But I absolutely don’t agree with what Nacho said about it being a piece of Bond merchandise first.
Apart from the broad arrow on the dial at 6 o’clock, there’s nothing else that tells you this is a special-edition watch. And that’s exactly what I appreciate so much about it. Some previous versions of Bond Seamasters had “007” written all over them. This one, by contrast, only mentions Bond’s code name on the case back, among many other numbers. And I think that’s great because you don’t necessarily have to like James Bond to like this version of the Seamaster, unlike many of the previous versions.
What I also really like about this Seamaster is that, apart from the fact that it’s made out of titanium, it’s also 0.6mm thinner than the regular stainless steel version. I think the only difference is that the sapphire crystal is a bit flatter than that of the regular one. But as I find that the 42mm case usually wears a bit big on my wrist, every little bit helps to improve wearability. And together with the fact that it’s more lightweight, I feel this is the best-wearing Seamaster 300M in the current lineup.
Additionally, although the overall measurements of these two watches are very comparable, I still think the Seamaster wears better on the wrist. It might be because of the Omega’s twisted lugs, but the Rolex just feels a bit too long from tip to tip, at least for my wrist.
Now it’s up to you!
Well, there you have it, people. These lightweight divers from two watch-industry giants have gone head to head. But which one emerges victorious is your choice. Will it be the new Rolex Yacht-Master 42 in titanium? Or would you rather go with Bond’s choice, the titanium Omega Seamaster Diver 300M from No Time To Die? Be sure to vote below for your favorite, and tune in next week to see which of these two watches took the victory!