While I have a passion for watches and watch collecting, I also have a passion for guitars and guitar collecting. Both watches and guitars have massive cult followings for specific brands, creating comparisons and arguments regarding better watches, guitars, etc. In reality, these comparisons don’t make sense. Some of the biggest battles are between Gibson and Fender, Rolex and Omega, so let’s look at these comparisons.
Let’s look at the Les Paul Standard and the American Standard Stratocaster for the guitars. The constant debate is always the Gibson Les Paul vs the Fender Stratocaster. Both guitars are iconic and date back to the very beginnings of the electric guitar. The Les Paul was released in 1952, the Stratocaster was released in 1954, yet both look entirely different. The Les Paul has a single cutaway (Single Cut) by the neck joint, while the Stratocaster has a double cutaway (an S-type.) Both guitars implement different tonewoods (commonly, mahogany for a Les Paul, alder for a Stratocaster); electronics, two humbuckers on a Les Paul, three single coils for a Stratocaster. Hardware and construction and are like apples and oranges, yet they compete with each other. Why?
It all comes down to who favours what and who the player holds close to their heart. Some players grew up watching Zakk Wylde with his bullseye Les Paul or Gary Moore with “Greeny”–his 1959 Les Paul. Others have grown up with players like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, who play Fender Stratocasters. The competition is purely preference. While to some, it makes no sense because they’re different instruments in terms of playability and sound, the loyalty of their players makes all the difference.
When comparing the Swiss watchmaking giants Rolex and Omega, this is a tighter race than the guitars mentioned. Rolex and Omega both have dive watches, dress watches, chronographs, and racing-themed watches in their catalogues. Yet, again, this all comes down to consumer preference and where their heart takes them. It can be as simple as someone preferring one brand over the other because of aesthetics or going as deep as loving one brand over another for its history and impact on humankind (NASA as an example with Omega). Both brands have extensive tie-ins with specific industries, organizations and sports; again, it comes back to preference and what speaks to you.
If we get a little more technical with the internals of both brands, they have produced some beautiful and evolutionary movements. Rolex created the Superlative Chronometer, which offers a more accurate oscillator and superior shock resistance. Omega created the Co-Axial escapement through George Daniels in 1999. By creating smaller contact spaces, the Co-Axial requires less lubrication, creating a more reliable movement.
Rolex and Omega are fantastic brands with a wide range of styles to suit all collectors and have created gorgeous timepieces. At the end of the day, whether it’s guitars, watches, cars, motorcycles or anything collectable, it comes down to personal preference and opinion. Many people get competitive when it comes to things they love, so do yourself a favour and look at that brand you say you don’t like and grow an appreciation for all things in the watch world.
About the author
Born into a family obsessed with motorsport, Tyler Frederick became enamoured with speed and beautiful cars at a young age. His love of Formula 1–and all things mechanical–eventually lead him to horology. Tyler also writes for Montres Publiques. You can follow him on Instagram.
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