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Rolex VS Zenith

Today we will compare two very popular luxury watch brands, Rolex and Zenith to determine which is the best brand for you.

I'm often asked "What's better, a Rolex or a Zenith watch?" and this is the exact kind of question that you should ask before making a high consideration purchase such as a luxury watch. Furthermore, this question can hold multiple different contexts such as: "Which brand is more popular", "Which brand makes more complicated watches",  "Which brand makes higher quality watches?" or even "Which has a better resale value?" etc. The real question is "Better in terms of what?" All these will be answered in our in-depth comparison of Zenith and Rolex. Let's begin, shall we?

Rolex VS Zenith

Historically speaking, Zenith is an older brand than Rolex and has been manufacturing watches for nearly 35 years longer than Rolex. However, Rolex has been making great use of their time building up their brand to the point that they now manufacture approximately 2,000 Rolex watches per day.

Popularity

Which Brand is More Popular? This is going to be an easy question to answer. Rolex is a more popular and famous brand than Zenith. Despite being a significantly younger brand, they managed to climb to the very top of the food chain. The Rolex brand is actually #3 in the top 50 most valuable Swiss brands and that makes it the #1 most recognizable Swiss watch brand. Zenith, although a very popular luxury watch brand, never made it to the list.

Source: Interbrand, a brand valuation agency which benchmarked the top 50 most popular Swiss brands...many of which are Swiss watchmakers.

Resale Value

Zenith VS Rolex: Which brand Holds Value Best? Rarely does someone ever think of selling a watch before they buy it but it is wise to think about this when considering a high-ticket item. The resale value is important because in the event that you ever needed to sell the watch you want to make sure that you get back as much as possible when doing so.  

That said, the average resale value of a Zenith is lower than a Rolex. While Zenith is a lower market brand than Rolex and this may be an explanation but to be frank, Rolex will hold a higher average resell value over any other brand, including the most expensive tier 1 luxury watch brands. So this doesn't take away much from Zenith since it finds itself in the same predicament as every other watchmaker in this regard.

Prices

Rolex versus Zenith Prices: An entry-level men's Zenith watch such as the Elite classic 39mm starts at a retail list price of $4,700. For the ladies, the most affordable Zenith watch is the Zenith Star 33mm which starts at about $100 less.

The cheapest new Rolex watch available will run you about $1000 more than the cheapest Zenith watch and that would be the Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39mm. Mind you, this is one of those situations where you should also take into consideration the resale value when crunching the numbers.  Watches are like cars in the sense that as soon as you use it, a good chunk of the value is already lost.

Accuracy & Precision

What is more accurate, a Zenith or a Rolex? One of the things that these two watch brands are great at is accuracy, yet each in their own special way. Rolex makes a superior mechanical caliber when it comes to overall accuracy and precision. Their movements are even more accurate than the standard COSC chronometer.

This is why you will see the words "Superlative Chronometer" on the dials of modern Rolex watches. This means that the watch has an accuracy which a deviation threshold of +2/-2 seconds per day. The standard COSC certified watch is -4/+6 seconds per day.

Zenith, on the other hand, has an iconic and highly precise chronograph movement (a movement with a stopwatch function). In fact, when it was first released in 1969, after 7 years of development,  it was the very first automatic chronograph in history. Their legendary El Primero movement is a high-beat caliber that resonates at 36,600 VpH and can be used to measure time in a highly precise way.

Furthermore, the El Primero movement was the very caliber that powered the Rolex Daytona many moons ago before Rolex started only using in-house calibers in their watches.

Horological Complications

This is an area where Zenith shines brighter than the very star that inspired their brand name. In terms of horology many will judge a brand by how complicated their watches can get. Many brands are admired for their added features. In watchmaking this is referred to as "complications". Some examples of high complications are perpetual calendars, minute repeaters, and of course, tourbillons which are usually considered by most to be "la crème de la crème" in terms of complications since only few manufactures are able to create these mesmerizing complications. Zenith created the first high-beat tourbillon which oscillates at 36,000 VpH or 5Hz which adds an extra level of prestige to their brand.

Rolex doesn't manufacture any tourbillon watches. Some after-market companies have been adding them to the Milgauss watches lately but Rolex doesn't make them. Rolex does has some manufactured some pretty complicated movements of their own such as the Rolex in-house caliber 9001 found in the Sky Dweller which holds 14 patents. While this is a very impressive movement, to say the least, the brand has never aligned themselves with haute-horlogerie (high-horology watches) the way Zenith did with the introduction of their 1-minute and 5Hz tourbillons. Rolex, according to most people is a high-end brand that manufactures excellent tool-watches that offer higher-than COSC Chronometer accuracy.

Conclusion

Both of these brands make excellent watches. Rolex watches, specifically their sports models such as the Submariner, GMT Master II are known to be built tough as nails. They are often used as the "beater watch" for many luxury watch collectors that are looking for a wristwatch that can take a little punishment all the while maintaining impressive accuracy.

Zenith watches are slightly more affordable than a Rolex and offer great value with their highly precise chronographs. They don't hold their value the way a Rolex would and in the defense of Zenith, neither does any other brand for that matter.

If you enjoyed this comparison and feel that others would enjoy it too, please like and share it. Thanks!

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