The Submariner has the distinction of being one of the most influential and emulated luxury sports watches, transcending generations, gender, and decades. It also holds the dubious honor of being the most counterfeited sports luxury watch on the market. You can say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. There is no doubting the place of this iconic watch in the history of watchmaking and among watch collectors and enthusiasts.
From the humble beginnings of a practical diving watch, submariners have grown in stature and reverence. They’re a symbol of prestige, luxury, and the pursuit of perfect simplicity. The Submariner is known all over the world as a cultural icon and one of the most important watches in the history of timepieces.
This Rolex model introduced the concept of specialty watches to the world. Before the first Rolex Submariner hit the market, the reference 6204, most people owned one watch designed and used for everything and on every occasion without being particularly good at anything. The entry of submariners allowed owners to use their watches for every occasion while also meeting the specific needs of divers.
While there were precursor diving watches (such as the all-time great, the Rolex Oyster – the world’s first waterproof watch), the submariner was the first diving watch that was waterproof up to 100 meters. To test their claim, Rolex, in collaboration with the Institute for Deep Sea Research located in Cannes, tested the Submariner over a series of 132 dives. Notably, the watch has a 60-minute rotating timing bezel meant to help divers keep track of how long they’ve been underwater.
Today’s Submariners are rated waterproof up to a depth of 300 meters. On the aesthetic front, Rolex has maintained the general look and feel of the Submariner over the different facelifts. In the 1970s, Rolex introduced Subs. with more colorful faces, such as yellow gold, bright blue, and two-tone designs. These designs are still available with the latest release of the Sub.
For the 50th anniversary of the Rolex Submariner in 2003, Rolex released a special edition – the Submariner-Date Reference number 16610 LV. It featured a Maxi dial encased in a green bezel. In 2008, Rolex released three solid gold Submariners. The 116618 LB featured a yellow gold and blue bezel and dial. The 116618 LN was made of solid gold and has a black dial and bezel, while the 116619 LB was made of white gold and featured a blue bezel and blue dial.
In 2010, Rolex released the now nicknamed "Rolex Hulk." Reference number 116610V. It was a refresh and upgrade to the Submariner-Date edition 16610V. It features a green dial and a green bezel.
Through the years, Rolex has updated the Submariner, incorporating better water resistance and updating the movements. For instance, the White Gold Submariner (Reference number 116619LB) introduced the Cerachrom bezel to the Submariner range of watches. Rolex's Cerachrom is a patented material made from extremely hard ceramic. Aside from being impervious to scratches and corrosion, the bezel also improved the waterproofness of the submariner. It also ensures the dial isn’t affected by UV rays from the sun.
Additionally, modern-day Subs. feature the Triplock winding down, which enhances the watertight security of the watch up to a depth of 300m.<
The current crop of Submariners, the Ref. 124060 (the ‘no-date’ model) and the Ref. 1266xx, feature a 41mm case and a new movement, the Calibre 3230, with a 70-hour power reserve.
In the past 5 to 10 years, purchasing a submariner at retail has been increasingly difficult, and at times impossible. Most watch enthusiasts are forced to jump through many hoops to have a chance of purchasing a Rolex Submariner. It is now common for Submariner buyers to purchase several Rolex watches of different models, even if they don’t necessarily want them, just to build a rapport with official Rolex retailers. In doing this, they might get an opportunity to buy a Submariner. Alternatively, new buyers have to endure extremely long wait times.
Luckily, we have stocked a range of Subs. for you to add this icon to your collection. Go here to see our entire collection of Rolex Submariner watches.