The Rolex Submariner RangeBack to Articles
For many people, when you think of a Rolex watch, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner 126610, (or simply the Rolex Submariner as it is almost exclusively referred to), is what you will think of. The clean and classic design has remained virtually unchanged since its release in 1954. It is widely considered the staple of the modern tool watch, and is said to be ‘the reference point among divers watches’ by Rolex themselves.
The Rolex Submariner range is offered by Rolex as part of their ‘Professional Watches’ collection, alongside the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, Rolex Sea-Dweller, Rolex GMT-Master II, Rolex Yacht-Master, Rolex Explorer, Rolex Milgauss, and Rolex Airking. With the Rolex Submariner being one of the most desirable of the range.
With its impressive water resistancy of 300 metres (1000 feet), the latest Rolex Submariner (reference 126610) is a worthy ancestor to the first waterproof wristwatch, the Rolex Oyster. The Rolex Oyster was created by Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf at the beginning of the 20th century, to replace the pocket watches that were commonly in use at the time. His new water and dust resistant watches were an effort to create a market for the ever changing lifestyle of the people at the time, particularly catering to the rise in popularity of outdoor activities and sports, where pocket watches would be too fragile and would not be able to be relied on. On 7th October 1927 Mercedes Gleitze became the first British woman to swim across the English Channel, and to promote the waterproof qualities of Wilsdorfs work, on her wrist she wore a Rolex Oyster.
The first Rolex Submariner was announced in 1954 at the Basel watch fair (ref. 6204), having spent a year in development after a man by the name of René-Paul Jeanneret,(who sat on the board of directors at Rolex), came up with the idea to make a divers watch. The sleek yet sporty design, used the Oyster case technology to make an everyday watch that had a rotating bezel allowing divers to keep track of how much time had passed. Because a professional diver has no need to check the current date while diving, it is not until 1966 that we see a Rolex Submariner with a date function, in an effort to make the Rolex Submariner more attractive to everyday people. Rolex fitted this date version (ref. 1680) with a cyclops on the glass to magnify the date showing through the window in the dial at the 3 o’clock position. And today we can see both date and non-date variants side by side in the current line-up of Rolex Submariners.
On 1st September 2020, Rolex released their latest iteration of the Rolex Submariner. Replacing the previous line of Submariner watches, this new and improved model would have many new features, the most notable of which being the new movement, the calibre 3235. Replacing the rather outdated calibre 3135 used in the previous models, the new calibre 3235 has a 70 hour power reserve, a tolerance of +2/-2 seconds per day, and a Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, a part made up of niobium and zirconium, and a patented Rolex innovation that helps with the movements’ resistance to shock and magnetic fields. This new movement gives the new Rolex Submariners a model number beginning with the numbers 12 (126610) as opposed to the now outdated 11 model numbers (116610). As well as a change to the model number, Rolex Submariners with the new 32 series of movements are identified like the rest of Rolex perpetual watches, with a small printed Rolex logo on the watch dial at 6 o’clock.
The new Rolex Submariner range also brings with it a new 41mm case size, compared to the previous models 40mm. The 904L stainless steel Oyster bracelet has also been updated, with a wider fitting width of 21mm, sitting between the redesigned slimmer lugs. Despite the changes brought with the new 124060LN, the Rolex Submariner remains largely unchanged, keeping its instantly recognisable profile, ceramic scratch proof unidirectional rotatable bezel, and folding Oysterlock clasp with its Glidelock extension system. The 124060LN Rolex Submariner has a total of 11 links + 1 half sized link, this is also different compared to the previous model that had 12 full sized links in the bracelet.
The new range of Submariners saw a discontinuation of the ever popular 116610LV. With its eye catching green dial and bezel it quickly gained the nickname “The Hulk”. The 116610LV was replaced by the new 126610LV, a modern take on the older 16610LV. Released to commemorate 50 years of the Rolex Submariner in 2004, and just like the new 126610LV, the 16610LV had a black dial and a green bezel, and had the nickname “The Kermit”.
The new range of Submariners also sees a discontinuation of the 116619LB, the only white gold Rolex Submariner in the Submariner range. With its 18ct white gold case and Oyster bracelet, combined with its striking blue dial and bezel, the watch was commonly referred to as ‘The Smurf’. Similar to the green dialled ‘Hulk’, the 116619BL has been replaced with an updated version of the watch (126619LB), now with a black dial to contrast with the royal blue ceramic bezel, and 18ct white gold case and bracelet.
Apart from the new introductions, the new Rolex Submariner range is largely unchanged, with 3 stainless steel models:
• Black bezel and black dial with date at 3 o’clock (126610LN)
• Black bezel and black dial with no date (124060LN)
• Green bezel and black dial with date at 3 o’clock (126610LV)
2 stainless steel and 18ct yellow gold models:
• Black bezel and black dial with date at 3 o’clock (126613LN)
• Blue bezel and blue dial with date at 3 o’clock (126613LB)
2 solid 18ct yellow gold models:
• Black bezel and black dial with date at 3 o’clock (126618LN)
• Blue bezel and blue dial with date at 3 o’clock (126618LB)
And 1 sold 18ct white gold model:
• Blue bezel and black dial with date at 3 o’clock (126619LB)
The Rolex submariner is currently one of the hardest watches to get hold of, with waiting lists of up to 3 years to obtain one from a Rolex authorised dealer. With the demand for these watches being so high, it does of course mean that they are often sold at a much higher price than the RRP when offered on the used watch market, with discontinued models commanding even higher prices as investment opportunities.
Author C Lawson