A vintage overview
Rolex Submariner 6204 The birth of the first Rolex Submariner presumably takes place at the end of 1953 but the official presentation is dated ’54, on the occasion of the Basel Fair.
The new model is distinguished by the ref. 6204 and is guaranteed waterproof up to 100m / 330ft.
It is powered by the classic A.260 caliber, used on numerous other models of the period, and immediately recognizable by the presence of the rounded case-back.
The case has rather small dimensions (diameter 37mm) and is characterized by the bidirectional rotating bezel, similar to that used on the Rolex Turn-O-Graph 6202 also created in ’53.
However, the graduated insert changes, which is divided into sections of 5 minutes, alternating bars with Arabic numerals, and has a luminous dot at 12 o’clock.
It is expressly designed to measure the time spent diving, providing valuable information to the diver.
The dial is black, lacquered or with a honeycomb finish, with golden graphics and continuous small parts; the ball game is of the pencil type, with the second hand equipped with a luminous disk at the end.
The writings on the dial, while maintaining the same graphic font, may have different dispositions.
The prerogative of this reference is the particular winding crown, with a diameter of only 5.3mm and marked with the typical cross.
During 1954, after about a year of production, Rolex presented the successor of the Submariner 6204, the 6205 model.
The new reference maintains the main characteristics of the previous one, limiting itself to introducing some slight changes.
The caseback now has a more pronounced camber and the winding crown sees the diameter increase until it reaches 6mm.
Aesthetically it is almost indistinguishable from the Rolex Submariner 6204, of which it constitutes a sort of evolution.
During the same year the Submariner ref. 6200, the first model to guarantee a maximum reachable depth of 200m / 330ft.
It is clearly a more specialized watch oriented towards professional use, as can also be deduced from its aesthetic aspect.
The case is thicker than previous references and for the first time the new 8mm Brevet winding crown appears.
The Rolex ref. 6200 mainly features the explorer face dial with Arabic numerals but a standard variant with “buckshot” indexes is also available.
Usually, the model name does not appear on the dial, with the exception of a few specimens bearing the word Submariner at 6 o’clock.
The bezel remains the one used on the ref. 6204 and 6205 while for the first time the Mercedes ball game is used, which replaces the Pencil hands previously used, becoming the standard for the Submariner range.
The movement is the cal. A.296, now close to the end of production.
Rolex Submariner 6538 The year 1955 brings important changes within the Rolex Submariner range: production of the refs is stopped. 6205 and 6200 and there is the introduction of three new models that take their place.
The ref. 6200 gives way to the new Submariner 6538, also intended for professional customers as it can guarantee a maximum depth of 200m / 660ft.
The middle case maintains a considerable thickness but the caseback loses the convexity seen previously, following the adoption of the 1030 caliber to replace the A.296.
The winding crown remains the oversized Brevet with a diameter of 8mm.
The first examples still mount the non-graduated bezel, while at a later time an insert with graduation is introduced at the first 15 min.
Initially the triangle at 12 o’clock is red, a solution soon discarded due to the poor visibility of this color beyond 10m of depth.
Different dial variants are produced, maintaining the black lacquered background and the golden graphics.
Among the most interesting are the version with chronometer certificate, the one with depth in red and the very rare explorer face variant.
In the same period, Rolex also produced a special version with probable military use, called 6538 A.
It differs from the standard model for the particular dial, without both the Submariner wording and the depth, and for the use of a different glass (Tropic 19, used later on ref. 5512 and 5513).
The serial number is also shown on the inside of the caseback, a typical feature of military or special purpose models.
Rolex Submariner 6536 The Rolex Submariner 6536, guaranteed waterproof up to 100m / 330ft, replaces the previous 6205 from which it stands out for its important details.
The case is similar to that of the ref. 6538 and the use of the new movement cal.1030 allows the use of a less rounded bottom than the previous ones thanks to a smaller vertical dimension.
The winding crown measures 6mm.
It is not uncommon to find specimens with 6538 caseback, with the old reference canceled and flanked by the correct one: it is an operation carried out directly by Rolex presumably to exhaust the components already in stock.
The dial is glossy black with gold graphics and in some rare cases it may have the depth indication printed in red.
The ring nut and the spheres play have the same variants provided on the Submariner reference 6538.
Alongside the Submariner 6536 we find the variant 6536/1, which differs in some details.
It uses a thinner case, similar to the one previously used on the 6205 model; the glass is also different and has slightly larger dimensions.
The dial, graphically similar to that of the ref. 6536, differs in size having a slightly larger diameter.
It is a minimal difference, in the order of a few tenths of a millimeter, which makes the two dials not interchangeable.
Rolex Submariner 5508 Unfortunately, the reason for the coexistence of two such similar models is unknown: we can hypothesize that the more robust Rolex Submariner 6536 was intended for professional use while the 6536/1 was aimed at a wider and less demanding audience.
In 1958 there was the introduction of two new models that go alongside those described above.
The Submariner 5508 is basically similar to the ref. 6536/1, from which it is distinguished mainly by the use of the new 1530 caliber created in 1957.
It is guaranteed waterproof up to 100m / 330ft and features a 6mm winding crown. The bezel is graduated to the first 15 minutes while the dial maintains the glossy black finish with golden graphics and silver depth.
The ref. 5510, on the other hand, is to be considered as the natural evolution of the Submariner 6538, from which it inherits the very thick case and the 8mm Brevet winding crown.
It is the last model to mount it, closing the era of these models that in the future will be defined as “crowns” by collectors.
Like the Rolex ref. 5508 is equipped with the movement cal. 1530 and graduated bezel insert for the first 15 minutes.
It guarantees a maximum depth of 200m / 660ft and remains in production for only one year, being produced in a small number of specimens.
1959 marks the production exit of the Submariner 6538, 6536, 6536/1 and 5510 while the ref. 5508 will remain available for approximately three years.
In the same year an important innovation takes place: the introduction of the shoulders to protect the winding crown, which coincides with the birth of the Rolex Submariner ref. 5512.
The new model takes the place of the previous ref. waterproof up to 200m / 660ft, presenting profoundly renewed compared to its predecessors.
Rolex Submariner 5512 The case is completely new and for the first time presents the protective shoulders on the sides of the crown, useful to protect it from accidental bumps.
Even the crown itself is new: no longer the 8mm Brevet but the new Twinlock with a 7mm diameter.
The rotating bezel takes on a more pronounced knurling than in the past and has a graduated insert at the first 15 minutes.
The first examples, indicatively up to ’64, are moved by the cal. 1530 and have a glossy black dial with gold or mixed gold / silver graphics.
The chronometer certificate may be present while the small parts are closed as on previous models.
The shoulders have a pointed profile, with the exception of some rare examples of early production characterized by square shoulders, soon abandoned.
Starting in 1965, the new calibers 1560 and 1570 were adopted, replacing the previous 1530
The dial always shows the chronometer certificate but is characterized by the open small parts.
The wording at 6 o’clock also changes, passing from the classic SWISS used since the 1950s to the new SWISS – T <25 due to the changed legislation on radioactive materials.
To these changes are added the new rounded shoulders that take the place of the pointed ones.
1967 saw the introduction of the new matte dials with white graphics, which were used until the end of production of the Rolex Submariner 5512, which took place in 1978.
Rolex Submariner 5513 In 1962, Rolex presented a cheaper version of the 5512, without chronometer certification.
Assume the ref. 5513 and initially mounts the cal. 1530 replaced after about a year by the new cal. 1520.
The Submariner 5513 also uses the case with pointed shoulders until 1964, to switch to the more conventional rounded shoulders in 1965.
The evolution of the dials mirrors exactly what happens with the ref. 5512, with the exception of course of the chronometry certificate, not present.
In summary, we find glossy dials with small parts closed from 1962 to ’64, glossy dials with small parts open from 1965 to ’67 and the matt matt version from about 1968 to 1985.
It is interesting to note the existence of two rare dial variants, a prerogative of this reference.
The first is a transitional model used around 1964: it still has the word SWISS despite the open small parts and has a silver dash, defined underline.
The second type, known as the explorer face, is characterized by the Arabic numerals referring to the hours 3, 6 and 9 and should have been distributed only on the English market.
Production of the Rolex 5513 continues even after the Submariner 5512 left the scene, recording only one major change around the mid-1980s.
A new type of lacquered dial is adopted with white graphics and indexes with a white gold profile, defined as “glasses”.
With this last configuration the 5513 remained in the catalog until 1989, when it was replaced by the ref. 14060 equipped with sapphire crystal.
Rolex Submariner 1680 1967 saw the introduction of the first Submariner with date, distinguished by the ref. 1680.
Aesthetically similar to the ref. 5512, has the date window at 3 o’clock visible through an opening in the dial.
The glass is characterized by the cyclops magnifying lens and the typical square profile, which makes it clearly protrude from the middle case.
The dial is a matt matt type with white lettering except for the model name, Submariner, printed in red.
The movement used is the cal. 1575 derived from the cal. 1530 and marked 1570 on the bridge of the automatic.
The 1680 remained unchanged until about 1973, when a new type of dial with entirely white graphics was gradually introduced: therefore the characteristic red writing used previously disappeared.
In 1969, Rolex proposed for the first time a version of the Submariner made in 18kt yellow gold, distinguished by the ref. 1680/8.
The dial is offered in two color variants, blue and black, both with golden graphics.
The indexes are applied and have a characteristic truncated cone shape; the bezel insert is coordinated with the dial, blue or black with gold-colored graduation.
Production of this exclusive model ended in 1978, while the steel variant remained available until 1979.
Rolex Submariner 16800 There are some changes that have occurred over the years and are common to all Rolex Submariner references: the transition from the Twinlock crown to the more efficient Triplock which took place around ’72 and the introduction of the machine stop for movements produced after 1971.
The last Submariner to maintain a link with the past is the ref. 16800, which makes its appearance in the Rolex catalogs starting from 1979.
Although it is already fitted with the modern sapphire crystal, during the first production period it maintains the matt dial with tritium indices, similar to the one used on the ref. 1680.
For the first time, the rotating bezel becomes unidirectional: a special clip allows it to rotate counterclockwise only, guaranteeing greater safety in measuring immersion times.
The Triplock winding crown is an evolution of the previous one and features the tube with an external O-ring seal, presumably introduced in 1978 with the Rolex Sea-Dweller ref. 16660.
The movement used is the cal. 3035 equipped with quick release of the date window and machine stop.
Around the mid-1980s, the lacquered dial with “cup” indexes was introduced, which was maintained until the end of production in 1988.
This reference, together with the latest examples of 5513, concludes the epic of the Submariner models of collectors’ interest, which give way to more modern models still in production.
Rolex Submariner History and progression
Rolex Submariner watches are legendary and are the most popular line not only among all Rolex models, but also one of the most famous wristwatches in the world. It is worth understanding why these rather ordinary-looking “divers” have the status of cult.
In part, the popularity of Rolex Submariner watches is due to the fact that they were worn by Sean Connery (as well as the movie hero James Bond), Jacques Cousteau, Thor Heyerdahl, Ernesto Che Guevara, Steve McQueen and many others. In addition, the Rolex Submariner (or rather the Rolex Military Submariner, or MilSub) was officially part of the equipment of paramilitary units such as the British Royal Navy.
Of course, the Submariner line owes much of its popularity to the company’s marketing strategy. But it was only thanks to advertising that the Rolex Submariner became the prototype for many diving watches from other manufacturers and won so many fans around the world.
The history of the Rolex Submariner
The history of the Submariner line began in the first half of the 1950s, when Rolex director Rene P. Jeanneret, who was an avid diving enthusiast, commissioned the company’s engineers to develop a sports watch for scuba divers. As early as 1953, the new Rolex 6200 was field tested. Scuba divers Auguste Piccard and his son Jacques have set a new diving world record. Their bathyscaphe plunged to a record depth of 10,335 (3,150 meters) feet below the surface of the ocean, the Rolex 6200 was on the arm of one of the scuba divers when diving and stood the test with dignity.
In the same 1953, Jacques Yves Cousteau made a film about the Mediterranean called The Silent World, which received an Academy Award. Needless to say, the new Rolex 6200 has been featured in this film more than once.
In 1954, the Rolex Submariner 6204 was officially launched at the Basel spring watch exhibition (after the name of the city in Switzerland) . According to the company, their new chronograph was water resistant to a depth of 200 m (660 ft), which no other watch company could achieve. The 6204 and Rolex 6205 , which were slightly smaller than the experimental Rolex 6200 and had a dial without numbers but with round indexes, went public in 1955.
Rolex Submariner watches were not very popular until the 1960s. The era of the Submariner began when this watch appeared on Sean Connery’s wrist in several James Bond films, including underwater scenes (in fact, the Submariner appeared in 9 Bond films).
In addition to being water-resistant up to 200 meters, the Rolex Submariner made an ideal watch for diving underwater with its rotating bezel, which helped to keep track of time spent under water. In addition, a bracelet has been developed for this watch with a clasp that is comfortable to wear over a wetsuit. This system is called “Triplock”.
The evolution of the Rolex Submariner
Over the past decades, Rolex has made rather minor changes to the look and feel of the famous Submariners, such as:
- Crown protection,
- Helium valve,
- Mechanism on 31 stones,
- Additional luminescent markers “Superluminova”,
- Synthetic sapphire crystal,
- Magnifying glass above the date window,
- Water resistant up to 300 m.
Since the 1970s, Rolex has transformed the Submariner from a niche diver into one of the most popular watches in the world. The first Rolex Submariner models were made only of steel with a black dial, but now this model is available in yellow gold (two shades) and with different colors of the dial and bezel (pictured above, for example, the model with an emerald dial and bezel, released in 2004 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the model).
The Rolex Submariner is manufactured using the patented 904L stainless steel. This ultra-durable and corrosion resistant material is also used in the aerospace and chemical industries. In fact, no other watch company in the world has the experience and ability to use this steel for mass production of wristwatches. For all its shortcomings and high cost, the Rolex Submariner has retained its appeal for decades both as a sports watch and as a business accessory.
Handcrafted Leather Watch Bands for Rolex Submariner
Most often, the Rolex Submariner and similar “divers” are worn on a steel bracelet. However, it is more convenient to wear a watch on a leather strap, and you can always change the strap to a bracelet and vice versa. Difues Leather workshop is engaged in the production of handmade leather watch straps, including belts for Rolex .
References 55XX and 1680 with Date
The strong foundation laid by the first generation Submariner allowed Rolex to continue developing the model and to make a simple decision that forever changed the history of this watch …
So, in the first part, we got acquainted with the history of the very first Submariner models, the context in which they conquered the market and studied in detail the references of the first generation 6XXX. Now is the time to turn to the models that are considered the second generation of the Rolex Submariner with 55XX references. We will also touch upon an event that became a watershed in the formation of the model: a seemingly unremarkable decision to add a date window to the dial. I think many will agree that it is difficult to call this step a brave one, nevertheless, it strongly influenced the Submariner and divided the opinion of fans of the model in two on this score.
Vintage Rolex Submariner 5512 and 5513
As it could be understood from the first part, in the first years of the Submariner’s existence, the Rolex designers were very actively reworking and developing the model, but so “vague” that only Rolex himself knew in which direction. In about five years, five different references have been released, with some variation within each model. But by the time the 55XX references appeared, the situation had more or less stabilized. Indeed, after some experimentation, Rolex settled on some of the key design elements of their Submariners that will persist for the next 30 years (with many variations, of course, not all of which we can cover). But before that, two starter models appeared in the 55XX series of references, which can be considered as transitional and connecting between the first and second generations of the Submariner.
References 5510 and 5508 from 1958-1962
Although the reference numbers of both models start with “55”, they are much more reminiscent of the earlier 66XX references than the later 55XX. This is largely due to the fact that they were produced at the same time. In fact, the reference 5510, the latest Rolex Submariner Big Crown, is identical to the two-line reference 6538 discussed in part one. The main difference is that the reference 5510 was the first Submariner to use the caliber 1530. The watch itself was in production for only a year and it had all the basic characteristics of reference 6538: the Mercedes badge on the hands, water resistance of 200 m, etc. etc.
*Reference 5510 is the latest in the Rolex Submariner Big Crown series
At the same time, Rolex also released the reference 5508, which was more like the reference 6536/1 (we also reviewed it in the first part). This model is characterized by a smaller crown and a thinner case, as a result of which the water resistance of the watch has decreased to 100 m instead of 200 m. In them you can also notice a slight evolution of the dial: in terms of the general appearance and arrangement of the text. The most notable change is the downward-pointing triangle on the bezel has changed its color from a pronounced red to a more discreet silver – a design element that can be traced in modern Submariner models.
*Reference 5508 with a smaller crown and a silver triangle on the bezel
Reference 5508 was also the first Submariner to use tritium paint instead of radium for backlighting. Up to this point, it was the latter that was used by most manufacturers, until the health risks associated with the radioactivity of this material became apparent.
Perhaps most important to collectors, the 5508, which was discontinued in 1962, is the last Submariner to have an unprotected crown.
Reference 5512, produced in 1959-1980
Although the 55XX references formally begin with the two models described above, it would be more correct to consider the reference 5512 as the beginning of the second generation of the Rolex Submariner. Moreover, in my opinion, when collectors talk about “vintage” Submariners, they often mean this model. It is she who is the prototype of the modern Rolex Submariner.
Early incarnation of the Rolex Submariner 5512 with a gold plated dial and two lines of meters first
The round case has a diameter of about 40 mm and the crown is 7 mm, which now has protective lugs. The shape and design of the latest Rolex will change many times over time, but will not go so far as to remove them altogether. Early versions of Reference 5512 will have a gold-plated dial with four lines of text: Rolex / Oyster Perpetual below 12 o’clock and 200m / 660ft / Submariner above 6 o’clock. Only after almost 10 years, the gold-plated dial will turn matte black. Around the circumference, the dial is framed by the already familiar rotating bezel with a notch, at first it will be with a red triangle pointing downwards, and later – with a silver one. In both cases, there will be a dot with luminescent paint inside.
*P KSR version of the Rolex Submariner 5512 with matte dial and “meters first”
Of course, Rolex will continue to make design additions and tweaks to the 5512 in the years to come, with some notable dials. We will not touch on all minor edits, but one of the most significant was the appearance of two additional lines of text above the 6 o’clock position: Superlative Chronometer / Officially Certified. This marks the moment, around the beginning of the 1960s, when Rolex stopped using caliber 1530 without chronograph function and switched to caliber 1560. It will later be replaced by caliber 1570, which, in turn, will also give way to another improved movement with “jumping” seconds hands in 1970.
*A later version of the Rolex Submariner 5512 with brushed dial and feet first text
These two lines of text also help distinguish the reference 5512 from the almost identical reference 5513, which we’ll talk about in more detail now.
Reference 5513, produced in 1962-1989
The reference 5513 appeared on the market in 1962, about three years after the release of the reference 5512. In a nutshell, both models are exactly the same, except that the new version has a movement with a chronometer, while the previous one did not. But again, it wouldn’t be a Rolex if it was all about that. A very thoughtful marketing move of the brand was that it presented the reference 5512 as belonging to a more premium segment, compared to the 5513. Thus, the latter model became in demand even among those buyers who wanted to buy a Rolex Submariner, but were not willing to pay more for the function. chronograph. In fact, the reference 5513 used the same caliber as the reference 5512 – caliber 1530.
*Vintage Rolex Submariner 5513
One of the reasons the 5513 is so delightful to collectors is that it is with this Submariner that Rolex has allowed itself the most liberal experimentation. For example, the version of reference 5513 with the Explorer dial, produced from 1962 to 1965, is in great demand. As the name suggests, these Submariners have an Explorer-style dial. with Arabic numerals at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, just like reference 6200, which was discussed in the first part. However, the dials of these two models were very different from each other. And this model was the last Submariner with an Explorer dial, which is why collectors hunt for it.
*One of the rarest Rolex watches – Rolex Submariner 5513 with Explorer dial
Another famous version of the 5513 reference, called the Milsub, is the Rolex Submariner, released in the first half of the 1970s specifically for the UK Department of Defense. Later, in the second half of the same decade, reference 5517, produced exclusively for the British military, replaced this model, so you can also find Submariner watches on the market with a double reference designation: 5513/5517. It’s hard to imagine today, but Rolex even modified their watches a little to meet the specific requirements of the UK Department of Defense. In particular, fixed pins were used to attach the straps, rather than spring pins. The dials were supposed to be more readable, so the hands became larger, in the form of “swords”, and the letter “T” in a circle appeared above the 6 o’clock position, denoting the use of tritium. Another unique feature of the model is the rotating bezel with a 60-minute notch instead of the standard 15-minute one.
There are also a number of 5513 references with other differences in the appearance of the dial, to which the watch dealers assigned names such as: “underlined”, “with double Swiss underscore” and my favorite version – “Bart Simpson”. And there is also a very important discussion about whether one of the lines starts from meters or feet. If you have not understood this yet, then we will not go into such furious details about what exactly was printed on the dials (first of all, being guided by practical considerations). Also, we will not look for dubious logic in why, on this basis, some models are sold with an impressive premium. For collectors and fans, this is possible and exciting and entertaining, but we are still more interested in real and essential facts,
The latest generation of Rolex Submariner 5513. Check out the sleek dial with the old watch display – a smooth transition to the upcoming 5-digit series
As the production of the 5513 drew to a close in the late 1980s, the Rolex Submariner’s modern look could be traced back. The dial is now the glossy black we know it now, and the tritium hour indexes are framed in white gold. As you will find out in a moment, these characteristics will continue to be seen in the next generation of 5-digit Submariner models.
Reference 1680, produced in 1969-1979
10 years after the 5512 hit the market and 16 years after the debut of the Submariner, Rolex decided to launch a version with a date on the dial. The answer to the question: “Why exactly now?” – I think everyone is interested. This is most likely due to the fact that the company launched the Sea-Dweller two years earlier. This watch, which had a date window, albeit without the Cyclops, was significantly thicker than the Submariner due to its greater water resistance. Most likely, as a result, consumers simply bombarded Rolex with requests for the more wearable Submariner to also receive a date window. Rolex is not a brand that is willing to pass up opportunities, and therefore the watchmaker has responded to the requests of its consumers.
Rolex Submariner 1680 was born with the red Submariner lettering and was produced from 1969 to 1975
We will not go into further details, in connection with which this happened, let’s just say that the appearance of the date window turned out to be a kind of watershed for the Rolex Submariner. The version with a date will eventually surpass the original in popularity – without one, and by a huge margin. And it is not so important that fans began to mistakenly call two models as Submariner and Submariner without a date, although in fact, the first is called Submariner Date. The bottom line is that regardless of this, the addition in the form of a date window, reinforced by the famous “Rollex Cyclops”, divided the market in two.
The very first version is most often called the “Red Submariner” due to the fact that the name Submariner was printed in red on the four-line gold-plated dial. Rolex released several dial variations over the six years of the Red Submariner’s production life, which once again caused a stir among collectors about the specific differences between each version. Inside the watch was the automatic caliber 1575, which was already used in the Datejust and GMT-Master models. Subsequently, this mechanism was improved – the movement of the second hand became “jumping”, which made it possible to more accurately set the time.
*Second generation steel references 1680 (1976-1979) with white Submariner lettering
That same year, Rolex ventured into a bold, albeit retrospectively not so unpredictable, move – the release of the first Submariner in a yellow gold case. As the least “professional tool” of the two, the Submariner Date was the obvious choice for such a makeover. For many purists, this has become the line that has crossed the Submariner from being a “professional tool” and turned into a luxury watch for mass consumption. Although, from our point of view, the concepts of “mass consumption” and “luxury” are incompatible. One way or another, the Submariner Date from 18-karat gold became an absolute hit of sales, despite the dubious nickname that the dial received – “nipple”. Originally launched with a black dial, the gold Submariner Date later came in light blue with the same bezel.
A Touch of Midas: the first all-gold Rolex Submariner
Another version of the 1680 reference worth mentioning is the Submariner Date COMEX. Rolex had previously partnered with the engineering and deep sea specialist COMEX (short for Compagnie maritime d’expertises) several years earlier to develop helium valves for the Sea-Dweller. Accordingly, the brand released the 1680 reference series exclusively for this company, free of charge. In return, Rolex received data on how the watch behaves in such difficult conditions under water and a fantastic PR result.
These models, with the COMEX logo on the lower half of the dial, have never been sold on the open market. Versions based on reference 1680 were never equipped with helium valves, so they were mostly used by “deck divers” – COMEX office employees. Rolex also released a series of Submariners for the COMEX based on the 5513 and 5514 which already had helium valves.
That concludes our review of the second generation Rolex Submariner. And in the next third part, we will pay attention to the five-digit Submariner references and the important changes that have occurred with the third generation of this legendary collection.
From vintage to nowadays
The Rolex Submariner is a legend in the world of watchmaking. This custom-made sports watch is considered one of the most famous luxury watches of all time.
Rolex Submariner model is a legend
Rolex has developed a versatile, classic design for the Rolex Submariner and has associated the watch with famous people, recognizable characters and organizations: Jacques Yves Cousteau, James Bond, Sean Connery, Thor Heyerdahl, British Royal Navy and COMEX (French diving expeditionary company).
The history of the Submariner begins in the early 1950s, when Rolex Director René-Paul Jeanneret, an amateur diver, encouraged the company to develop a sports watch specifically for scuba divers. The watch that Jeanneret proposed to create was not only supposed to be suitable for use in water, but also to become an elegant watch for everyday wear. The existing Rolex watches were already water resistant and elegant, but these watches were not intended for diving.
The Rolex Submariner is based on a water-resistant Oyster case with a screw-down crown and a self-winding wristwatch movement. However, Blancpain was one year ahead of Rolex with the first Fifty Fathoms diving watch with a patented unidirectional bezel. At the same time, Blancpain changed the design of watches in the 1970s, which lowered their status to the exclusion of this model from the catalog. With the Rolex Submariner, this mistake did not happen.
Rolex Submariner ref. 6204, 1953
The Submariner was officially launched in 1953 with the ref. 6204 with automatic caliber A.260. In 1954, Rolex presented this watch at an exhibition in Basel, today known as BaselWorld. The watch’s water resistance was 100 meters, which was not offered by any watch manufacturer at that time. At the exhibition, the brand presented another Submariner ref model. 6205 with the same specifications and a slight design difference. A year later, Rolex added a third ref model. 6200 with automatic caliber A.296 and water resistance 200 meters. In 1955, all three Submariner models were available for sale to the general public.
Jeanneret’s close relationship with French ocean explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau helped solidify the popularity of the Submariner. In 1956, Jacques Cousteau directed an Academy Award-winning documentary about the Mediterranean Sea, The Silent World. Throughout the film, the famous oceanographer wore a Rolex Submariner on his wrist, cementing the watch’s reputation as a serious instrument for ocean exploration.
In the mid-1950s, Rolex continued to test the deep-sea capabilities of its watches. During this time, Jacques Piccard and his son set a series of diving world records with the experimental Rolex Deep Sea Special. In 1960, this watch sank to the bottom of the Mariana Trench at a depth of 10,916 meters, attached to the outside of the Trieste Bathyscaphe. The pressure experienced by the Rolex watch at that moment was 1125 kg per centimeter. After submersion, the watch worked flawlessly, which also formed the basis of the Rolex Submariner’s reputation.
Rolex Submariner ref. 6538 James Bond
The watch received universal recognition after appearing on the wrist of Sean Connery in several James Bond films, including underwater scenes. The Rolex Submariner appeared in nine Bond films as a ref model. 6538. Despite this, today the name of James Bond has become synonymous with another brand – Omega .
In addition to the waterproof case and self-winding movement, the Submariner offers a number of special features ideal for diving: a rotating bezel, a bracelet safety catch with an extension system for a wetsuit and a Twinlock screw-down crown.
In 1959, Rolex increased the diameter of the watch case to 40 mm and added massive lugs to protect the screw-down crown. And in 1966 there was a Submariner with a date display, complete with a Cyclops magnifying lens.
Rolex Submariner with bright blue dial and bezel
For years, Rolex Submariners have been crafted from stainless steel with a black dial and bezel. In the 1970s, Rolex brings the Submariner to life. Since that time, the watch is available in yellow and white gold, in a two-tone combination of steel and gold, with a bright blue dial and bezel of the same color.
In 1979, Rolex changed the Submariner with the introduction of the ref. 16800. In addition to the new Caliber 3035 movement, the brand has equipped the new generation Submariner with a unidirectional bezel and sapphire crystal. Until that time, the dial was protected by acrylic glass. By increasing the strength of the case, the brand also increased the water resistance of the watch – up to 300 meters. At the same time, Rolex began using 904L stainless steel. This ultra-corrosion-resistant steel is used in the aerospace and chemical industries and is polished with a special sheen. No other company in the world besides Rolex uses this material for the production of everyday watches.
Rolex Submariner commemorative model ref.16610LV
In 2004, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Submariner, Rolex released the ref.16610LV, featuring a black Maxi dial with large hour markers, thicker hands and a bright green aluminum bezel. For its appearance, this Submariner model was named Kermit and became the basis for the Submariner Hulk with ref. 116610LV with green bezel and green dial.
In 2008, the Submariner received another update. The Caliber 3135 movement and Maxi dial are complemented by a bracelet with a new buckle and durable center links, as well as an all-ceramic bezel made from Cerachrom. In addition, the new model has thicker bracelet lugs and crown ledges, adding a bold and chunky look to the watch.
Despite numerous changes, the modern Rolex Submariner retains the design of the 1953 model. In addition, since its launch, the Rolex Submariner has become a model for modern sports watches. Almost all existing diving watches are influenced by the Rolex Submariner. For 67 years, the Rolex Submariner has retained its sporty appeal, yet the sophistication of this watch remains sufficient to wear the Rolex Submariner to an official reception.
Did you know that “vintage” in 2021 has totally another meaning compared to only several years ago? Today we might call vintage what really would rather be called “New Old Vintage” // AKA Discontinued watches… Let’s dive into this.
Five Digit References
Talking about the smooth transition from vintage Submariner models to modern ones, many believe that five-digit references connect these two worlds in the best way.
In our “four-act” historical “play” about the Rolex Submariner dynasty, we have reached the third “act”. If you have already read the first part about the earliest references and the second – about the 55XX generation and the Submariner Date 1680, then you should already be well versed in the origins of this model and the reasons for its amazingly rapid development.
Now we turn our attention to the third generation, starting our journey from the late 1970s, when Rolex introduced its first five-digit Submariner reference. It is noteworthy that Rolex will continue to produce the 5XXX reference (namely 5513) in parallel with new models for almost ten years. But first things first.
If you remember the second part of our story, then it took about 16 years for Rolex to consider it a good idea to place a date window on the Submariner dial. Debuting in 1969, the reference 1680 completed the transformation of the Submariner from a professional instrument designed for a very narrow specific audience into a luxury item, albeit with a practical value, and into a watch that is designed for a wider range of customers and that can be worn “anywhere” and “whenever”. Such was the popularity of the Submariner Date that Rolex essentially put the production of the original ND versions on its own, focusing on the further development of newer models.
Rolex Submariner Date reference 16800 from 1979 to 1988
Ten years after the introduction of the Submariner Date, Rolex continued to develop the model with five-digit references 16800. These two models, 16808 and 16803, in short, can be considered as “intermediate”. This means that they still had in their appearance the main features of their predecessors, in this case the references 1680 and 1680/8, but they already demonstrated some significant innovations.
Rolex Submariner 16800
*Early model 16800. Modern Cyclops sapphire crystal, but still classic matte dial with painted indexes
Improvements began with the Submariner Date models, and only then extended to versions of watches without a date window. First of all, the plexiglass has been replaced by a more reliable and presentable sapphire crystal. Today it is a matter of course for us, but at that time the use of the newest sapphire crystal was significant news. And still on the glass, of course, remained such an attractive cyclops magnifying lens. Rolex also carried out certain work on changing the internal structure of the case, so as not to change the dimensions, to make it more reliable and durable. The crown has also been improved and features Rolex’s patented Triplock sealing system. The latter debuted a few years earlier in the Sea-Dweller models. The system uses three independent O-rings to create, respectively, three independent zones of sealing, which provides the watch with maximum water resistance. This figure increased to 300 m (1000 ft) and remains so to this day.
*The Rolex Submariner 16800 was also released for COMEX. Note the evolution of the dial towards more modern watches and less specialized instruments
Two years later, Rolex took a very rare step by introducing an updated version of an existing model. In addition to the sapphire crystal and increased water resistance, the refreshed version of the 16800 has a single-directional intermittent bezel – a first for any Submariner ever produced. It’s hard to believe, but throughout its previous history up to 1981, the bezels on this famous diving watch could rotate in any direction. By making them unidirectional, the brand provided added safety to those who actually still used the Submariner to dive underwater. In practice, this meant that even if the bezel was accidentally or as a result of some incident moved, the remaining time it showed under water could only decrease.
This latest version of the reference 16800 has also undergone a movement upgrade with Rolex’s signature caliber 3035. In addition to running at a higher frequency than the previous caliber 1575 (28,800 vibrations per hour versus 19,800), the new caliber also features a quick date setting. Certified as a Superlative Chronometer, this caliber shares the same architecture as caliber 3135 found in modern Rolex Submariner Date models.
*All signs of the Submariner’s evolution towards luxury: high-gloss dial, overlaid white gold indexes and Tiffany painting
Other changes that took place with this model during the remainder of its existence were not so significant. The dial has changed from matte to glossy. And the luminescent indexes, which were initially simply painted, ended up with a white gold overlay bezel filled with luminescent composition. All those hallmarks of the modern Rolex Submariner Date as we know them today.
Reference 16808, produced from 1979 to 1987
Simultaneously with the launch of the reference 16800 in a steel case, Rolex also debuted the reference 16808 in 18K yellow gold. It was quite a logical continuation of the 1680/8 reference and this model was again available either in a combination of a black dial – black bezel, or a blue dial – blue bezel. Initially, the indexes on the dial had the same convex style, due to which the previous version was called “nipples”, but later they were replaced by flat ones filled with a luminescent composition, like the reference 16800. In all other respects, the reference 16808 is practically no different from the 16800 , and there is even an engraving “16800” on the inside of the case.
Early Rolex Submariner 16808, easily identifiable by the nipple indexes
Reference 16803, produced from 1984 to 1987
A few years after the references 16800 and 16808 came onto the market, Rolex introduced the reference 16803. It was the very first Submariner in a so-called Rolesor case – Rolex’s own name for the combination of steel and gold. In the case of reference 16803, this meant that a unidirectional bezel was made of 18-carat gold (with a blue or black insert, depending on the color of the dial) and the central links in the Oyster bracelet were completely gold. Some of the first versions also had nipple indices on the dial, but these were very quickly replaced by flat ones with luminescent filling, like other references.
One of the latest versions of the Rolex Submariner 16803, in which you can see already modern indexes.
References 16610, 16618 and 16613 from 1988 to 2008/10
In 1988, about 10 years after the first five-digit references entered the market, Rolex finally felt ready to make major changes to the Submariner Date. This happened through the appearance of reference 16610. This model embodied all the changes that had already appeared in the transitional model – reference 16800: glossy dial, applied indices, unidirectional bezel, crown with Trip-lock system and so on. And at the same time, a new movement was built into the case, and not a simple one, but perhaps one of the most famous and longest-serving caliber 3135. It can still be found in the current versions of the Submariner Date, at least for now. And as you would expect, Rolex also introduced models in an all-gold case (ref. 16618) and Rolesor versions (ref. 16613).
*Rolex Submariner 16610 black
Incredibly, these models will remain in production for the next 20 years. Rolex will of course continue to change and improve them throughout this time. As technology evolves, the main material used by Rolex to illuminate the dial will be Luminova, which will eventually replace tritium in the late 1990s. Another major change was the introduction of the Oyster bracelets, in which the links had fully enclosed end edges. Previous versions of the Submariner had hollow edges, which made the bracelets lighter, but did not give the impression of the durability expected of them. Rolex also began producing cases in which the lugs had no visible holes. Again, we now take this decision for granted, but if you take a closer look at the old Rolex Submariner references,
Rolex Submariner 16618 in gold
*Rolex Submariner 16613 in steel and gold
But if references 16618 and 16613 remained unchanged almost throughout their existence, until their production ceased in 2008, Rolex’s plans for reference 16610 were completely different.
Reference 16610LV, nicknamed “Kermit”, produced from 2003 to 2010
In 2003, Rolex celebrated the unofficial 50th anniversary of the Submariner. As you should remember from the first part, the official presentation of the Submariner took place in 1954, but the first production samples appeared a year earlier and this is the moment Rolex considers the Submariner to be the birthday. To commemorate such a significant event, the brand has created a model that has become one of, and perhaps the most famous in the modern line of Rolex Submariner – reference 16610LV, which is known among collectors and fans of the brand as “Kermit”. One glance at this watch is enough to understand why it got such a nickname. Instead of the black bezel insert that has appeared on every Rolex Submariner since the very first reference 6204, reference 16610LV has a bright green aluminum insert.
It is noteworthy that this model was not a limited edition and was never officially recognized by Rolex as a “jubilee”. The brand did the same in 2017 with the “celebration” of the Sea-Dweller anniversary with the release of the Single Red model. In fact, Kermit remained in production for seven years, and this watch can be seen as the predecessors of the Hulk. It should also be added that the color of the bezel is not the only thing that has changed in this new version of the Submariner. Rolex has designed the dial of the reference 16610LV with larger dots with a luminescent composition, the very ones due to which such dials are usually called “Maxi”. Therefore, among collectors and fans of the Submariner, this model is considered a special success, since it is the only opportunity to get a Maxi dial without a Super Case in the bargain.
Once again, Rolex has remained true to itself. There have been many variations of the bezel and dial throughout the entire production life of Kermit. The most famous of these is the early FLAT 4 bezel, in which the number “4” at “40” in the upper part had a visible plane and did not converge to a point. Is the difference worth paying more for it? Here everyone decides for himself.
Reference 14060, produced from 1989/90 to 2010
While Rolex focused entirely on the development of the Submariner Date in the early 1980s, the brand continued to produce the reference 5513 without a date. Thus, by the end of the decade, the modernization of this model became more than relevant. This happened in the form of the release of the already five-digit reference 14060.
Launched about a year after the release of reference 16610, this model became the first Submariner without a date to have a sapphire crystal and a crown with a Triplock sealing system.
As well as its older brothers, the new model received an increase in the water-resistance level up to 300 m as a result.
*Rolex Submariner 14060 with two-stitching on the dial and Tritium badge
Interestingly enough, the reference 14060 was not a certified chronometer, possibly due to the fact that this model was less popular than the Submariner Date. The watch was powered by caliber 3000, a perfectly respectable modern movement from Rolex. Although it didn’t have all those “gimmicks” that caliber 3135 could boast of. For example, caliber 3000 used a regular spring, not a Breguet. Nevertheless, this caliber was quite worthy to receive the COSC certificate, just Rolex considered that the reference 14060 did not necessarily need a movement with such an official status. A small advantage for consumers in this regard was the fact that the dial of the model turned out to be cleaner – just two lines above the 6 o’clock position.
One of the latest versions of the Rolex Submariner 14060M already with COSC certification and four lines on the dial
Even years later, in 1999, when Rolex replaced the reference 14060 with the more modern 14060M, in which the M stood for “modernized”, the improved caliber 3130 was still not certified as a Superlative Chronometer. Ultimately, the brand nevertheless changed its view on this issue, but this happened only in the late 2000s. That is why you can find two variants of the 14060M reference on the market: with two and four lines on the dial.
Rolex Submariner – 14060M
This concludes our historical tour of the Rolex Submariner models. In the next and final fourth part, we will already turn our attention to the modern collections of this legendary model.
Behind the watch: Rolex brand and analysis of ever Rolex Submariner components
There is an opinion that Rolex Submariner watches are leading in the number of counterfeits in the world. In fact, this is not surprising, since this model has a rich history, is made from the finest materials and boasts famous Swiss build quality. In this regard, the watch has a fairly high price tag, which makes it both desirable for all sorts of swindlers who seek to profit by counterfeiting, and for people who still remember how this watch saved the life of James Bond more than once.
Before… ROLEX HISTORY
The Rolex company was founded by the German Hans Winsdorf, who was born at the end of the nineteenth century in Bavaria. In his youth, Hans moved to Geneva in order to take a fresh look at the watchmaking world: pocket watches were more popular among men then, and wristwatches were more likely the privilege of women and were generally considered an adornment. Hans realized that a watch could be more than just an elegant bracelet.
1. Advertising Submariner. 2. Advertising of a Rolex Oyster watch with Mercedes Gleitze (the first woman to swim the English Channel). 3. Hans Wilsdorf – Rolex founder. 4. Certificate of Authenticity for Rolex watches, 1908. 5. Modern delivery set. 6. Pocket watch issued under the W&B brand. 7. An advertisement for a Rolex Oyster watch (in the photo, Edmund Hillary is making an ascent to Mount Everest).
With this idea, he went to London, where in 1905, with the assistance of his half-brother Alfred Davis, he opened the Wilsdor & Davis company, which assembled watches from Swiss parts. This is how unnoticed watches with the W&D logo appeared on the British counters, which eventually became the best-selling watches in England due to their excellent quality and reasonable price.
|To make it easier to place the name on the dial, on July 2, 1908, Hans settled on the name Rolex. The First World War also affected the trade relations of Rolex: duties on imports of goods increased significantly, and the German origin of the brand’s founder made itself felt. In this regard, in 1919, Hans decides to leave Great Britain and moves to Switzerland, where he subsequently acquires a factory in Biel, and organizes production and headquarters in Geneva. Rolex uses this production scheme to this day, with watch movements manufactured in Biel and assembling in Geneva.||The Rolex Submariner appeared in the first James Bond series Dr. No in 1962. In the future, this model appeared more than once in Bond.|
However, there were also positive consequences: during the hostilities, wristwatches were obviously more convenient than pocket watches. So Rolex watches have become a companion for men of men’s professions: researchers, pilots, scientists, military men, divers. It was for the latter in 1953 that Rolex first released the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner, an important distinguishing feature of which was the ability to remain water-resistant to a depth of one hundred meters.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
According to the official version, the word Rolex is just a set of letters, however, there is another opinion, according to which Rolex is an abbreviation for the French phrase Horlogerie exquise, which means “Perfect watchmaking”.
CONSTRUCTION AND COMPONENTS
The body itself was created much earlier than the Submariner – back in 1926. This invention gave the name to a whole line of models, which includes the Submariner collection.
|The Oyster case (from the English “oyster”) got its name for a reason: the mechanism is enclosed in a shell-case with a diameter of 40 mm, into which there is no access not only for water, air and dust, but also for the human eye – only a few people have seen the filling with my own eyes.|
Initially, watches were produced exclusively from steel, but in the late 1960s and early 1970s, “mixed” models began to appear, with cases made of gold and steel.
|According to some reports, Rolex is believed to be the largest consumer of gold in Switzerland.|
Unlike many Swiss watch manufactories, Rolex designs and manufactures movements in their factories, rather than purchasing them from third-party manufacturers.
At the time, it was Rolex who invented the rotor used in the watch industry. The idea of its creation came to Wilsdorf after the English stenographer Mercedes Gleitze became the first woman to swim across the English Channel on October 7, 1927. Realizing that during the voyage, the Englishwoman had made at least 50 thousand strokes, Wilsdorf thought about how to use human motor skills to move the clock.
It took four years to find the answer, and in 1937 the result of the joint work of Wilsdorf and engineer Emil Borer was presented – a clock rotor rotating around a central axis from any movement of the hand in a circular sector. Thanks to him, the Rolex Oyster became the first watch with an automatic winding in the name, and the patent stopped the attempts of competitors to create similar movements for another fifteen years.
|Another Rolex invention, the Parachrome spring, is part of the balance. The wheel receives impulses from the spring, which causes it to rotate in one direction. Then the spiral is pulled and makes the wheel turn in the other direction. Thus, the spiral is stretched, then compressed, and this happens at regular intervals.|
The accuracy of the stroke is directly related to the spring, therefore a number of requirements are imposed on it. The material from which the spring is made must not be influenced by external temperatures and magnetic fields. So in 2000, Rolex released the Parachrome spring, which is not subject to magnetic fields.
As mentioned above, the accuracy of the movement depends on the spring, however, if the watch starts to rush or lag behind, then the movement of the watch can be adjusted. This is done using weights made of gold, which are located on the inside of the balance wheel rim. By rotating the weights, you can change the moment of inertia of the wheel, therefore, make the balance oscillate faster or slower.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION: It should be noted that the bureau certifies not watches, but mechanisms. During testing, each mechanism is placed in one of the cells of a 10×10 frame. After that, the mechanisms are exposed to temperatures (+ 8 ° C, + 23 ° C and + 38 ° C) for 15 days in 5 different positions. The readings of the mechanisms are scanned and recorded in a table, in which the deviations of the daily rate can be traced. If the tests are successful, these results are entered into the certificate, and the watch can be called a chronometer.
CROWN CROWN TRIPLOCK
Keeping in mind that the Submariner is a watch for divers, it is worth noting that the crown, along with the Oyster case, is another detail that is responsible for the watch’s water resistance.
Glow-in-the-dark divisions are applied with a special paint based on SuperLumiNova pigment, which, like a battery, accumulates sunlight or artificial light and gives it back at nightfall for four to six hours.
|In the early 1980s, Rolex gradually switched to sapphire crystal. One of the main advantages of such glass is its hardness – it is extremely difficult to make a scratch on it, more likely you will scratch the case or bracelet. Another notable element is the arrows. Today, looking at the Submariner, you can see the famous hands with the Mercedes badge, which they acquired in 1956. Fluorescent paint tends to crumble over time, and the larger the surface area on which it is applied, the less durable the coating. In this regard, the area of the circle of the arrow was divided into three small sectors.|
If you look at the glass from a certain angle, you will see an engraved crown opposite the six o’clock position on the dial. On watches that have visited an authorized service, the letter S appears at the base of the crown.
A necessary attribute of a diver’s watch is a rotating ring around the dial, called a bezel. With the help of it, the scuba diver fixes the time for which he can dive. For safety reasons, the bezel only rotates counterclockwise so as not to accidentally increase the time you can stay under water.
And yes… Today is part of history, so let’s take a quick look over The Rolex Submariner History in Great Detail focusing on Contemporary Ceramic References
From the ceramic bezels to the Maxi case, there have been a number of significant changes to the modern Rolex Submariner. In addition, a few bright colors have also been added to the color palette.
Our journey through time is coming to a logical conclusion. Today, in the fourth and final part of our detailed excursion into the history of the Rolex Submariner history, we will talk about already modern models. Of course, the protagonists of this plot will be references 114060 and 116610, as well as their numerous variations, which form the modern Rolex Submariner line. However, it should be admitted that the basic idea of a luxury diving watch has not changed significantly with the advent of these new references. From a design point of view, the current collection may well be called “conservative”. Everything about “modernity” in the current Rolex Submariner models is hidden deeper – in the mechanism and materials.
As you probably remember from the third part of our story
In the early 1990s, Rolex by and large already found its own formula for the exterior of the Submariner and Submariner Date lines. Of course, some development and improvement of the models took place, but the main design elements of the watch remained practically unchanged over the next two decades. But during this period of time, quite a lot of important things happened to other popular collections of the brand from among specialized watches. Especially curious fans, I think, have already guessed that I mean the appearance in 2005 of the GMT-Master II reference 116718LN in a yellow gold case. This model was launched to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the GMT-Master collection and featured a striking green dial (black dial versions were also available).
The GMT-Master II reference watch released in 2005. The 116718LN was the first Rolex to feature a bezel made from Cerachrom (the brand name for ceramic), a material that would later be used in most of the brand’s collections.
Our interest in this model, however, is connected not so much with the color of its dial as with the black insert on the surrounding bezel. This is what Rolex aficionados were looking at first – the brand new, patented Cerachrom bezel insert material. Made from an extremely hard ceramic material, it was virtually invulnerable to scratches, and its color could not be affected even by ultraviolet rays from the sun. The numbers and markings were engraved directly into the ceramics and then covered with the finest layer of gold or platinum using PVD technology. Thereafter, diamond polishing removed any traces of gold or platinum from the surface of the bezel, creating an incredible, lasting shine that we all already know well.
The Rolex Submariner Date 116610LN as we know it today.
Everyone has already forgotten the quite natural expectation that sooner or later the Submariner will also have a ceramic bezel. Fans of the brand had to wait three whole years for this to happen. Even so, Rolex started with precious metal models before finally reaching steel versions two years later. In my opinion, it was worth it to wait. Although some people still prefer the appearance and aesthetics of the aluminum versions, especially due to the fact that over time the watch acquires its own special unique character and it does not “shine” so much. But in any case, as you will soon find out, the bezel was not the only change affecting the new generation of Submariners.
References 116618 and 116619
In 2008, Rolex brought to the market not one, but three new Submariner Date references in gold cases: reference 116618LN (yellow gold case, black dial and black bezel); reference 116618LB (yellow gold case, blue dial and blue bezel) and reference 116619LB (white gold case, blue dial and blue bezel). In these models, there were two major changes for the entire collection. Firstly, the long-awaited inclusion of a ceramic insert on the bezel in both black and blue versions of watches has finally happened. Secondly, the so-called “Maxi” body made its debut.
Although this was quite expected, nevertheless, the appearance of the bezel with an insert from Cerachrom was widely greeted by the fans of the brand with great enthusiasm. This was an important step towards the modernization of one of the most famous and commercially successful Crown models. The yellow gold models generally adhered to the Rolex color tradition dating back to the 1970s. But as for the white gold version, this is a completely different case.
To begin with, up to this point, there were simply no Submariners in white gold cases. To highlight this model even more, Rolex added a lacquered blue dial that looked even brighter than the luminous blue dials on the yellow gold models. It is this combination of white gold and an abundance of deep blue on the dial and bezel that is the reason why the reference 116619LB received the nickname “Smurf” among collectors. Interestingly, despite being so “unusual” – in most cases a very powerful lure for Rolex fans – the Smurfs never achieved the same commercial success as the regular gold versions. Moreover, they could not even come close to the steel versions.
*Rolex Submariner Date 116619LB in white gold.
The second important change that happened to the Submariner Date in 2008 was the appearance of a new Maxi case. Remaining still 40 mm in diameter, the Oyster case has been made a little more square, with thicker lugs and, in general, a more massive appearance. The changes, by and large, were minor, but they become obvious and noticeable when you take this model and the previous generation Submariner in your hands and compare one with the other. This new case design was also used for the first time on the 50th anniversary model GMT-Master II, mentioned above. This was Rolex’s response to the growing popularity of “big” watches – a trend that was gaining momentum at the time. The result was a bulky and masculine watch that was still comfortable to wear and fit well on the wrist.
These new models are also notable for the increasingly widespread use of the “Maxi” dial, which, if you remember from the third part, debuted in the 2003 collection, nicknamed “Kermit” for its green bezel. This design of the dial is characterized by larger indexes-dots with a luminescent composition, as well as thickened hands, which improves readability. Some argue that such a dial looks better in combination with the Maxi case, because they kind of complement each other, in contrast to the more “refined” Kermit case.
Others are of the exact opposite opinion. Be that as it may, it looks like it is the case / Maxi dial combination that will linger in the current Rolex models. Unless, of course, the brand goes on another experiment and releases, say.
Another debut in these versions of the Submariner Date with a gold case is the new Glidelock strap size correction system in the clasp. It allowed the owner of the watch to smoothly adjust the bracelet length by 5 mm without using any special tools. Subsequently, Rolex significantly improved this system and in later models the bracelet could be lengthened by 20 mm in steps of 2 mm. Inside the case, the same caliber 3135 remained, inherited from the previous generation, with certification as a chronometer and self-winding.
References 116613LN and 116613LB
Almost completely repeating the models in the gold case discussed above, a year later Rolex released versions of the Rolesor Submariner Date, which combined gold and steel. From a technical point of view, there were no differences. Rolesor Submariner Date models were made in two versions, each of which was combined with 18K gold in stainless steel (bezel, crown and center links of the bracelet were gold). The first reference 116613LN had a black dial and bezel, and the second – 116613LB – with a blue dial and the same bezel.
References 116610LN and 116610LV
It will be another two years before Rolex releases steel versions of the refreshed Submariner Date. And again, the brand will prepare a “colorful” surprise, which it is difficult to say how much, was kept in the store. Like the gold references, the 116610LN received a “Super-case” and a “Maxi” dial, framed by a Cerachrom bezel. The design also used the black-on-black scheme, which has been the most characteristic of the model since its inception.
Rolex Submariner Date 116610LN
At the same time, Rolex launched the unofficial heir to the Kermit model. Just like the new model dedicated to the 50th anniversary – the reference 116610LV had a green bezel. But this time it was already made of bright, fade-resistant ceramics. At the same time, the brand took another big step further – supplemented its new creation with the same green dial. And this was the first time that this color was used on the dial of Submariner models. It literally blew up the watch world. What’s even more amusing is that the appearance of such a striking model was not timed to any event, nor an important milestone in the history of Rolex or the Submariner collection. It’s just that Rolex has once again demonstrated that if it sees fit, it is ready to go whatever comes into its head.
Rolex Submariner Date 116610LV nicknamed “Hulk”.
Each new version of a steel Rolex sports watch is usually accompanied by a nickname, and this model is no exception. The bright, memorable color, combined with the more massive proportions of the Maxi body, have contributed to the fact that today the reference 116610LV is most widely known as the Hulk. And I am sure that many will agree with me, this name sounds much more attractive than, say, “Smurf”. The Hulk model has become even more popular and in demand recently, when the market was flooded with rumors that due to the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Submariner in 2023, the production of this model will be discontinued. Time will tell whether this will happen or not. Not too long to wait.
As with previous generations, Rolex was in no hurry to update the Submariner line in parallel with the Submariner Date. The reference 14060M was replaced by the new version 114060 only two years later – in 2012. As expected, this model was almost identical to the already released reference 116610LN. It had the same case, the same ceramic bezel and a completely repeating dial design, of course, with the only exception that it did not have a date window. The water resistance level of 300 m also remained unchanged.
*Rolex Submariner 114060 without date window
The main difference between one model and another is thus hidden inside the case. Reference 114060 uses caliber 3130 as its movement, which first appeared in the 14060M around 1999. Also, unlike previous generations, all 114060 references have already been certified as Superlative Chronometers. In addition, not following the example of the Submariner Date, the reference 114060 is only available in one configuration: a steel case with a black dial and the same bezel. Thus, this model in the modern Rolex Submariner line is the most classic and slightly more “professional” version than its brothers.
Rolex Submariner lineup at a glance
In short, the brand’s current Rolex Submariner lineup as of mid-2020 can be summarized as follows:
Submariner 114060 – ND, Steel Case, Black Dial, Black Bezel
Submariner Date 116610LN – steel case, black dial, black bezel
Submariner Date 116610LV – steel case, black dial, green bezel
Submariner Date 116613LN – Rolesor case (yellow gold and steel), black dial, black bezel
Submariner Date 116613LB – Rolesor case (yellow gold and steel), blue dial, blue bezel
116618LN a Date the Submariner – housing made of yellow gold, black dial, black Bethel s
Submariner Date 116618LB – yellow gold case, blue dial, blue bezel
Submariner Date 116619LB – white gold case, blue dial, blue bezel
Flashback: How did the Rolex Submariner become legendary diving watches?
In 1973, the film “Live and Let Die” was released, in which James Bond and Solitaire find themselves in a classic situation for the genre: they are about to die a painful and tragic death. Kananga, the main villain of the tape, ties Bond and Solitaire to a platform that descends into the shark pit. The viewer is already ready to believe that the hero has a cover, but that was not the case: Bond presses some magic button on his watch, which, with a wave of his finger, turns into a saw. Agent 007 cuts the ropes, frees himself and Solitaire, finds Kananga and kills him. What is this incredible watch that can turn into a carpentry tool and save a life? Rolex Submariner.
Although this is the first episode in which the Submariner rescued Bond, they were part of the 007 franchise from the beginning. Sean Connery wore such a Rolex in 1962 in Doctor No, the first James Bond movie. He then saved Britain and the world with the Submariner in From Russia with Love, Goldfinger and Fireball. And there is logic in the fact that the most courteous but determined man in the world wears these Rolexes.
The manufacturer introduced the Submariner in 1954 as the first commercial diving watch to withstand diving to 100 meters. Rene-Paul Jeanneret, the general manager of Rolex at the time, was a very experienced diver and a close friend of the famous explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Jeanneret convinced Rolex President Hans Wilsdorf that it was time to seriously invest in a diving watch.
The Submariner was the perfect result of Jeanneret’s plans. This watch was ideal for diving to the seabed (or to a depth of 100 meters), not only because it was waterproof. The master replaced the Arabic numerals with large and easily recognizable geometric shapes: a triangle (or arrow) instead of 12, rectangles instead of 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, and circles (or dots) instead of all other marks. In addition, they received a luminescent coating, thanks to which it became much easier to read the time under water. The unidirectional rotating bezel makes it easy to track how much time a diver has already spent underwater. And the main proof that Rolex has created an ingenious sports watch – the design of the Submariner is repeated by almost all existing diving models.
In 1954, the Institute for Deep Sea Research tested the watch for five months in a row and submitted a report that the Submariner was completely waterproof. “Unlike this model, all other watches designed for diving failed tests literally from the first minutes,” the experts wrote in their conclusion. When Rolex was certified as a Submariner for diving, the manufacturer became a watch supplier for the French engineering and deep-sea company Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises.
The Submariner is now considered one of the most recognizable watches in the world. Rolex has regularly introduced color versions of this model since the 1960s. For example, a gold watch with a navy blue dial. Or the Hulk, a steel Submariner with an emerald bezel. Many experts agree that the latest Submariner 116610 (introduced in 2010) and Halki are the most sought-after Rolex on the market right now. Almost all experiments with mass culture – Batman, Pepsi, Coke – took place on the Submariner platform. Who doesn’t love sugary soda and superhero movies?
Even though collectors appreciate rare models or watches with an interesting history, such as the Cosmograph Daytona, customers are still willing to line up for the Submariner, although this Rolex model has always been produced in large numbers. There are especially many people on the waiting list on Hulk (apparently, it’s all about hidden aggression). The reason is simple: the Submariner – a watch tested by James Bond and experienced divers – symbolizes innovation and quality. What else do you need?
Military Rolex Submariner – history and homies (From archive)
Continuing the conversation about British military watches, it is impossible to ignore such a significant part of history as the Military Rolex Submariner. This Submariner, also known as the “Milsub”, was never marketed or available to the general public. The watch was created, manufactured and distributed exclusively for military use. Various books, instructions and manuals for divers often include references to Rolex watches that were part of the standard equipment for military divers. For example, The BR 2806 Military Diving Manual, known as the Diver’s Bible, mentions this 1972 Rolex. Today people are ready to pay good sums to own this piece of history, because this watch is one of the rarest,
The history of the Rolex Military Submariner
The British were among the first to use divers in the military for a variety of combat and defensive missions. Emerging from World War II, Department of Defense (MOD) officials decided that a reliable diving watch was absolutely essential for combat swimmers. At the time, Rolex was the undisputed leader in waterproof watch technology, and the Department of Defense turned its attention to the Submariner. In 1957, when it was decided to purchase a Submariner since the watch had been produced and improved by the company for several years. The Rolex 6538, which became known as the “Bond watch” thanks to its appearance on the wrist of Sean Connery, has been modified into a special version of the MOD-spec, A / 6538. The special requirements of the military were taken into account, thanks to which, the civil and military versions of the watches received significant differences: fixed (non-removable) pins for the strap, which must be exclusively made of nylon; enlarged bezel so that it can be conveniently used even with a glove; the bezel was made of “German silver” (this is a cupronickel alloy of copper and nickel) for greater corrosion resistance and strength, old bezels could burst upon impact, these only got dents. The factory-installed dials with radium-based luminescent markers, the MOD watchmakers had to make a “relum” (replacement of phosphor mass) due to the dangerous level of radiation. Tritium was used, which marked the appearance of the letter “T” on the dial in a circle. In theory, the new, redesigned Submariner, given the volume of changes, should receive a new catalog number 6540, however, most watches were labeled A / 6538, most likely due to a fairly small batch of watches.
With the introduction of the new Defense Standard 66-4, between 1967 and 1971 the British Department of Defense switched to the Omega Seamaster 300, but about this interesting watch some other time J. Royal Navy also used watches from CYMA, CWC and Precista.
A little later, the British military again came up with an offer to Rolex. They asked for a new version of the Submariner that would meet the fresh Def Stan 66-4, Part 1 Issue 2 standard and take advantage of some of the best practices from the Omega Seamaster. The result is three different MilSubs variants: 5513, 5517 and the double die model 5513/5517.
All models met the MOD specifications: the strap pins were integrated into the temples and were non-removable, the “T” (tritium) markings on the dial, the famous sword-shaped hands and the bezel with a full 60-minute mark, instead of 15 like most other diving watches. A long nylon strap was supposed to allow installing on it, in addition to a watch, a diver’s instrument (console) containing a compass and a depth gauge. The famous sword hands were produced by a third party and, with a fairly large overall surface covered with tritium, tended to oxidize. The MOD identifier was printed on the back cover: usually it is a number starting with 0552 or W10, as well as a somewhat stylized broad arrow, model number and year of manufacture.
All three variants of MilSubs are very similar, with subtle differences mainly in labeling and release date. The early 1970s saw the first release of the Rolex 5513 MilSub, which had a 5513 stamp between the temples. In the mid-70s, there was a transition period when the double stamp 5513 and 5517 was applied to the watch. And, in the end, the most famous Rolex 5517 appeared, which received the corresponding marking.
Vintage Rolex Military Submariners are among the most expensive and coveted by collectors today. People are attracted by the real military origin, confirmed by the relevant documents, thanks to which it is possible to trace the combat history of most watches by their serial number, as well as inaccessibility for civilians and limited editions at one time.
For the entire time, from 1971 to 1979, only about 1200 Rolex MilSubs were produced, of which about 180 have survived to this day. If you want to buy the original A / 6538, 5513, 5513/5517, or 5517 you will have to be patient, spend a lot of time studying the market, you need a reliable seller, because there are many fakes and so-called “cutlets”, as well as a decent bank account. A well-documented Rolex MilSub can cost anywhere from $ 100,000.
And on this note, we smoothly move on to the homemakers.
Rolex Military Submariner Hoodies
Let’s start with Steinhart products. Probably Gunther had the best Rolex MilSub homie. Why was, a little lower. At one time, a roll call to Watchuseek in the thread dedicated to Steinhart watches revealed that almost every second person had purchased this watch. The model, called the Ocean One Vintage Military, has a 42mm case with a 300m water resistance, an ETA 2824-2 movement, a slightly convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective properties. The edge of the glass is chamfered, apparently before the release of Ocean One Vintage, Steinhart could not yet make truly convex sapphire crystals (or saved on production). Such glass is installed to this day, already apparently out of habit.
The “Old Radium” superluminous is applied to the hour markers and hands. The bezel is marked every minute, like the original. There is a circle with the number “1” on the dial. In fact, the military standard assumed that the type of phosphor used should be indicated in the circle, by the first letter. And on the dial of Ocean One Vintage Military, the circle should have had the letter “S” or “L”, because there is already a logo with “S”, and two identical letters are too much. Gunther apparently decided that the circle would mean the letter “O” (Ocean) and the unit, respectively, the model number – “1” (One). So that’s why it was. Recently, the watch has undergone a restyling, and in my subjective opinion, it was better before.
Added a huge inscription “Ocean One” on the dial, which acquired a “sun-burnt” color. None of the Rolex Military Submariner that have survived to this day has a dial that has burned out to such an extent, probably the company tried and used a rather persistent paint in watches for the military. But if I can still put up with the color of the digit, then the huge inscription, in my opinion, is completely inappropriate. The inscription was also replaced, which indicated the level of water resistance: it used to be 200m (this was done in tribute to the Rolex MilSub, which had the same level of protection), now the actual 300m is indicated.
Rolex Submariner COMEX Special Edition
Rolex owes its resounding fame to the sea. The successful design of the world’s first waterproof case “Oyster” made the previously little-known brand worldwide popular overnight. It happened in 1926. Since then, the Rolex name has been inextricably linked with the nautical theme.
In the second half of the 60s, Rolex worked with the French company COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises), which specializes in complex underwater expeditions, to create a watch capable of meeting a wide range of professional requirements. Firstly, in order for the watch to be guaranteed to withstand water pressure at great depths, it was necessary to solve the problem with the tightness of the case. However, the most difficult task was not water resistance, but the fact that at great depths the watch case literally exploded, risking serious damage to divers during their stay in the hyperbaric chamber.
The problem was solved by installing a special valve in the body through which helium atoms escaped without harming either the watch or its owner. The valve was automatically opened at the moment when the difference between the pressure inside the watch and outside reached 2.5 kg / cm2.
The first helium valves, patented at the end of 1967, were installed on the experimental Submariner 5513 COMEX series produced from 1969 to 1971. An interesting detail: the valve on the watches of this series was of a small diameter and was made not of stainless steel, but of chrome-plated steel, so there are often cases when, due to oxidation, the case in this part began to turn black.
From 1972 to 1977, Rolex produced a limited series of Submariner 5514 models exclusively for COMEX. This time the helium escape valve is made of stainless steel, and the batch number is stamped on the case back.
Both Submariner COMEX series were served in caliber 1520.
In addition to these two prototypes, Rolex supplied other models to COMEX. From the second half of the 60s to 1997, COMEX divers’ equipment included standard Submariner 5513 and 1665 (Sea-Dweller) with acrylic glass on the dial, from the late 80s – versions with sapphire crystal.
The technical Rolex Submariner COMEX was never sold and is a very rare model which today is resold for € 100,000 – € 200,000
Rumor has it that a total of 300 prototypes of the 5514 COMEX have been produced and the number of all COMEX models is known only to Rolex and COMEX.
Problems, world-records and achievments that come along with Rolex Submariner History and a legendary model…
Rolex owes its resounding fame to the sea. The successful design of the world’s first waterproof case “oyster” made the previously little-known brand worldwide popular overnight. It happened in 1926. Since then, the Rolex name has been inextricably linked with the nautical theme.
Rolex owes its resounding fame to the sea. The successful design of the world’s first waterproof case “oyster” made the previously little-known brand worldwide popular overnight. It happened in 1926. Since then, the Rolex name has been inextricably linked with the nautical theme. In the wake of this success, the company has created some of the best diving watches in the world and has continued to produce various modifications of them for many decades.
In the middle of the last century, the world experienced a new mass hobby – underwater diving. This happened largely thanks to two French people – Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Frederic Dumas. The first in 1943 invented scuba diving, and the second set several world records for deep diving with it. In 1953, two renowned Frenchmen published the book In the World of Silence, which was a tremendous success. In 1956, the book was used for the film that won the Oscar and Palme d’Or in Cannes. All of this has contributed to a huge increase in the popularity of scuba diving and the creation of numerous diving clubs around the world. In such a context, the world’s first mass-produced deep-sea diving watch was simply doomed to success. This was the case in 1953, when Rolex first launched its famous divers’ model Ref. 6204.
On the eve of World War II, the Florentine company Officine Panerai purchased cases, movement blanks and screw-down crowns for the Italian Navy watches, which came out under the serial number Panerai 3646 from Rolex.
The first “submariners”
I must say that professional underwater watches for naval saboteurs appeared in the Italian navy a little earlier, on the eve of World War II. But these were models that were manufactured in very limited quantities by orders of the military department and are therefore not available to the general public. The official supplier of the Italian Navy was the well-known today Florentine company Officine Panerai, but the Italians bought cases, movement blanks and screw-down crowns from Rolex. Actually Italian in this watch, which came out under the serial number Panerai 3646, was only a branded dial with luminous radium indexes and a protective crown bracket that appeared a little later. The collaboration with Panerai Rolex continued after the war, until the early 1950s (Panerai 6152). Therefore, Rolex did not come up with the idea of creating a massive diving watch from scratch. Moreover, among all the watch companies of that time, Rolex was the most prepared for their release. The first batch of diving watches, released by Rolex in 1953 for mass use, did not yet have the name Submariner and came out simply with a black dial, in the upper part of which stood the traditional Rolex oyster perpetual in two lines. And even when the name was soon coined, Rolex decided not to put the word submariner on the dial until it was copyrighted: the model name was painted over with black paint to match the dial, with this darker rectangle clearly visible. Among collectors, these several hundred copies are of particular value and are called blackout, which can be translated as “blacked out”. Only after the premiere at the Basel Exhibition in 1954, the watch officially received its now famous name. Initially, the name was printed on the dial in two versions. Either instead of the word oyster (it turned out submariner perpetual) at the top, or at the bottom. In the future, the second option, which is customary today, remained. The first watch was claimed to dive to 300 feet (approximately 90 meters), then to 100 meters. The first Submariner had its own automatic caliber A260, created in 1950, which was housed in a steel case with a diameter of 37 mm and a height of 13 mm. The new watch immediately had a rotating bezel, although the usual graduation of the first 15 minutes was not yet available. The crown on the 6204 model did not yet have protection and was smaller than usual (only 5.3 mm). The hour and second hands were also different from the following ones: the hour was without a “Mercedes” mug, and the second had a so-called dot at the end. Rolex put a lot of emphasis on promoting new watches, sending them for testing at the various dive training centers that were ubiquitous at the time. Since this was the first dedicated watch, most testers willingly purchased the Submariner after a free trial. Fortunately, the price quite allowed it – the first Submariners cost less than $ 100. Rolex produced the 6204 for a little over a year, and at the end of 1954 replaced it with a new one. Today, the first Submariner is a great collector’s item. It is almost impossible to find these watches in perfect, not worn form, and the copies in good quality, working condition are estimated at around 15-20 thousand francs. In reality, at auctions, they go even more expensive – from 30 to 50 thousand francs. Some experts believe that at the same time as the 6204, and perhaps even a little earlier than it, Rolex began to produce the 6200, although its production officially began in 1954. This version is supported by the smaller serial number of the model, and its caliber – А296, which appeared before the caliber А260, installed on 6204, and the same absence of the name on the dial. Whether it is true or not, it is difficult to say with certainty, but the 6200 model was produced for a short time and therefore it is highly valued today. Outwardly, it was distinguished from the 6204 by a larger case (38 mm) and a crown (8 mm), which was also unprotected. The 6200 now has the usual Mercedes hour hand and the second hand with a dot dropped below the tip. The 6200 had the same bi-directional rotating bezel for counting decompression times. For these reasons, Ref. 6200 has even more reason to be considered the ancestor of the Submariner line. Perhaps that is why the very first and completely authentic copies of these watches in working order can cost more than 100,000 francs today.
*Ref. 6204 Submariner blackout
The authenticity of the various Rolex models must be discussed separately, as the price of a watch largely depends on it. We are talking about using only “native” Rolex parts, only in the models for which they were produced, and only in accordance with the period of production of the watches of the same model. For example, the presence of welts with separate graduation of the first 15 minutes on models 6204 and 6200, released in 1953, would mean “incomplete authenticity”, since such welts appeared later. In fact, this is a very serious problem faced by all collectors of old Rolex without exception. Often mistakes occur when repairing watches, and even authorized service centers make them. It is necessary, say, to replace the crown on the watch, and in the service center (sometimes due to the lack of the necessary one) they can put a steel watch on a white-gold watch. Outwardly, they look the same, but each crown, both twinlock and triplock, has its own pattern, and the specialist will immediately notice the discrepancy. And this can happen with many details. The owner of the watch, if he is not a collector, needs the mechanism to work properly and accurately show the time, so many do not pay attention to such “trifles”. But if it comes to selling watches, problems can arise. One of the most famous collectors and connoisseurs of Rolex, Guido Mondani, strictly adhered to a firm rule – never to purchase a watch in his collection if he had the slightest doubt about their complete authenticity. Even when he needed a model. Of course, not all collectors of old Rolex adhere to such “purism”, but the prices for different collections are very different. Mondani believed there was a huge number of Rolex on the market that serious collectors should avoid. And the main thing that you need to pay attention to is technical serviceability, because if the watch needs restoration, it will be extremely difficult and expensive to find the “right” spare parts. Today, due to the huge number of counterfeits, Rolex only supplies parts to its authorized dealerships, and only those that come with the company’s current models. In this regard, it would be appropriate to say that Rolex is the only watch company whose spare parts are not only highly rated, but are themselves a well-demanded auction item. The difficulty in identifying fully authentic Rolex arises also because the company from the very beginning produced several different Submariner models at the same time, many of which were completely interchangeable. Sometimes the manufacturer himself completed the watch with parts originally intended for other models, which adds even more confusion and a certain degree of conventionality to the understanding of “authenticity”. So, in the late 1950s, Rolex produced three more Submariner variations in the 6 Series (models starting with the number 6) – Ref. 6205, 6536 and 6538. Model 6205, for example, had the same case (37 mm) and caliber (A260) as the 6204, and the size of the crown as the 6200. The hour and second hands of this model may be the same, like the 6204, or maybe like the 6200. On the 6205, Rolex for the first time began to calibrate the first 15 minutes separately, but some copies came out without it. Another model, the 6536, received a new caliber for the Submariner (1030) and a new crown (6 mm). Its water resistance remained the same (100 meters or 330 feet), and for the first time Rolex began to inscribe these numbers on the lower part of the dial. But not immediately, and the first watches of this model came out, as before, without indicating water resistance. The inscriptions that appeared a little later were of different variants. Early copies of the 6536 very rarely have the inscription “100/330” in red. It is believed that it persisted only during the experimental stage. Watches with such markings are somewhat more expensive. The 6536 was the first Submariner to be certified by Rolex for Precision (COSC), but has not yet written about it on the dial. Certification was not yet “universal”, and those copies
Ref.6200, 1953 year
The most famous watch of the 6th series is undoubtedly the model 6538, the famous James Bond watch. Some experts call all the 6 Series Submariners “Bond watches”, but this is not entirely accurate. It is believed that it was the model 6538 Sean Connery wore in the first Bond ribbon – Dr. No (1962). The first watches of this model had the old water resistance, but later Rolex brought it up to 200 m (660 ft), as a permanent inscription on the dial. Since 1958, Rolex began to receive chronometer certificates (COSC) for this model, as well as the corresponding inscription (officially certified chronometer). Collectors value those pieces with a full, 4-line markings (including the watch name) at the bottom of the dial. In good condition, such a watch can cost over 100,000 francs. However, it should be said that in such a condition it is extremely difficult to find any Submariner of the 6th series, and in ideal condition it is almost impossible. A variant of the model 6538, made for the military, is quoted even higher. Usually, the letter A is added to identify it (i.e. A / 6538 or 6538A). These are the first Submariners made by the company for the military. It is believed that in the second half of 1957, Rolex produced a very small batch of watches for the special forces of the British Royal Navy, which initially wanted to be attributed to the non-existent reference 6540 (this figure is stamped on the inside of the case back and crossed out on all known copies), but then changed his mind and referred to the model 6538. All these watches have a dial, unusual for the Submariner, with the designation of 3, 6 and 9 o’clock in numerals (Explorer dial). In 1961, the British Department of Defense decided to replace all watches with radium markings on its balance sheet with less dangerous tritium ones. However, several copies of the old model survived and are now very rare. One such watch with the help of a metal detector was found several years ago under a layer of sand on the beach and was estimated at more than $ 200,000. It is not known how they got there and how long they lay there, but, having survived numerous ocean ebb and flow, the watch practically did not suffer.
Ref. A / 6538, military Submariner 1957 the year
In the late 1950s, Rolex decided to convert the entire Submariner lineup to the 5 Series so that all references start with 55. The first came in 1957, the 5508, which took the 6536 and 6536/1 out of production in a couple of years. The size of the case has not changed, but a different caliber was placed in it (1530, in later versions 1560 is sometimes found). Water resistance remained the same (100/330), the crown still had no protection. A small batch of this watch was made in 1962 for the British Navy. They were distinguished by a luminescent point on the dial at the 6 o’clock position. In the same year, the first Bond film was released. Therefore, the 5508 is also sometimes referred to as the “Bond watch”, although this is not entirely correct. In 1958, the 6538 was replaced by the 5510, which was also fitted with a new caliber (1530). It was produced for only a year, and in 1959 it was replaced by the 5512. It already had many important differences from its predecessors. First, the case size has grown to 40 mm.
The Ref. 5512, worn by famous Hollywood actor and race car driver Steve McQueen, was auctioned in 2009 for $ 234,000. Roger Moore starred in Bond in the same watch
Secondly, the traditional welt was made a little wider than the watch case, so that it was convenient to rotate it under water in diving gloves. Finally, it was on this model that the crown was protected for the first time. The first few hundred examples, released in 1959, had square guards, which collectors call square guards. During trials, divers complained that the crown was uncomfortable with these beads, and Rolex sharpened them slightly into a pointed guard. The head screwing mechanism has also undergone changes. While the 5512 was originally equipped with a twinlock system, it was replaced by a more reliable triplock. Over the years, and these watches were produced until the end of the 1970s, they were fitted with calibers 1530, 1560 and 1570. Most of the watches of this model are certified by Rolex as chronometers, about which the corresponding inscription soon began to appear on their dials. Non-certified Rolex copies began to be attributed to another model – 5513, which introduces some confusion in their identification. Models 5512 and 5513 are not rare and therefore not very expensive, but it is almost impossible to find them in perfect condition.
For the French and British
For the next decade, Rolex made no additions or changes to the Submariner lineup until the Ref. 5514 was born in 1972. It was the same 5512 watch, but made for professional divers from the French company Comex SA. Their hallmark was the invented and patented Rolex Helium Escape Valve (HEV). During decompression after long deep-sea dives, the helium accumulated in the watch expanded so much that it blew up the watch glass. Rolex invented a simple mechanism for releasing excess gas through a valve, which was placed in the side wall of the case at the 9 o’clock position. These watches never went on sale, but were delivered directly to Comex. Only a few hundred of them were made, and at first they were produced without the logo of the diving company, but soon Rolex began to write the word Comex on the lower part of the dial. Such models are extremely rare and therefore highly prized by collectors, especially if they belonged to a famous diver. In these cases, their auction value can go up to 100,000 francs. The record for this watch belongs to the only known piece made without a helium valve – 170,500 francs. Finally, one more “avatar” model 5512 went to the British Navy special forces. This is an extremely rare 5517 model that first appeared in 1972. Rolex has worked with military submariners from different countries in the past. In the 1960s, the Submariner watch was very popular in the divisions of the American “navy seals”, they were purchased by the military departments of some other NATO countries, including Great Britain. But it was a watch in the standard basic configuration of the Ref. 5513. Possible minor modifications did not give reason to single them out in a special model. In 1971, the British Department of Defense ordered the first batch of Submariners from Rolex, subject to certain conditions.
First, the watch had to have hands more visible in low light. This is how the “sword” hour hand, the enlarged “pencil” minute hand and the “spear” second hand with a luminescent rhombus on the tip appeared. Secondly, the strap attachment roller had to be welded and solid (at least 2 mm in diameter). Thirdly, the dial was supposed to have the international designation of tritium, which was used to process all the luminous details. Fourthly, the entire 60-minute circle had to be graduated on the bezel of the watch. Finally, codes and symbols of the British and NATO armed forces were to be applied to the back of the case. Rolex felt that there were more than enough such innovations to give the watch its own model number. The British military liked the watch very much. So much so that when I retire, they preferred to declare their loss during service and pay a £ 20 fine rather than return them to the military. It is quite possible to understand them – after all, the name of each specific owner was encoded on the back of the watch, and the overwhelming majority of the special forces left the “personalized” watch as a keepsake. In total, the British Department of Defense ordered about 1200 copies from Rolex (in 6 receptions). It is clear that such watches rarely find their way to the secondary market, especially in an authentic form (you can hardly find a native welt with a 60-minute graduation at all). Hence the very high cost of emerging units – it can easily pass over 100,000 francs. It is quite possible to understand them – after all, the name of each specific owner was encoded on the back of the watch, and the overwhelming majority of the special forces left the “personalized” watch as a keepsake. In total, the British Department of Defense ordered about 1200 copies from Rolex (in 6 receptions). It is clear that such watches rarely find their way to the secondary market, especially in an authentic form (you can hardly find a native welt with a 60-minute graduation at all). Hence the very high cost of emerging units – it can easily pass over 100,000 francs. It is quite possible to understand them – after all, the name of each specific owner was encoded on the back of the watch, and the overwhelming majority of the special forces left the “personalized” watch as a keepsake. In total, the British Department of Defense ordered about 1200 copies from Rolex (in 6 receptions). It is clear that such watches rarely find their way to the secondary market, especially in an authentic form (you can hardly find a native welt with a 60-minute graduation at all). Hence the very high cost of emerging units – it can easily pass over 100,000 francs. especially in its authentic form (you will hardly find a native welt with a 60-minute graduation at all). Hence the very high cost of emerging units – it can easily pass over 100,000 francs. especially in its authentic form (you will hardly find a native welt with a 60-minute graduation at all). Hence the very high cost of emerging units – it can easily pass over 100,000 francs.
Eye of the Cyclops
In the late 1960s, Rolex discovers a new digital designation for its Submariners and creates the base model 1680, which receives the date in a window at 3 o’clock and a magnifying glass above it (called the eye of the cyclops). In addition, the Submariner appears for the first time in yellow gold cases. In the early 1970s, Rolex began to focus on the American market and therefore prints the depth designation first in feet, and only then in meters. However, the blanks of the old dials, where the meters were the first, are also used and are found on the early copies of this model. The Submariner name is mostly applied to the dial in white paint, but there are also red markings. Overall, the base 1680 is not particularly rare or valuable.
The same cannot be said about her specials. For example, about a batch made for the Sultanate of Oman. Or about the watches ordered from Rolex by the houses of Cartier and Tiffany, the names of which are mentioned on the dials. In 1979, Rolex created the 16800, which had three major differences from its predecessor. First, starting with this model, the Submariner received a sapphire crystal. Second, the water resistance has been increased to 300 meters (1000 feet). Thirdly, the watch received a new caliber – 3035. Until 1984, the hour markers on the dial remained in their old form, and after that they began to be framed with a gold edging. The 16800 version, which was produced simultaneously with it in yellow gold, received the designation 16808, and the combined one (steel and yellow gold) – Ref. 16803. Finally, for less than a year, Rolex produced another model from this range – 168,000. Its only difference was the higher quality steel (904L instead of 316), from which the hulls were made. Several hundred examples of the 1680, 16800 and 168000 models (all without the helium escape valve) Rolex made for the Comex.
The era of kerachrome
It remains to tell about the modern Submariner line. In 1991, Rolex discontinued the longest lasting model in the collection, the Ref. 5513, which had been around for almost 30 years, and instead began producing the Ref. 14060, which continues to be issued with the letter “M” to this day. This is the simplest model, and the only one in the line that does not have a date. Starting with it, the Submariner received a welt that rotates only counterclockwise. In the late 1980s, Rolex gradually phased out the 16800s and began producing the 16610s. The first in 1988 were the models 16610, 16613 and 16618. All these watches were equipped with a new caliber (3135), and the size of their case (40 mm) and the declared water resistance (300 m) remained the same. Among themselves, the models differ in the material of manufacture, as well as in the color of the dials and welts. More gold and combo versions appeared, including the first white gold model (116619), which clearly claims to be a “glamorous niche”. The most radical changes have taken place with the bezel of the new watches.
The old ones were often criticized for being easily scratched and tended to fade in the sun and tarnish from exposure to salt water. To remedy this, Rolex came up with a new ceramic material, Cerachrom, and since 2008 has been adding them to its Submariners. Models with new ceramic welts received an additional one at the beginning of the reference (for example, 16618, now 116618). 2003 marked the 50th anniversary of the Submariner and Rolex released a green welted version (16610LV). Initially, there was an idea to make it limited, but the watch became very popular and took a permanent place in the line. Today this version comes with a green dial (the first editions were with a black one) and a ceramic welt (Ref. 116610LV). It is worth highlighting the hours dedicated to the transfer of the Panama Canal to Panama.
The story of the Submariner would be incomplete without mentioning its deepest, professional version – the Deepsea (Sea-Dweller). Since the mid-1950s, the company has conducted extensive research into deep sea diving. The result was several world records, the crown of which was a dive in 1960 to the bottom of the Mariana Trench (10,916 m) together with the Trieste bathyscaphe. Attached to the body of the bathyscaphe, a special edition of the Rolex Deep Sea Special withstood phenomenal loads (1 ton per cm2) and returned unharmed to the surface, as the Swiss oceanographer Jacques Picard, who participated in the dive, sent an enthusiastic telegram to the founder of Rolex, Hans Wilsdorf: “I am glad to announce that your watch as accurate at 10,916 meters as on the surface! ” The model was produced in only a few copies, and one of them was sold at auction in 2003 for 124,500 francs. In 1967, Rolex created the first Deepsea production watch for professional divers, the Ref. 1665. Initially, they were produced in very small quantities and were intended only for professionals. The watches went on public sale in 1971, so sometimes the beginning of their production is dated to this time, which is not accurate. The earliest examples claimed water resistance of 500 meters, but soon increased to 610 meters (2,000 feet). From the outset, the model received a helium escape valve, and since then Rolex has supplied it to all deep sea versions. The caseback of the first watch is engraved with “Patent Pending”. Rolex made such an inscription in anticipation of obtaining a patent for a helium escape valve. On a very limited number of the first watches 1665, Sea-Dweller, Submariner is written in two lines at the bottom of the dial in red letters. They are usually called double red.
10 years after the first deep-sea version appeared, Rolex replaced it with the next one – Ref. 16660. The new model features caliber 3035, sapphire crystal, an improved helium escape valve and, most importantly, its water resistance has been doubled to 1220 meters (4000 feet). In 1988, Rolex changed the caliber to the deep-sea version (became 3135) and gave it a new designation – Ref. 16600. Finally, in 2008, the newest deep-sea watch Ref. 116660 appeared with outstanding performance: it is able to operate normally at a depth of 4 km (3900 m / 12800 ft). These are the stated figures, but in reality the watch is tested by Rolex in a hyperbaric chamber, where they are subjected to a pressure of 4.5 tons. A new system of case flaps connection (Ringlock), a thicker (5 mm) and slightly convex sapphire crystal helped to achieve such high results. as well as a special titanium alloy from which the case back is made. Model 116660 is equipped with a new ceramic welt with 60-minute graduations. The caliber remains the same (3135), but the case has grown significantly – up to 44 mm. This watch is still produced today. Nowadays, there are sometimes voices that Rolex is boring and lagging behind modern life. This is what people say who have never worn a watch of this brand on their wrist. Try to put them on and you will instantly feel the touch of the legend. Rolex has a unique aura – a special world that unites millions of fans. And among the models of Rolex watches, their glorious Submariner (I say this because they own more than one world record) are the most iconic. They are collected more than other models. They are preferred by both professional divers and many celebrities.