Which Rolex Submariner?
Here we look at the wide range of Rolex Submariners (or “Subs” for short) which are available on the market today, the differences in the models along with the references, and some of the nicknames that the more popular models have come to be known by. Hopefully, by the end of this blog, you should know all you need to about the Rolex Submariner and be able to understand even the biggest watch geek when they are talking about this iconic Rolex model.
So let’s get back to basics then, for some people who may be new to the Rolex brand or at least new to Rolex Submariners. The Submariner model comes from a range of sports watches manufactured by the Swiss watch manufacturer everyone knows, Rolex.
The Submariner was developed as a diving watch back in 1953 and was one of the very first “deep” (300m / 1000ft) diving watches developed for that purpose. The main feature of the Rolex Submariner is the unidirectional rotatable bezel. The engraved 60-minute graduations allow a diver to accurately monitor their diving time and decompression stops using the bezel. The bezel insert is manufactured from a ceramic material called “Cerachrome” and Rolex claim it to be virtually scratch proof. The zero marker on the bezel is a luminescent capsule which glows in the dark and allows you to read it even in the darkest environments, this coupled with an easy grip around the edge to be able to operate using diving gloves allows the Submariner to be perfect for what it was designed for, diving.
The Submariner in its initial use as a tool watch has really gone on to become one of, if not the, most iconic watch in History.
The longevity of this watch and its place as an icon I believe is down to the simplicity of the design when you look at most watches now they have some element of inspiration from the Submariner. Well, let’s face it the design is that simple that even if you had never seen a Rolex Submariner before and you were asked to draw a watch this is probably something like what it would look like.
A lot of the prestige and history leading to the popularity of the Rolex is down to famous people who have been seen wearing them, probably most famously James Bond. Sean Connery, the actor who played James Bond between 1962 and 1983 wore a Rolex Submariner reference 6538 in the James Bond movies Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and Thunderball. In some of these movies, the original Rolex oyster bracelet was swapped out for a leather strap and in others a NATO strap. Who knows in the future when Bond returns to Rolex he may be wearing a Vulcan Watch Strap!
In more recent Bond movies James Bond is now wearing the Omega brand of watches. I think Rolex have missed a trick here and should have tried to stay with Bond for the duration, after all, he is an iconic movie figure. I think Rolex should have also been more on the ball in getting the first watch into Space, Omega beat them to that too with the Speedmaster in 1966 sending 2 watches into space on the Apollo 11 mission. But that’s just my opinion…and we digress.
So the great Rolex Submariner started its production in 1953 but was only made public via the world-renowned trade fair in Switzerland which is called Basel world. For anyone who doesn’t know the Basel world watch fair is held once a year in Basel, Switzerland and dates back to 1917. It’s where the who’s who of watch manufacturing go to announce their latest offerings and release new models for viewing to the trade and public. I myself attended the Basel World watch fair event this year (2018), it was a good show but not as open as I would have liked and you couldn’t get as hands-on with the watches as I would have liked, but it was still a great show to be a part of.
So back to the Submariner, there are a number of different models within the Rolex Submariner range, there are really too many to list all of them throughout its history, so for the purpose of this blog we are just going to look at some of the more popular models which are still in production and available today.
Rolex Submariner Reference 114060 (The “no date sub”)
The no date sub is the most basic model Submariner on the market today, simple in the design and missing the date window and Cyclops so synonymous with the Submariner, this model is elegant and simple. Manufactured from a 904L stainless steel body and complete with the 904L stainless steel oyster bracelet this model looks great with a wetsuit or a formal suit, at the beach or at a cocktail party. Boasting the in-house Rolex 3130 movement this Submariner really is a beautiful timepiece. Complete with its iconic black dial the Rolex Submariner No Date is just a class act. This model retails at £5450 if you can find one from an Authorised Dealer anywhere in the world. There is currently a worldwide shortage of Rolex sports models around the World but we will look into that in another blog.
Rolex Submariner Reference 116610 LN (Sub Date)
The “no date subs” big brother this Submariner is very similar to the no date but as you would expect this model has the date window and the Rolex patented “Cyclops” feature. The Cyclops magnifies the date window by 2.5 times to allow the user to see the date numerals more clearly. This submariner incorporates the Rolex in house 3135 movement in this mechanical masterpiece. With a 40mm case like all of the current submariners and integrating the new maxi-dial design introduced at Basel world in 2012. This is one of the most common submariners you will see around today. The Maxi Dial was a design change brought around and incorporated the larger "Chromalight" hour markers which makes the whole face of the Rolex look a little larger. Retailing at £6250, slightly higher than the "no date sub" as you would expect with the additional complication.
Rolex Submariner Reference 116610 LV (The Hulk)
I personally own one of these 116610LV submariners. It was a watch that I have wanted for a long time, its very bold and stands out from the crowd, not for the faint-hearted, I wear mine with an Emerald Green Vulcan Watch Strap (obviously) and it looks great. The Hulk looks just as good with a suit as a pair of shorts like all of the Rolex Submariners, which I believe is one of the great things about the submariner and why it is so popular. The features of this submariner are all the same as the 116610LN the only difference being the green Cerachrome bezel and the green graduated dial. The green colour on this submariner is a similar green to the “Rolex green” you see on the new Rolex watch boxes you get your brand new Rolex in packaged in today. The dial has a sort of graduated tint to it and it looks great in different lights, probably one of my favorites of the Submariner range, hey that’s why I own one. Retailing currently at £6600 this model creeps up slightly in price over the standard black sub. But these Submariners are now going for around £10k on the "grey" market due to the popularity.
Rolex Submariner Reference 116613 LB (Bluesy)
This submariner is another one of my favorites, I used to own one and really wish I had kept it but I traded in to get an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore. I am aiming to get this watch back into my collection as soon as I can, I think the Azure Blue Vulcan Watch Strap looks awesome on this reference. This model is what is commonly referred to as the “two-tone” or “bi-metal” Submariner, the reason, well it is manufactured from two dissimilar materials, 18ct gold, and stainless steel. Sometimes referred to as the “Bluesy” due to the absolutely beautiful blue dial. The specification on this submariner is the same as the 116610LV in terms of movements and features etc. but has the added luxury and bling of the 18ct gold highlights. Many people are not fans of the bi-metallic look but I think they look great, especially in the blue. A great watch to own and wear at the beach or in a suit, this submariner looks great in both. Retailing at £9900 we are starting to creep uo to 5 figures on your wrist now.
Rolex Submariner Reference 116613 LN (Bumble Bee)
This Rolex Submariner is the brother to the 116613 LB, in that all the features are the same, the movements and case are all the same but this reference submariner is black where the previous is blue. I personally prefer the blue as I think it just looks more elegant. But the black looks cool too in a more understated way. Retailing at the same price as the 116613LB £9900.
Rolex Submariner Reference 116618 LB
Now we start looking at the submariners for the big players. The 18ct solid gold submariners. Again much the same as 116613 LB but where the stainless steel once was this Submariner is all gold, that’s right manufactured for 18ct solid gold, even Mr. T would be proud of this reference. This is a watch for you to really stand out. I have personally worn this watch and the weight of it just feels great, I love heavy watches. I am not a fan of titanium watches for that reason. When I have paid a large amount of money for something I think the weight should reflect that and with this Submariner it certainly does. Retailing at a whopping £25,050 this really is an investment in wrist real-estate.
Rolex Submariner Reference 116618 LN
This Rolex Submariner is the same as the 116618 LB again all 18ct gold, but instead of the blue above this submariner is coloured black. Retailing at the same price of £25,050
Rolex Submariner Reference 116619 LB (The Smurf)
The Rolex Submariner reference 116619LB nicknamed “The Smurf” is manufactured from solid 18k white gold and has a blue ceramic bezel insert. This is for the real players. Anyone who doesn’t know Rolex Submariners at first glance would think that this is a standard stainless steel submariner, but at 5x the price of a normal Rolex Submariner, the 116619 LB sits firmly at the top as the king of the Submariners, or "poppa smurf" if you like. Retailing at £27,150 I would definitely spend the extra to get this version over the 116618LB.
So which one would you choose the “hulk” or the “smurf” or one of the others?
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