The History and Evolution of the Rolex Submariner Blog Banner Image

– The History and Evolution of the Rolex Submariner

The History and Evolution of the Rolex Submariner

The Launch Of The Rolex Submariner

The launching of the Submariner marked the beginning of an enduring classic and favorite of the Rolex collection, proving to be one of the more popular timepieces from the top-tier brand. The Submariner collection paved the way for other Rolex watches to follow like the Sea Dweller and the Deepsea, although it is by far the brand’s most famous diving watch. In fact, the Submariner is currently the most well-known and best-selling watch by Rolex who appropriately coined it “the reference among divers’ watches”, as it truly set the standard for others of its genre. This iconic classic has come a long way since it first emerged in 1953, releasing its newest version just this year.

Rolex Submariner Date with green dial and bezel One of the most iconic Submariner models, the “Hulk” Ref. 116610LV

Rolex Setting New Standards For Watchmaking

As suggested by its name, the Submariner was originally created and specifically geared for the purpose of underwater diving and exploring. Inspired by Rolex’s Oyster line, the brand introduced the Oyster Perpetual Submariner in 1953, a new and improved version of the Oyster Perpetual watch complete with a rotating bezel, improved water resistance, and the capability of submerging as deep as 100 meters. Thus, the Rolex Submariner was born. Its launching represented a significant turning point for not only Rolex, but for watchmaking history overall, as it was now the first watch capable of diving to such depths – setting an exciting new standard for diving watches.

Rolex Submariner with black dial and black bezel An iconic and fan favorite piece, the Rolex Submariner 116610LN

The Submariner Reaching New Depths

The Submariner’s characteristic features, such as its waterproofness, durability, and overall performance have continued to evolve and improve over the years. Particularly in the first few years following its launch, several impressive new features were introduced. In 1959, the Submariner literally doubled its maximum diving depths from 100 meters to an impressive 200 meters by upgrading the watch’s design with the use of sapphire crystal. The following year, a magnified “cyclops” date window was added to the Submariner Date models. Two years later, in 1962, the Submariner became the first model to be fitted with a crown guard, an exclusive Rolex improvement that added to the watch’s protection and ruggedness. This new feature made it that much more waterproof and shockproof than its predecessors that only featured small crowns. Today, the Submariner can submerge to a remarkable depth of 300 meters. Collectively, these new and improved features have all matched the robust nature and direction of the Submariner that Rolex had intended.

Rolex Submariner Date 126610LV The Submariner Date with a green Cerachrom bezel and black dial with large luminescent hour markers.

The Rolex Submariner Calibers

The Submariner collection is equipped with some of the most durable in-house movements manufactured by Rolex, which is a major part of what makes it the ultra-reliable tool watch that it is. Prior to this year, Submariner watches were powered by either the Calibre 3130 (no date model) or the Calibre 3135 (date model). With the release of the new 2020 Submariner 126610 generation came new movements too – the Calibre 3230 (no date model) and Calibre 3235 (date model). With improved accuracy and stability compared to the older 3130 and 3135 movements, these newer 3230 and 3235 movements are yet another advancement in the Submariner line. The most notable upgrade with the newest Submariner, however, is the increase in power reserve from 48 hours in the older Subs to now an impressive 70-hour total reserve – essentially offering an entire additional day of uninterrupted running time.

The Submariner: New & Old

With eight enticing new models recently gracing the market, the Submariner collection continues to be one of Rolex’s most coveted. Aside from new in-house calibres and an extended power reserve, the 2020 versions of the Submariners have also increased in size by a mere 1 mm in the dial. However subtle this change, along with other diminutive aesthetic tweaks, the release of the new Rolex collection caused quite a stir as watch heads everywhere tried getting their hands on the various new 126610 Subs. But as with most vintage Rolex watches, older Submariner models are especially rare and very highly coveted among watch enthusiasts, with few pieces available on the market. Vintage Submariners are some of the more exclusive and expensive timepieces being sold in today’s secondary market, making them exciting hard-to-get targets for collectors. Older subs that are particularly sought after are the earliest models without crown guards, as well as versions with the lacquered gilt dials. Another popular model, the Rolex Submariner 5513, was made famous by James Bond and is naturally another highly coveted vintage piece.  

Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513 Photo of the Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513 by jk_watches83 on Instagram

Top Of The Diving Watch World

Created in collaboration with the diving community to tailor to the avid diver’s needs, the Rolex Submariner continues to define the diving watch genre to this day. It has since diversified to fit more versatile water activities besides diving, as well as a range of non-water activities – proving to be equally at home out of the water. Over the years, it has become a popular all-around watch of choice amongst watch enthusiasts from all walks of life, including professional athletes, famous musicians, and Hollywood celebrities. Nearly seventy years after its emergence, the Rolex Submariner continues to grow in popularity due to its evolving versatility and ubiquity, and it will certainly remain an iconic timepiece for years to come.

Rolex Submariner Date with black bezel and dial The discontinued Rolex Submariner Date Ref. 116610LN

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