The Submariner has been in production since 1953. With 65 years on the market, it comes as no surprise that it is one of the world’s most recognizable and sought-after sports watches. It also boasts decades of history, making it an essential addition to the Rolex line.
According to Bob’s Watches, “The model comes in Oystersteel, white & yellow gold, and two-tone metals with date and no date variants. Made famous by James Bond films, this iconic sports watch has a 40mm case size and functions as a dive watch.”
The concept behind the Submariner was initially suggested by Rolex board member René-Paul Jeanneret, who just so happened to be an experienced diver himself. While other waterproof watches were already available in the Rolex line, he suggested a tool-watch variation with an increased depth rating and highly wearable style.
The result was the Submariner which made its first official debut at Basel World 1954. Since that time, the line has evolved into a line of dive watches that are waterproof up to 1,000 feet and offer refined components such as 904L stainless steel, rotating bezels, chronometer-rated movements, and sophisticated clasps. Here are the top Submariners picked by Bob’s Watches.
The Most Iconic Submariners
The Submariner collection is extensive. Each new reference that was added to the line was deliberate, bringing with it some form of refinement or new feature. It’s the brand’s commitment to perfecting their existing watches that results in such an incredible collection.
James Bond Submariner ref. 6538
In addition to being the first Submariner with a big crown, the ref. 6538 also famously adorned Sean Connery’s wrist in the 1962 James Bond flick Dr. No. This particular reference is a rare collector’s item. The 6538 is a watch that most collected drool over. Should the opportunity to own this watch arise, you should consider it.
Red Submariner ref. 1680
The first instance of a date display in Submariner line was in the 1960s with the addition of ref. 1680. Also known as the “Red Submariner”, this reference is available in seven different dial variations, some of which feature a desirable red font, and it is also the first Submariner to feature a date window. This vintage Rolex Submariner is highly desirable and has collectors drooling.
Transitional Submariner ref. 16800
The Submariner ref. 16800 was the first in the line to receive a calibre 3035 perpetual movement, transitioning the line from the 15XX series of movements to a new generation of high-beat movements. This reference also brought with it a sapphire crystal and an increased depth rating of up to 1,000 feet.
The Submariner ref. 16610 was produced from 1987-2010, making it one of the most readily available dive watches on the secondary market. Its sheer presence on the market alone qualifies the ref. 16610 as an instant icon. This reference also heralded in a modern era of watchmaking by offering a new dial topped with lume in white gold surrounds and the brand’s calibre 3135 perpetual movement.
Ceramic Submariner ref. 116610
2010 saw the addition of a 6-digit Submariner in stainless steel, or what Rolex refers to as Oystersteel. Collectors were also pleased to see that the case was fixed with fatter lugs, a maxi dial with a larger luminous display, and a bezel with a Cerachrom, or ceramic, insert.
There Are Several Components That Classify The Submariner As A Dive Watch
To accurately tell time while far below the surface of the sea, the Submariner requires several essential features, including a waterproof case, a secure bracelet, a unidirectional bezel, and dial that is easily visible while in the water. These features work together in perfect synchronization, and without them, it would be impossible to keep accurate time or measure other increments of time while in the water, such as diving times and decompression stops.
Developed by Rolex in 1926, the Oyster case was the first official waterproof case produced by the brand. It has since been refined to offer varying degrees of resistance to accommodate different professional applications. In regards to the Submariner, the case has been outfitted on modern variations with a solid Monobloc middle case as well as a screw-down case back and a Triplock screw-down crown, ensuring resistance to depths of up to 300 meters or 1,000 feet.
The Oyster bracelet made its debut in the 1930’s and features three-piece links and, on most sports watches, a folding Oysterlock clasp. Modern Submariners are also equipped with a Glidelock extension system that allows the wearer to adjust the length of the bracelet without the use of tools. This results in a comfortable and secure hold while diving, as well as on land as the wrist expands throughout the day.
The first Submariner debuted in 1953 and presented the time on a black dial set with luminous hour markers and hands. While the Mercedes hands, which are named after the distinct hour hand that closely resembles the Mercedes logo, are a staple on the Submariner, earlier models featured “Pencil-Shaped” hands. Radium lume was eventually replaced with other materials such as Tritium, Super Luminova, and, more recently, Chromalight, ensuring that each generation of the Submariner was more legible than the last.
The unidirectional bezel that is now a staple of the Submariner line wasn’t introduced until the 1980s. This addition has proven to be invaluable to the world of professional diving as it only moves in one direction, safely counting down while in the water. Aluminum inserts gave way to the modern Cerachrom variation that is now available on the market, which features a resilient ceramic material that won’t fade or corrode after years of working in salt water.
Other modern Submariners contain the same lovable features as the classics noted above. The Oyster Case, Bracelet, Dial, and Bezel, carries the same classic look as the previous references. Unfortunately, Rolex Authorized Dealers are at a shortage of stainless steel watches.
Fortunately for watch collectors, there are highly reputable watch companies that can give you access to these models. If you’re looking to have a future classic, you can get a stainless steel Submariner from Bob’s Watches at a great price. Without a shadow of a doubt, the stainless steel Submariners of today will be the future classics of tomorrow.