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Rolex Submariner Review

Rolex Submariner Review

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What Is A Rolex Submariner

The Rolex Submariner distinguishes itself as an esteemed collection of sports watches initially engineered for diving. Introduced in 1954 at the Basel Watch Fair, it revolutionized watchmaking with its groundbreaking water resistance of up to 100 meters, later enhanced to 300 meters in contemporary models. With a pivotal rotatable bezel featuring 60-minute graduations for precise diving time tracking, it showcases Rolex's commitment to functionality and innovation.

Beyond its diving origins, the Submariner has become celebrated as one of Rolex's most iconic models, renowned for its iconic design and exceptional craftsmanship. Its universal appeal translates effortlessly from sporty to formal settings, solidifying its position as a favorite among collectors worldwide and a smart investment choice, consistently appreciating over time. Evolving technically, Rolex introduced crown guards, upsized the case, and offered date models. The Submariner's price range spans from $9,100 to $42,000, with references like 124060 and 126610LN commanding $9,100 and $10,250 respectively, and between $11,000 to $16,000 in the secondary market, reflecting their immense popularity. The high demand for Rolex's sought-after watches consistently surpasses supply, resulting in premium prices exceeding the list price.

Below, we will delve deeper into the history of the Rolex Submariner, provide an exhaustive list of its reference numbers, explore popular models, examine vintage variations, discuss their movements, bracelets, and more.

Rolex Submariner Overview


Rolex Submariner Models & Production Years

Model Year Description
Rolex Submariner 6204 1953-1955 Often considered the original Submariner, although the Rolex 6200 could also lay claim to this title.
Rolex Submariner 6205 1954-1955 Similar to the 6204, but with minor modifications. Some models had the Submariner logo, while others did not.
Rolex Submariner 6200 1954-1955 First Submariner to feature the "Mercedes" hand.
Rolex Submariner 6536 1955-1959 Introduced a chronometer version of the calibre 1030 movement.
Rolex Submariner 6538 1955-1959 Popularized by James Bond, it was similar to the 6536 but with an upgraded movement.
Rolex Submariner 6536/1 1956-1959 An updated version of the 6536 with a chronometer-certified movement.
Rolex Submariner 6538A 1956-1959 A rare variant of the 6538, often referred to as the "Explorer Dial Submariner".
Rolex Submariner 5510 1958-1962 The last of the big crown Submariners.
Rolex Submariner 5508 1958-1965 Small crown Submariner with calibre 1530 or 1560 movement.
Rolex Submariner 5512 1959-1978 First Submariner with crown guards. Originally a chronometer-certified model.
Rolex Submariner 5513 1962-1989 Like the 5512 but without chronometer certification.
Rolex Submariner 5514 1972-1978 Special Submariner edition made for the Compagnie Maritime d'Expertise (COMEX).
Rolex Submariner 5517 1977-1983 Special military version of the Submariner for the British Ministry of Defense.
Rolex Submariner 1680 1966-1979 The first Submariner to feature a date function, hence the cyclops lens.
Rolex Submariner 16800 1979-1988 Transitional model with sapphire crystal and improved depth rating to 300 meters.
Rolex Submariner 168000 1987-1988 A short-lived transitional model.
Rolex Submariner 16610 1987-2010 Introduced with the new Calibre 3135 movement.
Rolex Submariner 16610LV "Kermit" 2003-2010 A special 50th-anniversary model with a green bezel.
Rolex Submariner 16613 1988-2009 Two-tone model with stainless steel and yellow gold.
Rolex Submariner 16618 1988-2009 Solid gold Submariner Date model.
Rolex Submariner 14060 1990-2002 No-date model with updated Calibre 3000 movement.
Rolex Submariner 14060M 2002-2010 Similar to the 14060 but with an upgraded Calibre 3130 movement.
Rolex Submariner 116610 2010-2020 The first to feature a Cerachrom bezel.
Rolex Submariner 116610LV "Hulk" 2010-2020 The iconic green dial and green bezel model.
Rolex Submariner 114060 2012-2020 No-date model with Cerachrom bezel.
Rolex Submariner 116613 2009-2020 Two-tone model in stainless steel and yellow gold with Cerachrom bezel.
Rolex Submariner 116618 2008-2020 Solid gold model with Cerachrom bezel.
Rolex Submariner 116619 "Smurf" 2008-2020 Solid white gold model with blue dial and bezel.
Rolex Submariner 126610 2020-Present Updated version of the 116610, with a slightly larger 41mm case and the new Calibre 3235 movement.
Rolex Submariner 126610LV "Starbucks" 2020-Present The successor to the "Hulk," with a black dial and green bezel.
Rolex Submariner 124060 2020-Present Successor to the 114060, featuring a 41mm case and new Calibre 3230 movement.
Rolex Submariner 126613LB 2020-Present The latest two-tone steel and gold model with blue dial and blue Cerachrom bezel.
Rolex Submariner 126613LN 2020-Present The latest two-tone steel and gold model with black dial and black Cerachrom bezel.
Rolex Submariner 126618LB 2020-Present The latest solid gold model with blue dial and blue Cerachrom bezel.
Rolex Submariner 126618LN 2020-Present The latest solid gold model with black dial and black Cerachrom bezel.
Rolex Submariner 126619LB 2020-Present The latest solid white gold model with black dial and blue Cerachrom bezel.


For customers looking to sell their Rolex look no further, WatchGuys is the most trusted place to sell a Rolex for best price. Give us a call today at (213) 302-4400 to speak to a Rolex buying expert or visit our sell Rolex page.

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Popular Rolex Submariner Models

Over the years, Rolex has introduced a variety of Submariner models, each unique and loved by watch enthusiasts worldwide. Here are some popular models:

Rolex Submariner 126610LV "Starbucks"

The Rolex Submariner 126610LV, also known as "Starbucks," is a luxury dive watch introduced in 2020. It stands out for its unique green ceramic bezel and black dial combination, reminiscent of the Starbucks color scheme, hence the nickname. This model is also characterized by its stainless steel construction, automatic movement, and water resistance up to 300 meters.

rolex starbucks

Read our Rolex Submariner 126610LV Starbucks Review for an in-depth analysis.

Rolex Submariner 116610LV "Hulk"

The Rolex Submariner 116610LV, popularly known as the "Hulk," is a luxury dive watch famous for its vibrant all-green bezel and dial. Introduced in 2010, it boasts a sturdy stainless steel case, automatic movement, and a water resistance up to 300 meters. This model's distinct color and robustness have made it one of the most sought-after timepieces in Rolex's Submariner collection.

rolex hulk

Read our Rolex Submariner 116610LV Hulk Review for an in-depth look.

Rolex Submariner 16610

The Rolex Submariner 16610 is a classic luxury dive watch produced between 1987 and 2010. Recognized for its black dial and matching black bezel, it embodies the timeless aesthetics of the Submariner line. With its robust stainless steel case, automatic movement, and water resistance up to 300 meters, the 16610 is known for its durability and precision, making it a favorite among watch enthusiasts.

Rolex Submariner 16610 "Kermit"

The Rolex Submariner 16610 "Kermit," introduced in 2003 to celebrate the Submariner's 50th anniversary, is a highly coveted timepiece. This model is notable for its black dial paired with a green bezel, giving it a unique aesthetic which inspired its nickname after the famous green Muppet. It features an automatic movement, stainless steel construction, and a water resistance up to 300 meters.

Rolex Submariner 116613LB "Bluesy"

The Rolex Submariner 116613LB, affectionately known as the "Bluesy," is a luxurious dive watch that combines style and functionality. It's known for its distinctive blue dial and bezel set in a two-tone case of stainless steel and 18-carat yellow gold. Launched in 2009, this model is equipped with automatic movement and is water-resistant up to 300 meters, embodying the Submariner's reputation for durability and elegance.

Rolex Submariner 116619LB "Smurf"

The Rolex Submariner 116619LB, often referred to as the "Smurf," is an exceptional luxury dive watch introduced in 2008. Its standout feature is its monochromatic look with an 18-carat white gold case and bracelet, complemented by a vibrant blue dial and bezel. Known for its automatic movement and water resistance up to 300 meters, the "Smurf" continues the Submariner tradition of combining robust performance with high-end design.

Popular Vintage Rolex Submariner Models

  • Rolex Submariner 1680 "Red Sub": This vintage model is the first Submariner to feature a date function and gets its nickname from the red "SUBMARINER" text on the dial.
  • Rolex Submariner 5513: A classic vintage model with no date, known for its durability and simple elegance.
  • Rolex Submariner 5514 "Comex": A special Submariner edition made for the Compagnie Maritime d'Expertise (COMEX), a French diving company.
  • Rolex Submariner 6538 "James Bond": Known as the "James Bond Submariner" because it was worn by Sean Connery in the early James Bond films.

These models, both new and vintage, embody the timeless allure of the Rolex Submariner, which continues to captivate watch enthusiasts worldwide.

Rolex Submariner Movement Over The Years

Over the years, the Rolex Submariner has seen a variety of movements, each one showcasing Rolex's commitment to continuous innovation and refinement. These movements showcase the technical prowess of Rolex and its commitment to improving the performance and durability of its watches. The latest generation, the 3230 and 3235, stands as testament to Rolex's commitment to continuous improvement and advancement in horological technology.

  • Calibre A260 - Featured in the earliest Submariner models, it had a bi-directional, self-winding rotor.
  • Calibre 1030 - Introduced in the late 1950s, this movement was Rolex's first bi-directional, automatic winding movement.
  • Calibre 1530 & 1560 - The 1500 series of movements were used during the late 1950s and 1960s. The 1560 had a frequency of 18,000 vph.
  • Calibre 1570/1575 - Featured in the models from the late 1960s to late 1970s, these movements were chronometer certified and included a hacking feature that allowed for precise time setting. The 1575 also added a date function.
  • Calibre 3035 - Introduced in the late 1970s, it was the first high-beat movement (28,800 vph) in a Submariner and also introduced a quickset date feature.
  • Calibre 3135 - Introduced in the late 1980s and used until 2020, this movement is revered for its robustness and reliability. It features a larger balance wheel and a bridge for better shock resistance.
  • Calibre 3000 series - The no-date Submariners used Calibre 3000 and then Calibre 3130, both known for their precision and reliability.
  • Calibre 3230 and 3235 - The latest generation of Submariners introduced in 2020 feature these new movements. The 3230, found in the no-date Submariner, is a new generation movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. The 3235, found in the date Submariners, boasts a Chronergy escapement and a power reserve of approximately 70 hours, a substantial increase from the previous 48 hours.

Rolex Submariner Case Size

Originally, the Rolex Submariner had a case size of 37mm. However, in the 1960s, it was increased to 40mm, which is the size used for most modern Submariner models. In 2020, Rolex subtly increased the size to 41mm.

Rolex Submariner Bracelet

The Rolex Submariner's bracelet is as significant as the watch itself, contributing not only to its aesthetic appeal but also to its practicality and comfort. The Submariner's bracelets have been refined and improved over the decades to enhance durability and wearing comfort.

  • Rivet Bracelet (1950s - late 1960s): The early Submariners featured the rivet bracelet design. These bracelets were known for their unique construction, with visible rivets on the side of the bracelet links. The folding links and stretchable spring design made these bracelets adjustable and comfortable for daily wear.
  • Folded Link Bracelet (late 1960s - late 1970s): This bracelet, introduced in the late 1960s, was made with folded metal links. It was lighter and less expensive to produce than the rivet bracelet but was less durable and could stretch over time.
  • Oyster Bracelet (late 1970s - Present): From the late 1970s, Rolex began to use solid link Oyster bracelets in its Submariner models. These bracelets were considerably more robust and comfortable than their predecessors. The Oyster bracelet also introduced the safety clasp and diver's extension link, a flip-out link that allows the bracelet to fit over a diving suit.
  • Glidelock Clasp (2010 - Present): The Glidelock clasp, introduced in 2010 with the ref. 116610 Submariner Date, was a game-changer for Rolex. This system allows for tool-free micro-adjustments of the bracelet length, up to 20mm in 2mm increments. This feature is not only useful for divers, who might need to adjust their watch to fit over a wetsuit, but also for everyday wear, allowing the wearer to adjust the bracelet for comfort in different temperatures and conditions.

The evolution of the Rolex Submariner bracelet reflects the brand's commitment to continual improvement, marrying form and function in a way that enhances the wearer's experience. Today's Submariner bracelets offer not only the durability that is expected of a professional dive watch, but also a level of comfort and refinement that is consistent with Rolex's status as a maker of luxury timepieces.

Rolex Oyster Bracelet 70s

Oyster Bracelet (1970s)

Rolex Oyster Bracelet 90s

Oyster Bracelet (1990s)

Rolex Oyster Bracelet with Glidelock

Oyster Bracelet with Glidelock Clasp

Rolex Submariner Bezel

The bezel on the Rolex Submariner is a crucial component of its design and functionality. It serves as a safety device for divers, allowing them to monitor their dive and decompression times and avoid potentially dangerous situations underwater. Over the years, the Submariner's bezel has seen several significant improvements.

  • Bakelite Bezel (1953-1956): The earliest Submariners featured bi-directional, non-clicking Bakelite bezels with radium numerals. Bakelite was a form of plastic that was lighter and less prone to corrosion from salt water. However, it was also brittle and could crack, so Rolex replaced it after a few years.
  • Aluminum Bezel (1956-2007): In 1956, Rolex replaced the Bakelite bezel with an aluminum insert, which was sturdier and less prone to cracking. This bezel was bidirectional and had a 60-click design. The black, blue, and green bezels are the most common, but Rolex also made a rare brown version for the Sultanate of Oman. The blue bezel was often paired with a two-tone or gold case, earning the nickname "Bluesy."
  • Cerachrom Bezel (2008-Present): In 2008, Rolex introduced the Cerachrom bezel with the white gold Submariner (ref. 116619LB, also known as "Smurf"). The ceramic material is much harder than aluminum, virtually scratchproof, and resistant to fading. The numbers and graduations are coated in gold or platinum using a PVD process. The Cerachrom bezel is unidirectional and has a 120-click design for more precise setting.

The bezel colors often lead to nicknames for the watches. For instance, the Submariner 116610LV with its green bezel is affectionately known as the "Hulk," while the recent Submariner 126610LV, with its black dial and green bezel, has been dubbed the "Starbucks."

The Rolex Submariner's bezel, with its blend of aesthetic appeal and practical functionality, is a perfect example of Rolex's approach to watchmaking. It's an integral part of the watch's identity and contributes greatly to the Submariner's status as an icon in the world of luxury watches.

Rolex Matte Bezel

Rolex Aluminum Bezel

Rolex Ceramic Bezel

Rolex Submariner Dial

The dial of the Rolex Submariner has evolved significantly over its history but has always prioritized function, legibility, and aesthetic appeal. Today, the Submariner dial is instantly recognizable, symbolic of the model's iconic status in the watch industry.

  • Early Dials (1950s - 1960s): The earliest Submariner dials were glossy and featured gilt printing. The hour markers were simple triangles, circles, and batons. The hands were pencil-style, and the watch featured no date function.
  • Matte Dials (1960s - 1980s): From the mid-1960s through the 1980s, Rolex used matte black dials with white printing. The hour markers were filled with tritium and surrounded by white gold frames to prevent tarnishing. The hands also evolved, with the hour hand becoming the distinctive "Mercedes" style that Rolex still uses today. A date function was introduced in some models.
  • Glossy Dials (1980s - Present): From the late 1980s onwards, Rolex returned to using glossy dials, now with white printing and applied white gold hour markers filled with luminous material. The hands and hour markers were initially filled with tritium, then LumiNova and SuperLumiNova, and finally Chromalight, Rolex's own long-lasting luminescent material that glows blue in the dark.
  • Maxi Dials (2000s - Present): The so-called "Maxi Dials" were introduced in the 2000s and featured larger hour markers and hands for improved visibility. This feature remains a standard on all modern Submariners.
  • Color: The vast majority of Submariner dials are black, but Rolex has also produced blue and green versions for special models. There are also rare versions with gem-set dials or other unique designs.
  • Text: The amount and layout of text on the Submariner dial have varied over the years. Early models had just two lines of text, while modern versions can have up to five, providing information about the watch's chronometer certification, water resistance, and movement.

How Much Is A Rolex Submariner

The Rolex Submariner is one of the most iconic and sought-after luxury watches in the world. This high demand, coupled with limited production, often makes purchasing a new Submariner at retail price quite challenging.

As of 2023, the retail price of a new Rolex Submariner starts at approximately $9,100 for the no-date stainless steel model (Ref. 124060), and can reach up to $39,650 for the white gold model with a blue Cerachrom bezel (Ref. 126619LB).

However, due to their limited availability, these watches are frequently not in stock at official Rolex retailers, leading many buyers to the resale market. On the resale market, the prices of Rolex Submariners can significantly exceed their retail prices. For instance, a new stainless steel Submariner can often fetch prices in the range of $12,000 to $15,000, a substantial premium over the retail price.

The resale prices for rare or discontinued models, such as the "Kermit" or the "Hulk", can be even higher, often exceeding $15,000, due to their desirability and limited supply.

Vintage Submariners are also highly prized by collectors and can command high prices depending on their condition, rarity, and the specific model. For example, very early Submariner models or those with rare dial variants can sell for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

While these prices may seem steep, it's worth noting that Rolex watches often hold their value very well, and many models appreciate over time. This makes them not just symbols of style and fine craftsmanship, but also potential investments. However, as with any investment, there's no guarantee of future performance, and prices can fluctuate based on a variety of factors.

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Where To Buy A Rolex Submariner

The Rolex Submariner is an iconic timepiece that is sought after worldwide, with a wide range of purchase options available to prospective buyers.

Official Rolex Retailers: Rolex Submariners can be bought directly from an official Rolex retailer. These shops are authorized by Rolex to sell their watches and offer the full manufacturer's warranty. However, due to high demand and limited supply, it can be quite challenging to find popular models in stock, and there might be extensive waiting lists.

Auctions: Auctions are an excellent place to find vintage or rare Rolex Submariner models. Various reputable auction houses frequently feature Rolex timepieces. It's crucial to note that prices can greatly exceed typical retail prices due to the rarity and condition of the watches sold at auction.

WatchGuys: We are proud to offer a meticulously curated selection of certified pre-owned Rolex Submariners on our website watchguys.com. All our watches are extensively inspected for authenticity and quality, providing you with confidence in your purchase. Our offerings vary, ranging from recent models to sought-after vintage pieces.

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In all cases, when purchasing a Rolex Submariner, it's vital to conduct thorough research and buy from a trusted source. This will ensure that the watch is genuine and that you are paying a fair price.

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