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The Enduring Power of the Rolex Submariner

Since coming to market in 1954, the Submariner has been one of the most sought-after watches in the Rolex catalog. Part of its appeal lies in its professional application as a diver’s utility watch, as well as in the classic style that has followed the dive watch tirelessly from its inaugural reference to the modern 6-digit Submariners that are currently on the market. With the many variations that have been released by the brand in over 60 years, the stainless-steel Submariner remains the most desirable, with the modern 116610 topping the must-have lists of many collectors.

A 007 Connection

The Submariner debuted with a stainless steel finish and a time-only dial. The ref. 6538 that came to market in 1955 is, perhaps, one of the most notable Submariner watches produced by Rolex and plays a huge role in the popularity of the steel variation. Also known as the “James Bond Submariner”, the ref. 6538 was the watch famously worn by Sean Connery in 1962’s Dr. No, forever associating the Submariner itself with sleek, debonair style and laying the foundation for the massive success that it enjoys today. The ref. 6538 is increasingly difficult to find today and commands a price tag upwards of $120,000.

The Original Modern Submariner 16610

Another reference that played a pivotal role in the increasing success of the stainless steel Submariner is the ref. 16610. Produced from the late 1980’s to 2010, the 16610 was one of the longest-running references in the Submariner catalog. It was also one of the first references to run on a calibre 3135 perpetual movement with 28,800 bph as well as to feature luminous hour markers in white gold surrounds. Modern while holding onto many aspects of the older model Submariners, such as narrower lugs and a smaller crown guard, the 16610 serves as a natural segue to the line of 6-digit models that are currently on the market.

The Newest Generation of Submariner Dive Watches

In 2010, Rolex officially discontinued the incredibly successful 16610 and replaced it with the latest and greatest, the Rolex Submariner reference 116610. This highly anticipated release introduced the watch community to a Cerachrom bezel Submariner in their beloved stainless steel finish. Cerachrom is Rolex’s patented term for the ceramic material used for their newest line of bezel inserts, which is celebrated for its highly resilient finish that won’t easily fade, corrode, or scratch when worn while in the water.

The 116610 also offers a noticeably more contemporary feature set that includes a new-style “Super Case” and Oyster bracelet equipped with fatter lugs, a larger crown guard, solid links, and a solid Oysterclasp with a new Glidelock extension system. While the case measures 40mm, similar to its predecessor 16610, it offers a slightly more robust presence on the wrist. The latest addition to the line also utilizes a maxi dial, which is the term used by Rolex to describe larger hour markers and wider hands. Chromalight lume is a variation of the Superluminova luminous material previously offered on older model Submariners and emits a blue glow for optimal timekeeping while in the water. With so many highly anticipated upgrades as well as a classic design, it isn’t hard to see why the 6-digit stainless steel Submariner is so sought-after.

The Green Submariner: Kermit vs. Hulk

From time to time, Rolex likes to release anniversary editions of their watches that often include hints of their signature green hue. This nod towards the brand’s rich history is a telltale sign that the reference is an anniversary or special edition reference of sorts. In 2003, Rolex celebrated the Submariner’s 50th anniversary by releasing the ref. 16610LV. LV, or Lunette Verte, signifies that the reference is topped with a green bezel. Also referred to as the “Kermit”, the 16610LV paired the green aluminum bezel with the line’s first modern maxi dial.

In 2010, the unusual green Submariner received an upgrade to the Cerachrom bezel and “Super Case” variation of the Submariner. The bezel was still offered in a rich, green hue but was now crafted from tough ceramic and was paired with a matching green maxi dial. The green colorway of the bezel and dial, coupled with the larger appearance of the case on the wrist, earned the newest 116610LV its unusual nickname “The Hulk”.


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