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ROLEX SUBMARINER: A Quick History of the Iconic Divers Watch

by Paul Symonds November 11, 2020 6 min read

ROLEX SUBMARINER: A Quick History of the Iconic Divers Watch | Swiss Watch Trader

The Rolex Submariner 1954 - 2020. 

The Rolex Submariner was released by Rolex in 1954 and has since become one of the most recognisable and desirable watches in the world. The original version of the Submariner, the reference 6205 was the first to feature the now familiar dial layout with inverted triangle at the 12 o'clock position, baton markers at the 3, 6 and 9; and dot marker for the remaining hours. Early examples of the Submariner 6205 were fitted with thin, pencil shaped hands. It was not until the second series that Rolex fitted the now iconic Mercedes-style sports hands. The general design of the Rolex Submariner evolved over the years but the basic formula remains the same - a sports watch with a rotating bezel, easily readable dial and a bracelet with a divers extension. Please take some time to view our Rolex Submariner watches for sale.

 

This first SUBMARINER - the Submariner 6240.

The Rolex Submariner was released by Rolex at BaselWorld in 1954. However, Rolex actually produced the Rolex 6202 Turn-O-Graph in 1953 and believe this to be the birth year of their iconic dive watch. The reference 6204 was the first Rolex to feature the word "Submariner" on the dial and the now instantly recognisable dial lay-out of inverted triangle at the 12 o'clock position, baton 3, 6 and 9; and dot markers for the remaining hours. The Mercedes-style sports hands first found their way onto the Submariner reference 6205.

 

The James Bond Watch - the Submariner 6538.

The Submariner slowly evolved throughout the 1950's and made its way onto the big screen in 1962 when Sean Connery wore a Submariner reference 6538 in the first James Bond film: Dr No.

 

The King of Cool - the Rolex Submariner 5513.

Rolex Submariner 5513

 

The Rolex Submariner 5513 was in production between 1962 and 1989 and featured a 40mm stainless steel case, 60 minute rotating divers bezel and was powered by the Rolex calibre 1520 automatic movement. Collectable 5513’s include the the rare Explorer dial version with 3, 6 and 9 numerals and the British Armed Forces “Milsub” with its unique 5517 reference. Early 5513’s were fitted with meters first gilt gloss dials which often age in unpredictable and unique ways leading to the term tropical being used to describe the defect. The dials evolved over the year to include the matte serif and non serif, Pre-Comex and the MAXI. The last of the 5513’s were fitted with gloss dials which featured applied hour markers in white gold.

 

Rolex adds a date - the Submariner 1680.

It was not until 1969 that the Rolex Submariner featured a date with the release of the 1680. The 1680 was also the first Submariner to feature a magnification cyclops above the date window.

 

Birth of the 5 digit Submariner

The Rolex Submariner continued to evolve through the 1970's and in 1979 Rolex released the 5 digit version of the Submariner starting with the 16800. This transitional Submariner featured a number of upgrades on previous version including a sapphire crystal, the patented Trip-lock crown, a depth rating of 300m (1,000ft) and a ratcheted, unidirectional rotating bezel.

 

Rolex Submariner 16610.

Rolex Submariner 16610

 

The Rolex Submariner 16610 was released in 1988 and was powered by the brands longest serving movement, the Rolex calibre 3135. Tritium dials were eventually phased out in the late 90's with watches being fitted with "SWISS MADE" examples - featuring SuperLumiNova filled hour marker and hands. Early 16610's were fitted with the 93150 oyster bracelet with folding clasp. From 2000 the 93250 oyster bracelet was fitted to the Rolex Submariner 16610. The Rolex Submariner 16610 originally featured lug holes but there were deleted in 2003. Late examples of the Rolex Submariner 16610, from 2008, also feature the engraved inner rehaut displaying the serial number at the 6 o'clock position.

 

Rolex Submariner 16610 LV Kermit.

Rolex Submariner 16610LV Kermit

 

Released in 2003 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the watch, the Rolex Submariner 16610LV Kermit featured the now iconic green LV 'lunette verte' bezel insert. The watch was powered by the same calibre 3135 automatic movement as the standard Rolex Submariner. In addition to the green bezel, the 16610LV also distinguished itself from the standard 16610 with the inclusion of the MAXI dial featuring larger hour marker and hands. The Rolex Submariner 16610LV - also known as the'Kermit' - featured the Oyster bracelet with folding clasp and divers extension, black MAXI dial, trip-lock crown and green LV uni-directional divers bezel. In 2004 Rolex deleted the lug holes and from 2007 Rolex added the engraved inner rehaut which displayed the serial number of the watch at the 6 o'clock position. The Rolex Submariner 16610LV was discontinued in 2010 when the Rolex Submariner 116610LV 'Hulk' was released.

 

Rolex Submariner 14060 - No Date.

Rolex Submariner 14060M

 

The Rolex Submariner 14060 with its two-liner dial and calibre 3000 automatic movement was in production from 1990 until 1999 when the Rolex Submariner 14060M (modified) was released. The 14060M with its calibre 3130 movement remained unchanged until 2007 when the watch became Officially Certified and became the four-liner Superlative Chronometer. The Rolex Submariner 14060M was eventually replaced by the 114060 in 2009.

 

The Ceramic Submariner: 

In 2009/10, Rolex released the ceramic range of submariners including the 114060, 116610LN, 116610LV and 116613. The Submariner 11**** range saw a massive upgrade on previous versions including a Cerachrom (ceramic) bezel insert, a redesigned 40mm 'Super Case' with 'Maxi Dial', an upgraded oyster bracelet with glide-lock clasp and improved calibre 3135 automatic movement.

 

Rolex Submariner 116610LN.

Rolex Submariner 116610LN

 

The Rolex Submariner 116610LN was released in 2010 and featured the new 40mm MAXI case, black ceramic bezel divers bezel, calibre 3135 automatic movement and oyster bracelet with glide-lock clasp. The Rolex Submariner 116610LN was eventually discontinued in 2020 when the 41mm Rolex Submariner 126610LN was released.

 

Rolex Submariner 116610LV - Hulk.

Rolex Submariner 116610LV Hulk

 

The Rolex Submariner 116610LV Hulk was released in 2010, replacing the 16610LV Kermit. The LV or 'lunette verte' was originally released in 2003 the celebrate the watches 50th anniversary. The 116610LV featured the 40mm MAXI case, LV green ceramic bezel with divers scale, green dial, calibre 3135 automatic movement and oyster bracelet with glide-lock clasp. The Rolex Submariner 116610LV 'Hulk' was eventually discontinued in 2020 when the 41mm Rolex Submariner 126610LV 'Starbucks' was released.

 

Rolex Submariner 114060 - No Date.

Rolex Submariner 114060 No Date

 

The Rolex Submariner 114060 No Date was released at Baselworld in 2012 and featured the same 40mm MAXI case as the 116610LN, a black Cerachom (ceramic) bezel divers scale, sapphire crystal, oyster bracelet with glide-lock clasp and powered by the Rolex calibre 3130 automatic movement. The Rolex Submariner 114060 No Date was eventually discontinued in 2020 when the 41mm Rolex Submariner 124060 was released.  

 

BUYING A PRE OWNED ROLEX SUBMARINER

Our collection of Rolex Submariner watches include the 5513, 14060M, 16610 & 116610LN. At Swiss Watch Trader we specialise in selling only the very best examples of the classic Rolex Submariner and unless there is a valid reason, ALL our Rolex Submariner watches will include their original boxes and papers. When buying any vintage or modern Rolex Submariner you need to ensure you are getting the very best example with as much of the original paraphernalia as possible. You should always look for a Rolex Submariner that is complete with its original inner and outer boxes, warranty certificate or card, manuals, hang tags and if possible original sales receipt. For more information on how to buy a Rolex Submariner from Swiss Watch Trader and the the services we offer including buying a Rolex Submariner on finance, head over to the information section.

Want to know more about the Rolex Submariner 16610? Why not read our article on the History of the Rolex Submariner 16610 which details the history of the watch from 1988 to 2010. For more information on other Rolex watch models including the Sea Dweller, Daytona and Explorer, head over to the News & Reviews section. Please get in touch if you have any questions about any of our new, used, pre-owned and second hand Rolex Submariner watches.

 

OUR ROLEX SUBMARINER WATCHES FOR SALE:

 

Contact Us today if you have a question about any of our Rolex Submariner watches for sale - we will be happy to help!

Paul Symonds
Paul Symonds


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