Rolex Submariner – Sport or Statement?

Rolex Submariner – Sport or Statement?

History and Utility

The Rolex Submariner may be the most recognizable and most copied watch ever created. Since the 1950’s it has been the standard for anyone looking for a nearly indestructible sports watch that can be worn at 1000ft underwater or at your best friends wedding. The truly unparalleled versatility of the Submariner makes it, in my humble opinion, the most sought after watch ever created.

The Submariner was originally introduced in 1954 with the reference number 6204 and has remained largely the same throughout the decades. There have been numerous improvements and slight design changes since its inception but when you compare the 6204 and the modern reference 116610 you’ll notice very little difference.

As an Advanced Scuba Diver myself, the utility of the Submariner truly hits home for me. It features a unidirectional counter clockwise turning bezel that allows a diver to safely manage time spent underwater to near perfection. This feature was crucial before the invention of dive computers.

I want to preface this by mentioning that there is so much history involved with the Submariner there is no way I can cover it all! So for now I will give a brief history of this legendary piece.
While the Submariner hasn’t had a major change in it’s basic functionality it has indeed evolved throughout the decades. Shortly after it’s introduction, both the British and Canadian Navy’s chose this Rolex as their official timepiece – this led to increased innovation such as crown guards and date windows years later.
In the 1970’s Rolex introduced a much more durable and scratch resistant sapphire crystal that solved the problem of damage sustained during normal diving activities (such as bumping into a rock or coral).
It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Rolex introduced the unidirectional bezel as explained above which allows divers to accurately measure time spent at depth.
I can’t write an article about the Submariner without mentioning the legendary James Bond character to whom I attribute the massive success of this watch. This model had a smaller crown and no crown guards and is truly a classic.
Statement Piece
Since the earliest days, the Submariner has gone through many upgrades including becoming available in gold in 1969. Thus began the switch from being a purist sport watch to something of a statement piece which continues to this day.
As one of the most versatile and most loved watches ever made, I wholeheartedly suggest every collector, diver or executive own a Submariner at some point.
Mike P
Fratello Watches created a wonderfully detailed breakdown of the evolution of the Submariner that can be found here: (link below)
Year Reference Details
1955 6538 Successor of reference 6204 with caliber 1030 movement.
6536 Successor of reference 6205 with caliber 1030 movement;featuring a larger winding crown.
6536/1 Chronometer version of reference 6536 with caliber 1030.
6538 British Royal Navy chose the Submariner.
1956 A new design for the hands. The luminous circle moves a bit towards the center of the dial. The bezel gets a minute index for the first quarter.
1956 6538A The 6538 receives the same case as reference 6200.
6536 A red (zero position) triangle on the bezel.
6538 The Royal Canadian Navy choses the Rolex Submariner. The military version has an identification number and service number engraved in the case back. Otherwise it is the same watch as a normal production Rolex Submariner.
1958 5510 Based on reference 6200 with caliber 1530 (1957);
5508 6536/1 with caliber 1530; change of font on the bezel. The 0 (zeroes) are a bit more square-ish.
1959 5512 Crown guards, increased case diameter to 40mm (was 36mm), “Superlative Chronometer, Officially Certified” wording in the dial;
6538 “Superlative Chronometer, Officially Certified” wording in the dial;
1962 5513 Updated design of the crown guards, caliber 1530;
1963 5513 Updated with the caliber 1520 movement (introduced in the same year);
1966 1680 Date window, plexi crystal with cyclops, red writing on the dial (till 1973); Caliber 1575;
1969 16618 Rolex Submariner becomes available in gold;
1979 16800 Rolex Submariner receives a sapphire crystal; Water resistance increased to 300 meters;
1981 16800
The Rolex Submariner receives a uni-directional bezel, the remaining diving time can only become shorter; caliber 3085 is being used;
1983 16613 The Rolex Submariner becomes available in “Rolesor”, a Rolex definition for gold/steel;
1988 16610 Rolex Submariner is fitted with caliber 3135;
2003 16610 LV A green bezel is fitted to an Anniversary model (50 years) of the Submariner. Normal production, no limited edition or numbered edition.
2009 116613LB First Rolex Submariner to be fitted with a ceramic bezel, in rolesor (gold and stainless steel). Case lugs became fat and new bracelet added.
2010 116619 White gold Submariner with blue dial and ceramic bezel. Case lugs became fat and new bracelet added.
2010 116610LN/LV First Rolex Submariner to be fitted with a ceramic bezel. The LV version was introduced with a green dial and green ceramic bezel. Case lugs became fat and new bracelet added.
2012 114060 The Rolex Submariner (without date) upgraded to the ceramic bezel. Case lugs became fat and new bracelet added.
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