Story Of The Famous Divers’ Watch: Rolex Submariner

about rolex submariner watch

Rolex is undeniably the most well-known watch brand in the world, and Submariner is possibly its most loved creation. If you ask the ‘most important Rolex of all time, the Rolex Submariner is a quick answer.

Since its release in 1953, the Submariner has earned fans beyond the dive watch category for its timeless design and high functionality. Apart from being one of Rolex’s most renowned diving models, the Submariner has wild popularity in the entire watch industry. This is one of the many reasons people consider it an investment timepiece, as you can always sell Rolex Submariners at a high value.

Upon its founding, no one could have ever imagined the kind of influence the Submariner would have on the watch fraternity. But how did it all begin?

Let’s trace the creation and progression of the best dive watch.

How it started

Rolex greatly fascinates creating watches with a functional purpose. Beginning in the 1950s, it started creating tool watches built to accompany the wearers to extreme conditions. This was when all scientific explorations, including professional deep-sea diving, took place. Owing to the cause, Rolex produced a diving watch, the Rolex Submariner, in 1953, offering water resistance of up to 100 meters.

Following the invention of the Oyster in 1926, this was the second-most significant innovation. The Submariner was the first diver’s wristwatch whose design was completely dedicated to the diver’s practical needs underwater.

Ref.6204 was the first Submariner ever produced with the text ‘Submariner’ written vividly on the dial. The watch had a 37mm Oyster case and matching bracelet, an inverted triangle at 12 o’clock, and baton markers at 3/6/9 o’clock.

Even after 70 years of its production, the Submariner remains one of the least reformed timepieces, with every fundamental element similar to the first models.

Appealing Submariner features

The Submariner possesses some of the most distinguishing features making it instantly recognisable amongst the others. Here we’ll be looking at what makes it so special.

Oyster Case

The Rolex Submariner is made of an Oyster case and has a screw-down case back with a screw-down Triplock winding crown that resists moisture and dust. You can find the Sub in various metals like Rolesor (yellow gold & steel), stainless steel, 18ct white gold, and 18ct yellow gold.


One of the many striking features of the Submariner is the 60-minute bezel with graduations and a distinct arrow marker at 12 o’clock. The graduations help the wearer to monitor the time underwater precisely. While the first Sub models came with bi-directional bezels, the new ones have unidirectional bezels.

Luminous markers

Rolex uses luminous markers on the dials to help divers read the time effortlessly during deep-sea diving. The luminous hands and hour markers make the time easily legible under the water. Previously, Rolex used radium for luminescence which tritium replaced in the 1960s and Luminova in 1998. In 2000, Rolex switched to the Super-Luminova and to Chromalight in 2008.

Oyster bracelet

Since its debut, the Submariner has been fitted to an Oyster bracelet as it is considered extremely robust. The Oyster bracelet combines aesthetics with technical mastery to sit comfortably on the wearer’s wrist.

Key milestones

1953: Introduction of the Submariner with a 37mm oyster case and water resistance of 100 meters.

1959: The case became 40mm with additional crown guards.

1967: Several changes occurred, including radium to tritium luminescent, gilt gloss dial, matte dial with black text, etc.

1969: Introduction of the date aperture at 3 o’clock and release of the first gold Rolex Submariner.

1979: 3 key innovations took place, including a switch from acrylic to scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a bi-directional to the unidirectional rotating bezel, and improved water resistance of 300 meters.

1984: Launch of the Submariner in gloss dials with 18ct white gold markers. Also, Rolex released the first bi-metal Submariner in steel & gold.

1988: Switch from the standard 316L steel to robust 904L stainless steel.

2003: Release of the first Rolex ‘KERMIT’ Submariner with Ref. 16610LV followed by the Sub ‘HULK’ 116610LV and ‘STARBUCKS’ Ref. 126610LV.

2010: Introduction of the Cerachrom bezel and maxi dials for a heftier appearance on the wrist.

2020: Launch of Rolex Submariner with 41mm case. However, the lugs are now slimmer and come with thinner crown guards giving a more pointed appeal.

Special Submariner nicknames:

  • ‘Bart Simpson’ – Submariner Ref. 5513
  • ‘Hulk’ – Submariner Ref. 116610LV
  • ‘Kermit’ – Submariner Ref. 126610
  • ‘Smurf’ – Submariner Ref. 126619LB
  • ‘Starbucks’ – Submariner Ref. 126610LV
  • ‘Cookie Monster’ – Submariner Ref. 126619LB

Popular Submariner Models

The Submariner is an extensive Rolex collection in various colours and designs. If you’re looking to add one to your collection, here’s a list of the most popular Submariner models that are not just visually appealing but secure a handsome value when you sell your Rolex in the secondary market.

The top 3 Submariner models are:

1. Submariner Ref. 126610LN

The Rolex Submariner Ref. 126610LN comes equipped with a 41mm Oystersteel case, a black Cerachrom bezel, and a black dial with large luminous hour markers for higher legibility. The watch comes attached to an Oyster bracelet and secures a high demand in the market. This version of the Sub captures the reminiscent of vintage Sub timepieces.

2. Submariner Ref. 116610LV

Commonly known as the Submariner ‘Hulk’, the Ref. 116610LV comes in a 40mm stainless steel case with a green dial and green bezel, catering to the name Hulk. This big green Submariner is one of the most sought-after Rolex timepieces enjoying a cult status in the watch community.

3. Submariner Ref. 116619LB

The Rolex Submariner Ref. 116619LB is referred to as the ‘Smurf’ and ensures turning all heads. Coming in a striking 18ct white gold body with a Cerachrom bezel insert in blue ceramic, a blue dial with luminous hour markers, and an Oyster bracelet, the watch enjoys immense demand both on & off the wrist.


More often than not, collectors turn to Rolex to start their watch collecting journey and the Submariner is the first model of call. The watch’s successful and eventful life journey adds to its value, making it a wise investment option. Despite the numerous changes and upgrades, the Sub continues to reign the secondary market with its impeccable value. Therefore, rest assured to secure a good value when you sell your Rolex watch.

Also Read: How to Clean Gold Jewelry

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