Unraveling the History of the Rolex Submariner: A Timeless Classic
The Rolex Submariner, an emblematic luxury dive watch, boasts a rich and fascinating history. Since its inception in 1953, the Submariner has evolved into an iconic timepiece revered for its elegant design, exceptional functionality, and impressive durability.
In this comprehensive overview about the history of the Rolex Submariner, we'll explore the Submariner's transformation from a modest beginning to its current position as a classic masterpiece and the most popular watch!
The History of the Rolex Submariner - The Inception
The journey of the Rolex Submariner began in the early 1950s when the company's director, Rene-Paul Jeanneret, envisioned a versatile sports watch suitable for underwater exploration and formal events. Motivated by his idea, Rolex set out to create a timepiece offering outstanding water resistance, precise timekeeping, and robust durability.
In 1953, the first Rolex Submariner, Reference 6204, was presented to the public. The watch featured a 37mm stainless steel case, a black rotating bezel, and a black dial with luminescent hour markers and hands. With a water resistance of 100 meters, the watch was a remarkable achievement for its time.
Rolex Submariner 6204. Source: Hodinkee
Early Models and Innovations
The Submariner's early years saw numerous improvements and the introduction of new references. In 1954, Rolex launched the Reference 6205, which featured the iconic Mercedes-style hands still used today. That same year, Rolex unveiled the Submariner Reference 6200, which boasted a thicker case and a larger winding crown. This model was also the first to display the now-iconic "Submariner" name on the dial.
In 1955, Rolex introduced the Reference 6536 and 6538, both of which featured the new Caliber 1030 movement and increased water resistance of 200 meters. The Reference 6538 gained particular fame after appearing as James Bond on Sean Connery's wrist in the 1962 film "Dr. No."
Rolex continued to innovate and enhance the Submariner throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In 1959, the Reference 5512 was introduced, featuring crown guards to protect the winding crown. In 1962, Rolex launched the Reference 5513, one of the longest-produced Submariner models, with a production run until 1989.
Rolex Submariner 6205 with Mercedes-style hands. Source: Hodinkee
Introduction of the Date Function
In 1966, Rolex introduced the Submariner Date with the Reference 1680, marking the first time a date function was incorporated into the watch. This new model featured a date window at 3 o'clock and a magnifying Cyclops lens over the date aperture. The addition of the date function represented a significant milestone in the Submariner's history, as it expanded the watch's appeal to a broader audience.
The First Submariner with a Sapphire Crystal
In 1979, Rolex launched the Submariner Reference 16800, signaling a considerable advancement in the model's evolution. This new iteration featured a sapphire crystal, providing increased scratch resistance and durability. The watch also saw an upgrade to its water resistance, now rated at 300 meters.
The Reference 16800 also featured a new movement, the Caliber 3035, which introduced a quickset date function. This allowed the wearer to set the date independently of the time, significantly improving user-friendliness.
Transition to the Modern Submariner
In 1988, Rolex introduced the Reference 16610, which would become one of the most popular and enduring Submariner models. This watch featured the new Caliber 3135 movement, which provided increased accuracy and reliability. The 16610 also incorporated white gold surrounds for the hour markers, enhancing the watch's overall
The Modern Market
Rolex Submariner Bluesy
When the Rolex Submariner was first introduced in 1953 with the Reference 6204, its price was around $150, which, accounting for inflation, would be approximately $1,500 today. In the 1950s, the Submariner was already considered an expensive watch, but its innovative features and exceptional performance were well worth the price.
Today, the Rolex Submariner's retail price continues to see a steady increase, with a stainless steel no-date model (Reference 124060) priced at approximately $8,100 and a date model (Reference 126610LN) at around $9,150. However, due to high demand and limited availability, the actual market price for these watches can be significantly higher, with some models selling for well over their retail price on the secondary market.
Celebrities Wearing Rolex Submariner
Today, the Rolex Submariner is among the most sought-after watches worldwide, appreciated for its timeless design and exceptional performance. Its fame has been further bolstered by the numerous celebrities who have been spotted wearing this iconic timepiece. From film stars and musicians to athletes and politicians, the Submariner's appeal transcends industries and professions.
The Rolex Submariner's widespread popularity can be attributed to its versatility and reliability, making it an ideal choice for those who demand both style and substance. Celebrities such as Mark Wahlberg, John Mayer, Tom Holland, Lionel Messi, and Erling Haaland have all been seen sporting the Submariner, solidifying its reputation as a symbol of success and good taste.