Rolex Submariner Review: The Most Popular Rolex Watch

The Rolex Submariner, introduced in 1953, is the standard among diving watches, and the first watch to withstand depths of 300 meters (1,000 feet).

The waterproof winding Triplex crown with interior O ring makes it a triple waterproof system.

The Submariner was designed for corrosion resistance and is a highly durable diving watch.

Our Rolex Submariner review will discuss three different references or iterations—the 116610, 114060, and the 16610, as well as answer some frequently asked reader questions about the Submariner.

Submariner has progressed through several different movements since its debut at the 1964 Basel Swiss Watch Fair.

The current models are reference 114060 (no date), which uses caliber 3135, and 116060 (date), which uses caliber 3130.

Both movements feature Rolex’s proprietary Parachrom hairspring.

The Date model includes a cyclops magnifier at 3 o’clock position on the sapphire crystal to magnify the date displayed on the dial.

The cyclops is a trademark company feature.

Some horology enthusiasts prefer the cleaner look of the no-date, cyclops-free 114060, which is about $1,500 less than the 116060.

Others prefer the added functionality of the date display.

The Rolex Submariner 116610

Rolex Submariner 116610

The Rolex Submariner reference 116610 was the latest in over 20 previous references or models in the Submariner line, almost all of which Rolex discontinued when the 116610 debuted in 2010. The Rolex 116610 case is composed of corrosion-resistant, highly polished 904L Oyster steel. The 116610 has a 40mm case with a larger winding crown and wider lugs than previous models.

However, the bezel is among the most distinguishing features of reference 116610. The black, 60-minute bezel insert material changed from aluminum to ceramic (brand named Cerachrom). The 116610 bezel also has four click springs, making adjustments easier. The edges of the bezel allow for a secure grip.

The circle indicator on the bezel’s zero marker, along with the hands and hour markers, are Chromalight illuminated for easy viewing and unambiguous reading in an underwater environment. The 60-minute platinum-coated numbers and graduations enable divers to measure dive times up to 60 minutes visually.

The black bezel is complemented by the 116610’s visually striking black Maxi dial. The hour markers are composed of Chromalight with 18k gold surrounds. The hands are 18k gold with Chromalight accents. The minute hand comes emblazoned with the iconic Mercedes symbol. A gold encircled Chromalight marker on the stop second hand makes for easy viewing in low light conditions.

The 116610 Maxi dial has larger hands and hour indicators, and the Chromalight illumination color is blue, not green. The caliber 3135 movement includes a date complication, with the date displayed at the 3 o’clock position and magnified by the cyclops on the sapphire crystal.

The 116610 with calibre 3135 movement is self-winding, COSC-certified, with a magnetic, temperature, and shock-resistant Parachrom hairspring, precise to -2/+2 seconds per day. The 116610 with the 3135 movement is highly reliable.

New colors and precious metals were introduced gradually to the Submariner. Rolex introduced the blue dial and bezel in 1969, and in 2003 the Rolex “Hulk” made its debut. Nicknames, like the Hulk Rolex and Kermit, are the parlance of Rolex enthusiasts.

  • Case diameter: 40mm
  • Water resistance: 300 meters or 1,000 feet
  • Movement: caliber 3135
  • Movement features: date, hour, minute, and second hands, self-winding
  • Bezel type: unidirectional rotating 60-minute dive bezel with Ceracrom insert
  • Bracelet type: Oyster bracelet with Oysterlock clasp and Glidelock extension
  • Dial: black, blue, or green with luminous markers

The Rolex Submariner 114060

Rolex Submariner 114060

The Rolex Submariner 114060 is the direct descendant of the reference 6204 from 1953. For 13 years, until the release of reference 1160, the Submariner had a time-only display. Most of the current Submariner offerings include a date complication (116610), but the price is more than $1,500 greater than the 114060.

The smooth, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal is uninterrupted by the cyclops, giving the 114060 the same clean lines of the original 6204. Otherwise, the 114060 has all the up-to-date features and design touches as the 116610.

The bezel utilizes the same scratch-resistant Cerachrom ceramic finish and platinum-coated markings as its date counterpart. The black 114060 Maxi dial has a solid clock face with no date window and the same large, highly visible markers as the date version.

The 114060 is powered by the Rolex self-winding caliber 3130 movement, identical to the caliber 3135 but without the date complication. The calibre 3130 movement is the first no-date Submariner with a COSC certification and is accurate to -2/+2 seconds per day.

The Submariner has evolved from the original utilitarian dive watch it was designed to be. The newest editions are available in a variety of matching dial and bezel colors and in different metal compositions. However, Rolex has retained the spirit of the original Submariner in the seemingly simple reference 114060.

  • Case diameter: 40mm
  • Water resistance: 300 meters or 1,000 feet
  • Movement: caliber 3130
  • Movement features: hour, minute, and second hands, self-winding
  • Bezel type: unidirectional rotating 60-minute dive bezel with Ceracrom insert
  • Bracelet type: Oyster bracelet with Oysterlock clasp and Glidelock extension
  • Dial: black, blue, or green with luminous markers

The Rolex Submariner 16610

Rolex Submariner 16610

The Rolex Submariner reference 16610 is the generation of Submariner steel dive watch before the most recent versions. The 16610 had a long life from 1988 to 2010 and is a popular choice among horology enthusiasts seeking a used Rolex classic.

The 16610 inherited the updates from its two predecessors: the sapphire crystal, lime-colored tritium, a matte dial, increased waterproofing depth to 300m, and moving to 904L Oyster steel. Oyster steel, produced in Rolex’s foundry, is now used on all Rolex watches.

The Submariner 16610 was also the first in the line to sport the new 3135 movement with a date complication. Consider that the caliber 3135 is still in use today in Rolex’s current line of Submariners. 

  • Case diameter: 40mm
  • Water resistance: 300 meters or 1,000 feet
  • Movement: caliber 3135
  • Movement features: date, hour, minute, and second hands, self-winding
  • Bezel type: unidirectional rotating 60-minute dive bezel with an aluminum insert
  • Bracelet type: Oyster bracelet with Oysterlock clasp
  • Dial: black or blue with luminous markers

Rolex Submariner 116610 vs. 114060 vs. 16610

If you line them up, what are the differences between the Rolex Submariner references 16610, 114060, and 16610?

For starters, the bezel changed significantly. The scratch-resistant Cerachrom bezel on reference 16610 and 114060 is much more durable than its aluminum predecessor. The 16610 bezel only had a single click-spring, making movement and seating difficult. The 116610 and 114060 have four click-springs, improving bezel marker alignment and smoothness of rotation.

The later Submariner references—116610 and 114060—both have increased luminosity. They achieved this using the bright blue Chromalight, replacing the green glowing tritium of the 16610. Also, while both older and newer references have 40mm cases, the 116610 and 114060 appear larger due to having more prominent lugs and a crown guard.

One of the other starker contrasts between the older and newer references is the Maxi dial. The larger dial of the 116610 and 114060 has proportionately larger markers compared to the 16610. This difference has raised some debate among horology enthusiasts, and it may be a deciding factor for you in your deliberations.

The 16610 also costs significantly less than its newer counterparts. While the exterior may not have the latest updates, the caliber 3135 movement is the same offered on the 116610. The 16610 retains the style, elegance, and value as the vintage date Submariners. Effectively, it comes down to personal preference as to which Submariner reference appeals most to you.

How to Tell if a Rolex Submariner is Real

Owning a Rolex watch is a status symbol and has generated high demand—especially for iconic models like the Submariner. Many imitations exist. The quality of fakes improved over the years, so much so they can fool even experienced watch sellers.

Here is a brief list of things to watch out for and how to identify a genuine Rolex Submariner.

Work with a Known Seller

If you’re going to invest in the best Rolex watches like a Submariner, it’s best to work with a reputable seller you can trust, such as Amazon. Even then, it’s best to come prepared, so you know you’re walking away with a genuine Submariner watch. Also, most reputable sellers offer an authenticity guarantee.

Online Venues

Platforms like eBay and Craigslist don’t vet their sellers’ products, so it’s easy for counterfeiters to push reproductions onto unsuspecting buyers. Also, with online venue transactions, it’s hard to follow up or demand recourse if you’re not satisfied with the watch. You should order on Amazon instead.

How to Spot a Reproduction

  • The serial and model number stamping should be clean and readable.
  • Dial details like the signature Rolex crown and hour markers should always be present on a Rolex Submariner. If anything’s missing, it is likely a fake.
  • Movement. An authentic Rolex movement has “Rolex” engraved on it and cleanly finished mechanical parts. One must open the watch to see these details.
  • Dial details are crisp and perfectly aligned on a genuine Rolex. Any flaws, smudges, misspellings, or misalignments are signs of a fake.
  • Cyclops magnification should be 2.5 times, so if the date on your watch is not sufficiently large, or the cyclops and the date on the dial are misaligned, you may have an imitation.
  • Water resistance. A genuine Rolex Submariner can pass a water resistance and pressure test. However, this is not something to verify on your own, since you could potentially ruin the watch and would be unable to return it. Consult a horology professional if you think you may have a fake.
  • Weight. A genuine Rolex Submariner weighs 5.5 ounces or 155g. If your watch doesn’t feel hefty enough, then weigh it to check.
  • Clear case back. Genuine Rolex cases are Oyster steel throughout.
  • Case back engravings. Genuine Rolex cases are finished smooth with no engravings.
  • Micro-etched crystal. Starting in 2002, Rolex began etching a tiny crown on the crystal at the 6 o’clock position. You may need a magnifying glass and a good light to see it.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Your most pressing questions answered.

Is a Rolex Submariner a Good Investment?

Despite variations and different iterations over the years, the price for Rolex watches generally trends upwards even when luxury watch price development as a whole is lagging. The Submariner appreciates as an investment and continues to enjoy annual increases in value. The cache of the Rolex name, along with the Submariner’s place in history, makes it a highly sought-after watch.

Is the Rolex Submariner Discontinued?

The Rolex Submariner references 116610 and 114060 are still in production but did not receive any new updates in 2019.

Is a Rolex Worth the Money?

Opinions are all over the map as to whether a luxury watch is a good investment. Still, one point that horology enthusiasts seem to agree on is that the Rolex brand consistently increases in value. There are rare collector versions of specific models, like the Paul Newman or the Freccione, but even the humble stainless-steel Submariner retains its value over time.

The Submariner was the first commercial diving watch available and featured in the famous Jacques Cousteau documentary The Silent World worn by Cousteau himself. Bond also wore it in the early James Bond films. Since that time, the Submariner design has been copied and duplicated many times.

How to Wind a Rolex Submariner?

The Submariner is self-winding (perpetual), but if you wish to wind your Rolex manually do the following:

  1. Unscrew the winding crown by turning it counterclockwise, releasing it to position one.
  2. Turn the unscrewed winding crown clockwise 30 to 40 times.
  3. Screw the winding crown back into the case to position to maintain your watch’s water-resistance.

How Much Does a Rolex Submariner Weigh?

The Submariner weighs between 135 and 155 grams (about 5.5 ounces).

Why Buy a Rolex Submariner?

The Rolex Submariner is among the more affordable of the Rolex models depending on vintage and movement complications. A Rolex Sub is generally a sound investment as well as a symbol of style and success. Finding a good price on the secondary market is not difficult but requires some research.

Conclusion

The classic Rolex Submariner, new or vintage, represents one of the most popular lines for the brand.

Horology enthusiasts can generally expect their investment to retain its value over time.

If you want to own a piece of history, a Rolex Submariner is an exceptional choice.

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