Updated: Jun 8, 2020
If there is one timepiece that has captured the imagination of both Swiss luxury watch enthusiasts and deep sea divers alike, it is the Rolex Submariner.
The Rolex Submariner is renowned as the most popular, most sought after, and also the highest selling Swiss luxury sports timepiece in the world today and arguably of all time.
This wristwatch is so in-demand that since its launch back in the early 1950s, it has been one of the most counterfeited timepieces around. But even though the initial intention for the creation of the Rolex Submariner was to have a wristwatch that could conveniently be used by sports people and divers in particular.
Today this timepiece is the pride and joy of who is who in the world of entertainment and business with Hollywood A-list movie stars, captains of industry, and top athletes adorning one of the models of this watch to all functions and on all occasions.
The word "iconic" comes to mind as far as the Rolex Submariner is concerned. Its quality is ingrained in its precision engineering and design while displaying boldness, maturity, and an undoubted elegance that is unrivalled.
An Iconic Timepiece is Born
The creation of the Rolex Submariner began when René-Paul Jeanneret a board member of Rolex, an avid diver and a close pal of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, a renowned deep-sea diver and explorer wanted a unique diver's timepiece.
He wanted a diver's wristwatch that would not only be genuinely water resistant, but also one that will be exquisitely elegant and ideal for daily use.
At the time, Jeanneret was of the opinion that the current timepieces in the Rolex diver's collection were not best suited for all occasions even though they were water resistant.
This was the challenge posed to the founder and President of Rolex at the time. So like the search for the holy grail, Hans Wilsdorf and his team of watch designers and engineers at Rolex would begin a quest to create a diver's timepiece that would be water resistant and sophisticated enough for everyday use.
It would take a number of years before that perfect diver's wristwatch would be created. At the Baselworld event of 1953, the Rolex Submariner would be launched to rave reviews.
By 1954, Rolex would launch three Submariner models, namely; 6200, 6204, and 6205. With the official launch of these Rolex Submariner models, there was a reassurance that divers could go deep-sea diving up to about 100 m while still being able to walk confidently on land with their timepiece.
The Rolex Submariner would be the wristwatch that bridged both worlds (underwater and land) while maintaining the class and elegance that many Swiss luxury wristwatches are known for.
Rolex Submariner - A Walk Down Memory Lane
It is interesting to note that as at 1954 the Rolex Submariner models that were released did not have the Submariner insignia inscribed on their Dials.
In fact earlier Submariner models did not have many of the modifications that present day Submariner models have, such as the Crown guards. By 1960, models 6204 and 6205 were retired.
On the other hand, model 6200 which was made with Mercedes type hands, a Bezel with no gradation markings, and a pretty large Crown having a diameter of 8 mm is a very rare and highly sought after timepiece.
The Submariner 5512 was launched in 1959 with this model having added crown guards and a 40 mm Case which was larger than earlier models at the time. The Dial of the 5512 model also has "Superlative Chronometer, Officially Certified" inscribed on it.
After the 5512 Submariner model, the 5513 model was released with a Caliber 1530 movement and its crown guards modified a bit.
Submariner takes to the Big Screens!
In 1962, Dr. No the first James Bond movie was released and Sean Connery wore the Rolex Submariner 6538 model.
The success of the James Bond 007 franchise would also lead to the unprecedented rise in the demand for Submariner timepieces by a much broader audience.
Rolex Submariner Model 1680
In 1966 the Rolex Submariner model 1680 was launched and this model was the first ever Submariner to have a Caliber 1575 movement, a Date complication window with Plexi Crystal, and a Dial with red colored writing on it.
Redefining The Submariner in the '80s
As the years rolled by, Rolex would refine the Submariner with the release of models such as the 16800 in 1981. This was the first Submariner model to have a unidirectional Bezel. By 1983 Rolex released the 16613 which was the first ever Submariner with a Steel Case made with two-tone Gold. It also had a Bezel and a Blue colored Dial.
The 1980's would witness the release of a number of Submariner models. Apart from the 16613, the 11613 and the 16610 Submariners would be launched. The latter was launched in 1988 and came with a 40 mm diameter Stainless Steel Case, a Black colored Dial and also a patented Oyster Bracelet.
In addition, the 16610 Submariner has a scratch resistant crystal which makes it easier to tell time while underwater as well as Luminescent hands for better clarity. This model was made throughout the late '80s, '90s and early 2000s.
By 2010 Rolex had ended the manufacture of the Submariner 16610 model, but because of its huge demand, the 16610 is one of the most counterfeited Submariners around.
Celebrating 50 years of Superior Quality
The year 2003 marked the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first Submariner wristwatch. To commemorate this august occasion, Rolex released a limited edition Submariner timepiece known as the 16610LV. This Submariner had a distinctly unique Green colored Bezel.
What makes the Submariner such an iconic wristwatch is its reliability, functionality, craftsmanship, and undoubted quality.