Watches are objects apart, they have the particularity of being intergenerational but also timeless. True works of art of precision, resistance and beauty, they accompany each of our daily gestures. Rolex is known as much by the enthusiasts as by the amateurs, this success is explained in several ways. First of all, the number of collections proposed by the brand which are all adapted to a particular use, the will being to bring a solution for the globality of the consumers. Whether you are a fan of climbing, mountaineering or other extreme sports, you need to know the time and for this Rolex has invented the Explorer. Need to measure time intervals with great precision? The Daytona will meet your expectations perfectly, but one of the ranges that was undoubtedly very appreciated by Rolex customers was the GMT collection. This range allows its owner to have two different time zones displayed on the same dial: a very important option when we know that when the first GMT was released, aviation and international flights were booming.

Hans Wilsdorf Rolex

At ZEALANDE, our passion for watches leads us to constantly question the history and origins of our favorite models. That's why we're going to talk about a mythical collection that is surely the most famous in the world, whether it's by enthusiasts or amateurs. Discover our ZEALANDE rubber straps for Submariner.

The beginnings of the Submariner legend

The need for Rolex to create the Submariner appeared in the 1950s, when diving was just starting to develop. It is in order to bring a watch capable of accompanying men embarking on the adventure of the depths that the brand with the crown thus launched into the adventure. This impulse comes from the story of one of the leaders of the time who challenged his company to achieve this feat. 

In 1954, the brand proposed a watch that was waterproof to 100 meters. Rolex showed the resistance of its watch by entrusting a copy to Mercedes Gleize who made a crossing of more than 10 hours of the English Channel during which the watch came out intact and in perfect working order. This news was announced on the front page of the English newspapers, participating strongly in the creation of the legend.

Wildsorf & Davis

source : chrono24

The Rolex Submariner was not alone, two different references were presented to the public: the references 6204 and 6205 being the first Rolex watches able to resist to a depth of 100m. Both equipped with a stainless steel bracelet and case (36mm), they were fitted with a unidirectional rotating bezel to legitimize its presence underwater.

This fluted bezel is part of the very essence of the Submariner and can be found on all the references that followed the release of the first one in 1954. It was followed just one year later by the reference 6200. Like the first two, the 6200 was equipped with a steel case, but was also slightly larger and thicker.

source : chrono24

This reference was very popular with collectors and was nicknamed the "Big Crown", its self-winding caliber A296 had the particularity of winding only in one direction unlike its predecessors. One of its distinctive features is its "3-6-9 explorer" style dial and its increased pressure resistance threshold, reaching 200 meters. The price for this reference on the second-hand market is between €40,000 and €50,000.

One of the particularities of these three models is the absence of both the Submariner inscription on the dial and the crown protector. These two elements will appear on future Submariner references.

As the craze for its models was present, Rolex continued to improve its watch to propose in 1955 two new references, the 6538 and 6536. They are both equipped with the Rolex caliber 130 certified master chronometer. This movement brings a greater precision to the whole model; the reference 6538 will benefit from a strong highlight, because Sean Connery wears one in James Bond 007 against DR NO. No change of case size for the watch, the improvements are only technical, but allow to bring a greater reliability to the Submariner.

Rolex Oyster 1926

source : watchmaster

source : chrono24

The beginning of the aesthetic improvements begins with the release of the references 5512 and 5513, these two models representing a major turning point in the Submariner line. The size of the cases evolves to 40mm against 36mm on the previous Submariners. These two references were produced for longer periods than the other Submariners. 1958-1978 for the 5512 and 1962-1989 for the 5513. We will finally see the appearance of the famous Rolex crown guard and the inscription "Superlative Chronometer, Officially Certified". At the same time, Rolex continues to improve the calibers inside the cases, so the calibers 1520 and 1530 are used. Of course, these two Submariner refs are still equipped with the famous Oyster bracelet.

A revival for the Rolex Submariner

Several years pass and Rolex continues to make its watch evolve to propose in 1966 a rather particular Submariner. The Submariner ref 1680 is the first of the range to be equipped with a date window as well as a plexiglass glass known as the "Cyclops" magnifying glass allowing to enlarge the date. From this point on, the Submariner collection was split in two. The name Submariner without Date or Submariner with Date was subsequently used. This improvement is inspired by the Rolex Datejust, one of the oldest models of the brand with the crown.

Rolex Oyster pepetual

source : chrono24

The Datejust had the particularity of automatically changing the visible date thanks to a window positioned at 3 o'clock. The Submariner without date has been added in order to offer its customers a "second version" of the Submariner.

No change of materials or size for the case and the Oyster stainless steel bracelet, just the appearance of the name Submariner in red on the dial, this inscription will be present until 1973. With time, the watches adorned with the Submariner in red have become very popular with collectors becoming one of the two vintage models of the latter.

Rolex Deep Sea

source : watchmaster

For collectors, some models are more prestigious not because of their price, but because of their rarity. As an exceptional vintage Rolex, we will talk about the ref 1680, with the inscription "Submariner" in red on the dial: its rarity is not only explained by its year of production (1974). If this vintage watch is so interesting for collectors, it is because it has been produced with 6 different dials, with names ranging from Mark I to Mark VI. Each dial having its own particularity, it is considered as one of the Holy Grail of watchmaking.

However, the success of vintage models does not stop with the Single Red; the "Fat four" corresponds to the very first references of 16610LV, produced for 7 years and of which only the watches manufactured in the first months following the launch correspond to this denomination.

A first turning point for the Submariner collection

Since its first appearance, the Submariner has always been available entirely in steel: this is why in 1969, Rolex decided to offer the first Submariner reference entirely in gold. The reference 16618 symbolizes the ultimate in prestige with the use of a precious metal; in addition to gold, Rolex also makes a major change on the dial. 

Gone is the classic black that has been the only color used for the collection's dials since its inception, the watch is now equipped with a different color bezel and dial. For the first time in its history, the Submariner will be equipped with a blue bezel and dial, bringing color to the collection. 

Rolex Datejust

source : chrono24

New prestige materials for Rolex

For almost 20 years the Rolex Submariner did not undergo much technical improvement and it is at the end of the 70s that we will witness the evolution of the iconic dive watch. In 1979, the reference 16800 is unveiled to the public, it is equipped with a crystal sapphire glass allowing the diving watch to go to a depth of 300 meters, the resistance remaining unchanged on the current model.

source : timekeeping

We will also see the appearance of the famous steel Rolex: The Oystersteel which is a realization Rolex belonging to the family of. During the 70's, the brand decided to use only exceptional materials in order to propel its products to a higher level of quality. 

The first particularity of Oystersteel is its strong resistance to corrosion which makes it an ideal tool to design watches that can evolve in the most extreme conditions. Its second strength lies in the extraordinary shine it gets when polished, this appearance is due to the particular composition of Oystersteel.

Wanting to go further in the excellence, Rolex offers to its public in 1983 a particular Submariner, the reference 16613 which was the first Submariner equipped with a particular material: the Rolesor. This term, registered by Rolex, corresponds to the subtle mixture of gold and steel Oystersteel composing some of their products. This Submariner was nicknamed "Sultan" in connection with its "Sultan Dial", this reference remained available until 2009 before being replaced by the Submariner 116613LB.

ROlex Oyster Explorer

source : watchmaster

The novelties brought by Rolex on these products were light, but they were important. First of all the use of a more massive case and a Cerachrom bezel, all associated with the famous 904L stainless steel making the Submariner much more resistant. The latest versions of these models are equipped with the 3235 caliber and are also a bit bigger.


Five years later, Rolex continues to evolve its products technically with the appearance of the reference 16610 equipped with a new caliber, the 3135. The addition of a new caliber demonstrates Rolex's desire to constantly improve its flagship model. However, nowadays, collectors are not necessarily looking for the latest references, but more for the "vintage" models of the brand, these models benefiting from technical particularities that cannot be found nowadays.

source : ZEALANDE

source : ZEALANDE

In 1989, replacing the Submariner 5513, Rolex launches the Submariner 14060, it is equipped with the 3000 caliber, a sapphire crystal and a dial with circled indexes. It is waterproof to 300 m, is equipped with a Triplock crown. Its bracelet bears the reference 93150, its end pieces the reference 501B, its horns are pierced. The hands, the dial indexes and the pearl insert are tritium.

In 2003, for the 50th anniversary of the range, Rolex decided to renew the Submariner brand by unveiling a new model. The Submariner "Kermit", with a green bezel combined with a black dial was taken as an anniversary model, surely in a limited edition, but Rolex surprised everyone with the watch ref: 16610LV. This allowed the brand to bring a new color in its flagship range and renew once again the iconic Rolex dive watch. The Rolex "Kermit" was produced until 2010 before giving way to another reference that has made history.

André Heiniger

source : watchmaster

In 2010, the Submariner "HULK" appears under the ref 116610LV, it was the opportunity for Rolex to present several significant improvements. We will see the appearance of "the maxi dial" or "the super case" but also a dial of the same color as the bezel, the particularity that pleased many is the change of color depending on the light giving either a light green or olive green appearance.

It is only in the summer of 2020 that Rolex decides to say goodbye to the "Hulk" by offering the reference 126610LV. Named "Starbucks" or "Cermit", it differs from its predecessors by combining a green aluminum bezel with a black dial.


source : ZEALANDE

In order to perpetuate the legend of the Submariner, Rolex proposes, in 2010, the same year as the release of the "HULK" two new references, the 114060 and the 116610. These two models have the particularity to present us new features, the wide lugs and the new ceramic bezel (Cerachrome). The wider lugs bring a more muscular look to the dial while improving the handling of the bezel. The bezel is made of a ceramic alloy, Cerachrom, which is scratch resistant, corrosion resistant and colorfast, even after long exposure to UV light. These two improvements have propelled the Submariner to another level of excellence.

Since its creation in 1953, the Submariner has constantly evolved; its water resistance, robustness and functionality have been further improved. The case was first enlarged from 38 to 40 mm in diameter - with a protective shoulder for the crown cut into the case middle - and then to 41 mm in 2020. The new Submariner cases are now 41 mm in diameter, but the change in diameter is not the only significant improvement. First of all, we find the traditional Cerachrome bezel but this time equipped with two new calibers. The calibers 3230 and 3235 have a power reserve of 70 hours, which is a huge improvement over the previous calibers of the brand with the crown. 

source : ZEALANDE

In September 2020, Rolex presented no less than eight new versions of its famous Submariner, all with Oyster cases with a diameter enlarged by one millimeter. The lugs have also been reworked to be thinner than their siblings. Rolex has equipped these watches with two new in-house movements, the 3230 (undated) and the 3235 (dated). While the undated version is only available in steel with a black bezel (ref. 124060), the dated Submariner comes in seven different versions.