First Rolex Submariner 1953
Rolex Submariner

The most important events in the history of the legendary diving watch

Rolex Submariner Evolution

One of the outstanding features of the Rolex Submariner is without doubt that it has always remained true to its line. If you set a current “No Date” Model next to the original Submariner introduced in 1953, then its origin is clear. But of course there have been many changes in the long history of the Rolex icon, hardly any other watch from the Manufacture has undergone such an interesting development.

The first Submariner was waterproof to a depth of 100 meters, but this was not yet on the dial (Photo: Rolex)

Rolex Submariner 114060

The current Submariner without date is most similar to the original model (Photo: Rolex)

1953

The Rolex Submariner was born… although it was not officially presented to the public until the following year. The first Reference 6200, with a large Brevet crown, was already watertight to a depth of 200 metres. Almost at the same time the Reference 6204 was added, which at first was only waterproof to 100m, but this was quickly raised. However, this information was not yet visible on the dial at the beginning. And the first models did not bear the”Submariner” lettering either, which was probably due to problems with the name registration.

1954

The Submariner is officially presented at the Basel watch fair – which has become a tradition. The hour hand is now equipped with the characteristic illuminated circuit to prevent confusion between the hour and minute hands in poor visibility conditions. The larger and more non-slip winding crown is added and now water resistance up to 200m depth is generally guaranteed. Towards the end of 1954, the”Submariner” lettering became a permanent feature.

1956

The rotating bezel is given continuous minute indices for the first 15 minutes, so that the time can be read exactly, especially during diving safety stops. In addition, the luminous point of the second hand moves towards the center.

Rolex Submariner 1959 wt.net

A Reference 6538 from 1959 – shortly before there were further innovations (Photo: watchtime.net)

1959

The housing diameter of the Submariner is increased from 36 to 40 millimeters. To better protect the crown from knocks and bumps, the Submariner now has its typical crown flank protection. For better operability of the rotating bezel, with cold fingers or gloves, it is provided with a deeper ribbing.

Rolex Vintage Submariner Ref. 5512

From now on with flank protection and “Superlative Chronometer, Officially Certified” on the dial (Photo: watchtime.net)

1962

With the Reference 5513, with a new case and crown protection, the Submariner, which is the longest built Submariner with a service life of over 25 years, comes onto the market. Among other things, it becomes the timepiece of combat divers of the British Royal Navy and is also nicknamed “James Bond”, as it accompanies the famous film agent on various secret missions.

Read more about Rolex military watches in this article!

Special offer: Reference 5513 from 1972 by Chrono24 (Photo: chrono24.com)

1966

The year of birth of the first Submariner with date. The Reference 1680 comes on the market, with the first models wearing the red Submariner lettering – meanwhile particularly coveted collector’s items.

Rolex Submariner Red Sub, 1970

Here is a Reference 1680 “Red Sub” from 1970 (Photo: watchtime.net)

1969

The Rolex Submariner in gold is introduced.

1979

Equipped with new sapphire crystal, the Submariner is now 300 metres water-resistant.

1981

From now on, Caliber 3035 will power the Submariner. The rotating bezel is also being renewed, it is now equipped with 120 latching and can only be rotated in one direction for safety reasons.

1983

The first “Rolesor” variant of the Submariner, a combination of steel and gold, is presented.

Rolex Rolesor

The name “Rolesor” was protected by Rolex as early as 1933 (Photo: Rolex)

1988

The famous Calibre 3135, which still powers the Rolex Submariner, is now in use with the Reference 16610. At the same time, a modern “No Date” version of the Submariner, the Reference 14060, is launched as the successor to the original model.

Rolex Caliber 3135

The Rolex Caliber 3135 is the basis of most Rolex movements (Photo: Rolex)

Detailed information about the caliber 3135 and other Rolex movements can be found here!

1998

Among other things the change of the luminous material from Tritium to Superluminova takes place now and also the hour hands of Ref. 16610 become narrower.

2000

The Reference 14060M, equipped with Caliber 3130, replaces the 14060.

2003

50th anniversary of the Rolex Submariner. An anniversary model with green bezel, extra large indexes and a wider minute hand is presented. In addition, the case of the Submariner is reworked, the horns of the ribbon attachment are no longer pierced. And from now on, her sapphire crystal has the laser-engraved crown.

Rolex Submariner 16610LV, 2003

Reference 16610LV nicknamed Rolex “Hulk” makes a name for itself (Photo: watchtime.net)

2007

Switched to chronometer standard, the dial of Ref. 14060M is now marked “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified”.

2008

A design change is introduced with the yellow and white gold version of the Submariner Date: The case is now slightly thicker, has wider horns and is now equipped with a ceramic bezel.

Rolex Submariner Date yellow gold 116618LN

The price of the Submariner Date in yellow gold is currently 31,100Euros (Photo: Rolex)

2009

Two new Rolesor variants, in black and blue, are presented.

Rolex Submariner 116613lb

Reference 116613LB, in stainless steel and yellow gold (Photo: Rolex)

2010

A new stainless steel version of the Submariner Date is introduced, equipped with the new Cerachrom high-tech ceramic bezel, with platinum numerals and indexes. It is available with a black dial and, as the successor to the Rolex “Hulk”, with green dial and green Cerachrom ceramic bezel and the now more massive case.

Rolex Submariner 116610lv

The current Submariner Date Ref. 116610LV – LV for “lunette verte”, French “green bezel” (Photo: Rolex)

Rolex Submariner Date 116610

And Ref. 116610 with black bezel (Photo: Rolex)

2012

Reference 14060M is retired, the last of its kind: with drilled lugs, the stamped bracelet clasp and an aluminium insert in the bezel.

A Ref.14060M in the side view (Photo: watchtime.net)

The Submariner “No-Date” is now also equipped with Cerachrom bezel and now also carries the latest generation Oyster strap.

Rolex Submariner 114060

The reference 114060 is with 6,900Euros also the cheapest Submariner (Photo: Rolex)

Find out more about the Rolex Submariner!

Continuously updated article, originally put online in July 2017.


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