Rolex Submariner history is legend in Rolex watches. But why is this sports watch also heralded as one of the most famous elegant dress watches of all time?
Perhaps it has something to do with the famous names associated with this timepiece: Jacques Cousteau, James Bond, Sean Connery, Thor Heyerdal , the British Royal Navy and COMEX (a famous French expeditionary diving company) to name just a few. Click here to learn more and read the official guide about the Rolex 16610 and why it still retains its iconic status among die hard Rolex fans even compared to the new ceramic Submariner model 116610.
Beyond the marketing hype, however, the Rolex Submariner just has that timeless sophisticated design that true watch aficionados want to see when they look down at their wrist several times a day.
Then in 1954, Rolex formally launched Submariner model 6204 at the Basel Spring Fair. The company claimed its new timepiece was water resistant and could withstand depths of 200 meters (or 660 feet): something no other watch company had been able to accomplish. This same model (as well as the 6205), which was a bit smaller than the first “experimental” 6200 model, was officially launched for sale to the general public in 1955.
It wouldn’t be until the 1960s, however, that the Submariner would have mass appeal. The groovy era is when the Submariner showed up on the wrist of Sean Connery in several James Bond 007 films, including some famous underwater scenes. (In fact, the Submariner has shown up in no less than nine Bond films.)
What made the Submariner perfect for diving — other than the ability to work at incredible depths under the water — is the rotating bezel keeps track of air time when divers are submerged. In addition, many of the other Submariner innovations were created to deal with the limitations of wearing a wet suit and gloves such as the Submariner’s famous flip-lock clasp (later known as “triplock”).
Produced in 1953, the Rolex Submariner was first introduced in 1954 at Basel Watch Fair. The model comes in Oystersteel, white & yellow gold, and two-tone metals with date and no date variants. Made famous by James Bond films, this iconic sports watch has a 40mm case size and functions as a dive watch. Suggested retail price starts at $7,500 as of 2018.
One of the most recognizable faces in the Rolex catalog, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner made its debut at the Basel Swiss Watch Fair in 1954 with the launch of reference numbers 6200, 6204, and 6205. Built for durability and their resistance to water and corrosion, the Submariner is part of a line of sports watches designed by Rolex specifically for the diving community.
Over the decades, Rolex has made only minor changes to its classic Submariner watches such as thinning out the crown guard and adding even more innovations such as a helium escape valve, a 31-jewel movement, extra luminescent hour markers (called “superluminova”), synthetic sapphire glass, a date feature (some with “Cyclops” magnifying glass for easier reading) and an even greater depth rating (300 meters of 1,000 feet).
In the 1970s, Rolex also transformed the Submariner into a more colorful timepiece. The first Submariners were all crafted in silver steel with black faces, but the more contemporary Submariner watches became available in yellow gold (or two-tone) and even bright blue faces. In 2004, Rolex launched its green face (or LV as in “lunette verde”) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Submariner. Rolex uses a proprietary 904L stainless steel on its latest Submariner models. This ultra-hard, corrosion-resistant steel is only used in aerospace and chemical factors. In fact, no other company in the world except Rolex has the economies of scale or expertise to use this shock-resistant material for everyday timepieces. Through the years, the Submariner has retained its rugged sporty appeal while at the same time being sophisticated enough to wear at board meetings.