Perhaps the most iconic watch of all time, the Rolex Submariner has a long and storied past. Stretching all the way back to the mid-1950s, the Submariner has been the watch of choice for armed forces, divers and action seekers for decades. It’s reliable, simple and will simply run forever; the Submariner is genuinely the watch to end all watches. However, over its history there have been loads of variations in the classic design, so today we’re going to present to you our five favourites.
5. Ref. 116610LV the ‘Hulk’ Submariner
Of all the Submariners Rolex makes today, this is easily one of the most popular. You can’t go through a forum or go to a watch meet and not expect to see a Hulk Submariner or at least someone who owns one. The green colouring is so unique in the world of watches, which tends to favour blue or red alongside a drab black. The green Sub stands out as a more casual variant of the design, at least in my eyes, though I do not doubt that many owners will quietly disagree. The Hulk still features the date and cyclops which have become synonymous with the Sub, along with the extremely high demand and waiting lists.
4. Ref. 116619LB White Gold Submariner
There’s a particular ‘Get out of my way!’ attributed to the solid gold Submariner. It’s a status symbol for sure, but it also fools people into thinking they are the top dog of the Submariner world, they are mistaken. The actual top dog in this lineup is the 116619LB Submariner. You’d hardly mistake it for a ‘Standard’ Submariner, except, of course, for the fact that the bezel and dial are coloured a radiant blue. Also, the metal looks slightly off colour for stainless, not to mention it’s much heavier? Ah yes, that’ll be the gold. The owner of a white gold Sub will quite happily let the yellow gold owners take the glory, though, those who are in the know who spot it will know whom the person pulling strings is. It’s the wearer of the white gold Submariner.
3. Ref. 114060 Submariner ‘No-Date’
When we talk about the Submariner watches, we immediately imagine the classic Subbie that we all know, with its date window and cyclops glistening in the sunlight. Actually, this is the Submariner Date nowadays, the Submariner is often called the no-date Sub instead. Cutting away the date feature not only removes the partially divisive cyclops from the dial but also makes the watch as simple as can be. Therefore, it’s the perfect everyday watch which can take one hell of a beating. While nothing to write home about in terms of design, being timeless has its uses: people will still buy it. That’s all there is to it, the no-nonsense diving watch that anyone can wear for any occasion that will look the part.
When looking through vintage watches it’s fair to say that many of them have seen better days, and even in a good condition may not be particularly valuable. This is not the case for the Reference 5513 Submariner which demands high prices if in excellent condition. It’s one of the best looking Submariners in my books, and a vintage which I’d like to own someday (I’m not a big vintage person, but I have my likes and dislikes). One of the most sought-after versions of this watch is the Comex Sub. Issued to Comex scuba divers, these can fetch much more on the secondary market because of their rarity, presumably the original owners of these watches are waiting for the prices to increase more before they consider selling.
Okay okay, technically this isn’t exactly a specific model of Submariner. In vintage Rolex watches it is possible for sunlight and/or water damage to change the dial as the watch ages, thereby developing a brand new and random patina on the dial. On some watches, this may be because the watch was exposed to a lot of sunlight (and, more importantly, UV rays) and then kept stored away for a long time, damaging the lacquer. Condensation inside the dial area reacts with the radium-based lume, causing it to turn green over time. When this happens, it’s more important than ever that everything remains original when the watch is serviced. Not only will replaced parts stand out, but they will also hurt the potential value of the watch, which can fetch double or even triple the cost of a non-tropical dial watch. It’s not even limited to the Submariner, watches like the Daytona have also been susceptible to the ‘Tropical Effect’ as I’m now calling it. For example, in an auction several years ago, a Newman Daytona sold at 4.7x its expected value just because it had a tropical dial, remember though that most of this comes from human negligence and people allowing damage to happen to their precious timepieces.