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New Rolex Submariner Watches

The Rolex Submariner: A Diver’s Must-Have 

The Rolex Submariner became iconic not only for its reputation as one of the world’s first-ever dive watches but also for carrying a classic Rolex design loved by many collectors all over the world. In fact, it’s the inspiration for modern-day tool watches from other watch brands. Not to mention, it’s also the watch of choice by prominent names in various industries, including politicians, celebrities, and sports legends. 

Prices at a Glance: Most Popular Rolex Submariner Watches

ModelPrice (approximate)Features
Rolex Submariner “James Bond Sub”$141,000 USD (pre-owned)

Stainless steel case 

Black dial and bezel

No date

Big crown

200m (660ft) water resistance

No crown guard

Rolex Submariner Ref. 116619LB$36,500 USD

White gold case 

Blue dial and bezel 

Date window

Rolex Submariner "Red Sub"$35,000 USD

Date window 

Cyclops lens

Rolex Submariner “McQueen Submariner”$30,500 USD (pre-owned)

Black dial and bezel 

Chapter ring dial

Rolex Submariner Kermit Ref. 16610LV$21,000 USD

Stainless steel case 

Green bezel 

Black dial 

Date window

Rolex Submariner Hulk Ref. 116610LV$23,000 USD

Stainless steel case

Green dial and bezel 

Date window

Rolex Submariner Date Ref. 116610LN$11,500 USD

Stainless steel case 

Cerachrom bezel 

Black dial and bezel 

Date display 

Cyclops lens

Rolex Submariner No Date Ref. 114060$10,500 USD

Stainless steel case 

Cerachrom bezel 

Black dial and bezel 

No date

 

How much is a Rolex Submariner watch?

Generally, a brand new Rolex Submariner watch costs between $9,000 USD and $40,000 USD. With that big of a range, you can get various models of Submariners with costs depending on their material and features. 

For instance, you can get the Rolex Submariner No Date Ref. 114060 at around $13,000 USD, brand new. This is one of the most basic Submariner watches you can get. The watch comes with a sturdy case made from stainless steel. Moreover, the Oystersteel bracelet also adds to the durability of the model, so you won't have to worry about it breaking off easily. In addition, this timepiece comes with a well-made dial that has a black background. In order to make the dial more appealing, luminescent hands and hour markers are applied to produce a beautiful shine. The mechanisms of the Ref. 114060 are powered by an automatic Caliber 3130, which keeps the watch running according to your expectations. You can luck out by checking pre-owned pieces in good condition at around $9,500 USD. Meanwhile, with a date window, a Submariner can cost about 11,500 USD. You can save on a few hundred dollars for pre-owned pieces, but both watches appreciate over the years. 

That said, you can expect Rolex Submariner watches to become more and more expensive as the years go on. Watches with date windows are more popular, that’s why there’s a smaller gap between the brand new and pre-owned watches for this model. 

There are various watches that are on the more expensive side of the scale due to their popularity and the materials used. For instance, the Green Submariner also known as the Rolex Kermit Ref. 16610LV costs around 21,000 USD, brand new. The Rolex Kermit 50th Anniversary costs more, $34,000 USD. This is a rare piece that features a green bezel on a black dial. The Kermit often gets confused with the Hulk, Ref. 116610LV that is green in both bezel and dial. The dial of the Ref. 116610LV is marked exclusively with striking 18ct gold hour markers and hands that give it a ravishing color contrast. The unidirectional green bezel is made from a good quality ceramic material that provides scratch-proof and corrosion-resistant properties. This Rolex Submariner Hulk costs around 23,000 USD. Pre-owned it costs around 15,500 USD. Meanwhile, a Kermit sells around 16,000 USD, pre-owned. 

You can also find gold Rolex Submariner watches in either white or yellow gold. The Rolex Submariner Blue Ref. 116619LB is a white gold model with a blue dial and bezel. Thus, its name. It costs around $47,500 USD for a brand new piece. You can save a couple thousand dollars for a pre-owned watch at 31,500 USD. The Rolex Submariner Ref. 116618LN in yellow gold comes with a striking black dial and bezel. It costs a little less at $45,000 USD brand new. At 30,500 USD, you can snag a used yellow gold Submariner. 

Lovers of a vintage-styled watch would love the Rolesor Submariner. This means that the watch comes in half gold, half steel. It costs around $13,000 USD. 

History of the Rolex Submariner 

While Rolex introduced the Submariner in 1954, its history dates back as early as 1926. At the time, Rolex introduced the Oyster, the first-ever watch with a hermetically sealed case. This seals the watch and makes it ultimately resistant to water, protecting the movement inside. Fast forward to 1931, Rolex patented the Perpetual rotor. This is the world’s first-ever self-winding mechanism. Combining the two gave birth to the Oyster Perpetual. 

Come the 1950s, Rolex had business creating watches with rotating bezels. This is a feature primarily used by divers. At the same time, the brand continued to develop the water resistance of its watches. This resulted in the Oyster Perpetual Submariner, launched in 1954. This is a first commercial timepiece submersible to up to 100 meters. 

Even with the success of the Submariner, Rolex continued the development of its flagship dive watch. They worked with professional divers to develop a helium valve. In the 1960s, the brand collaborated with the French diving company, COMEX (Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises). They tested a Sea-Dweller Submariner that comes with a helium valve as well as a case that can handle great pressure underwater. In 1967, Rolex debuted the Sea-Dweller Submariner with a 610-water resistance to the market. 

The Iconic Rolex Submariner Design 

Despite the Sea-Dweller Submariner having a helium valve, the regular Submariner never had one. However, Rolex continued to improve the watch, and by 1959, it’s already water-resistant to 200 meters. In the following decade, the brand added a “cyclops” lens to magnify the date window of models with the said function. 

It was also in the 1960s that the Submariner began having crown guards. Before that, Submariner watches had small crowns. Even the company thought that it was too small, especially for a tool watch. It’s also around this year that Rolex cemented the luminated markers, inverted triangle 12 o’clock marker on both the dial and bezel. These ultimately became the signature elements of the Sub. This look also became representative of all tool watches, inspiring other brands’ designs. 

In the late 1970s, Rolex improved the crystal of the Submariner by changing it into sapphire. This worked not only for the No-Date Sub but also for the Submariner with Date. The company also increased the depth rating of the watches to 200 meters. 

Modern-Day Rolex Submariner Watches

Today, the Rolex Submariner carries the same concept of design with modern-day materials and capabilities. They can now withstand water pressure of up to 300 meters or 984 feet. They now have unidirectional rotating bezels with 120 clicks. 

In 2012, Rolex updated the whole collection alongside other watch models with its proprietary Cerachrom bezel. This is a ceramic compound that’s incredibly scratch-resistant and has more vivid colors compared to aluminium insert bezels. 

Moreover, the Sub got a new Oysterlock bracelet with the Glidelock system. This allows adjustments in 2mm increments, so it can easily fit over a wetsuit. As a result, the clasp of the new bracelet also appears slightly larger compared to older versions. However, this allowed a safety feature that ensures that it won’t get opened by accident. 

Subs also have Chromalight, Rolex's proprietary luminous material. This feels the bezel’s zero marker that glows blue in the dark. This material is known to be brighter than SuperLuminova. Another impressive detail is the platinum dusting to the bezel’s numbers and indices. That said, the dial indexes as well as arched hands of the Submariner come in gold. 

Taking a peek in the movement of the watch, it’s worth noting that Submariner watches carry the in-house calibers 3130 and 3135. The calibers were introduced in 2011 and 1988, respectively. The caliber 3130 is a non-date movement, while the 3135 comes with a date function. Despite it being introduced in 1988, the calibre 3135 met with various improvements such as a Parachrom hairspring. Both of these movements come with COSC certification. 

The 2020 Rolex Submariner Watches 

After eight years since the last update to the collection, Rolex rolled out eight new Submariner models in September 2020. The new models come in 41mm cases, 1mm bigger than their predecessors. They also fit with new in-house calibers, namely 3230 for non-date and 3235 for date models. These movements come with an improved power reserve of 70 hours. 

Rolex also tweaked the lugs of the watches, making them a tad narrower than the old models. Among the eight models, seven are Submariner Date watches, while only the Rolex Submariner Ref. 124060 is the No-Date model. The model comes in stainless steel with a black bezel, priced at $13,600 USD. You can also get the new Submariner Date in stainless steel through two models. The Rolex Submariner Ref. 126610LN comes with a black bezel priced at $14,500 USD, while the Rolex Submariner Ref. 126610LV has a green bezel and a black dial. It costs 19,500 USD. 

It’s not a Rolex collection without Rolesor models. For the 2020 Submariner collection, we have the Refs. 126613LB and 126613LN. The Rolex Submariner Ref. 126613LB comes with a blue dial and bezel while the Rolex Submariner Ref. 126613LN has a black dial and bezel. Either way, they cost around $17,000 USD. 

If you prefer gold timepieces, you can check out References 126618LB and 126618LN. Made of 18K yellow gold, they have blue and black colours incorporated, respectively. They retail for around $36,950 USD. If you still prefer gold but like it white, you can get Ref. 126619LB for 39,650 USD. It has a stunning blue bezel. 

Diving Deep with the Rolex Submariner 

The Rolex Submariner is one of the most iconic watches not only for the brand that produces it. This particular watch also witnessed and took part in the most daring dives in the world.

In 2012, Rolex’s special Deepsea Challenge model took a dive into the Mariana Trench. It reached a depth of about 36,000 ft (about 11,000 meters). While the model is not officially a Submariner, it carries the same DNA as the Submariner Deepsea watch released in 2008. 

However, this wouldn’t happen if Rolex didn’t take the advice of René-Paul Jeanneret. The former Rolex director was also a recreational diver, so he knew exactly what a diver needs in a watch. The company designed the Submariner according to his suggestions and underwent various tests as well as 132 dives to depths of 12 to 60 meters (39 to 197 ft). 

To further test the watch, they even dropped it on a concrete dock from a height of 6 feet and 6 inches or two meters. The watch continued to function with a little damage on the luminous material on one of the hands. These are some of the tests responsible for the depth rating of modern-day Submariners at 300 meters. 

Up Close with the In-House Calibers 3135 and 3130 

For the longest time, in-house calibers 3135 and 3130 power the Rolex Submariner watches. Manufactured in Biel, Switzerland, since 1989, these movements are robust and incredibly accurate. Not to mention, they’re also stunning movements with red aluminum winding wheels as well as blue Parachrom hairspring. More subtle details also exist in these movements, such as the sunburst pattern on the winding rotor and automatic bridge. 

As aforementioned, these movements also come with certification from the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute or COSC). Meaning, they are certified chronometers. 

These movements are known not only among fans of the brand but also the whole industry. Rolex improved them over the years. Among those include improving the balance spring for better accuracy. Rolex used a special anti-magnetic alloy that protects the watch from magnetic fields. They also used an overcoil from Breguet that lets the balance spring “breathe” for improved accuracy. Abraham-Louis Breguet introduced this himself in 1795. To do this, the spring’s final coil has to be lifted then bent to reduce its curvature. 

Compared to other mechanical movements, these calibers are regulated through Microstella nuts in the balance wheel. Moreover, these movements come with a quickset date feature as well as balance stop, so you can set the watch to the very second. 

Rolex Submariner: A Collector’s Must-Have 

There are various collector’s Submariners that prove as sound investment watches. For instance, you have the Submariner that Rolex developed specially for Compagnie maritime d'expertises of COMEX. This French diving company is popular for their underwater exploration technologies. The watches, referenced 5514, were in production from the 1970s to the 1990s. They are successful watches and are popular to this day. 

The Red Sub 

Another Rolex Submariner that many collectors vie for is the Red Sub. The Submariner Ref. 1680 comes with a date display and has a red "Submariner" inscription on the dial. It’s a watch that was in production from 1967 to 1974. Prices for some of the Red Subs even doubled over the years. 

You should always check the reference and serial numbers when buying a Red Sub. Earlier models even have a production date on the case. This should also correspond to the serial number. Red Rolex Submariners also have bold-type numbers and indexes on the bezel. However, later versions come with thinner typeface so it’s important to learn that distinction. 

Red subs come with the automatic movement 1575, which comes with a date indicator. It’s the same movement that powers the Sea-Dweller Ref. 1665 and GMT-Master Ref. 1675. 

How much do these vintage Rolex watches cost? The Red Sub and COMEX Subs are incredibly rare these days. Therefore, they have greater demand. You should prepare at last $18,000 USD for a Red Sub Ref. 1680 and $47,000 USD for a COMEX Sub. However, take this with a grain of salt. There are various subs in great condition that can demand about $100,000 USD. 

The Most Affordable and Most Expensive Rolex Submariner Watches 

Generally, you should get a pre-owned Rolex Submariner if you’re looking for an affordable choice. However, they still come at a hefty price. You can get one at $7,000 USD, more or less. But this also comes very rare, especially since Rolex watches tend to appreciate and not depreciate. 

On the other hand, the Rolex Submariner also proves one of the most expensive watches you can get. The most expensive Rolex Submariner in record is the Ref. 6538. Sold at Christie’s for the Evening of Exceptional Watches in 2018, this watch drove collectors wild for its look. It comes with an Explorer dial, meaning it has Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. This sold for $1,068,500 USD, the first ever 7-digit Rolex Submariner to date. 

This beat the record of a rare white gold Sub in 2017. Also sold at Christie’s in Geneva, Switzerland, the watch cost a whopping $628,572 USD. This watch also broke the record of another Rolex Submariner sold in November 2016 at Phillips Geneva Watch Auction. The watch Ref. 6528 cost around $568,561 USD. 

The Rolex Submariner James Bond and Steve McQueen Watches 

Aside from its reputation as a dive watch, the Rolex Submariner also made its way to Hollywood. It became a reputable watch, accompanying Agent 007 and “King of Cool” Steve McQueen himself. 

We all know how James Bond wears the most iconic watches in history. The Rolex Submariner got a taste of it as both Sean Connery and Roger Moore wore them on their respective Bond films. Known as the “James Bond Sub”, the Ref. 6538 became popular among collectors. Sean Connery wore the watch in the 1962 Bond film Dr No. A James Bond Sub costs around $117,000 USD these days. 

Meanwhile, the Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513 became known when Roger Moore wore the watch in the film Live and Let Die in 1973. The watch sold at Christie’s in 2001 for 38,000 USD. The very watch reappeared in auction at Phillips in 2015 and sold at $363,000 USD. This proved that the watch increased tenfold in just 14 years! 

Steve McQueen was a prominent name in the industry as an actor as well as a recreational race car driver. He often wore various watches but he was particularly fond of the Rolex Submariner Ref. 5512. 

Investing in Vintage Rolex Submariner Watches: Is it worth it? 

Rolex vintage watches are some of the most coveted in the vintage market. Submariners with References 5512 and 5513 are just two of the most popular vintage Subs. They were launched way back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. While they were in production for a long time, you’ll only find a few pieces in the market today. 

The Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513 costs around $12,500 USD, while the Rolex Submariner Ref. 5512 is valued at $23,500 USD. You can get more affordable vintage Submariners at around $10,500 USD for references 16800 or 168000 from the 1980s. 

Identifying Vintage Rolex Watches 

Identifying vintage Rolexes can be hard. However, you have the dial to refer for ease. From 1967 to 1974, Rolex had six various dials. They’re labeled Mark I through Mark VI, respectively. There’s not a lot of changes between the dials except between Mark III and Mark IV. 

Mark I to Mark III dials carry the “meters first” nickname. This is due to the way that the depth rating is written on the dial. It goes “200 m = 660 ft” on the dial. Then, the Mark IV earned the “feet first” nickname. Its depth rating changed to “660 ft = 200 m”. 

Mark II and Mark III appear with tropical dials. Because of exposure to the sun, heat, and humidity, the colors of the dial and bezel changed over the years. Many collectors value these tropical dials and come with an expected increase in value, depending on the intensity of the color change. They range from white to yellow and, of course, brown. 

Make sure to check the colors of the hands. They should match the indexes. It’s a good indication of a genuine Rolex. When all else fails, make sure to consult an expert before purchasing a vintage Rolex watch. 

Why Should You Buy a Rolex Submariner Watch

Many people aspire to own at least one Rolex Submariner watch. Unsurprisingly so since it comes from Rolex, a brand known for Swiss watchmaking excellence. The Submariner, too, has inspired many dive watches of today, and every model carries a piece of history with it. These are just a few reasons why you should buy a Rolex Submariner watch. Here a few more to remind you why the Rolex Submariner is the ultimate collector’s watch. 

1. The Submariner is one of the world’s most famous and pioneering dive watches.

2. The Red Sub and COMEX are two of the collection’s most coveted models.

3. The Rolex in-house calibres 3130 and 3135 (featuring a date window) are certified by COSC.

4. Every Submariner model carries a distinct and prominent design by Rolex.

5. Each watch has great value retention and tends to appreciate over the years — a great investment watch.

Final Thoughts 

Rolex produces some of the best collections you can get, and the Rolex Submariner is definitely among them. This is proven not only by its price range but also by the collection’s achievements. The Rolex Submariner, in particular, brings justice to Rolex’s reputation as a luxury watch manufacturer. It’s a watch that many other brands’ take inspiration for its design and function. Indeed, it is arguably one of the most legendary dive watches to ever exist with a long history of accuracy and excellence. 

Editor's Choice

Riley Reid
Senior Editor
Rolex Submariner Watches
The Rolex Submariner is definitely one of Rolex's most popular and recognized watches they've released. This watch had some amazing breakthroughs. The Rolex Submariner made its debut in 1953 and was the first to be waterproof up to 100 meters (330ft). Catering to the needs of a diver, the dial is luminescent and the hour markers are simply shaped so that it's easier to see.
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