Rolex Submariner – Diving Classic
When you look for a diving watch, you’re usually concerned about water resistance, but that’s not all you want. You also want features, build quality and good looks.
The Rolex Submariner combines all of those and is perhaps the iconic diving watch. First introduced in 1954, the Rolex Submariner has proven to be so popular with watch collectors and sportsmen that it remains in production today, albeit with a number of improvements over the original model.
As you might expect from a product explicitly marketed as a diving watch, the Rolex Submariner is particularly well built. Cases are made from stainless steel, gold, or a combination of the two, which produces great looks combined with the ruggedness that stainless steel can provide.
Lenses are sapphire crystal, which is super clear while also having superior durability. Bezels are made from high tech ceramics. Water resistance is 300 meters, which is more than adequate for most needs in or around the water. We’ll cover the movements below.
Read on for the full Rolex Submariner review.
As with most of the product line from this company, this model features the Swiss made Oyster Perpetual movement for which Rolex is rightly famous. These are highly accurate and durable works that are going to last as long as you, and perhaps longer, with proper care.
A number of feature changes have come with this watch since its debut in 1954. Originally, the winding stem was unprotected and prone to damage. In the early 1960s, “shoulders” were added to the right side of the case to protect the stem. The early plan hands were replaced with the iconic “cathedral” hands after a few years of production and luminous parts which formerly used dangerous radium paint, now use a tritium-based paint, which offers numerous advantages.
Water resistance has improved over the years, from 200 meters to 300 meters. Calendar features were added and improved, and improvements have been made to the automatic movement, allowing it to utilize smaller motions on the part of the wearer to wind the watch.
Don’t expect a lot of variation in the Rolex Submariner; this is a sports model in general and a diving watch in particular, so they’re all going to look about the same, though they are available with several different face colors, with bands of silver, gold, or a combination of the two.
Cases are available in stainless steel, gold, or a combination of the two. Current models feature the date and luminous hands. These are attractive timepieces that can be worn either for sports use or as an everyday watch.
As with the rest of the company’s products, this watch does require occasional maintenance, as the company recommends that you send the watch back to them every five years or so for a complete servicing, which includes disassembly, replacement of worn parts, cleaning of good ones, replacement of gaskets, lubrication and thorough testing.
You should have the watch examined once a year to ensure that the watertight seals are intact, particularly if you use the watch in or around water on a regular basis. If you use the timepiece in salt water, you should rinse it with tap water as soon as possible and wipe it dry with a soft cloth.
You should keep your watch away from extremes of temperature and caustic chemicals and store it in a cool, dry place when not in use. As it features an automatic movement, you’ll probably want to store it in a watch winder in order to keep it accurate and working properly.
This model comes with the standard warranty from Rolex, which is for two years from the date of purchase against defects in materials and workmanship. If there’s anything this exceptional company does that can be described as average, it’s the warranty.
That said, defects are rare, and if there are any, they usually become apparent well within the warranty period. Should you have the watch serviced every few years, as the company recommends, you will have a two year warranty on the service work, as well, which effectively gives you a new two year warranty every five years. Not a bad deal.
Given the high build quality and the legendary reputation that the Rolex Submariner has in the watch and the diving community, it won’t come as a surprise that the Rolex Submariner is a fairly expensive wristwatch.
They start at about $7000, and can easily run into the $25,000 range, particularly for the all-gold models. Yes, this is a lot of money, but it’s far from the top of the price range for this company’s products and these are highly regarded, well-built timepieces that will hold their value well.
Collectors love this watch; in fact, a reference 5512 that belonged to the late actor Steve McQueen, who was often photographed wearing it, sold for a record $234,000 at the Antiquorum auction in New York City on June 11, 2009. That price was twenty times the presale estimate, clearly demonstrating the interest in the brand among collectors.
Rolex strictly controls distribution and pricing of their products, making it difficult, though not impossible, to find one online at a discount. Otherwise, you’ll have to purchase it from an authorized dealer, which is generally a high end jewelry store. These are mostly located in larger cities, which may make it somewhat difficult for those who live outside of major metropolitan areas.
The Rolex Submariner is the iconic diving watch, and has been sought after by sportsmen and watch collectors since its introduction more than half a century ago. While it was a good timepiece then, it’s a great one today, offering nice traditional styling, terrific build quality and the reputation that comes with owning a Rolex wristwatch.
They are somewhat pricey, but then again, given how durable they are, it’s likely the last diving watch you’ll ever have to buy. If you like good looks, great build and want to own a genuine icon, the Rolex Submariner is the ideal wristwatch for you.