Because it’s the most closely monitored dive watch in the world, any small change can cause a tsunami. The truth is, the Sub feels very much like the old Sub.
The Rolex Submariner can be used as a dive watch, tool watch or sport watch. You can trace the roots of this timepiece back to its origins and you will find an icon that is stone-cold on dry land.
Many Naysayers complain that the Submariner has become too popular, that it is uninspiring, and that it is a cliché. All of this is false. But ispopular because it’s good. It has been for many decades.
In 1953, the Rolex Submariner was released for the first time. The Submariner was designed to be a diving tool and has a long history of being a military-issued watch (the MilSubs) It was not an overnight success. Although we would all love to believe that our great-grandfathers or grandfathers wore Big Crown Submariners in the 1950s, it is almost certain they didn’t. It took some time for the Submariner to become the crossover success it is today.
The Rising Star In Hollywood
Sean Connery, a young Scotsman sporting a chest hairy beard and a short haircut, brought Ian Fleming’s dashing James Bond to life a decade after the Submariner was introduced. He chose a Submariner ref with no crown guard as his watch of choice. 6538. This helped. The watch did not gain popularity even after that. It was helped by a few other actors.
The Sub was worn by Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen and Robert Redford throughout the 1970s. These watches were not props, but personal pieces that each actor owned. Redford, fittingly, wore a Red Submariner ref. 1680 McQueen had a no-date chronometer-certified ref. 5512. Bronson wore the classic 5513. Their Subs are worn on-screen with an honest, earnest quality. It’s easy to see that the watches belonged only to them.
According to our knowledge, the stars of the screen did not use the bezel for time decompression during long saturation diving. The Submariner was a favorite watch of theirs, it can handle everything, and it was cool. They took the watch from the same category as Seiko and Doxa and made it the most versatile watch (Redford wore it with a tuxedo at the Oscars).
This is due to the fact that the Sub no-date has remained relatively unchanged since its inception. It has kept its core design principles intact: Black bezel and dial, large markers, and iconic oyster bracelet. The evolutions have been subtle. The Submariner, an aluminum-bezel, stamped clasp watch, was upgraded in 2012. It has survived for six decades. Submariner ref. The watch was reborn as Submariner ref. The watch featured a new clasp and bracelet system that are heavy-duty, along with a Cerachrom bezel. Although the cool watch was now more expensive, the basic design was still the same. It retained the same spirit and was able to take more beatings than ever before.
Eight years later, Rolex introduced the Reference 124060, a 41mm watch that features a slimmer case profile, slimmer bracelet construction, and a new internal movement. A watch that was once 40mm in diameter had been reduced to 40mm. How would this change the wear experience, the cool factor and the Submariner-ness of the watch? To find out, I tried one on for a week.
Although I expected this watch to feel strange, as if it was somehow out of balance due to the 40mm case, spending time with the Submariner felt familiar. Like Stephen, who designed the watch, I didn’t notice any changes when I strapped it onto my wrist.
First, I was struck by the way the new size solved the problem of the maxi-shaped case. It was amazing to see how the new sizing could improve its profile. Imagine a group Rolex designers sitting for years at a whiteboard, until one sleepless night brought about a lightbulb moment. “What if it looked smaller? We actually make it larger?
This might shock you, but I’m not a diver. I actually live a non-extreme life. The Sub is less a tool for exploring underwater shipwrecks and more a companion day-in, day-out. This watch is truly amazing. It’s timeless and classic, yet it can be used in any situation. It’s also ready for you if you need it to get wet.
My adventures with the watch were very limited. The closest I got to the open ocean was a ride on Staten Island Ferry. The Sub is a one-watch collection that I see for many potential owners. I wanted to check the Submanriner’s ability to just go with the flow. I had visions of McQueen wearing his Subs with the cameras off and Redford in them, so I wanted to test the 124060’s cool factor.
My adventures took me from Brooklyn Bridge Park overlooking the East River to Greenpoint where I enjoyed a New York slice and a visit to a record shop. I stopped by a local coffee shop to enjoy my cup of coffee in a park where Special Agent Dale Cooper was passionate.
It never felt out of place. The vintage Submariner 5513 was my lucky possession. I can tell you that the new 124060 felt just as at home with me, and equally capable of accompanying me on mundane tasks or timing a dive. The new size meant that I was able to pay attention to how the bracelet felt on my wrist. It was like a Sub, only better. It was also confidence-inspiring, as I had to track the time so that I didn’t miss my ferry ride.
It’s worthwhile to take a deeper dive into the minor changes that have been made in this watch.
The Submariner 124060 is almost identical to its predecessor. The watch actually looks slimmer because of the modifications to its case. The maxi case, so named for its squared-off profile and boxy shape, is no more. The 41mm case size combined with the 21mm lug width makes it look more like the Submariners than the 114060.
But let’s get pedantic! Although the new Submariner appears to be 41mm in diameter on paper, we measured it with our calipers and it came out between 40.6 and 40.8. The 41mm designation is more of an error in rounding than a true representation of the case’s diameter.
Due to the slight increase of the case size, the lugs were reduced. The case is the same size as it has always been. The 904L steel that holds it together, the solid caseback and crown guards keep it all together. We also have the combination of brushed and polished surfaces.
The oyster bracelet has been a constant visual icon for steel Rolex sports watches. Its toolish, all-brushed nature is just as iconic as the watches that it secures to our wrists.
The new Submariner bracelet looks just like the rest of the watch. This bracelet looks the same as previous models. It’s actually wider than the previous Subs, thanks to the 21mm lug width. Due to the increased width at the bracelet’s top, the clasp has a less dramatic taper.
These changes are almost invisible on the wrist. The Sub has the same clasp system that it introduced in 2012, and it’s a strong clasp. A clasp this big doesn’t care if there is a millimeter of a difference in the bracelet taper.
The clasp is not obsolete, even though it remains unchanged. It’s actually still one of the most reliable systems. It features the trademark flip-lock enclosure, which ensures stability. The best feature is the Glidelock extension system that allows for quick adjustments. To unlatch the bracelet, pull down on the clasp. You can slide the bracelet forward or backward by using a series of notches. This allows you to adjust the size of your bracelet according to how your wrist grows or contracts, such as weather conditions and your pizza consumption.
The Dial and Bezel
You can see a pattern in the overall design of the Submariner. The overall styling is the same. The clicky unidirectional bezel is still satisfyingly clicky and features the black ceramic insert with luminous pearl. The bezel’s numerals are recessed and platinum-filled for durability and legibility. There are likely to be some people who wish they could have seen a lumed dial, but this is a Submariner. We should not be too excited about the incremental changes.
It’s a similar exercise to searching for Where’s Waldo by looking at the dial. You might have to use a magnifying lens to locate him. Rolex has a tradition of marking its dials with a mark to indicate a new movement or a change to a model.
The indicator of choice in recent years has been a small coronet that sits between Swiss or Made. The Swiss Made moniker was separated from the Submariner’s previous iterations by a small hash marking. The changes, especially on the wrist, are minimal if not non-existent. The dial is still in the same gloss black, with maximum (read: large) markers in stark white and white-gold surrounds. This dial is what you would expect to see on a Submariner.
The watch’s greatest improvement is internally, which is thanks to the Rolex internal caliber 3230 movement. This is effectively the no-date version 3235. Two Rolex inventions are featured in this watch: the Parachrom Blue balance spring, and the Chronergy Escapement. They work together to improve accuracy and performance.
Rolex introduced its in-house caliber 3235 back in 2015. However, it took until 2020 for Rolex to reveal the 3230 and insert the 3235 into the Submariner (no date) and the 36 and 41mm Oyster Perpetual models.
The Submariner’s new accuracy and 70-hour power reserve are all due to the high quality of the movement.
The Submariner’s new design is an evolution of a single, simple design. Many people think this watch is boring. however, says that the Submariner’s remarkable ability to remain the same over the past 70 years with very few incremental changes has more to do with it. The Sub is functional, familiar, and cool. You can put it on and forget it, knowing that it will work.
Sub was a great workhorse for James Bond and Steve McQueen. It’s not the most flashy watch on the block and it’s not cheap, but this watch has a unique magic. The 124060 was a great watch to spend a week with. It can be adjusted in size, bracelet and even the bezel.