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Review of Three Rolex Submariners

by Jason 2 June, 2010 View Comments

In today's review I'll be showcasing not one, not two, but three Rolex Submariner Dates that we have in stock. This hat trick is perfect because we have a cross section of the line - the stainless steel, the steel and gold (two tone), and the solid gold models. So enjoy my extended presentation of the Rolex Sub trio. - JC

It's rugged, it's elegant, it's one of the watch world's most successful models - it's the Rolex Submariner. Right now at Matt Baily we have a nice cross-section of the Submariner lineup in stock - the 16618 Submariner Date in solid yellow gold, the 16613 in gold and steel, and the stainless steel 16610.

See all 15 photos in the Set


The Submariner has become one of the most legendary Rolex models, and is only surpassed by the Sea Dweller (essentially a derivative of the Submariner to begin with) and the Daytona Cosmograph in terms of collectible value. The Sub came into being sometime in the early 1950s - dates are fuzzy, but it was unofficially revealed in a 1953 Jacques Cousteau film, and officially unveiled at the Basel show in 1954.

The Sub formula was simple - create a rugged, elegant sport watch that could withstand the pressures of diving, with a rotating bezel showing elapsed minutes to calculate dive and decompression times. The first models had a variety of different details - hands and dials varied, the size and design of the crown changed several times, and it wasn't until around 1959-1960 that the Sub as we know it emerged. The 5512-5513 models had the now-familiar details - the all-important black bezel carried from the original design, the easy-to-read luminescent dial, the luminescent "Mercedes" hands, and a large screw-down crown with protective shoulders protruding from the case. In 1965 the model 1680 became the first Submariner Date. The rest is history, and the Sub is still one of Rolex's top sellers and is probably the most recognizable (and copied) diving watch design.

The Sub has always been a watch for all occasions; rugged and muscular for sport (and of course, diving), but still elegant enough to wear with a suit. The introduction of two-tone and gold models gave the Sub a new lease on style - the stainless steel remains the "tool" watch of choice, but the other models serve as stylish timepieces for more elegant occasions. Particularly when they come in the striking blue bezel/blue dial combination seen on two of our three watches here - the two-tone blue example is one of the most popular Submariners on the market.



All these examples are now discontinued in favour of the ceramic dial, ceramic bezel, and maxi case models. As a result, there has been a spike in the market for these discontinued Subs - with prices going up and styles changing, collectors are keen to get their hands on the old models. Blue dial Subs have always been popular, even more so since the ceramic models came out - the new ones feature a blue ceramic monotone dial, whereas these discontinued models have a metal sunburst finish dial that really stands out.

For those not familiar with the ubiquitous Submariner Date, here are some impressions: These are rugged, solid watches that have a nice sense of heft and solidity. The bezels are tight and click solidly with almost no slop, ensuring perfect dive timing. The automatic mechanical movements are dead silent and very reliable, all chronometer certified, and wind smoothly without any noticeable rotor weight swinging around inside. Like all Rolex movements, in other words. The large Triplock crown is just the right size, big enough to easily manipulate and wind, with a smooth and tight action like a well oiled rifle.



The details overall are much like any Rolex sport model - simple in design but very precise in execution. The hands are gold (white or yellow) to ensure that they never corrode, ditto for the luminescent dot surrounds on the dial. The dials are finished flawlessly and are very easy to read, and of course the date is always perfectly legible under the trademark Cyclops lens. The bracelets are simple and rugged, all Oyster links with a "flip lock" clasp that has an extension link for strapping over a dive suit.

Submariners used to be considered enormous watches, sized at a full 40mm; nowadays in the era of 55mm watches they are a perfect size for casual use by anyone, including many women who have begun wearing Subs as their daily watches. They wear comfortably, even on a small wrist like mine (see photos). The versatility of a Sub is what makes it so popular - aside from the history and the design, it's the ease with which you can wear a Sub with anything. It looks perfect with jeans, with a suit, or strapped to a wetsuit.

All three of these watches are classics, and they will never go out of style - the Sub in all its variations has been a colossal success for over 50 years, so it's not exactly a passing fad. Every self-respecting watch lover should own a Sub at some point - it has become a rite of passage. And all three of our examples are perfect choices, whether it's your first or your 30th Sub.

If you'd like any more information about our Sub collection, please give me a call at 514 845 8878 or visit our store on Crescent Street in Downtown Montreal. View our contact page for more ways to find us.

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