Rolex Submariner: an incredible sports watch with a timeless, sophisticated design

The Oyster Perpetual Submariner is the quintessential divers’ watch and certainly has an interesting history. It was introduced in 1953 during the pioneering era for scuba diving.  At the time Rolex director Rene P. Jeanneret, was also an amateur diver and encouraged the company to develop a sports watch for underwater adventurers. The current Submariner ref 116610LV is a product of a great history of development.

rolex oyster

Rolex advertisement, British House and Garden, October 2010.

The Oyster case was invented by Rolex in 1926, and was tested a year later when sportswoman Mercedes Gleitze, swam the English Channel successfully wearing a Rolex Oyster. The Oyster case is an important part of the Submariner story, as it is clamped shut like an oyster shell. This design also meant it could survive under water due to two innovations: a screw-down back and bezel and a screw-down waterproof winding crown.

Rolex Submariner

Rolex Submariner-Date ref:16610

In 1965 a Rolex advertisement stated “We invented the Submariner to work perfectly 660 feet under the sea. It seems to work pretty well at any level.”

The first Submariner ref: 6204 was introduced to the public in 1954 at the Basel Watch Fair, and has since been considered as a classic among wristwatches. The Submariner was the first watch to be water‑resistant down to 100 metres (330 feet). Subsequent advances increased the waterproof level to 300 metres (1,000 feet).

The first Submariner to reach these new depths was produced in 1989 (the Rolex Submariner-Date ref:16610). As well as the ability to work at incredible depths under the water, the Submariner has the rotating bezel which keeps track of air time when divers are submerged. Also many divers found limitations of wearing a long sleeved wetsuit and gloves, therefore the Submariner’s flip lock clasp was extremely appealing.

1973 James Bond Rolex 5513 2

It was a little earlier in the 1960s that the Submariner began to have mass appeal. Just like the Rolex Explorer in our last blog post, the Submariner was featured in several James Bond films, including many of the famous underwater scenes. When Roger Moore first played Bond in Live and Let Die (1973) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974); he wore a 5513 Rolex Submariner. In Live and Let Die the Rolex 5513 Submariner was modified by Q to include both a buzz-saw bezel, which Bond uses to free himself and Solitaire. Who wouldn’t want to be looking as sophisticated as 007 himself?

During this hype in the1970s, Rolex also transformed the Submariner into a more colourful timepiece. The first Submariner's were designed in silver steel with black faces, however overtime they became available in yellow gold and bright blue faces. It was in 2004 that Rolex launched its popular green faces (referenced as LV ‘lunette verde’) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of this classic timepiece.

Whilst there have been many changes throughout the Submariner history, it has certainly kept its masculine and sporty appeal. However at the same time it is still sophisticated enough to wear as an elegant dress watch.


Why not have a look at our wonderful range of Rolex Submariner’s currently available at Armour Winston…

armour winston submariner

Rolex 16610LV Anniversary Submariner watch

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