The current six-digit references of the Rolex Submariner are beloved, modern reinterpretations of the legendary diving icon. Rolex has the perfect Sub for every watch lover in their lineup: There’s the classic no-date version for the purists among us and numerous steel, two-tone, and precious metal variants for those of us who don’t want to sacrifice the date function. As great and varied as the current Submariner collection is, the watches have simply become far too expensive for a lot of fans. Not even the recent dip in market prices has rectified the situation. To find something a little more affordable, we’ll have to turn to the vintage market. I’ve selected three very special vintage Sub references, all of which are currently available for less than $10,000.
The Epitome of Cool: The Rolex Submariner Ref. 14060 “Two Liner“
If you are a purist, there’s only one version of the famous Rolex diver that will do: the classic no-date Submariner. There are few watches out there that offer such beautiful dial symmetry and this level of, well, coolness. The only problem is that you’ll need to lay out at least $13,000 for the latest reference of the no-date Sub – and that’s for a pre-owned watch. Prices creep upwards of $14,000 for an unworn example. This is many times more than Rolex’s official list price of $8,100.
What about a vintage no-date instead, you ask? Well, one watch that instantly springs to mind is the Rolex Submariner ref. 14060, aka the “Two Liner.” This reference has earned its nickname because there are only two lines of text on the dial: the model name and depth rating. This watch pre-dated the “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” era, so that familiar text is nowhere to be found. While some may consider this a disadvantage compared to later models, technically speaking, the ref. 14060 would still be my number one choice when it comes to vintage Subs. I absolutely love minimalist designs, and I can barely keep my eyes off this dial. The symmetry is on point and the overall vibe outshines even the newest models. I’d wager that James Bond would do a double take if you had this timepiece on your wrist.
You can find this reference on its own for less than $10,000, but you’ll have to fork over a bit more if you want one complete with its box and papers. That being said, this is a watch that has been out of production for quite some time now, so getting your hands on a full set is increasingly rare, but if you manage to do so, there is definitely potential for growth there.
Bold and Exotic: The Rolex Submariner Ref. 16613 Serti Dial
Looking for a two-tone Submariner? Fond of diamonds and want to don an eye-catcher? Look no further than the Rolex Submariner ref. 16613 with a Serti dial. This rare Rolex has earned the nickname the “Sultan” and looks like it jumped out of the pages of One Thousand and One Nights.
The Sultan’s dial is something else. Round diamonds serve as the hour markers, except for the 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions, which are marked with rubies – a true highlight of this timepiece. The sunburst dial and golden accents come together in perfect harmony, giving the watch a stunning overall look. The Rolex Submariner Serti dial comes in a few different variations, but I think the pinnacle of them all is the version with a blue bezel.
While there may be few listings for this reference, be sure to keep your eyes out for the Rolex Submariner “Sultan.” This watch not only offers you a partly precious metal timepiece with a diamond-studded dial, but also an exceptional version of the Submariner that you will rarely see worn on other watch enthusiasts’ wrists – and all that for less than $13,000. Is the Sultan a bit too daring for you? If so, make sure you still check out the ref. 11613 without a Serti dial. This watch offers you a standard two-tone version of the diving legend for less than $10,000.
A Timeless Classic: The Rolex Submariner Date Ref. 16610
Don’t want to lose the practicality of a date function on your Rolex Submariner? Not into precious metals or diamonds? Then there is no way you can miss the Rolex Submariner Date ref. 16610. This classic, black timepiece is equipped with Rolex’s signature Cyclops lens. It clearly has a more tool watch vibe than more modern Submariners with a maxi case, but it is nevertheless strikingly similar to the current Submariner Date at first glance. Despite its age, the Rolex Submariner ref. 16610 makes a great everyday watch. It offers a sapphire crystal, water resistance to 300 m (984 ft), and a solid 48-hour power reserve.
Similar to the other two Sub references mentioned above, the overall feel of this watch is miles away from current Rolex standards. For starters, there is no ceramic bezel and the aluminum inlay in its place is notably more delicate. The band and clasp are likewise a far cry from today’s equivalents, but in return you get a heavy dose of vintage charm and elegance that owners of newer models could only ever dream of. The Rolex Submariner ref. 16610 may be slightly outdated, but it remains a timeless icon all the same.
This reference was produced between 1988 and 2010. As a result, there are quite a few listings on the market. The cheapest offers start around $9,000. Overall, the Rolex Submariner ref. 16610 is the perfect choice for any watch lover who is looking to add this diving icon to their collection at a reasonable price.