2003 was a very special year for the Rolex Submariner, as it marked the 50-year anniversary of one of the most popular diving watches in the world. For half a century, the Submariner led a rather dark existence, with a black dial and black bezel inlay. Then, about 20 years ago, Rolex injected some color into the collection with the Submariner Date ref. 16610LV. As we’re used to with Rolex, the update was tasteful – they didn’t just dunk the anniversary model into a bucket of paint. Instead, the Geneva-based manufacturer concentrated on two essential aspects that set the 16610LV apart from other Subs. First, they fitted the watch with a maxi dial with enlarged hour markers. But the more obvious change to the aesthetic happened with the aluminum bezel inlay. Instead of black, it was now a fresh frog green.
The Rolex community is always ready with nicknames for special models, so of course it didn’t take long before the 16610LV was christened. Fans quickly rallied around the name “Kermit,” after the iconic frog from Jim Henson’s The Muppet Show. The watch was in Rolex’s program until 2010, and for the next 10 years, little was heard from Kermit. It wasn’t until 2020 that the Sub Date reference 126610LV emerged as a deserving successor, complete with updates. We’ll introduce the two Kermit models in more detail below and explain what the term “Flat 4” is all about.
Kermit 16610LV and 16610LV “Flat 4”
Produced between 2003 and 2010, the reference 16610LV (with LV standing for lunette verde or “green bezel”), is fitted with the same Oyster case and bracelet as the “normal” Submariner ref. 16610. The case has a diameter of 40 mm, and the lug width is 20 mm. The watch also uses the same in-house caliber 3135, which has a power reserve of 48 hours. Like all Rolex movements, the 3135 is a certified chronometer. One special detail is the blue, antimagnetic Parachrom hairspring, which makes the movement virtually impervious to strong magnetic fields. In contrast with its sister model in black, the 16610LV has a maxi dial with enlarged indices to improve readability. The Kermit is the first Submariner that Rolex fit with such a dial. But of course, the green bezel is the true highlight of this watch. During those short seven years of production, Rolex produced nine different variations on the inlay, which differed primarily in their shade of green. Fans have dubbed the particularly light variation the “Bertolli bezel,” borrowing the name from the Italian olive oil brand. The significantly darker green is referred to as “racing green.”
In addition to the nuances in color, there are also differences to be found in the size of the hour markers and different fonts for the numerals. This is where the “Flat 4” bezel comes in, which Rolex used for the early F and Y series starting in 2003. What’s the difference between the “Flat 4” and the “Sharp 4” used in later Kermits? If you take a close look at the 4 in the number 40 on a Flat 4 bezel, you’ll see that it’s flat at the top and rather trapezoid-shaped. The Sharp 4, on the other hand, is more triangular. Some people might ask, “Who cares about such an insignificant detail?” The answer is collectors!
Flat 4 bezels are sought after because they’re so rare. While there were over 300 Sharp 4 models listed on the Chrono24 marketplace in mid-June 2022, there were only 12 listings for Flat 4 pieces. Since this bezel isn’t produced anymore, it also can’t be replaced when the watch is serviced. This scarcity still isn’t reflected too much in the prices, but that will likely change in the coming years if past Rolex market behavior is any indication. As of mid-2022, new Kermit Sharp 4 models cost around $25,000, whereas Flat 4 models demand around $26,000. That’s a $1,000 difference just to change the shape of one numeral, but it seems to be a good investment.
2020: Kermit Goes Ceramic
Rolex gave the Submariner line another tasteful makeover in 2020, taking the chance to introduce a new Sub with a green bezel. The 126610LV goes by different nicknames, with “Kermit 2.0” being a particularly popular one. Due to its ceramic bezel, it’s also called “Cermit.” Another name for it is “Starbucks,” due to their color schemes. For us, it’s simply the current Kermit.
Beside the ceramic bezel, what else has changed? The case is now 1 mm larger, meaning that the lug width is now 21 mm. But the lugs themselves are narrower, since many found the bulky ones on the maxi case used previously to be uncomfortable. It should be said that the maxi case was never used for the 16610LV.
Other significant changes were made to the inner workings of the watch. Since 2020, Rolex has been using the caliber 3235 for Submariner Date models. In addition to the Parachrom hairspring we mentioned above, the movement uses the Chronergy escapement. This escapement is made of a nickel-phosphorus alloy that, like the hairspring, is antimagnetic and especially efficient. Thanks to the new escapement and an enlarged barrel, the caliber has a power reserve of 70 hours.
Trying to get hold of a 126610LV offline will prove a fruitless endeavor for most people. If you’ve got your heart set on one of these watches, your best bet is the secondary market. On the Chrono24 marketplace, the average price for a new 126610LV is around $23,500. This makes the new, modernized Kermit significantly less expensive than its predecessors.
Aluminum or Ceramic Frog? A Question of Taste!
Whether you go for a 41-mm ref. 126610LV with a ceramic bezel or the more subdued 16610LV with an aluminum inlay is a matter of taste. Making the decision based on price alone won’t work, since prices are so similar.
The current Kermit is the modern interpretation of the classic Kermit from 2003. It promises a contemporary design and a modern in-house movement with a 70-hour power reserve. But will it also turn into an ionic classic? Only time – and the timing of its discontinuation – will tell.
On the other hand, the 16610LV has a more discreet appearance, but still makes a statement with its cult status. The changing colors on the aluminum bezel give the watch a warm, lively quality that the ceramic model will never have. While the two watches are equals in terms of quality, the one true Kermit will always be the anniversary model and its Flat 4 variation remains the more desirable watch.