04/27/2023
 6 minutes

Rolex Submariner Date: Hulk vs. Kermit vs. Starbucks

By Christoph Odenthal
Rolex-Submariner-Kermit-2-1

There are countless shades of green: fir, grass, moss, emerald, olive, lime… the list goes on. But how can we classify “Rolex green?” There isn’t one specific color code, the brand makes use of a whole range of shades: The olive green found on the Rolex Day-Date 40 ref. 228236 has become a staple in the luxury world, and the moss green on the up-and-coming Rolex Oyster Perpetual ref. 124300 is known to turn heads. Cosmopolitans are particularly fond of the almost neon green on the Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 126720VTNR, while bottle green has found a home on the GMT-Master II ref. 116718LN. The grass green on another heavyweight from the Swiss watchmaker, the Rolex Daytona Cosmograph ref. 116508 (aka the John Mayer Daytona) is also a sight for sore eyes. And finally, there’s the green on the Rolex Submariner Date ref. 116610LV, i.e., the Hulk. This is green at its most spectacular, as the sunburst dial conveys hues from emerald to a green so dark it’s almost black, all depending on how the light hits it. To top it off, a vibrant green bezel frames the dial. As is the case with many watches, the Submariner Hulk has a magic to it that’s not always evident at first glance, but unravels over time. Why is this watch so hotly debated, and does it really have what it takes to become a superstar? How does it perform against the earlier and later editions? And why is it the last watch in my collection that I’d be willing to part with?

Rolex Submariner Date Ref. 116610LV “Hulk”

This timepiece from the sporty Submariner family certainly lives up to its nickname. It is equipped with the caliber 3135, a real powerhouse with a 48-hour power reserve and precision to -2/+2 seconds. And the overall package is that of a star linebacker: robust ceramic bezel, tough platinum-coated graduations, Super-LumiNova dial, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, all hosted by a 40-mm stainless steel super case on a stainless steel Oyster bracelet. With all this to offer, the Sub has rightfully earned its place in the history books. But it definitely dominates in daylight; once dusk hits, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for its black counterpart. The design of the Submariner Hulk leans heavily on that of its ancestor, the Rolex Submariner Date ref. 16610LV. The Hulk’s successor, the Rolex Submariner Date ref. 126610LV, is almost its mirror image. But in order to truly understand this watch, we need to get to know the before and after.

The Predecessor: Rolex Submariner Date Ref. 16610LV “Kermit”

The Hulk’s older brother, the Rolex Submariner Date ref. 16610LV, was launched in 2003 and was the first Rolex diver to don the green garb. The reference was released to mark the 50th anniversary of the original Rolex Submariner ref. 6200 entering production (although it didn’t hit the shelves until a year later). For true fans, the Rolex Submariner Date ref. 16610LV is the real green anniversary watch. Interestingly, the first Submariner to have a date complication, the Submariner Date ref. 1680 wasn’t released until 1966. This means it celebrated its golden anniversary in 2016, the year of the Submariner Hulk.

Die grüne Rolex Submariner, genannt „Kermit“
The green Rolex Submariner or “Kermit”

Neo-Vintage Submariner Case With Rolex Maxi Dial

The Kermit comes equipped with the proven caliber 3135, but lacks a super case and solid center links. This watch has other tricks up it’s sleeve, however; it pairs a neo-vintage case with a modern dial. The Rolex Submariner Date ref. 16610LV gave us a taste of what was to come with its maxi dial complete with the corresponding hands, which lends the timepiece quite a unique look. It can be described as a transitional model, easing us into the new Submariner generation and bridging the gap between the 5 and 6-digit references. At the time, the maxi dial was only available on the Yacht-Master.

Rolex Submariner Flat Four

Collectors flock to the “Flat Four” models, i.e., models on which the 4 in the number 40 on the bezel has a flat tip. Rolex only used this font in early production between 2003 and 2004, making them a relatively rare find. This timepiece pairs a black dial with a lime green aluminum bezel for a welcome contrast, although if you’ve a sharp eye, you’ll notice that the last production run from 2009 to 2010 uses a darker apple green.

The Successor: Rolex Submariner Date Ref. 126610LV “Starbucks”

Nicknamed “The New Kermit” and “The Cermit,” the youngest member of the green diver family has been gracing the shelves of official retailers since 2020. This version of the Submariner promises to be the best yet. It features the new caliber 3235, which cranks the power reserve up to 70 hours. The mighty engine is tucked away inside a reworked 41-mm stainless steel case. Due to more sophisticated dimensions, the new generation wears a bit more discreetly and is reminiscent of the neo-vintage case. The lugs are slimmer, while the lug width has grown to 21 mm. As for the color, the dial preserves the traditional black, and the bezel still shines in the familiar light green of its forefather, the Submariner Hulk. By and large, the watch is more versatile. The internal anti-reflective coating on the sapphire crystal is also intended to minimize light refraction.

Rolex Submariner “Starbucks”

The Kermit vs. The Hulk vs. The Starbucks

First things first: Each of these three timepieces has its own dedicated fan base. Individual wrist measurements, aesthetics, comfort, and personal color preferences undoubtedly play a significant role in choosing a winner.

For me, the Submariner Hulk is the clear winner. Depending on who you ask, the polarizing green is either the watch’s only drawback, or its greatest strength. The shiny sunburst dial is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s exactly what makes the watch so fascinating! Hand on heart, the stagnant ceramic bezel doesn’t always match the perpetually changing dial, which is a point of contention for many. And the watch also isn’t going to match everything in your wardrobe, so you’ll need a few others in your collection to pick up the slack. But pair it with a plain white T-shirt or a dark suit, and you’re on to a winner. All that aside, the Submariner Hulk also holds sentimental value for me. This timepiece was passed down to me from my father, which makes it the most prized model in my modest collection.

Although I’m a big fan of neo-vintage Submariner models, it didn’t take long for me to decide on the Rolex Submariner Date ref. 16610LV Kermit for second place. There’s just something off about the old case plus new dial combo, and the lime green bezel isn’t my taste. If I had to pick a reference from this era, it would be the classic Rolex Submariner ref. 14060M: a no date, black Sub – of course, with the “two-liner dial and on a NATO strap.

That leaves the Submariner Starbucks in last place, and it’s actually far behind the others in my books. Why the strong opinion, you ask? The current Submariner generation just doesn’t impress me. The more delicate case design with the narrower lugs is a nice touch, but the significantly larger clasp is a no-go for me. When comparing the previous 11-series reference with the current 12-series reference, it is also glaringly obvious that the Oyster bracelet on the 12-series reference is less tapered, and that really doesn’t do the diver any favors. Then there’s the lack of originality in the color scheme of the Rolex Submariner Date ref. 126610LV. Like the current Submariner Date ref. 126619LB (“The New Smurf”), it’s easy to mix up both watches. With a black dial, differentiating between the color of the bezel alone is just not enough.

Rolex Prices, Availability, and Outlook

Prices for the Rolex Submariner Date ref. 116610LV Hulk complete with original box and papers come in around $26,000, so it’s the most expensive of the trio. The Kermit and Starbucks are somewhat more affordable, at around $22,000 and $18,000, respectively. The two older references are also available from time to time as new old stock.

I’m eagerly awaiting to see whether we can expect a new addition to the Submariner line in honor of its 70th anniversary this year. But please, make it a stainless steel version. We’ll probably have to wait a few more years for a new green version.


What do you think about this article?


About the Author

Christoph Odenthal

Christoph Odenthal grew up in Düsseldorf in a family of watch lovers. His first watch was a gift from his grandfather in 1985: a Citizen Promaster Aqualand with an electronic depth gauge. Since then, many a watch has changed hands within the family, first and foremost from his favorite brand, Rolex.

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