As Sturdy as a Submarine: The Submariner Date
The Rolex Submariner is an icon amongst diving watches. It had no date display when it was first introduced over 60 years ago. Today, however, most variants offer this useful extra feature in combination with the famous Cyclops lens.
- Waterproof to 300 m
- Date display with magnifying glass
- 48-hour power reserve
- Very precise: COSC-certified
- Mid-sized (40 mm)
Available with Date for Over 50 Years
The Rolex Submariner
has been fighting against Blancpain's Fifty Fathoms for decades over which watch was the first professional diving watch in the world
. Both were introduced in 1953. Earlier models from Rolex were waterproof to 200 m, which at that time was an impressive feat
. In 1966, Rolex added a date display to their diving watch. With this change, the manufacturer hoped the watch would appeal to a larger audience
than just professional divers. Since then, the watch has been used as a robust sport watch
. The date display features a sapphire glass Cyclops lens
, which magnifies the date by 2.5x
Newer Submariners are available with cases made of stainless steel, yellow or white gold, and yellow Rolesor, a bicolor combination of stainless steel and 18-karat yellow gold. The Submariner Date has a diameter of 40 mm.
Buying Advice: From Sporty to Prestigious
If you're looking for a robust, sporty luxury watch, then the Rolex Submariner is the perfect choice for you. It fulfills all requirements of a diving watch and is a well-established term in the diving community. However, you can also easily wear this watch with a suit and tie. Versions with a stainless steel case and bracelet are in the four-figure range, while the yellow and white gold versions cost over 30,000 euros. You should be prepared to pay a five-figure sum for a well-maintained Submariner Date with its name written in red on the dial. Newer vintage models can be bought for less than 10,000 euros. However, over the years, they should increase in value, thereby making a Rolex Submariner a prime investment.
Comparable Diving Watches
- Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, 300 m (980 ft), around 10,000 euros (steel, new)
- Omega Seamaster 300, 300 m (980 ft), around 7,000 euros (steel, new)
- IWC Aquatimer Automatic, 300 m (980 ft), around 5,000 euros (steel, new)
- Breitling Superocean II 42, 500 m (1,640 ft), around 3,000 euros (steel, new)
An Intricately Finished Case
The case is made of 904L stainless steel, which has been proven to be particularly noncorrosive and scratch resistant. The case is made from a single piece of material, a so-called monobloc case. The back is also made from stainless steel and screwed onto the case. Scratch-resistant sapphire glass protects the inner workings of the watch.
It's extremely important for diving watches to be well-protected against water in order to keep the inside dry. A possible weak spot is the crown and its winding stem, as it requires an opening in the monobloc case. Rolex uses their Triplock triple waterproofness system, which ensures that the crown screws down against the case tightly, keeping the inside of the watch dry. The Triplock crown normally remains screwed to the case. The screw thread is only loosened when setting the time or winding the watch manually.
Professional-Grade Diving Watches
Thanks to its careful design, the Submariner is waterproof to a depth of 300 m. Recreational divers usually only dive to depths of 30 or 40 m, barely skimming the watch's limit. Being waterproof to 200 m would actually be sufficient to fulfill diving watch norms, such as DIN 8306. Of course, the Submariner also has other obligatory diving watch features such as a unidirectional bezel, which keeps track of dive time. It can only be turned in a single direction to prevent accidentally lengthening the dive time. If the diver goes over the planned dive time, then they run short on air - a danger which must be avoided at all costs.
Better legibility in the dark is also necessary for diving watches. This is why the Submariner is equipped with luminous hands and indices. Rolex uses a substance produced in-house, Chromalight, to achieve their blue-hued luminosity. Chromalight's color differs from the other frequently-used luminous substance, Superluminova, which glows green.
Chronometer-Quality Automatic Movements
The in-house caliber 3135 aids the Submariner in achieving better precision. According to the manufacturer, it deviates a maximum of two seconds from the reference time each day. So, it's easy to see how it had no problem getting a certificate from the COSC, the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute
. This automatic caliber vibrates at 28,800 alternations an hour and has a power reserve of 48 hours
. Rolex also uses this movement in other watches, such as the Deepsea
or the Sea Dweller 4000
. They are both closely related to the Submariner, but can be taken to deeper depths.
The first models with a date display had the Submariner logotype in red on the dial and the reference number 1680. However, this reference number isn't exclusively tied to this well-known "red" collector's piece - there are also 1680s with a white logotype.