First released in 1953, the Submariner is Rolex’s most popular dive watch for excellent reason. In the Submariner, Rolex created a sleek, refined model that’s equally as functional as it is fashionable. The fact that its design has remained largely unchanged over 60 years is testament to the timeless style of the model. Buying a Rolex Submariner watch means owning a true icon among Rolex models. Here, we have a comprehensive selection of exceptional used Rolex Submariner watches for sale, from the iconic black colorway to special variations, like the Kermit.
In the 1950s and 60s, sport watches were increasing in popularity. The competition among watchmakers to create the best dive watch was fierce. During this post-war period, dive watches weren’t just garnering attention as a tool for divers. They were also growing in demand as a fashion accessory. So, in 1953, Rolex set out on a mission to develop a tool watch that was both practical and stylish. The result was the Submariner.
Rolex introduced the first Submariner, the Reference 6204, at the famous Basel Fair. Soon after, the capabilities of the model were put to the test. The Submariner was sent to the deepest depths along with the Swiss physicist and explorer Auguste Piccard. He affixed the watch to his submarine’s hull and went down over 3100 meters into the sea. When he resurfaced, the watch was still working properly.
The power of the Submariner’s performance was impressive in its own right. Still, part of its magic is in its design, which has only seen minor adjustments since its initial release. The 6204 was soon followed by the Reference 6205. Other important iterations of the Submariner include the Reference 5512 and Reference 6538. In 1959, the 5512 introduced the oversized crown and crown guards, which have become standard features of the model. This particular reference also gained popularity after being spotted on the wrist of the renowned actor and racer Steve McQueen. A few years later in 1962, the 6538 garnered attention on the wrist of James Bond in the film Dr. No.
The idea of a tool watch that was equally functional and fashionable is what inspired the Submariner. However, it wasn’t until the late 1960s that the model solidified its place as more than just a diver’s tool. The Reference 1680 introduced the option for a date function with Cyclops lens, which gave the model more mass appeal.
Since then, the Submariner has become the flagship model of the Rolex brand. In 2003, they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the watch. To commemorate the occasion, they debuted the Reference 16610LV. It featured a date function and a unique green bezel and maxi dial. Later in the new millennium, Rolex introduced another popular green variation of the model. They debuted the Reference 116610LV in 2010. The model quickly garnered the affectionate nickname the “Hulk” for its distinctive color scheme. Today, this particular variation of the Submariner is so popular, Rolex can’t keep up with the demand. As a result, buyers may sit on a waitlist for years to get the model and models in the pre-owned market are highly prized.
Today, the Submariner continues to set the standard. There’s a reason it’s withstood the test of time for over 60 years. It seamlessly integrates the capabilities of a dive watch with a classic design that’s perfect for everyday wear.
Video: The History of the Rolex Submariner
Brush up on your Rolex Submariner history with the stories behind the model you love.
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