The Rolex watch buying guide: The iconic Rolex Submariner
Here at Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, we all share a passion for fine wristwear. That’s why we’re going to bring our readers a monthly feature on some of the elite wristwatches available today.
There’s perhaps no better watch to start with, than 007’s wristpiece of choice, the iconic Rolex Submariner.
About the watch
Part of Rolex’s premium Oyster Perpetual range, the Rolex Submariner was introduced by the Swiss watch-making giant as their answer to the emerging sportswear market. The Submariner’s unique selling point was its resistance to water and corrosion, with a sleek and classic design fit for any occasion.
Origin, debut, history
The Rolex Submariner made its first public appearance at the Basel Watch Fair in 1954, having been rumoured to be in production the year prior. Two Submariner models emerged in the market around that era, the 6204 and 6205 models, and nobody seems to be quite sure what the primary differences between these two models are. They featured straight hands, different from the now-synonymous Mercedes style hands associated with Submariner wristwatches. Another idiosyncrasy of the early Submariner watches was that some of the 6204 and 6205 models had the ‘Submariner’ name etched onto the bezel, while others didn’t.
Materials and aesthetic
If we fast-forward to the present day, Submariner watches have become a lot more identikit and easily recognisable, compared to their slightly inauspicious beginnings.
As the watch market evolved over the coming decades, so did the Submariner. Gone were the use of silver gilt dials, with a focus switched towards white printing. Also, the late 60’s designs saw the incorporation of a date function, shifting the Submariner’s place in the market from a niche, water-resistant sports watch to a highly marketable fashion accessory.
The Submariner was a phenomenal success long before the turn of the century, and Rolex celebrated the watch’s 50th anniversary in 2003, releasing the Submariner-Date anniversary model, with a distinctive green bezel.
There are currently eight Submariner serials in production, with the eldest of these, the white-gold Submariner Date 40mm, beginning its circulation run in 2008. The Submariner’s commercial success saw a spin-off watch enter circulation in 1971. The Rolex Sea-Dweller, now a successful watch line in its own right, was based on the notion of the Submariner, but it is beefed up in all areas – thicker steel, deeper water resistance, and a helium escape valve to assist decompression at high pressures.
The Rolex Submariner holds its value like few elite luxury watches in the market today, which is why it led one expert commenter to write in Forbes magazine about the ‘Rolex Submariner test’, in which luxury watches are benchmarked against the famous watch to assess return on investment.
Currently, the cheapest Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on a Rolex Submariner is $7,500 on the 2012-onwards 40mm 114060 model. The most expensive Submariner currently in production is the aforementioned white gold Submariner Date 40mm, which carries an MSRP of $40,250.
It’s worth reiterating, though, that the Submariner holds value like very few watches, and modest versions of the Submariner throughout its 65-year production can be found on the second-hand market for anywhere between $7,000 and $10,000.
Rolex watches, in particular classics like the Submariner, retain a high level of liquidity, meaning that they tend not to stay on the market for long. If you’re interested in buying or selling a Rolex original, you’re relatively likely to find a buyer pretty swiftly, particularly in the second-hand market.
While this is good news for the sellers, buyers are advised to act swiftly if a timepiece catches their eye – as it’s possible that it won’t be available to purchase in a week.
Various incarnations of the world’s favourite secret agent, James Bond, have selected the Submariner as their watch of choice for big-screen capers, which has undeniably enhanced the collection’s popularity.
Sean Connery was the first Bond to wear a Submariner, with a 6538 model on his arm for Dr No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and Thunderball. The watch returned on a second Bond when George Lazenby sported an oyster braceleted 5513 during On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, before Roger Moore’s riveted bracelet 7206 model appeared in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun. Due to product placement and sponsorship deals, the current James Bond opts for an Omega Seamaster, and Timothy Dalton was the last 007 to don a Submariner in the 1988 film Licence to Kill.
In more contemporary circles, various A-listers have been seen sporting one of Rolex’s premium wristwatches in public appearances. These include comic actor Jack Black, who wears a white gold version, Seattle Seahawks quarter-back Russell Wilson, and Hollywood hard-man Tom Hardy, who opts for a clean stainless steel variant.