Any Rolex fan who looks at the title of this article will immediately spot something new – the Rolex Submariner Date is now available in 41 mm for the first time. What’s more, the new generation models – with seven new versions in total – are accompanied by a 41 mm No-Date Submariner (Ref. 124060).
Ultimately, there’s far more to the hype than this simply being an article revealing the latest Rolex novelties – with us having already met with Rolex and seen the novelties in the metal, we are ready to share exactly what the hype of the new Submariner models is all about.
The Case and Bracelet
Obviously, the most noticeable update is, as Rolex puts it, the watches’ “slightly larger” size, now measuring 41 mm. To someone without an interest in the watch world, this would seem like a somewhat ridiculous amendment from its previous diameter of 40 mm. However, this isn’t all about looks – a rarity for Rolex, some might say – rather, this is about wearability. Not only is the case slightly larger, but also, several other elements help to make the watch more comfortable on the wrist.
The watchmaker has introduced slimmer lugs (0.5 mm, to be precise) and a wider bracelet. When comparing the old and new bracelet (now 21 mm x 19 mm) it has to be said that the new one is something we never knew we wanted. The subtle change in diameter is not only more wearable, but also helps to create a more sleeker, bolder, and more shapely watch that fits slightly better with the personality of collection, as well as the wrist. Having seen it in person, we can also confirm that whether or not you approve of the case enlargement, the overall adjustment in bracelet and case size has created a watch with significantly better proportions.
The updated three-piece link Oyster bracelet uses Rolex’s Oysterlock folding safety clasp, and its only real change is its aforementioned broader width. In all honesty, the majority of Rolex Submariner wearers are most likely not avid divers – however, this patented mechanism does allow for peace of mind when wearing a coveted Rolex piece. It also integrates the brand’s Glidelock extension system.
This is of course nothing new – however, it is generally regarded as one of the highest quality clasp and bracelet designs in the world, and that is always worth a mention. It also highlights a prevalent motif regarding Rolex novelties; consistency. Clearly, the brand literally only changes what needs to be changed, and tends to steer clear from wasting its time with unnecessary and confusing little amendments to its watches.
This is the part many people have really been waiting for – what materials are being offered in the latest iterations? Firstly, the latest iteration of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner without a date display, the Submariner Ref. 124060 (No-Date) is once again housed in a stainless-steel case. Of course, it is evident that the watch has needed few obvious updates because it’s already an indestructible crowd-pleaser.
However, it’s also obvious that the continued choice of stainless steel is to ensure that the watch maintains its monetary value. This decision to restrain from more exciting materials may have a charming appeal for some, but appear to be limiting, calculated and conservative to others.
That said, the seven new versions with a date function do not disappoint. All of them are equipped with Cerachrome bezels (ceramic and ‘chrom’, the latter meaning colour in Greek). The bezel markings are either PVD gold or platinum, and the materials vary from Rolesor and Oystersteel to white gold or yellow gold.
Dials and colours
While Rolex indeed avoid making too many small adjustments, there is a simple and subtle way to differentiate between the 2020 editions and their predecessors; the new-generation models feature a crown between the words ‘SWISS MADE’ at 6 o’clock. Furthermore, there appears to be a slight change in typeface.
2020 has also brought some new colour combinations – the materials and colours used on the seven Submariner Date novelties are as follows:
- Ref. 126610LN: Oystersteel with black dial and black bezel, harking back to the original Submariner design
- Ref. 126610LV: Oystersteel with a black dial and green bezel, creating a distinctive colour combination.
- Ref. 126613LB: Rolesor – Oystersteel and 18-carat yellow gold – with a blue dial and matching blue bezel
- Ref. 126613LN: Rolesor – Oystersteel and 18-carat yellow gold – with a black dial and black bezel
- Ref. 126619LB: 18-carat white-gold with a black dial and blue bezel
- Ref. 126618LB: 18-carat yellow gold with a blue dial and matching blue bezel
- Ref. 126618LN: 18-carat yellow gold with black dial and black bezel
Ultimately, the colour combinations and materials remain a matter of taste. While some would never dream of a yellow-gold Rolex with a blue dial and bezel (it’s not exactly subtle, or an everyday option), others will likely fall in love with the bright and bold colour combination.
A more subtle option is the white-gold 126619LB, combining a classic Submariner-style black dial with a blue bezel – a good move given the amount of attention blue has been receiving in the watch world. Meanwhile, the 126610LV’s green bezel is likely a response to the discontinuing of Rolex’s ‘Hulk’ model. Therefore, this green bezel model is likely to be a new favourite – indeed, rumour has it that one official Rolex dealer has already received over 1,000 orders for it, which is not surprising as speculations already circulated in watch forums for quite a while of a new green execution.
Overall, the latest combinations of materials and colours appear to be level-headed and intelligent choices by Rolex, which put a contemporary 2020 spin on the historic line’s latest watches. All seven versions will likely prove very popular, not least the models with blue or green bezels.
Finally, the movement is naturally a talking point, with the Submariner Date having switched over to the calibre 3235, and the Submariner without a date function using the 3230. Both calibres, which now offer an extended power reserve of 70 hours, incorporate Rolex’s Chronergy escapement, which is known for being both efficient and dependent. Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is also insensitive to magnetic fields. Furthermore, both movements are fitted with an optimized blue Parachrom hairspring, making it 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in the case of shocks. The blue Parachrom hairspring is equipped with a Rolex over-coil, ensuring regularity in any position. Finally, the oscillator is fitted on the Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movements’ shock resistance.
It is worth analysing what we can derive from Rolex’s switch to these two movements. Firstly, what the movements demonstrate (as always) is Rolex’s excellent, reliable and technologically advanced watchmaking abilities. However, if we put these calibres into a black and white perspective, they’re simply reliable and precise self-winding movements with a 70-hour power reserve. This is a significant increase of power reserve in comparison to previous models, however it’s not something that’s totally out of the ordinary in mechanical watches these days. Therefore, the calibre updates can be seen as a much-needed change, with benefits including better precision and a longer-lasting power reserve. However, it’s 2020, and this change is exactly what a Rolex Submariner should now be providing – but it’s not going to send anyone into a frenzy.
Rolex is a brand that centres itself around excellence, and the new Submariners are the perfect demonstration as to why; there’s arguably no need for any eccentric or ambitious new features. Rather, the watches are simply part of Rolex’s steady and reliable ability to impress and endure, which this year has been achieved through calibre, case and bracelet updates. That said, sooner or later, there is likely to be a divide in the watch community: many are always looking to see big, exciting changes in what is already a fast-paced industry.
However, this is not Rolex’s general approach, as it is rather a brand that calmly and calculatedly focuses on the gradual evolution of its products. While Rolex watches such as the Submariner continue to be popular, this leaves us with the question – are we always going to be happy with Rolex’s continuous ‘slow and steady wins the race’ attitude, or is it about time for a Rolex revolution?
Prices: Ref 124060: 7,350 euros. Ref. 126610LN: 8,300 euros. Ref 126610LV: 8,700 euros. Ref. 126613LB and Ref. 126613LN: 13,000 euros. Ref. 126618LB and Ref. 126618LN: 33,700 euros. Ref. 126619LB: 36,200 euros.