Tim Mosso returns as Watches Tonight covers the world's most famous watch: the Rolex Submariner. Launched in 1953 and redesigned for the 2021 model year, the Rolex Sub is the iconic model and indispensable flagship for the world's most valuable luxury watch brand. This evening, Tim explains the unique strengths and weaknesses of the Rolex Submariner in an era of inflation, speculation, and too many buyers chasing too few watches.
The Rolex Submariner is one of the world's most sought luxury watches. Although not rare in a numerical sense, the relative demand for this dive watch dramatically outstrips the annual Rolex production of all Submariner references. Naturally, the 2021 redesign of the Submariner supercharged an already overheated marketplace.
The 2021 Rolex Submariner is the first 41mm model in the history of this pioneering dive watch. Originally launched in the 39mm range in 1953, the Sub has grown over the years and spawned offshoots like the Deepsea Challenge, the Deepsea Special, and the Sea-Dweller family. The Submariner Date 126610LN is the most popular version of the watch, but the most sought version of the latest Rolex Sub is the so-called Rolex "Kermit" with its green bezel and black dial. Pricing for the core stainless steel 2021 Rolex Submariner ranges from $8,100 for the "No Date" Submariner and stretches to $9,550 for the "green" or "Kermit" Submariner.
Rolex's new Submariner retains most of the design precedents set during the landmark 2008 launch of the first truly modern Submariner design. A "super" case maintains its impressive wrist presence, and the ceramic bezel insert adds resistance to scratches. The Oyster bracelet's all-solid-link construction remains, but the end links of the bracelet now measure 21mm compared to 20mm on the outgoing model. Inside the diving clasp, a Rolex "Glidelock" system provides 20mm of incremental adjustment in 2mm steps; it can be used for fine sizing or can be extended completely to fit over diving suits.
A crisp 120-click ratchet ensures easy and precise setting of the unidirectional dive bezel. Rolex's dial construction remains among the best in the industry. A deep gloss black dial underpins hands and hour indices in 18-karat white gold. Rolex's signature blue "Chromalight" luminescent paint ensures easy reading of the watch in the dark.
Mechanically, the new Submariner enjoys several upgrades. Rolex caliber 3235 is an automatic winding manufacture movement with 70 hours of power reserve; this compares favorably with the previous Submariner's 48 hours of autonomy. Rolex's new Chronergy escapement achieves the same goals as Omega's co-axial albeit with a different fundamental architecture. Rolex replaces the previous movement's jeweled staff winding rotor with a ball bearing to provide better resilience against shocks. The new movement retains a COSC Swiss chronometer certification, but Rolex pledges that its "superlative" chronometers are accurate to within +2/-2 seconds per day. The Submariner remains water resistant to 300 meters.
While intended as a men's watch, the Rolex Submariner is appropriate for women. Its thin case of 12.4mm and reasonable diameter make it a viable unisex watch for watch collectors of either sex and many wrist sizes. And while the price for used 2021 Rolex Submariners in steel can stretch to $26,000, the reality is that Submariners are considered to carry the same cachet as Patek Philippe and evens Richard Mille sports watches costing hundreds of thousands of dollars more than even the inflated price of a used Sub.
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