The Rolex Submariner sets the standard among diving watches around the world. It’s also Rolex’s most recognizable model— and that’s saying something for the legendary brand.
The Submariner was created in 1953, when Rolex decided to make a diving watch that could weather the harsh effects of water while still being elegant enough for daytime and evening wear. Water resistant watches had been in the Rolex collection since the 1930s, but the creation of the Submariner would be their first diving watch.
In 1953, Rolex let the world know that they would be releasing a diving watch with a splash. They enlisted the help of the Swiss physicist Auguste Piccard, who affixed a prominently displayed Rolex to the hull of his deep-diving submarine. Piccard took the Rolex on a journey 3,131.8 meters down into the ocean’s depths and, when he emerged, the Rolex was still working perfectly. This stunt created huge amounts of public awareness for and interest in Rolex’s revolutionary new technology.
The 1954 public release of the Submariner would be the start of the watch’s legendary success. The first models of the Submariner were the 6204 and the 6205. These first models of the Submariner had all of the watch’s distinctive functionalities, like its high water resistance and resistance to corrosion. But the original models looked a bit different from today’s. The first Submariners had straight, pencil-shaped hands, as opposed to the cathedral or Mercedes shaped hands of more modern Submariners. Additionally, the very first models of the legendary watch (the ones that came out in early 1954) didn’t bear the name “Submariner” on the watch itself.
The Submariner evolved from these first models, with new technological advances like new movements and being able to withstand depths of up to 300 meters improving the functionality of the watch. Yet the design of the watch has changed only minimally, which is perhaps what has helped the watch become such an enduring classic.
Notably, the Submariner was also the first watch worn on screen by James Bond. In the first James Bond film, the famously dashing British spy sports the 6538 model from 1959.
Today, Submariner models can be found in a variety of metals, like stainless steel, yellow gold, white gold, and the two-toned combination of stainless steel and yellow gold. All of these metals are used both for their sophisticated look and their ability to withstand corrosion. Submariner cases are made from solid blocks of either stainless steel of 18k gold and are tightly closed in the Rolex foundry to ensure their incredible water resistance. Modern models of the Submariner (those made in or after 2005) also feature Cerachrom-finished ceramic bezels, adding an extra layer of protection against corrosion and wear and tear.
The incredible design and superior functionality of the Rolex Submariner has made it the top luxury diving watch of all time and has cemented its place as a legend among timepieces.
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