Rolex Submariner Review & Buyers Guide

Discover the Rolex Submariner with our hands on review from an owners perspective and everything you need to know before buying one.

Rolex Submariner Review From An Owners Perspective

The watchmaking community changed forever in 1954. It was the year that Rolex revolutionized the watch industry with the release of the Rolex Submariner. It was the Submariner that forced the watch world to manufacture strong and durable tool watches with real world applications. It just so happens to be that the iconic look and feel of the current Submariners, Rolex Submariner 41mm, are almost identical compared to the first ones in production. Over the years many have tried to copy what the Rolex Submariner has accomplished but all have fallen short.

For our Rolex Submariner review, we are writing from an owner’s perspective. I personally purchased the Rolex Submariner 126610LV from my local rep at an authorized dealer, Reis Nicholes. It was my Rolex Submariner that was the inspiration for this article, which led me to write about my hands on experience.

For years I rejected the notion that the Rolex Submariner was the best dive watch on the market. It by no means is the most technical and for a 3 hand dive watch, it does not provide more in specs than competitive dive watches priced at half the cost. It wasn’t until I wore the Rolex Submariner on the wrist for a few days for my mind to change.

There is something special about the Rolex Submariner. It’s something that is more of a feeling than can possibly be quantified. After personally experiencing ownership and wearing it in normal settings, I couldn’t help but think that the Submariner was perfect in every way. The dimensions are great, the oyster bracelet is comfortable on the wrist, the legibility is superb, the accuracy is spot on, and I felt confident wearing it.

When I mention “confident”, I’m not referring to status or wealth. The feeling of confidence is related to my faith in the Rolex Submariner to function perfectly and be up to the challenge of anything that I can put it through. This feeling is largely what I attribute to the overall success of the Submariner. It wasn’t too long ago that Rolex was mostly known for being a tool watch, not a luxury watch brand. As the brand has transitioned into the luxury space, they have done an excellent job at maintaining the strength of the product, which was what propelled them to their current status.

Features of this watch that are important for anyone considering buying a new or used Rolex Submariner include luminosity, wearability, and usability. What you will notice wearing a Submariner in low light conditions is that the hands and indices are extremely bright and maintain their glow for a long period of time. You would be surprised to know how many dive watches we have got hands on with that their luminosity fades after a short period of time. That will not be an issue with the Submariner. The wearability of the Submariner might be the best of any watch I’ve ever experienced. This is due to the finely tapered Oyster bracelet and the Oyster glide lock extension clasp. It’s virtually impossible to not be able to perfectly position a Submariner on the wrist. Finally let’s talk about usability. Anybody that is used to wearing automatic watches knows that if you aren’t constantly wearing them, they eventually run out of power. The new Submariners have an impressive 70 hour power reserve, which means you can put the watch down for a couple days and put it back on without resetting the time.

My one complaint about the Submariner is it’s price tag. Over the last 3 years the retail price of a Rolex Submariner has risen over $2,000. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fine dive watch, but the retail price for their stainless steel models are definitely pushing the ceiling.

Overall, my experience with a Rolex Submariner has exceeded my expectations and has elevated my thoughts of the watch. I now rank the Submariner as the best dive watch and in my top 3 watches of all time.

Movements: Rolex Calibre 3235 & 3230

Current Submariners house the Rolex Calibre 3235 and 3230 movements. Both calibres are in-house chronometers that have an accuracy rating of +/- 2 seconds per day. What makes these new movements even better is that they have a power reserve of 70 hours. It is refreshing to see Rolex innovate and push the edges of performance and affordability. Finding movements this accurate with this level of power reserve are not easy to find.

Where the 3235 and the 3230 differ is one has a date function while the other one doesn’t. This is because there is one Rolex Submariner No Date model that in constructed of stainless steel and has a black bezel/dial combination.

Another area in which the new Rolex Submariner movements excel is their antimagnetic properties. New components like the blue parachrom hair spring make these incredible feats possible.

Rolex Calibre 3230 In-House Movement

Case Design

The Rolex Submariner has a water resistance rating of 300m or 1,000 ft. This is all due to the Oyster case design. In 2020 Rolex introduced a complete redesign with the diameter increase to 41mm being the largest change. Prior to that, the cases have gone through period of expansion and contraction based on industry trends. What we can safely report is that in each iteration, the Rolex Submariner case has always been a great fit and has always been reliable to a depth of 300 meters.

Available case materials for the Submariner are 904L stainless steel, 18k yellow gold, and 18k white gold. The most popular Submariner references are constructed of stainless steel. 

Oyster Bracelet

The Rolex Oyster bracelet for the Submariner is designed for performance without sacrificing comfort.

It is very well known that Rolex produces the most comfortable metal bracelets in the industry. Between the Jubilee and the Oyster bracelet, there isn’t a close second. In this article we have already mentioned the Oyster bracelet but it’s important to go over again in more detail.

One of the best features of the Oyster bracelet is that it is tapered. What that means is that the bracelet gets thinner toward the clasp. The bracelet starts out at 21 mm and slims down to the clasp. This provides extreme comfort, wearability, and an elegant look. After owning watches that have tapered bracelets, I’d never purchase another one that doesn’t.

What secures the bracelet is a true feat in innovation. The Oysterlock glide clasp is something to marvel at. What the Oysterlock clasp provides the wearer with is the ability to make quick adjustments to the length of the bracelet and ensure that they always have a perfect fit. The security system of an underwater survival tool is critical and the Oysterlock clasp does the job well.

Lastly let us discuss the finish of the Rolex Submariner bracelet. The stainless steel models have a fully brushed finish while the two-tone and precious metal reference have a polished center link and brushed outer links. From personal experience with my Submariner, I prefer the completely brushed finish. This type of finishing shows less daily wear and scratches which gives myself even more confidence putting this watch through absolutely anything.

Rolex Submariner Oyster Glide Lock Clasp

Bezel

The most important complication of a dive watch is its ability to measure time. It’s safe to say that the Submariner has mastered this ability. The current bezel is extremely smooth, has that great click sound, and is easy to operate with it’s coined edge outer bezel.

The material of choice for earlier Submariners was aluminum and today they have been upgraded to ceramic. A couple properties that make ceramic an excellent choice for a dive watch is that it is a very strong material, doesn’t scratch, and the color doesn’t fade over time. In theory, when you combine the 904L stainless steel and the ceramic bezel, modern Rolex Submariner watches can look brand new even after 30 years of wear.

Dial

Legibility is a strength when evaluating the Rolex Submariner. The large circle, rectangle, and triangle shaped indices along with the hands make this was easy to read at a quick glance and even in low light conditions. I have to admit, when doing research for our Rolex Submariner review I didn’t take it diving but I have taken it out at night to test its luminosity. This may be the first time I have ever said this but the Submariner might be easier to read when its dark compared to when it is light outside. I was pleasantly surprised on how clean and bright the display experience was.

Once again, it is the little things that Rolex had got right with the Submariner that has propelled it to it’s iconic status.

Rolex Submariner Dial

Popular Rolex Submariner References

Rolex 126610LV

Kermit

The Rolex Submariner green, also known as the Kermit, is a special reference in the collection. Not only has this watch been released twice, once in 2003 and again in 2020, it has the brand’s icon green pantone. The current reference 126610LV is the one that I was fortunate to purchase and use for this hands-on Rolex Submariner review.

Read a full review of the Rolex Submariner Kermit

Rolex 126613LB

Bluesy

Other than the original black dial/bezel combination Submariner, the two-tone blue dial/bezel combination Submariner, also known as the Bluesy, is the second longest Submariner in production. The Rolex Bluesy is a great example of how to blend a tool watch with luxury. The iconic steel, gold, and blue look of this dive watch has been replicated by many but not to the same effect as the Rolex Submariner Bluesy. It can be considered a grail watch by most.

Discover the Rolex Submariner Bluesy

Rolex Submariner Hulk Green

Hulk

Arguably the most popular recent Rolex in memory is the Rolex Submariner green, aka the Hulk. This reference was produced in stainless steel and had a green dial/bezel combination. The Hulk was released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Submariner and was recently discontinued in 2020. The prices of the Hulk have done very well on the pre-owned market. Even after the cost of used Rolex watch has declined, the Hulk has maintained its value hovering around $25,000.

Rolex 126619LB

Smurf

Definitely one of the most expensive Rolex dive watches is the Rolex Submariner blue, aka the Smurf. This Submariner is constructed of 18k white gold. Rolex knows their market well and it’s easy to tell that when they release any watch with a splash of color, their following goes crazy. If you want a blue Submariner, it is available, you’ll just have to spend $40,000+ to get one.

Discover the Rolex Submariner Smurf

Rolex Submariner 123060 No Date

Submariner No Date

The purest reference in the Submariner collection is the No Date. This reference exemplifies the most of what the Submariner truly represents, which is a no-nonsense durable tool watch. It also doesn’t hurt that the No Date Sub is also the least expensive Submariner.

Discover the Rolex Submariner No Date

Rolex Submariner Specs

Case Size41mm
MaterialsOyster Steel, Oyster Steel & Gold, Gold
BezelCeramic
CrownScrew Down Triple Lock
CrystalSapphire
Water Resistance300m
MovementPerpetual Self-Winding
Calibres3230 & 3235
Accuracy-2/+2 Sec/Day
Power Reserve70 Hours
BraceletOyster Bracelet
ClaspOysterlock With Glidelock Extension

Rolex Submariner Pricing & Availability

New Rolex Submariner watches cost as low as $8,950 for stainless steel models and as much as $40,650 for precious metal references. The cost of used Rolex Submariners exceeds what they cost to purchase new at MSRP. This is due to extreme demand of the Rolex Submariner.

To see the how much a Submariner costs and other Rolex models, view the most up to date Rolex price list.

How To Buy A Rolex Submariner

New Rolex Submariners can be purchased at Rolex authorized dealers. This is the safest way to ensure that you are buying a genuine Rolex. Unfortunately, the counterfeit market has become much better manufacturing Rolex replicas. Learn how to spot a fake Rolex to avoid making a costly mistake.

If you’re purchasing a used Rolex Submariner, consider buying from a reputable 3rd party source and conduct a complete inspection before any transaction is made.

Check out our Rolex buyers guide or our 5 tips to buying article if you’re new to buying the brand.

Overall Summary

After finally experiencing an owning a Rolex Submariner I would have to say I’m surprised how much I actually enjoy it. It is not until you get to spend time with one that you notice all the little things that make this watch great. The care and attention to detail that Rolex put into every aspect of this watch is incredible. The Submariner is by far the best dive watch and is one of the best watches available overall.

FAQ

How accurate is the Rolex Submariner?

The Rolex Submariner is COSC certified and has an accuracy rating of +/- 2 seconds per day.

How long is the Rolex Submariner waiting list?

The waitlist for the Rolex Submariner is anywhere between 3-24 months. Factors that determine the waiting period is the popularity of the desired Submariner reference and the relationship between the seller and buyer. As of right now, stainless steel models command a longer waiting period compared to models that include precious metals.

Does the Rolex Submariner hold its value?

The Rolex Submariner not only holds its value but it far exceeds its original retail value. Current and vintage Submariners all trade at a premium on the pre-owned market with many costing anywhere between $3,000 to $10,000 more than the retail suggested price.

Is the Rolex Submariner a good investment?

The Rolex Submariner is one of the best watch investments on the market. Not only does a Submariner increase in value after the initial purchase, it is also a watch that is engineered to last a lifetime.

What is the cheapest Rolex Submariner?

The cheapest Rolex Submariner is the stainless steel no date reference 124060, which costs $8,950.

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