Diving Deep Into The Seas Of Time: A Look Back At The Evolution Of The Oyster Perpetual Submariner

Everyone has their stories about when, why and how they got into watches. It could be a purchase to celebrate an achievement, or to commemorate a certain milestone in life, for example.  Mine? It was a fleeting encounter on the train – an unassuming man that was seated next to me was wearing a Rolex Submariner.  I could not take my eyes off the watch – and at that moment I said to myself “I want one”.  I bought a Submariner after receiving my first bonus several years ago, and it has been in my possession ever since.  In my view, no watch collection can be complete without a Submariner.  It is a damn good watch. Period.

The Rolex Submariner is the quintessential diver’s watch, and is the watch which all other diver’s watches are measured against.  Intended as a purpose-built diver’s watch, Rolex first released the Submariner in 1953 as the Reference 6204.  The 6204 was a simple time-only watch which featured the now defunct ‘pencil-shaped’ hands that are set against a black dial with luminous hour markers.

Rolex Submariner 6538

An early example of the Submariner “James Bond” Ref. 6538 Big Crown.


Interestingly, Rolex did not release a Submariner with a date function until 1969, the reference 1680, which had the word “Submariner” in red on the dial.It is now a true cult collector’s item.

Rolex Submariner 1680

Cult favourite: The Submariner “Red Sub”, Ref. 1680


Several years later, Rolex changed the printing of “Submariner” to white, which has remained unchanged.

Rolex Submariner

Back to basics: The return to a monochromatic dial featuring white indexes and inscription.


Sixty years on, the modern iterations of the Submariner, reference 114060 without a date and 116610 with a date, retain the enduring good looks of their predecessors: luminous ‘mercedes’ hands set against an inky black lacquered dial with luminous hour markers, packaged in a robust waterproof Oyster case made of 904L steel that would go all the way to 1,000 feet or 300 metres without breaking a sweat, and a 120-click graduated bezel for timing your dives (or simple tasks such as boiling an egg).

Rolex Submariner 114060

The Oyster Perpetual Submariner now comes with a date, Ref. 114060.


The Submariner is supplied with a sturdy Oyster bracelet that has a patented Rolex Glidelock extension system, which allows the wearer to make micro-adjustments to the length of the bracelet (in 2 mm increments up to 20 mm) without tools.  Within the Submariner beats the uber-reliable Rolex calibre 3130 or 3135 mechanical movement with bidirectional self-winding via Perpetual rotor, which provides a 48-hour power reserve.

Rolex Submariner 1680

The evolution of Rolex’s quintessential diver’s watch, Submariner Ref. 1680


One cannot discuss Rolex without discussing the Submariner, and with good reason: the Submariner has cemented its reputation as the unrivalled icon in the diving or sports watch category and no other watch has even come close to unseating it.

Most people looking to purchase their first luxury watch tend to gravitate towards the Submariner because it is a faultless choice – the Submariner has enduring good looks, is characteristically reliable, and will be a worthy wrist companion for many years.  Perhaps it also helps that the Submariner is the choice of many renowned personalities, from the likes of director James Cameron to professional tennis player Roger Federer.  The Submariner is a watch you can wear from the gym to the boardroom, and it will not look out of place.

If you haven’t got one yet, you’re really missing out.

Article contributed by Daniel Looi, a watch enthusiast and a loyal client of The Hour Glass.


For more information, please schedule an appointment with our Sales Consultant here.

Explore the universe of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner with The Hour Glass at ION Orchard, Singapore, Level 1 atrium from 11th – 20th August 2017.

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