The history of Rolex Submariner

Rolex Submariner watches

History of the Submariner watch

The Submariner is the first watch manufactured by Rolex that is not only waterproof, but designed for diving. The Submariner was released in 1953. It stands out on account of its unidirectional rotatable graduated bezel, whose minutes are marked one by one between 12 o'clock and 3 o'clock. This tool, the colour of which may vary depending on references, is used to time divings.

Rolex Submariner watches are a must when it comes to luxury watches on the second-hand market. According to LuxPrice-Index, 10% of Rolex watches sold in volume and in value at auctions are Rolex Submariner watches. As a result, the price of Rolex Submariner watches has multiplied by 2.2 in 10 years.

Style of the Rolex Submariner watch

An iconic sports watch, the Submariner is a true Rolex must-have, together with the Datejust, the Daytona and the Oyster Perpetual.

It is no coincidence that the Rolex Submariner, reference 6538, distinctive on account of its large crown, was the watch worn by James Bond in the first James Bond on the big screen. Actor Steve McQueen was also often photographed wearing a Rolex Submariner on his wrist, especially reference 5512.

Classic Submariner models without a date for collectors and connoisseurs

All references of Rolex Submariner watches are valued for their many differences. Here are some references collected:

  • The Rolex Submariner Big Crown, reference 6538: large crown, no date, thin bezel and no crown guard.
  • The Rolex Submariner, reference 5513: manufactured for 27 years, it is a transition model. With crown guard, no date, acrylic glass.
  • The Rolex Submariner, reference 14060: the last reference without a date. Sapphire crystal glass.

As with all watches available on Collector Square, Rolex Submariner watches are entirely examined, appraised, checked and guaranteed for 1 year by our specialist watchmakers in our workshop. The movement is monitored to ensure its authenticity based on its reference and age. All our Rolex Submariner watches are dispatched worldwide within 24 hours.

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The history of the Submariner

The very first Rolex Submariner emerged in 1953, and was then marketed under the reference 6204 in 1954. It was the first wristwatch produced to be waterproof up to depths of 100 meters for the reference numbers 6204 and 6205, and 200 meters for the reference number 6200. From its conception, the Rolex Submariner was destined for extreme sport athletes and didn't correspond at all to the standards of elegance of the time. It is, nevertheless, today one of the most widely sold sport watches in the world. It has also experienced the most evolution over the years.

The special features of the Rolex Submariner

Designed for divers, it can withstand deep dives with ease: a robust casing with reinforced waterproofing, 3 hands and a luminescent index, visible in the underwater darkness, an unidirectional bezel which gradually turns, allowing the diver to calculate decompression stops.

The models of the Submariner

There are 2 models of Submariner. The standard Submariner (without date) and the Submariner Date. One can also find the Submariner Comex on the market. This is not a Rolex model, rather a Rolex model series without a date adapted to include an added helium valve. Launched in 1969 with the reference number 5514, these were specially produced for Compagnie Maritime d'Expertise (Maritime Expertise Company), who specialised in underwater operations. They are recognisable by the inscription 'COMEX' on the dial or at the bottom of the casing and the helium valve for the reference numbers 5513 and 5514.


The reference 6538

Produced from 1956 to 1959, the 6538 reference has a thick casing and slightly indented bezel. Its dial is always black.

The reference 5513

Produced from 1962 to 1989, it is an evolution of the 5512, which emerged in 1959. Its casing is larger and 'shouldered'. Its bezel is more indented than the preceding generation and its graduations are thicker and therefore more legible in diving conditions.

The reference 1680

The 1680 reference, produced between 1969 and 1979, has the same casing and the same bezel as the preceding generation. It is a Submariner Date and has a date feature at 3 o'clock.

The reference 116610

The 116610 reference is also supplied with the date at 3 o'clock. It has a thicker casing, sports a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal instead of the plexiglas of the 1680, as well as a more indented bezel.


The Rolex Submariner have a rising value on the watch market. The Submariner Date, for example, has seen a 170% rise in value within 10 years, to reach an average price of €11,596 in 2014 compared to €6,974 for a standard steel Submariner.

Rare watches add a significant increase to the price. Collectors forked out four times more in 2014 for a Submariner Comex compared to 2005, whose price today is close to reaching an average of €80,000. There are many rare Submariner watches, produced for particular occasions and in a limited quantity. Among these are notably the red Submariner 'America', the 'Royal Navy', or the 'Tropical'. These watches are extremely highly prized among collectors and fly off the shelves at auction.

All the figures of this study emanate from the databases of LuxPrice-index© , who survey the results of more than 200 000 auctions from the main auction houses around the world across a 12 year span.

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