Make an assumption that your knowledge on watches is nonexistent at best. Even if names such as Jaeger- LeCoultre and Audemars  Piguet sound unfamiliar to you, it is almost certain that there would still be one watch you could confidently identify as a Rolex at first glance. You might not know the model name, but the Submariner’s no-nonsense, timeless design is so emblematic, it couldn’t possibly be associated with anything else.  So, how has the ubiquitous Submariner earned its place as one of the most important designs in the history of watchmaking?

Form and function

When Rolex initiated the development of this watch, it was designed to become the definitive diver’s watch.  Rolex’s director at the time was Rene-Paul Jeanneret, a diving enthusiast who sought the help of underwater pioneer Jacques Cousteau to test his new product. Today, the Submariner’s waterproof rating has increased to 300m. With it, the in-house movement comes with Rolex’s own Parachrom hairspring – allowing the Submariner to be ten times more shock resistant than regular watches.

Technological innovation

The Submariner further cemented its reputation as the essential partner for professional divers when it pioneered the Helium Escape Valve (HEV).  Designed  to  release  built  up helium molecules that seep into the case  during  prolonged  commercial dives at great depths, the HEV became a critical safety feature when it was introduced in the 1960s. Considering the  depths  the  Submariner  was now  rated  to,  the  photoluminescent ‘Superluminova’ compound used on the dial’s hour markers replaced the former Tritium in the late 90s, glowing brighter  and  lasting  longer  than  its radioactive predecessor.


If there was ever a watch that could be described as “go anywhere, do anything,” it’s the Submariner. It   somehow   manages   to   be   both sporty enough to match with a jeans and t-shirt look, while being classy enough to look perfectly at home under a tuxedo sleeve. There’s no hint of excess with a Sub, above all else, it’s tasteful.

Collectible value

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Submariner has become highly collectible for true aficionados, and they enjoy the best resale value on the market. Of course, you don’t have to have pockets quite that deep to be able to make a wise investment in a Submariner. The durability of the design and the manufacturing means they really are watches you can pass down to successive generations.

Celebrity status

We still haven’t touched on the biggest reason it’s become the one of the most iconic watch ever made. The Sub’s reputation was secured the minute James Bond checked the time on his Submariner in the glow of a cigarette lighter in Goldfinger. Before Daniel Craig’s 007 made the switch to Omega, the Rolex Submariner made an appearance in eleven Bond films.

a scene from the movie James bond – Goldfinger


One more bonus reason…

While Rolex holds the distinction of being the most counterfeited watch brand on earth, the sincerest form of flattery comes from other genuine watchmakers.  Everyone from Breitling to Bremont has their own  version,  or ‘homage’, to the design. Proof, if it was needed, that the decades-old design represents exactly what a watch should be. And is there a better definition of ‘iconic’ than that?



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Clayton Durant


The premier source for insight, advice and guides from Sri Lanka’s most influential entrepreneurs.