How the Rolex Submariner became the World's most Iconic Timepieces
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?