I can’t deny that I’m a big Rolex fan. But for a watch enthusiast to love Rolex is a little like a basketball fan saying he loves Michael Jordan. It’s sort of unoriginal, and even a little pedestrian. But I make no apologies for my tastes. I think Rolexes are some of the best made and most beautiful watches in the world.
I have a GMT Master II and a Sea Dweller (review coming soon), but the quintessential Oyster Professional Rolex is the Submariner. I’m hoping to make one large watch purchase in 2007, and I’m trying to decide if it’s going to be an Omega, a Breitling, or the Submariner. And if I do go with the Submariner, should I try to pick up the commemorative 50th anniversary model? While doing some research on the “Kermit”, I came across some interesting Submariner history:
- Rolex introduced the very first waterproof watch in 1929 called the Oyster.
- Rolex started development on the Submariner in 1952, and the first model was introduced in 1953.
- While the Submariner was being developed, a prototype was subjected to 132 dives up to depths of 60 meters over 5 months, and came through it all perfectly.
- The Submariner was the first watch in the world to have a rotating bezel.
- The luminous triangle at the 12 o’clock position was initially intended to be red, however red is the first wavelength to be lost underwater, so testers asked that it be made white instead.
- The codename for the Submariner while under development was Frogman. Other names that were considered were the Deep-Sea Special (isn’t that a dish at Red Lobster?) and the Nautilus.
- Initially waterproof to 100 meters, the depth rating was increased to 200 meters in 1954, then 300 meters in 1979.
- The first Submariner with a date complication was launched in 1969, along with the first gold model.
- In 1979, the plexiglas crystal was replaced with the nearly scratch-proof synthetic sapphire crystal still used today.
- In 2003, Rolex released the 50-year commemorative model with a unique green bezel and a redesigned dial.
I should note that the change in the anniversary model’s dial is not to be taken lightly as Rolex puts an immense amount of consideration into their designs (which is why they are so classic and widely replicated). The anniversary Submariner has what is referred to as the maxi-dial which means that the hour markers are larger, and the minute hand is slightly wider (making it more visible, especially in the dark since it holds more luminescent paint). It is speculated that other Oyster Professional Rolex models (the GMT Master II, Explorer II, and the Sea-Dweller) will adopt the maxi-dial which seems to have been pioneered by the Yacht-Master.
By Christian Cantrell