In 2008, I bought my first Rolex. It was a GMT Master II LN, with the Cerachrom bezel and the (new at the time) maxi-case. I purchased the watch when I was doing well, however I was so enamored with the Rolex I did not wear it more than four or five times before I had to sell it due to financial reasons about eighteen months after I had purchased it.
The experience really crushed me when I had to sell that watch, but one major takeaway was the way it felt on my wrist...simply amazing. The new Rolex Submariner Date Reference 126610 has that exact same feeling on my wrist, but so do a lot of Rolex sports watches made today. Why don’t we see where Rolex is really going with the new 2020 release of debatably the most incredible watch in the entire world, the Rolex Submariner.
Quick side track story. You can buy Rolex watches like these at retail prices. I did with this one. How do you ask? Simple, build a relationship with a Rolex jeweler by getting your other watches repaired, buying your significant other items such as earrings and getting other watches that you want but are not so hard to find. When the time comes, ask for them to save one for you when they get restocked.
I know you are laughing right now. I know you are thinking I am full of it, but you would be wrong. I have built a mutually beneficial relationship with a Rolex Authorized dealer where I support their business, and once in a while, they get me a Rolex at MSRP. That is it. No special tricks. BTW, if you don’t do this, then you are not going to get a call ever. #boughtitretail is a real thing.
Back to our regularly scheduled show, the 2020 Rolex Submariner Date. The watch is a work of art, but so was the previous generation. Many have asked the question, “Does the 41 mm case feel huge?” The answer is no. Actually, it feels the exact same as the 40mm maxi case Submariner and GMT Master. There are aesthetic differences, but the feel on the wrist is perfect. The watch oozes quality and attention to detail, as one would expect which adds a lot to the feel of the watch on your wrist. However, the actual wearability and feel is indistinguishable to me.
One thing that surprised me was that the watch out of the box fit my wrist perfectly. I am not a small guy, but I am not the incredible HULK either. The amount of links they sell with the watch, quantity wise seem fewer. I noticed this on the Yacht-Master I purchased in 2019 also. I remember taking out two or three links years ago, and weight-wise, I am the same exact weight I was years ago.
One big difference for me is the lug thickness and the lug width (the area where the bracelet connects to the watch). Rolex really dialed it back on this watch in the size of the ‘horn” of the lug and increased the lug width to 21 mm wide. Frankly the dial and bezel look almost indistinguishable from the previous generation of the Rolex Submariner but that area screams change.
The Rolex maxi case design that started with the GMT Master II mentioned at the beginning of this article was widely not appreciated as much as the Submariner of the past such as the 16610 and the 5513. To me choosing a preferred Rolex case design language is like picking my favorite child, it is impossible. I loved both design styles equally. But, with the brand new one, I am not entirely sure I love it as much as its older siblings. That portion of the case seems a little out of place, maybe even a little forced. The new lug width also seems a little off base at 21 mm.
Rolex intends their watches to be worn on their original bracelet or strap. Except, we are watch guys, right? We want to put on a fresh pair of shoes from time to time, and frankly, there isn't much on the market freely available in 21 mm. Great news….Everest has you covered.That is right, we already have a strap for you guys. Stay tuned as it will be released in the very near future.
The Rolex Explorer II 42 has a very similar lug look to the new Submariner, but the Explorer II is thinner and feels flatter on my wrist. I think the added water resistance on the Submariner caused some design changes to ensure a water tight fit. The lugs and crown guards look extremely similar on both models, and the 21 mm wide lug width helps create a lot of similarities on the aesthetic front for sure.
Another area that saw some major changes is the bracelet. Mostly from a girth perspective, by getting significantly wider. The increase to a 21 mm wide lug width has caused the design team at Rolex to add a millimeter to the oyster link width, bringing it to 16.5 mm from my calculations and also adding an additional two millimeters to the buckle, bringing it to 19.75 mm in total width. From the length side of the buckle or links, I do not really see any increases from the previous design. Additionally, Rolex did not change the Glidelock design whatsoever (which in my humble opinion was pretty smart - again, do not mess with perfection.)
The dial and bezel of the new Rolex Submariner 126610 (and really all of its variants) look to me as if they are identical to the old variants. There are some subtle text changes to represent “Swiss Made,” but honestly, they look almost identical. I would not put it past Rolex if they used the exact same Cerachrom bezel insert as before. The bezel ring is slightly larger by about 0.20 mm from what I can tell, but that is so small I would not say it was much of a change. Then again, why mess with perfection.
Lastly, the movement is totally a new offering from Rolex for the Submariner. Funny, the Submariner lineup is one of the last Sports models to get the new 3235 movement. From a day to day use, the big difference is the power reserve. Rolex really broke the mold when they came out with the 3135 movement years ago, and frankly, it was practically sheer perfection. A selling point with other brands that recently has been making a big splash is longer power reserves. The Tudor Black Bay has even been fitted with an in-house movement that has a seventy-hour reserve, so why not upgrade the Rolex lines? With this new launch finally Rolex put the new work horse 3235 movement on our wrist with Submariner written on the dial. There are a ton of articles on this movement out there for you to reference.
So, let me wrap this up and answer the age old question “is this a better Submariner?” To be honest, no. It is amazing, but so were the last generations and the one before that and the one before that...etc. That is what makes Rolex so great. They have made minute changes to develop a better product, but at the same time, the previous versions were so amazing it is hard to say that one is better than the other. So who is the Rolex for? I would say almost anyone who did not get the previous generation of Submariner. If you have a Sub from 1984 and feel like you missed out on the last model, you will love this one. However, if you already have a 116610 Submariner from the last ten years….check out another Rolex model. The watches feel so identical that you might not really appreciate it. If you can check out that new OP 41, it might blow your hair back!