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by Aleta Saeger September 23, 2020 3 min read

Rolex seems to ascribe to Louis L’Amour’s  personal life motto:“Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more.” L’Amour was a distinctly American author, but with a conversion to the metric system, his adage applies to Rolex as well.“Victory is won in millimeters.” Nowhere is this more true than in the design for the 2020 Submariner Reference 124060.  

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2020 Updated Rolex Submariner 

The Rolex Submariner is unquestionably the most iconic reference in Rolex’s lineup. When Rolex decides to update the Sub, there’s a lot of pressure to get it right. In terms of model design, Rolex ends up between a rock and a hard place. If it makes too many changes, it’s accused of “following the crowd” or “kowtowing to trends.” If it makes too few changes, it’s accused of being “staid and stuffy,” “lacking in innovation,” or “sitting on its laurels.” It also has a brand value incentive to keep changes minimal. Collectors want their Rolex watches to retain value and not look dated. If Rolex were to dramatically change a reference’s design, watches released the previous year would immediately look passé. 

Rolex 2020 Submariner Design Changes and Specs 

Keeping Rolex’s design constraints in mind, let’s explore the new 2020 Submariner Reference 124060. What are the differences between the 124060 and the 114060? In a battle between the Rolex 124060 vs. the Rolex 114060, who would be the victor? Would the new 2020 Rolex Submariner best the 114060, or would the older model be the winner? Like all things Rolex, it’s really a matter of taste.     

The Movement 

When it comes to updating references, no one begrudges Rolex a change in movement. In fact, that’s probably the one area where Rolex can freely innovate without fear of push back. Unfortunately, with horological technology having come so far, any innovation in movement is probably ultimately self-limiting. (Thanks to, you know, physics.) Yet the new movement underneath the dial does bring the latest innovations in timekeeping to the new 2020 Submariner. The caliber 3235 adds an entire day of power reserve to the Submariner, pushing it to 70 hours over the previous 48. It does still have an accuracy rate of +2/-2 seconds per day, but the new Sub has a Chronergy escapement. This brings the Submariner up to date with other references that have the new escapement. 

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The New Submariner By The Numbers

The increase in case size from 40mm to 41mm was the major takeaway from the release for most aficionados.Some people who have worn it says it wears bigger on the wrist, while others say it feels smaller and more compact, similar to vintage Subs. Rolex’s designs are so carefully executed that even experts can’t agree on how the change in case size affects the look and feel. Most can only agree that the new Submariner just feelsdifferent. The case diameter measures 40.6mm vs. the 40.2mm diameter on the 114060. That’s barely perceptible to the naked eye, but it does seem to affect the overall impression of the watch. These tiny tweaks make a big impact in combination with the more rounded case design and smaller crown guards. In addition, the slimmed-down, curvier lugs, and redesigned bracelet all work together to form a more streamlined silhouette.     

Ceramic Bezels and A Dial With Room To Play 

It’s again a matter of millimeters, but the 2020 Submariner also has a slightly roomier dial. (Some collectors even speculate the indices may be infinitesimally smaller as well.) There’s a new coronet logo between the words “Swiss Made” underneath the six, but this embellishment doesn’t change the overall balance of the dial. When the dial is paired with a black bezel, the watch feels more compact. When it’s placed next to the ceramic green bezel it appears larger. This is akin to the classic optical illusion known as the Ebbinghaus or Tichner effect, but Rolex uses it here with great mastery. If you want your 41mm Sub to feel truly like a 41mm watch, choosing the new “Kermit” is the best way to make the watch feel like it’s taking up space, in a good way.  

new kermit
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No Oysterflex Strap for the Submariner? 

It’s not a surprise that Rolex chose to keep the Submariner on a metal bracelet, but it is a mild disappointment for collectors who wanted a modern, fresh, and daring Sub redesign. Luckily, you can recreate the look of an Oysterflex strap on a Rolex Submariner with a matte black Everest Band. Even if it will be months (or years) before your AD has a 2020 Submariner available, you can update the look of any Sub in your collection right now. Shop our rubber straps for Rolex watches now. 

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Written by Meghan Clark

Aleta Saeger
Aleta Saeger



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