The Evolution of the Green Bezel Submariner

The Evolution of the Green Bezel Submariner

The green bezel Submariner.  An absolute legend and the grail watch of many die-hard Rolex enthusiasts.  It first appeared in 2003 with a striking aluminum bezel alongside ref. 16610LV and is still in production today, only now with a shiny new ceramic bezel via ref. 126610LV.  How did the curious “Green Submariner” come to be, and what is the difference between the three generations that have come to market since it premiered 20 years ago?  Let’s explore the topic further by diving into the evolution of the green bezel Submariner.

Rolex Green Bezel Timeline

2003: Reference 16610LV

2010: Reference 116610LV

2020: Reference 126610LV

LV – aka Lunette Verte

Each reference number belonging to the green bezel Submariner is followed by the distinction “LV” to set them apart from their black bezel counterparts.  Adding a suffix to the reference number is a common practice for Rolex and is used to denote the bezel's color.  Often the suffix is two to four letters long and is usually an abbreviation of the bezel color itself.  “LV” stands for “Lunette Verte,” which translates to “green bezel.”  The black bezel Submariner is often followed by the suffix “LN,” which stands for “Lunette Noire,” or “black bezel.”

Rolex 16610LV

The Submariner was developed in 1953 and officially unveiled to the public during Basel World 1954.  Several iterations came to market in the decades that followed, including ref. 16610, which initially debuted in the late 1980s with a black aluminum bezel.  Rolex would eventually introduce a green bezel edition of the watch to ring in the Submariner’s 50th anniversary in 2003, swapping the black bezel out for green and outfitting the black dial with larger “Maxi” hour markers.  It was the first modern Submariner to sport the Rolex Maxi dial and, subsequently, the only reference in the brand’s portfolio to pair a modern Maxi dial with an aluminum bezel. The ”Kermit,” as it is now known, was produced alongside the black bezel ref. 16610 until it was discontinued in 2010.

Rolex 116610LV


That brings us to the 6-digit Submariner, which debuted in 2010.  Rolex made several upgrades to the collection, including a broader “Super Case” with wider lugs and a larger crown guard, integration of the Maxi dial into the entire Submariner lineup, and a ceramic “Cerachrom” bezel instead of aluminum. While the traditional black bezel/black dial ref. 116610LN remained a fixture of the collection, Rolex also debuted a new variation of the green bezel Submariner: ref. 116610LV.  

The Kermit ref. 16610LV notably featured a black dial to accompany the green bezel.  Ref. 116610LV, on the other hand, debuted the ceramic green bezel in grand fashion by pairing it with a matching green sunburst dial.  The green-on-green colorway and the more robust proportions of the 6-digit Submariner have since earned the ref. 116610LV the nickname “Hulk.”

Rolex 126610LV


2020 was a remarkable year for the Submariner.  For the first time since the 1950s, Rolex changed the Submariner’s case size, increasing the collection from 40mm to 41mm.  With this upgrade, Rolex also phased out the previous generation’s “Super Case” proportions in favor of a more traditional, refined profile with narrower lugs and thinner crown guards.  Although it has grown by 1mm, it doesn’t feel much larger than the ref. 116610LV.  Rolex also discontinued the trusty time and date caliber 3135 movement in 2020, replacing it across the entire Rolex portfolio with the next-generation caliber 3235, featuring a longer 70-hour power reserve.

Of course, Rolex also released a new edition of the green Submariner via ref. 126610LV.  It appears to revive the original Kermit with a black dial/green bezel combination but with all the upgraded amenities in the current Rolex lineup, including a ceramic bezel.  Ref. 126610LV also has its own charming nickname, the Rolex Starbucks.

What was once seen as tacky by discerning watch collectors in the early 2000s is now widely accepted in the industry and incredibly sought-after.  There was once a time when the Rolex Kermit was the least desirable of the two 5-digit stainless steel Submariners, but now it commands significantly more on the secondary market.  The same can be said about the Submariner ref. 116610LV, especially now that it has been discontinued for a few years.  It will be interesting to see how these often-polarizing Submariners evolve and what changes Rolex will make to the collection in the coming years and beyond.

All photos credit: Bob's Watches

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