First released in 1954, the Rolex Submariner is arguably, one of the most recognizable Rolex timepieces ever. The watch has not only survived but thrived throughout trends and eras. So, what’s the secret?
When the Rolex Submariner was first released, with a price point of $150, it was specifically designed for anyone to be able to afford. The goal was to market a sturdy and reliable timepiece that wasn’t too expensive.
Being a well-made tool watch that was quite affordable, the Rolex Submariner grew quickly in popularity between 1954 and the 1970s. Additionally, Rolex capitalized on marketing to the right group of people. With a classic black dial and black bezel, the Rolex Submariner not only set the trend for dive watches, it also surpassed set expectations as well.
During the 1970s, quartz watches became popular, and for a while, Submariner sales plummeted. Swiss-made mechanical watches had to change their marketing tactics to draw consumers back in. Quartz watches became more affordable than mechanical watches. The new approach was to market mechanical watches as more of a luxury item which is what Rolex did. Moving away from marketing as sturdy and affordable tool watches, Rolex began to market their timepieces as luxury watches. While the marketing changed, consumers’ attitudes changed as well. Having a Rolex watch became a sign of wealth and success. And once again, the Rolex Submariner regained its popularity.
Just a few decades earlier, most wouldn’t consider a steel tool watch to be a luxury item, but the Rolex Submariner became a largely popular luxury watch. As the popularity rose, the price did as well because Rolex had changed its image completely.
With its simplistic and timeless design, the watch was versatile between a tool watch and an everyday timepiece. Rolex reinforced its change in marketing by its superb accomplishments in mechanical advancements. This only reinforced the image of the simple Submariner tool watch turning into a technically advanced item that was highly sought after.
Since its release, the Rolex Submariner has, in many ways, defined not only the dive watch category but the sport watch category as well. The design has basically remained unchanged for the last 60 years which has attributed to its iconic status. We talk more about Rolex's approach to timeless designs here. Its aesthetic is nearly instantly recognizable to all generations. While it may be a dive watch, it is incredibly versatile. Even with updates or different dial colors, its iconic status lies with its overall design, and that is why the Rolex Submariner is so popular.
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