2020 will not come and go without the release of brand-new Rolex timepieces. Whether or not you will easily be able to purchase one is an entirely different story. Rolex has decided to make 2020 the year it revamps its most popular steel watch (and there are gold versions, as well): the classic Submariner. (In this article, we look at the “No Date” Submariner 124060.) Perhaps a new Sub was a predictable move, as in a recent poll, nearly 65% of the aBlogtoWatch audience predicted Rolex’s new watches for 2020 would be in the Submariner family. The Oyster Professional Submariner update sees the Submariner family of watches with a new suit (squint and you’ll notice the case differences) and a new beating heart on the inside that finally brings the Submariner into the 3230 family of movements that boast more accuracy, stability, and power reserve than the previous generation of movements.
Model: Submariner Ref. 124060
Water Resistance: 300 meters
Case Material: Oystersteel
Movement: Caliber 3230 Superlative Chronometer
Strap/Bracelet: Oystersteel Oyster bracelet
Price & Availability: Available now through authorized dealers, $8,100
Style-wise, Rolex went ultra-conservative with this first crop of new-generation references merely mimicking the appearance of previous generation Rolex models with a return of the “Kermit,” which pairs a black dial with a green ceramic bezel. Also in steel, Rolex debuts the most important Submariner models — the black Submariner Date 126610 (126610LN) and the “No Date” version, which is this Submariner 124060. Both of these models replace watches that, until recently, were still being produced — the Rolex Submariner 114060 (aBlogtoWatch review here) and the Rolex Submariner Date 116610 watches (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here). It is worth noting that the Rolex Submariner “Hulk” 116610LV (aBlogtoWatch review here) is now officially out of production and will likely only surge in temporary popularity again given its lack of being able to get brand new models. It is yet to be seen how many collectors will feel that the new “Kermit” 126610LV with the green ceramic bezel (the previous generation used an aluminum bezel) and black dial can meet the same demand as the slightly flashier green on green “Hulk” model.
Let’s now focus on the 2020 Rolex Submariner No Date 124060, which to be has always been the more elegant of the Submariner watches given its entirely symmetrical dial. Some people also have a taste aversion to the Rolex Cyclops magnifier on the sapphire crystal, which does not exist on the No Date Submariner model. Notable, as well, is the fact that Submariner watches with a date complication are more expensive. That said, given contemporary demand for Rolex Submariner watches, I have a feeling that both the Rolex Submariner 126610 and the 124060 will be equally challenging to purchase in a retail environment.
So, what’s new about the 124060 watch, aside from the new caliber 3230 versus caliber 3130 movement? Most of the conversation around the watch will focus on the one-millimeter difference in case size between the longstanding 40mm-wide diameter of the Rolex Submariner and the new 41mm-wide case size of the 124060 and 126610. But the Submariner is also seemingly a bit thinner. So while it gains a bit of width, it makes up for that gain in a reduction in visual mass. The case is new and has Rolex’s still-fresh upgraded case polishing that makes the polished and brushed surfaces look even better on the OysterSteel (Rolex’s own 904L steel alloy formulation) case.
Even though all Rolex watches feature ultra-low-tolerance construction with parts that fit together well, even more gaps between parts have been eliminated in the Submariner — namely in the bracelet. The new 2020 Submariner case also features thinner lugs than the previous-generation Submariner, making the Submariner’s outward proportions to feel much more like they did when they produced the original Kermit and before the Submariner received a ceramic bezel insert. As always, the Rolex Submariner is a diver’s-style watch and is water-resistant to 300 meters. Rolex also produces the Sea Dweller and Deepsea, which have even larger and more water-resistant cases — though the Submariner remains the best watch for most people as a daily-wear timepiece.
The new in-house-made Caliber 3230 automatic movement is the “no date” version of the 3230 family and includes about three days of power reserve while operating at 4Hz (28,800 bph). The movement family features an instantaneous date adjustment window, which doesn’t actually matter for the purposes of this watch (because only other Submariners have a date window). Rolex continues to use their non-magneic Parachrom hairsprings. The movement is also COSC Chronometer-certified, as well as being classified by Rolex under its “Superlative Chronometer” rating which exceeds COSC and offers accuracy of plus/minus 2 seconds a day in many instances — that’s very good for a mechanical wristwatch.
For the Submariner dial, Rolex has not made any overall design changes even though the sizes of things are tweaked a bit. We see a return to slightly smaller hour markers that pull away from the “maxi dial” look of the previous generation Submariner. It isn’t that one or the other is better but that Rolex has decided to once again look back in time, as opposed to imagining what the Submariner could evolve into. So, while the Submariner 124060 is gorgeous and represents the nicest Submariner package ever, it is nevertheless the very definition of ultra-conservative in its imagination toward evolving the line.
Just as nice as the Rolex Submariner watch “head” is the bracelet. Like the rest of the No Date Submariner, the bracelet has been redesigned even though it more or less looks identical in style to the previous three-link Oyster bracelet, which is one of the best metal watch bracelets on the market. The bracelet still has an Oysterlock folding safety clasp and the excellent size micro-adjusting Rolex Glidelock feature. The biggest news in my opinion for the updated Submariner bracelets is how closely the links fit together – making for an even more “gapless” look which is more high-end feeling and goes with the current high-popularity of “steel bracelet watches.”
With demand for Rolex’s steel watches so high, Rolex didn’t actually need to do much aside from release new steel watches for 2020 to make everyone happy. That it came out with a new Submariner in a few references does seem to offer some hope that these watches will be more emphasized in production and perhaps a bit easier to acquire. Rolex doesn’t actually do anything to restrict supply, but it also made a conscious decision not to increase production of steel watches (beyond the normal planned volumes) in order to meet demand. With three brand-new all-steel Rolex Submariner watches (including this 124060) for 2020, that means enough consumers will be able to probably get at least one of them. Just don’t be too picky about which one you end up with.
As an owner of the Rolex Submariner 114060, which is the previous generation Submariner No Date model, I find this new reference 124060 just as beautiful and appealing. It is a new flavor, for sure, but I’m not sure I’d need to have them both. Rolex did an admirable job making one of the world’s best watches even better with the new generation Submariner collection, which should help carry on the torch of the Rolex Submariner legacy, which began back in 1953. I’m looking forward to starting to see things in the wild and also curious how much kerfuffle the new Submariner size will cause in the collector community. Price for the Rolex Submariner 124060 watch is $8,100 USD. Learn more at the Rolex website here.