In writing this review, I have realized that there are so many areas of detail I could be going into – especially for first-time luxury watch buyers who aren’t familiar with what a high-end watch offers over an inexpensive watch. At the same time, it is difficult to explain all the ways a Rolex watch is different than those produced by other companies. When it comes to metal, I don’t think I’ve seen anything from another company that is as good as Rolex’s work.
Most steel wrist watches use a form of stainless steel known as 316L. Rolex does not. Starting about 15 years ago, they began to use an alloy known at 904L steel. Rolex takes their metals very seriously, and I discuss more about that here, in discussing how Rolex has an in-house metallurgy department. 904L steel is more difficult to machine than 316L steel and, as far as I know, Rolex is the only company able to mass produce 904L parts. 904L steel polishes up a bit better, and has the look of white gold a little bit, given its finish, which is slightly whiter than most other steels. It is subtle, but for me the use of 904L steel combined with Rolex’s meticulous finishing and polishing processes result in a case and bracelet unlike anything else available.
Given how well the Rolex Submariner goes with most any outfit it is sometimes easy to forget that it is a serious dive watch. Water resistant to 300 meters with a rotating diver’s bezel, there is a reason why the Submariner is part of Rolex’s “Oyster Professional” collection of watches. The dial is utterly classic (albeit a design which is ubiquitous, after having been copied for decades), and it is very legible. These newer Rolex watches make use of blue-colored, versus green luminant which is a nice touch that other brands have followed.
Around the dial is the rotating diver’s bezel with Rolex’s Cerachrom black ceramic bezel insert. The previous generation Rolex Submariner still used aluminum bezel inserts, and in comparison to the more modern ceramic ones, they are almost barbaric. Flat and easy to scratch aluminum bezel inserts should not be found in anything but inexpensive watches these days. Some people, of course, have a fondness for the older aluminum-style bezel (or even some of the plastic ones, from a really long time ago). Those people are clearly turning a blind eye to the impressive design, precision cut markers, and scratch resistance properties of a ceramic bezel. Also, sorry folks, in 30 years the Cerachrom bezel isn’t going to “patina.” It will stay the same glossy black color it is when you buy it.
Inside the Rolex Submariner 114060 is the totally in-house made caliber 3130 automatic. It is an utterly well-made, no nonsense workhorse of the highest caliber (no pun intended) that just tells the time. Rolex COSC Chronometer certifies each of these watches (as they do with most of their watches) and it has proven to be highly accurate and reliable (for a mechanical watch, of course).
If I had to have a complaint about the Rolex Submariner 114060, it would be about the coating over the sapphire crystal. Rolex puts anti-reflective (AR) coating on the bottom of the crystal only, and not the top. That means that there is glare; but not too much since it is flat crystal. I like the idea of having so much AR coating on a sapphire crystal that it looks invisible and that you can stick your finger right onto the dial. I am not sure why Rolex does not use AR coating on the top of the crystal, but I am sure they have a good reason. I have have two hypothesized reasons why they don’t. First is because AR coating can wear off and Rolex doesn’t like for their watches to have areas that are too susceptible to wear. Second is because glare causes things to shine a bit and I think Rolex likes the idea that their watches might attract a bit of onlooker attention because the crystal catches light.
People who read aBlogtoWatch a lot know that I’ve claimed to not like Rolex when I first started out liking watches. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Rolex, but rather that I simply wasn’t interested. The designs bored me, and I can totally understand how that might be the fact with novice watch lovers. Over the years, I’ve increasingly become appreciative of simplicity and absolute functionality in many of my watches. No Rolex is an “exciting or trendy” watch, but rather they are mature and sophisticated, and often timeless. That is part of the core appeal aside from the power of the Rolex name.
I’ll admit that the Rolex name does carry some cachet with me, but mostly because after all is said and done, the company is remarkably consistent and stable. For that reason, people consider Rolex watches to be like currency, and that is a big part of why Rolex watches hold their value so well. The Rolex Submariner isn’t just a timepiece, but an institution. It is like being part of a club which many people should be involved with for at least a moment in their lives. A watch like this is a testament to a set of design and manufacturing principles that is so utterly non-controversial you can’t help but stand behind it. Many people are happy with owning something like a Rolex Submariner as their daily watch, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Personally, I don’t think I could be “wed” to a single timepiece, but I do think that even if you wish to maintain a small watch collection something in the Rolex Oyster Professional collection should be in there, and the Rolex Submariner 114060 is a very appealing choice. Retail price is $7,500, and given the competition today, you actually do get a lot for your money. rolex.com
>Model: Submariner 114060
>Price: $7,500 USD
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone with the budget looking for an utterly evergreen watch to add to their collection or be their collection.
>Best characteristic of watch: The gold standard steel sports watch with everything you need and nothing you don’t. In many ways, a masterpiece of modern design and engineering.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Might benefit from AR coating on front as well rear of the sapphire crystal. Crown might be a bit stiff for some when all the way screwed down.