March 27, 2009
by Ariel Adams
Rolex is the most powerful watch brand in the world. That does not mean Rolex watches are the best, or that they are worth the most. Rather that the brand itself has the highest value. It does this through a combination of working with incredibly fancy marketing firms such as M. Booth & Associates, in addition to its in-house people…and by having pretty nice looking watches. The secret Rolex formula has been attempted to be replicated on many occasions, but without success. However, on an dollar for dollar measurement, Rolex outspends its competitors by nearly double when it comes to marketing and advertising. So you really are buying a name, but maybe it is a name worth buying. Rolex watches are of the few that when you sell them, you can usually get the same or more as when you bought them. That is power. And I sure as hell am not immune to it being a watch lover. I don’t take keenly to all Rolex watches, but there are some you can’t resist. No sane watch lover can deny that the classic Submariner design is universally appealing.
It is commonly known that while they release good products, Rolex seems to move slower than a snail on horse tranquilizers. It isn’t just about releasing new products, it has to do with keeping up with trends and improving on existing models. For the most part they are just being careful. Most of their “good” designs are over 40-60 years old. It is hard to mess with a good design and feel comfy about it. For example, the new Rolex Date-Just presents an incredible change… by growing to 41mm (but retaining the 36mm for those who like the traditional smaller size). Regardless, this year a few get changes to the basic Submariner line make me the newest fan of this incredibly lasting design.
The new case shape is a bit more angular and squared than before, and it actually works well. To an extent it is a more retro look than the out-going Submariner model. There are a few good changes to the design that take the watch into a new area of desirability. First is the ceramic bezel. The out-going model still had the aluminum bezel insert that was starting to look cheap, and certainly got scratched way too easily. The new high tech ceramic bezel has molded in numerals (that won’t scratch off). Plus the bezel itself will retain the shine without getting dull and won’t scratch either. This type of bezel first seen on the new GMT Master and the DeepSea Sea-Dweller now finds a home on the Submariner. Better yet, the different Rolex diving watches are starting to have a different character from one another. It used to be that the Submariner and Sea-Dweller were clones to most people’s eyes save for the helium escape valve and the lack of magnifier lens on the Sea-Dweller. Now when you look at a DeepSea Sea-Dweller and Submariner you can really tell the difference.
The case has a few updates as well. It seems like the hands are fattened up even more, which makes for a good look. Rolex has a silly name for it “Maxi-dial.” Case size is still medium for the era at about 42mm, but it looks good. On this two-tone model, the gold accents on the bezel and dial look really nice with the gold center link on the bracelet. All Submariner watches have gold hands and indicators on the face. The all steel cased versions have white gold on the face instead of yellow gold.
The story with the lume is different as well. Gone is green, long live blue! The hour markers and hands are all appointed with a ton of lovely blue glowing lume that is brighter (and better underwater) than the green most people are used to. Plus, the lume on the bezel has the same treatment as on the SeaDweller — contained in a little case to prevent it from being damaged or wearing out. To keep things looking serious, Rolex keeps a healthy portion of the case with a brushed finish, while other segments get the polished look.
Rolex’s in-house movement has always gotten top marks for being accurate and hardy, and nothing has changed there. Still, each model is a certified Chronometer. I’ve been told by a number of watch repair people that they prefer working on Rolex movements for being simple and easy to get parts for. Rolex does a good job at making a world-class mass produced movement and watch.UPDATE 01-14-2014 Just got word that the new Rolesor (mix of steel and gold) Rolex Submariner watch pictures will, in fact, have the glidelock deployments of the new DeepSea Sea-Dweller watches. Good news! It was just a few years ago that Rolex finally got rid of the outer pin holes on the lugs. I really hated some of the older bracelet deployments, but with the new system of the DeepSea Sea-Dweller, Rolex proved that if it put its mind to it, it could come up with the best bracelet deployment in the industry. As stated above, the new Rolex Submariner watches will indeed have a much upgraded bracelet in comparison to the outgoing models. – Ed.
Most people with a liking of the Rolex Submariner could go on and on about this watch. The real power of the Submariner, no matter the color, style, presence of gold, or similar – is that it is truly the world’s most versatile watch. Looks good on anyone, in any outfit, and can go most anywhere. With it’s high value retention and universal appeal, and a design that keeps getting (incrementally) better. As much as the Rolex brand may be overinflated in some areas, you can always rely on the staying power of the Rolex Submariner. Now I just have to get one myself someday.
Visit RolexReferencePage for images of a similar Rolex Submariner watch. www.rolex.com
See Rolex Submariner watches on eBay here.