VIDEO: Rolex Submariner Comparison
Dustin explores three generations of the Rolex Submariner—a 1975 Ref. 1680, a 2006 Ref. 16610T and a 2017 Ref. 116610LN.
The Rolex Submariner really is the quintessential dive watch. Introduced by Rolex in the 1950s, the Submariner was developed to meet the growing demand of scuba and skin divers. The model is known for its waterproof case, rotatable bezel for tracking dive time, and a very clear and legible dial that’s easily read underwater.
1975 Rolex Submariner Date (Ref. 1680)
The first watch we’re going to look at is a vintage Submariner Reference 1680 from 1975. Introduced in 1969 the reference 1680 brought a date function to the submariner lineup initially offered with the submariner print in red the later production models like this 1975 version show the dial text all in white the dial itself has a matte finish and the loom material at the time was tritium which can develop a very pleasing and desirable patina over time as we can see on this example. The stainless-steel case was advertised as 40 millimeters really functionally feels more like 39 millimeters so it’s very comfortable. The bezel on the early Submariners is actually bi-directional Blancpain owned the patent for a unidirectional bezel up until the early 80s so Rolex was forced to use a pressure fit bi-directional bezel. The depth rating of these earlier generation Submariners was 200 meters or 660ft which was somewhat limited by the use of acrylic crystals the crystal on this watch is commonly referred to as the top hat because it stands up so far away from the level of the bezel.
2006 Rolex Submariner Date (Ref. 16610T)
Next we have a pre-owned Submariner Reference 16610T from 2006. We see several upgrades with this reference number over the vintage 1680 Submariner a sapphire crystal which brings along a deeper depth rating of 300 meters we have that unidirectional rotating bezel a glossy dial with a new loom material called Super-LumiNova that glows brighter than the old tritium dials used to you also see white gold surrounds around the loom plots the movement itself is also quite a bit more advanced with better shock protection and a quick set date. This 16610 also has the T designation which means it has the solid end links on the bracelet and these solid lugs which gives a little more substantial feel on the wrist. The case size for the 16610 remained the same at about 39 or 40 millimeters and the oyster bracelet was basically unchanged with a stamped clasp and hollow center links.
2017 Rolex Submariner Date (Ref. 116610LN)
Lastly we have our more modern pre-owned Submariner Reference 116610LN in 2010 the Submariner lineup was completely redesigned the Reference 116610LN was a significant leap forward with all features receiving a substantial upgrade. The case is larger with thicker lugs and crown guards the bezel insert was upgraded from aluminum to Cerachrom a ceramic material that is extremely scratch resistant and will not fade over time. The bracelet itself is solid links all the way through including the center links the clasp is a forged clasp with their system called glide lock which allows you to adjust the size of the bracelet for either diving purposes or just strictly for comfort The dial also has larger hands and markers with Chromalight a new material with a longer lasting distinctive blue glow.
All three of these watches are currently in our pre-owned watch collection and we’re lucky to have these three different distinct generations that we can compare and contrast in this way. All three are distinct in their design however they are recognizably Rolex and recognizably the Submariner, which is really one of the most iconic and desirable watches available on the market today. It’s also very interesting to see how much watchmaking has changed with materials and technology over the last 50 years.