When the pandemic hit, and the year’s international watch trade fairs, already in a state of upheaval, were cancelled, industry giant Rolex was cagey about when, or even if, it would release new models to the market in turbulent 2020. Well, it turns out that today is that day, with the lion’s share of buzz going to the latest version of Rolex’s iconic divers’ watch, the Oyster Perpetual Submariner, and its descendant, the Submariner Date. Here’s what you need to know.
What’s new about the new Submariners? As is typical of Rolex, the differences are subtle to the naked eye but oh-so-significant to the brand’s avid collectors. The case has been bumped up slightly to 41 mm from the previous models’ 40 mm (if you’re keeping score, that’s just 2 mm smaller than the revamped Sea-Dweller, the Submariner’s bulkier brother). The Oyster bracelet has been “remodelled” according to Rolex, with a patented Oysterlock folding safety clasp and Glidelock extension, which can add or subtract up to 20 mm of bracelet length in 2 mm adjustments. Most notably, the new dateless Submariner has been equipped with a new in-house movement, Caliber 3230, introduced this year, while the Date models contain the existing Caliber 3235, introduced in the 2017 revamp of the Sea-Dweller and used subsequently in the Yacht-Master.
The new Submariner is in a case of what Rolex calls Oystersteel (an alloy of 904L stainless steel), with a black dial and a matching black Cerachrom insert in its unidirectionally rotating bezel. The bezel’s 60-minute dive scale has molded, recessed gradations and numerals coated with platinum in a PVD process. The dial features differently shaped hour and minute hands and geometric-shaped hour indices, all coated with Chromalight, a luminescent material that offers a longer-lasting luminescence in the dark than the more common Super-LumiNova.
The “Oyster” in the designation “Oyster Perpetual” for the Submariner model and its sport-luxury brethren refers to the case, which is water-resistant to 300 meters, or 1,000 feet — a level aided by the screw-down Triplock crown with Rolex’s triple waterproofness system. Inside the case is the “Perpetual” — aka self-winding — movement, the new 3230, with Rolex’s patented high-efficiency Chronergy escapement, an anti-magnetic Parachrom hairspring, and a 70-hour power reserve.
The Submariner Date models offers a trio of options combining different colors and materials. One model is in Oystersteel, with a black dial and a Cerachrom bezel insert in gleaming green. Another is in 18k white gold, matching a blue Cerachrom dive-scale bezel insert to a black lacquer dial. The third features Rolex’s “marriage of gold and steel,” called Rolesor, with the case middle and caseback in Oystersteel, and the bezel and crown in 18k yellow gold. The bracelet on the Rolesor model has satin-finished outer links made of steel and polished center links made of yellow gold; its sunray-finish dial and Cerachrom insert are in bright Royal blue.
The aforementioned Caliber 3235 powers all three versions of the new Submariner Date, with all the attributes mentioned above for Caliber 3230 along with the addition of a date display, which appears on the dial in a window at 3 o’clock; in traditional Rolex fashion, this indicator appears under a magnifying “Cyclops” lens that rises above the scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.
Prices on the new 41-mm Submariner collection are $8,100 for the sans-date Submariner with black dial and bezel; $9,550 for the steel-cased Submariner Date with green bezel; $14,300 for the “yellow Rolesor” Submariner Date with blue dial and bezel; and $39,650 for the Submariner Date in white gold with blue bezel and black dial.