Some watches need no introduction anymore, having gained a cult status over the years. The Submariner is the watch that once explained these watches what this status was… This Rolex dive watch is, without a doubt, one of the 5 most emblematic models ever created by the Swiss watch industry, a watch that has become far more than a timing device, and with a popularity that goes way beyond the small club of watch enthusiasts – something that also explains why it sometimes can be neglected by hardcore watch fans. The Rolex Submariner Date 126610LV, launched as part of the 2020 collection update, is a watch that we’ve already looked at here, on MONOCHROME. But we had the opportunity to have an example as a long-term loaner, which gave us the opportunity to really explore this monument of watchmaking in full detail.
Preliminary note: Before we dive into the details (I know, it was an easy one…), allow me a comment. I know that considering the current situation regarding prices and availability, anything related to Rolex has become a hot topic, which will generate comments. It’s even truer with this watch, one of the most sought-after and hard-to-get watches in the brand’s portfolio. We’re fully aware of this situation and if we somehow blame it, we can’t neglect it either. However, for the sake of this review, I’m asking you to leave these matters aside for a while, as I did, by just looking at the Rolex Submariner Date 126610LV as a watch, as a manufactured product, so I can have a fairly objective look at it.
It’s not the place to re-do the entire history of the Rolex Submariner. And if you’re interested in this, we have done a pretty extensive 4-part story on the Submariner already – part 1 Early References, part 2 the 55xx Series, part 3 the 5-digit evolution, part 4 the modern ceramic models.
More important is the previous generation, the first 6-digit series. Originally launched in 2008 with the yellow gold 116618LN and 116618LB, as well as the white gold 116619LB, the stainless steel Submariner Date versions (116610LN and 116610LV) appeared in 2010. The evolution from the 5-digit series to these new 6-digit versions is quite noticeable, not only due to the new shapes and proportions (Maxi-Dial and Super-Case) but also due to the use of new materials, such as the Cerachrom bezel. The 6-digit series was a move into modernity and towards a more luxurious feel. It also answered the demand for larger watches, without actually being larger than before. It’s all a matter of shapes and proportions that virtually enlarged the watch, becoming more “fat” than before.
Above: 116610LN (2010-2020 – left) and 126610LV (since 2020 – right)
In addition to the classic black-on-black steel model (which was inevitable for this watch), Rolex also launched a green-on-green version of the Submariner Date, the so-called “Hulk” reference 116610LV – the predecessor to the watch we’ll review today. The 11661x series was admittedly a great watch, with a long list of arguments and an impressive quality, but one that also aged a bit after its 10-year lifespan. Mostly, the Super-Case felt slightly outdated and not to everyone’s taste. The original look of the Submariner, a dive watch that always had a certain elegance and slenderness, was a bit lost. The 2020 evolution, which has been spread over the entire Submariner collection – date and no date, steel or precious metals – somehow corrects this while keeping alive all the great attributes of the previous generation. An evolution that is somehow comparable with that of the Porsche 911.
The Rolex Submariner Date 126610LV
As we’ve explained over our previous articles about the new generation of Rolex Submariner, the evolution of 2020 isn’t a revolution. The basics are still the same and the update is all about subtle touches, as well as new mechanics. Yet, nothing is shared between the 11661x generation and the current 12661x models. Typical of Rolex, the watch will seem to be identical from a distance, yet a trained eye will quickly spot the differences between what the Submariner used to be in the past and what it is now. Subtle evolutions (in fact, probably best to call it an upgrade) is key in the success of this model.
Case and proportions
This is probably where most of the changes are to be noticed. While the case feels, at first, almost identical to the previous generation, the new Rolex Submariner Date 126610LV (and all models of the 2020 update) has changed rather drastically. At first, Rolex claimed to have made a 41mm diameter, thus a 1mm increase compared to the previous generation. Which, in reality, appeared to be a very simplified way to look at things. The Submariner has grown a bit, sure, but it has also gained a new shape at the same time, getting rid of the so-called Super-Case.
According to our own measurements, the dimensions of the Submariner Date 126610LV have not changed that much. The reality is this: diameter is 40.5mm (not 41mm), while it used to be 40.2mm in the past generation. Thickness has been kept to the same level, at 12mm. Lug-to-lug measurement is also identical, at 47.6mm – which is fairly compact for a watch of that size and makes the Submariner a piece suitable for most wrists. But after reading this, you might wonder what’s new here.
The main evolution concerns the lugs and the width of the bracelet. The way the lugs flow from the side of the case (at 3 and 9 o’clock) to the tip of the lugs feels drastically different. The so-called Super-Case of the previous generation gave a square-ish, bulky feel to the watch, without the usual slenderness of the Submariner. Now, and mostly thanks to an enlarged bracelet width – which is now 21mm compared to 20mm – the lugs are thinner and it really does feel when looking at the watch. By shaving 0.5mm on their inner face, Rolex has given the Submariner back its original look. More flow, more curves, less bulk. And if on paper the dimensions are slightly larger, the result on the wrist, thanks to a larger bracelet and thinner lugs, is the opposite and the current Rolex Submariner Date feels slightly smaller than before. Small tweaks that can make a major difference.
The rest of the case, or at least its execution and the specifications, haven’t changed majorly, however. The Submariner is still true to its spirit, that of a very capable dive watch but also a fairly luxurious sports watch. Made of Oystersteel (the internal name of the 904L stainless steel alloy used by the brand), the case combines straight brushed surfaces on the flat areas and polished accents on the sides. As with all modern models, no more polished bevels on the side of the lugs (sadly). The crown, the so-called Triplock, screws down and is well protected by lateral guards. The caseback is a simple fluted solid steel piece, typical of Rolex’s production. Both guarantee a 300m or 1000ft water-resistance, more than enough for recreational and professional divers (and if you want more, the Sea-Dweller and Deepsea will answer your needs).
The top of the case is protected by a flat sapphire crystal, with the emblematic “cyclops” magnifier over the date. Something new, however, for the Rolex Submariner Date 126610LV is the presence of an anti-reflective coating on the inner side of the crystal (remember that Rolex only started to use AR coating in very recent years). Thanks to the flat profile of the crystal and the AR coating, legibility is most of the time truly impressive.
Dial and bezel
Framing the dial is a classic unidirectional diving bezel with a 60-click motion. The actuation of the bezel is a true pleasure, with a reassuring feel of sharpness and quality, that of a truly well-built object. Also, once in place, the bezel stays firmly in place. On top is a Cerachrom insert – the internal name for ceramic – with a 60-minute scale (not entirely graduated – this is again reserved to the Sea-Dweller and Deepsea) engraved and then PVD-coated with platinum. A luminous pearl is inserted at the zero-mark and the insert is polished. Available in black on the LN model, the green LV version you can see here certainly adds a touch of originality and fun, yet the colour is subtle and discreet in the real world. Not the flashy green you can see on the brand’s website, but a restrained green colour that makes this watch wearable on a daily basis. One small (and somehow neglectable) downside to this green bezel compared to the black model, it provides a bit less contrast under certain light conditions.
As for the dial, don’t expect many differences between the Rolex Submariner Date 126610LV and its predecessor. Except for one important update: the green Submariner only uses green for its bezel, and the dial is now black, while the 116610LV Hulk had a green, sunray-brushed dial. Now, the dial is the same as the LN model, with a glossy lacquered black background. Some will probably regret this change of style, I personally like this “Starbucks” or “Cermit” version better than the previous one, since it results in a more discreet, more utilitarian, more “dive watch” style than before.
As for the elements of the dial, no major updates, as the Maxi-Dial layout with its oversized markers is still present. The hands have been tweaked – the minute hand is slightly longer (touching the outer minute track) and the “Mercedes” hour hand has been enlarged ever so slightly too. All the rest, even though there might be some minimal adjustments in size, is identical. The handset retains the same design, the applied white gold markers are the same – a classic combination of dots, rectangles and a triangle to quickly spot the time in low light conditions – and all elements are largely filled with blue-emitting Chromalight – which isn’t the best at doing its job, in all fairness (Seiko does better with its LumiBrite).
The Rolex coronet logo and brand name are still located at 12 o’clock, while there’s still the classic (4-line) literature at 6 o’clock. Something I wish Rolex would change. I miss the old days of the Submariner 14060 with only 2 lines of text, indicating the name of the model and the depth rate… The mention “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” could easily be removed, or placed on the caseback, which would allow the dial to breathe a bit. One difference to be seen on the dial is the presence of the small coronet logo in-between the words Swiss and Made at 6 o’clock, marking the mechanical evolution.
In conclusion, except for the relative lack of luminescence and the long literature on the dial, the dial of the new Rolex Submariner Date is everything you’d expect: ultra-legible, with high contrast, extremely precise execution of all the elements and an emblematic look that has long demonstrated its effectiveness. But keep in mind that due to an update in the standard (in 2018), the Submariner Date is no more ISO 6425-certified, due to the lack of a luminous element next to the date. Only the Submariner no-date is now compliant with the ISO norm. Not that of a problem for us, as very few will use a Submariner as a true instrument dive watch anyway.
Bracelet & Clasp
Once again, you don’t change a proven recipe. Here’s why the generation Submariner Date builds on the basics found in the previous generation. The bracelets found on the old Submariners, even the 1990s 5-digit models, were clearly not the best. Specifically the clasp. With the arrival of the 6-digit series, Rolex finally developed a bracelet and a clasp worthy of the brand’s reputation. The modern Oyster bracelet and clasp have even become somehow a reference in the field. And the Submariner Date 126610LV doesn’t change this.
First, dimensions. As said, the lug width is now 21mm but the increase in size actually concerns the entire bracelet, from lugs to clasp. This larger bracelet certainly helps to visually reduce the squareness of the case by changing the overall proportions. The clasp now measures about 18.5mm in width, one additional millimetre compared to the previous generation.
The 3-link construction of the Oyster bracelet, made of Oystersteel and closed by an Oysterclasp with Oysterlock – sorry… I made this on purpose. The bracelet is a classic 3-link construction made of the brand’s proprietary 904L steel (Oystersteel). It is closed by a folding clasp (named Oysterclasp) equipped with a security catch folding over the clasp (Oysterlock). The overall execution is extremely precise, with smooth edges making it comfortable. The added width makes this 126610LV more balanced on the wrist. Also, the bracelet retains its very practical Glidelock extension system, which allows a 20mm extension in increments of 2mm. Finally, the length of the bracelet is adjusted by the means of screws. Note that the Submariner doesn’t feature the diver’s extension blade, reserved to the Sea-Dweller and Deepsea.
A new movement
This is obviously where the Rolex Submariner Date 126610LV brings the most important evolution. The previous generation of Submariner was powered by the long-lasting, reliable and precise calibre 3135, which has been replaced by the modern calibre 3235, which comes with multiple technical innovations. Like the Day-Date, Datejust, GMT-Master II, Sea-Dweller, Yacht-Master and Deepsea before, the Submariner is now powered by the 32xx generation of calibre.
Just like the no-date 124060, which is equipped with the 3230, the Submariner Date benefits from the brand’s latest innovations. A Superlative Chronometer movement (and watch), meaning certified by the COSC and internally by Rolex after casing, this automatic movement is given for -2/+2 seconds/day. It features the Chronergy escapement, an optimised version of the Swiss lever escapement. The efficiency of the escapement is increased by 15%. It is made of nickel-phosphorus and is insensitive to magnetic fields. Optimizations also concern the gear train, with optimized geometry and high-performance lubricants, and the barrel, with a longer mainspring without increasing the size of the barrel. Altogether, the power reserve is now 70 hours. It also features a new self-winding module, for a more rapid winding of the new high-capacity mainspring, and the rotor is rotating on ball bearings.
The calibre 3235 brings more stability and resistance in almost all areas. The blue Parachrom hairspring is still present, meaning that it remains paramagnetic and extremely resistant to shocks. And if the movement is still too young (its architecture has been launched in 2015 with the Day-Date 40) to really have a clear idea of its reliability, it makes no doubt that it is better than its predecessors on most levels.
Objectively, if you look at the Rolex Submariner Date 126610LV from a product perspective only, there’s not much to be addressed. Putting aside design considerations, which always lead to personal opinions and subjective perspectives, the new generation Submariner is a stunning watch. The overall execution is simply excellent, with impressive consistency in the way the watch is manufactured and built. The precision of the assembly, the way the parts have been machined and finished, the quality of the materials used in all areas, the list of features, the precision of the movement, the comfort and solidity of the bracelet and clasp… There’s an undeniable feeling of an over-engineered product, where nothing has been left aside, where everything has been considered with much attention. A perfectly oiled machine that you know will last for decades, yet with a true feeling of luxury. In short, the Submariner Date 126610LV truly is an impressive object.
As for the design, I believe that there will be three groups of people. First, those who simply love/like the watch for the extreme consistency in the design, just like a 911 has its advocates. Then, there will be those who will remain slightly cold, noticing the quality of this watch, acknowledging its cult status, yet not being attracted by what they will feel is a risk-free watch, with no real statement or originality. Then are those who are reluctant to like the watch, simply because it is a Submariner. To each his own, and I’ll position myself in the first category. Yet I also completely understand the two other positions. But I clearly encourage anyone to handle a Submariner without pre-constructed feelings and to look at it in an objective way. The Submariner has been at the end of the food chain for multiple decades, and there are tangible reasons for this.
As for the price (and we’ll stick to retail here), the EUR 10,000 sticker makes the 126610LV far from accessible. It’s high, no questions. Not overpriced, but clearly, it’s at the end of what I’d call decent value. There are extremely good alternatives to the Submariner out there. Think for instance about the Omega Seamaster Diver 300M (almost half the price, packed with modern features, great movement, superior accuracy and anti-magnetism, beautiful execution), which we’ve compared to the previous generation in this review. The Tudor Black Bay 41 or Fifty-Eight models, with this familiar “Rolex family” design, and a lot of arguments under the hood, shouldn’t be overlooked either. There are countless alternatives to consider for a luxury dive watch, either in lower price ranges or with equivalent or even higher prices. Yet, you’ll hardly find a watch that offers such consistency in the design and quality and that will retain its value in the same way. At least, when you’ll put those 10k on the table and strap the watch, you’ll know where your money is going.
But, there’s the elephant in the room, the issue that we don’t really want to address but that should still be addressed. Availability and insane pre-owned prices. Yes, the Rolex Submariner Date – specifically this Lunette Verte 126610LV version – is hardly accessible at retail price. It’s not impossible, but surely it will require patience and hard work. We can only blame the situation, as it ruins the pleasure of watch collecting and the pleasure of owning this watch for what it is, meaning a very, very good timepiece. Let’s hope for this situation to change soon.
For now, all I can say is that the Rolex Submariner Date 126610LV, as well as all models in the current collection, is an impressive watch. And the small updates on the case, bracelet, movement have only made it better. For more details and prices in your region, please visit rolex.com.