Right after its official launch, we reported on the 2020 Rolex Submariner Date collection. To make it simple, all seven older references were replaced by new watches, meaning two steel models, two Rolesor watches, two yellow gold versions and one white gold edition. Quite an impressive start for the new Sub Date 41mm. Still, we just had the chance to meet with the brand and we wanted to give you some fresh impressions on the two most important versions, both Oystersteel watches, the new “Kermit” reference 126610LV and the classic black-on-black reference 126610LN.
The idea here isn’t to review all the little details that make the new Rolex Submariner. For that, we clearly encourage you to read our in-depth story on the new Sub No-Date 124060, where everything updated/redesigned is clearly explained. And you can also check out our video review, to get a sense of the watch in motion.
Basics about the new Submariner Date 41
In a nutshell, Rolex has played the conservative card here, with an update that will remain unperceivable for non-insiders. Like it or not but the Submariner is still very much a Submariner, and only trained eyes will spot at a glance the 2020 model next to a 116610 version. For some, this is the reason for the success of this watch; an incredible consistency in the design. For others, this is the very reason why they don’t like this watch. To each his own.
What Rolex has done, however, with this new Submariner Date, goes far beyond just a new movement. The brand has actually changed almost every single component of the watch. The case sees its diameter updated to 41mm and the shape and proportions are different. The lug width is now 21mm (20mm in the past). By shaving 0.5mm on the internal face of the lugs, Rolex has made them far thinner and moves away from the so-called “super case”. The bracelet follows this update, being 1mm wider on the entire length. Dial and bezel remain very much in line with previous Subs, yet with updates such as the longer minute hand or the wider hour hand.
And of course, there’s a new movement, the in-house, latest generation calibre 3235, with its modern and anti-magnetic Chronergy escapement with a blue Parachrom hairspring, and a comfortable 70-hour power reserve. Altogether, a modern and robust movement with durability and precision in mind (being COSC-certified and rated at -2/+2 seconds/day).
However, we’re not here to discuss specifications. That has been done already. Instead, we wanted to give you our first impressions on how the new Rolex Submariner Date 41mm feels on the wrist, and how the new 116610LV “Kermit” – objectively the hero model – actually looks.
The new proportions of the case/bracelet
First, the case. Yes, it is larger, but only by a small margin. To be fair, the extra one millimetre in diameter in rather hard to perceive. There’s not much to complain about here, and even though I’m personally a strong advocate of smaller watches, the increased size is certainly not a deal-breaker and won’t change my mind about this new model. In fact, I’d even go as far as saying that the 2020 Submariner Date feels a bit more compact on the wrist than the previous 116610.
The reason for that is the updated proportions. The lugs are thinner, more tapered and more “pointy”, bringing a lighter look to the case and, for the pleasure of many enthusiasts, reminiscent of the older 5-digit references. Combined with the wider bracelet, this rebalances the watch and virtually makes it (a bit) less present and less bulky. My main complaint about the previous references – the 2008-2020 generation – was the squarish shape of the “super case”. Now that this is gone, I can see a slight dosage of elegance back in the game. Lug-to-lug dimensions and thickness, even though not yet properly measured, felt almost identical to the previous references, so no major issues here.
The bezel is still made of glossy ceramic with a platinum PVD-coated 60-minute scale and is, as usual, a pleasure to use. The rotation on 120 clicks is both firm to engage and smooth to actuate, with the usual high-end feel that Rolex is known for. The dial has been very subtly updated, as the hour Mercedes hand is now wider and slightly shorter. The minute hand has been increased in length and now touches the minute track. Other than that, no major evolution and the signature Submariner look is always present.
Once again, there are some changes in proportions, though. The increased size of the watch benefits the dial opening it up to make the watch more modern, or at least, less cluttered. The whole face of the watch has been rebalanced (once again, we’re talking minor updates…) but this is perceptible on the wrist.
The comeback of the Kermit
The main talking point of this new collection is the introduction of black dials combined with coloured bezels, both for the steel 126610LV (lunette verte) and the white gold 126619LB (lunette bleu). In the past generation, these two references came with colour-matched sunray-brushed dials, which have now been replaced by glossy black lacquered dials.
With this in mind, Rolex reintroduces the concept of the “Kermit” watch, a model introduced in 2003 with a black dial and green aluminium insert, and thus replacing the previous full-green “Hulk”. Still, calling the new model “Kermit” will seem rather inappropriate to some collectors as the result is quite (very much actually) different. Due to the nature of ceramic and the glossy surface, the green bezel (also true for the blue bezel) is quite special in texture and colour, changing from milky green to bright emerald green in direct sunlight. But this was already the case on the Hulk model.
Then, there’s the combination of this green bezel with the black dial. On the one side, the green dial of the previous 116610LV added a great deal to its uniqueness and gave the watch a strong personality. On the other hand, and this is personal, I’ve always regretted the fact that dial and bezel did not have the same tone of green. Now, since the contrast is clear between the green bezel and the black dial, the watch has a different personality. However, it isn’t remotely close to the look and colour of the older Kermit – aluminium plays differently with the ambient light.
That being said, this new Submariner Date 41mm 126610LV is my favourite model in the collection. Discreetly different, with a touch of colour. Some will like, some won’t. Let us know in the comments if you prefer the new or older Kermit, or the Hulk, and why.
The Classic black-on-black
Well, no surprises here. As soon as you strap on the new 126610LN, you’re clearly in familiar territory. Case, bracelet and proportions aside, this black-on-black version is a no-brainer. A classic, conservative, risk-free combination that looks good now and will look good in 20 years from now, still not the most original version you can think of.
The 126610LN will certainly have its supporters, some who prefer the classic look of this black-on-black scheme over the slightly bolder green bezel, some that will go for the timeless appeal of a dark-toned dive watch over the fancier look of a coloured bezel. Since I already have many black dial watches in my collection, I’d tend to choose the green model over the black version. But then again, this is just my personal taste.
The prices for the new Rolex Submariner Date 41mm are:
- 126610LN, black dial, black bezel – EUR 8,650, thus an increase of EUR 200 over the previous black model
- 126610LV, black dial, green bezel – EUR 9,050, again EUR 200 more expensive than the previous Hulk model
More details and other versions to be found at rolex.com.