Monday, August 31, 2020

All New Rolex Submariner: 2020 Model


All New 

Rolex Submariner

2020 Models

The History of the Rolex Submariner is second to none...Rolex today introduced the all-new Submariner models for 2020 which are pictured above that replace the current models which were introduced in 2010. At first glance it almost appears identical to the outgoing Submariner model which debuted in 2010, but the new Submariner models are really about super fine-tuning and subtly refining one of the most iconic and revered Rolex models in history. 

It can be argued that Rolex has now reached a state of absolute perfection with the all-new Submariner, with the exception that in my opinion Rolex should enhance the new non-date model by making the SUBMARINER dial designation RED like a vintage Reference 1680, which would be strikingly cool looking...

"The new Submariner's aesthetics are faithful to the codes of the original." 


The Rolex Submariner is a special watch for Rolex in many ways as it is arguably one of the most timeless  designs in history. If you compare the 1957 Rolex Submariner ad below which was originally published in 1955, you notice the 2020 Submariner looks remarkably similar, which stands testament to its enduring great looks. Think about that for a second, how many things look almost identical to the way they did 65 years ago!?!!

The Rolex Submariner is like California in the sense that if California was a country it would have the 5th largest economy. The Submariner has been Rolex’s bread and butter since it’s inception. When you study vintage Submariner models there seem to be a zillion variations when it comes to the subtle detail, thus making the Submariner an ongoing quest for absolute perfection...

If you compare the new Submariner to the outgoing model you discover Rolex slightly increased the case from 40MM to 41MM, and also tapered the lugs a little bit more than the outdoing Submariner, which gives the new model a less square looking super-case. This also contributes to the watch wearing smaller, while being slightly scaled up, which is a brilliant design element.

Despite the subtle aesthetic changes, Rolex radically changed the Submariner under the hood to include the new Caliber 3230 and 3235 in-house movements which offers many improvements, including a 70 hour power reserve that oscillates at 28,800 beats per hour @ 4Hz. Contrast this to the outgoing Submariner Reference 114060 model caliber 3130 which had a 48 hour power reserve and you see how much more refined this new Submariner model is as it offers close to 50% more.

Upon closer examination the Rolex Caliber 3230 pictured below is magnificently beautiful, and remarkably simple while being technically sophisticated. Rolex watches are absolute works of art on both the inside and outside!

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

—Leonardo da Vinci

Speaking of aesthetics, as we see in the photo below the new Submariner features a black lacquer dial coupled with 18 CT raised white gold hour markers. Also, the hands are made from white gold, and he ceramic 'Cerachrom' bezel insert also includes numerals coated with platinum via PVD "Physical Vapor Deposition". Rolex also appears to have widened the Oyster bracelet between the lugs from 20MM to 21MM, which give the watch more visual masculine presence. Also, Rolex beefed up the hour and minute hands by making them fatter.

New 41MM Rolex Submariner Reference 124060

Built To Last

Of course, the new Submariner comes with the standard Rolex Superlative Chronometer Certification which includes a five-year international guarantee that the watch will maintain a -2/+2 second accuracy per day, which is truly remarkable if you think about it. Basically, these new Submariner models, despite being mechanical masterpieces will keep quartz-like accurate time, which is a true testament to Rolex's superlative watchmaking skills.

The side profile of the new Submariner appears to have a very flat and low profile which should sit very nicely on the wrist, and features a waterproof rating of 1000 Feet (300 Meters).

The new Rolex Submariner dial is bathed in hypnotic 'Chromolight' lume, which emits a highly aquatic long-lasting blue glow as seen in the lume shot below. The new Submariner will begin at $8100. This may seem like a lot of money to some, but for many it seems to be relatively inexpensive for what you are getting. Over the past decades, many other watch brands saw how successful Rolex was with selling premium or 'luxury' watches, and tried to copy Rolex's playbook. 

These inferior brands significantly raised their prices significantly to achieve price parity with Rolex, but despite the fact Rolex had price increases, the other brands offer many watches that are more expensive that the Submariner, but far inferior. Also, it is worth pointing out that the historic resale value of the Submariner has been super. As a matter of fact, I bought my first Submariner for $1000 when I was 16 years old and that was 4 decades ago. 


Rolex stayed true to their timeless design language with this new evolutionary step forward with the new Submariner models. This new model comes with all the advanced diving tool watch features you would expect to see, including Rolex's revolutionary Oyster bracelet which has been geometrically updated, and maintains the classic satin finish with polished edges. Also the model comes standard with the crazy-innovative Rolex Glidelock extension system which can increase and decrease the Oystersteel bracelet in 2MM steps, up to 20MM.

I find the increased case dimensions to 41MM to be a welcome evolutionary step. I hope Rolex offers a Single Red Dial designation variant on this beautiful watch in the future, which to my way of thinking would make it beyond perfect in every way.

"There is something to be said for things that endure." 

—Frank Sinatra

Two More Things

Rolex also introduced a new LV submariner which is pictured below in stainless steel as well as a white gold variant with a blue bezel insert. This watch is interesting as it has the exact same color ceramic bezel insert as the outgoing "Hulk" Submariner, but when photographed with the black dial makes the bezel look darker.

It is interesting to note that last time Rolex introduced a new Submariner, back in 2010, the introduced the new "Supercase" Submariner model in yellow gold, then in 2011, they introduced the two tone Submarine model. A year later, in 2012, they finally introduced the all-stainless steel model, but this year they introduced all three models at the same time. You can learn much more about the amazing history of the Rolex Submariner by checking out my story below this one named "A Brief History of The Rolex Submariner."

One of the most interesting details on the all-new white gold Rolex Submariner is it features polished white gold center links. The reason this is interesting is because the stainless steel model of the Rolex Submariner has always had satin finished center links.

Hodinkee Side By Side Comparison 

Hodinkee wrote an excellent story on the all-new Submariner which included the images below that compare and contrast the outgoing Submariner with the new model. There are many subtle details that are different between the outgoing (left) 40MM Submariner Reference 114060, and the all-new 41MM Submariner Reference 124060. From the front if you look closely you will notice the new Submariner (right) has much fatter/wider hands, particularly noticeable on the stalk of the hour hand, as well as slightly longer minute and second hands.  Also, its Oyster bracelet is 1MM wider between the lugs, which gives it a more masculine and solid vibe. Also, the crown guards shrank down on the new Submariner which you can clearly see.

In the photo below we see how significantly different the lug structure is. You would not notice it so much in the image above that shows a top down view, but from the front facing view you notice quite a difference. Also, if you examine the photo closely you can see how much wider the Oyster bracelet gets between the lugs. Notice the new Submariner has a tiny crown between "SWISS" and "MADE" below the six o'clock marker.

A Brief History Of The Rolex Submariner


This is an absolutely fascinating story I have been meaning to write for a long time. Chances are, if you are a reading this you are a die-hard Rolex fanatic. If not, when you are done reading it, you will likely become a Rolex Submariner expert as this comprehensive story covers so much of the DNA that constitutes the secret sauce of the Rolex Submariner

I would go so far as to say this story is meant to be a Masterclass, PhD or Doctorate level dissertation on the history of the Rolex Submariner and beyond...I have to warn you that this story may look complete, but it is not done. I will continue to work on it until I feel its finished, but there is already a lot of great history, so enjoy!

Jake :-)


Rolex Submariner

Everything considered classic today was once considered to be modern, which was the case with the Rolex Submariner when it debuted at the Basel Fair watch trade show in Basel, Switzerland in 1954. At the time, in the mid 1950s, the Submariner was cutting edge, ultra-modern, avant-garde, and very large with an unusual looking yet mesmerizing spinning bezel...Today the Rolex Submariner no longer considered to be large, nor modern, but classic and just the right size for a sports watch...

First 1953 Rolex Submariner Prototype

THE Touchstone Diving Watch

The Rolex Submariner is a universe in-and-of-itself and represents the ultimate definitive criterion by which ALL diving watches are judged and measured. So much so, the Submariner is so pure, classic and iconic it can almost be seen as a separate brand itself. 

The sporty Submariner is a tool watch that has transcended time and obsolescence with its great looks, precise and sober aesthetics, teutonic rough-hewn build-quality and highly dependable timekeeping. Some would argue the Submariner is the Porsche 911 of the watch world...One things is for sure, the Rolex Submariner remains THE tool watch of all tool watches...

1957 Rolex Submariner Magazine Ad

There are so many adjectives that come to mind when I think about THE Rolex Submariner including but not limited to timeless, clean, simple, sophisticated, symmetrical, utilitarian, bold, ultimate, definitive, archetype, only, real, criterion, standard, sporty, bulletproof, original, genuine, vault-like, yardstick, masculine, reference, historical, norm, pattern, iconic, and benchmark...More than anything the Submariner is so James Rolex...

I am going to ask you an interesting question:

Can a man be a watch, and if so which man most epitomized or was the living manifestation of the the Rolex Submariner?

Several men come to mind, beginning with the greatest explorer who ever lived, Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and after all "JYK" as he was referred to by his close friends tested early Rolex Submariner prototypes for Rolex in 1953 as seen in the photo below.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau testing his Submariner prototype in 1953

But wait a minute!?!! Maybe Chuck Yeager from The Right Stuff fame best represented the DNA of the Submariner? Chuck chose the Submariner as his tool watch as we see in the 1956 photo below with his Rolex 6538 'Big Crown' Submariner on his wrist.

Chuck Yeager wearing his Submariner 'Big Crown' Submariner in 1956

What about Elvis Presley? The Submariner remains unique in a sea full of derivative poser wanna-be knock-offs and copy-cats, kind of like another King: Elvis Presley, who wore a Rolex Big Crown Submariner and a limited edition Rolex King Midas...There was and only ever will be one King of Rock n' Role and that is Elvis...

Elvis Presley wearing his 'Big Crown' Submariner in 1962

There is something very different about the Rolex Submariner. Something mystical and otherworldly. Something seemingly magical. Not only has it transcended time, but also popular culture. Perhaps the man who best epitomized the Submariner in pop-culture was Sean Connery when he played James Bond in the early days of the franchise, and he also wore a 'Big Crown' Rolex Submariner Reference 6538.

Sean Connery wearing his 'Big Crown' Submariner in 1964

Maybe the 1965 Rolex Submariner magazine ad pictured below offers a clue as to the epitome or living manifestation of the Rolex Submariner with its charismatic alpha male verbiage?

Hold on a second!?!! Maybe the best choice would be The King of Cool, which was Steve McQueen. McQueen was rugged, good looking, strong, masculine, left-handed and an extremely charismatic rugged individual. He also wore a bunch of Rolex Submariner Reference 5512 and Reference 5513 models...

Steve McQueen wearing his Submariner 

What about Sylvester Stallone? He definitely is an Alpha male, and after all he is Rocky. Not to mention he was one of the first famous men to rock a yellow gold Rolex Submariner.

Sylvester Stallone wearing his Yellow Gold Submariner 

Robert Redford would arguably be another great choice with his timeless, classic, handsome magnetic charismatic vibe and ambivalent disposition which matched his single red Submariner.

Steve McQueen wearing his Submariner 

One thing is for sure, the Submariner is the watch of alpha males with big bold personalities. This list includes not only divers, explorers, revolutionaries, and sportsmen, but many Academy Award winning actors. The Submariner is very Alpha, and very Aquatic.

Speaking of aquatic, the Rolex Submariner is a pop culture mainstay and icon that has been hidden in plain sight for decades. When I was a kid, I used to love watching the Flipper TV show.

Brian Kelly, who played the father on Flipper named Porter Ricks wore a Rolex Submariner, and he was about as handsome and alpha/charismatic as possible. Kelly would make an excellent candidate for the being the living manifestation of the Submariner.

Brian Kelly wearing his Submariner 

Speaking of The Life Aquatic, below we see a really cool vintage Rolex ad from the 1970s that features a Single Red Rolex Submariner which is just about as cool and charismatic as it gets.

Over the past 13 years of publishing Jake's Rolex World, I wrote a 21 part series titled "The Complete History of the Rolex Submariner and SEA-DWELLER: Rolex's Conquest Of The Ocean." The challenge is I put it together piecemeal as new tidbits and morsels of knowledge came in and this was typically done in non-linear fashion. 

With this new article, I will take you on a chronological tour of the Rolex Submariner History while offering new insight, discoveries and learning that offer fresh and valuable context. After all, context gives content meaning! So let's hop into the Rolex time machine and travel back many moons ago to explore Rolex Submariner history:

Hans Wilsdorf

In order to understand the genesis, zeitgeist and ethos of the Rolex Submariner we need to understand the man who made it a reality, and that was Hans Wilsdorf who is pictured below in Switzerland on April 30, 1946. Hans Wilsdorf is one of the most fascinating and successful entrepreneurs that ever lived.

Rolex Founder, Hans Wilsdorf in 1946 

Galileo Galilei

Timekeeping can be broken down into five distinct epochs: The first epoch would include the ancient Sumerians or Babylonians who used sundials and other primitive methods to measure time.

The second timekeeping epoch would be represented by the town hall or church clock, which began in the mid 1300s and allowed mankind to formally keep track of time (think: public). 

The third epoch began in 1582 when Galileo Galilei was eighteen years old as he began contemplating building a pendulum clock which later evolved into Grandfather Clocks which people could have in their homes (think: private).  

Painting of Galileo Galilei by Justus Sustermans painted in 1636

The fourth major timekeeping epoch began with the advent and popularization of the pocket-watch, which allowed men to personally keep track of time as they could carry a small hand-wound clock in their vest pocket everywhere they went. 

The fifth timekeeping epoch which we are still in introduced the wrist watch revolution which was largely pioneered by Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf.

The Snap-Back Case

"My personal that pocket watches will almost completely disappear and that wrist watches will replace them definitively! I am not mistaken in this opinion and you will see that I am right." 

–Hans Wilsdorf, 1914

It is important to understand when Hans Wilsdorf began Rolex in 1906 in London, England he was trying to build the most precise timekeeping watches. Young Hans Wilsdorf (pictured below) became obsessed with achieving what at the time was considered the holy grail of watchmaking—to make a highly precise chronometer wrist watch that was impervious to water, that was 'waterproof'. 

Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf and was not trying to create a waterproof watch for swimmers or people who might want to wear them in the bath or shower. The challenge was watches used to fail regularly as perspiration, dust and fine debris would make their way into the watch case and corrode the movement, by gunking-up the oils in the movement. 

Ironically, watchmaking pioneer, Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) once responded to King Lois XVI's request for him to make a perfect watch by saying: "Show me the perfect lubricant and I will show you the perfect watch."

Rolex Submarine

The Photos below feature a hermetic Rolex 'Submarine' watch made in 1922. Note, it's NOT named 'Submariner', but 'Submarine' as it was based upon the same principle as a Submarine hatch that would spin open and closed like a jar lid. It was called a 'Hermetic' watch as this new style of watch completely protected the entire movement, and notice, when it is sealed the watch winding crown, is hidden inside the watch. This case design was originally patented by Jean Finger in 1921, and Hans Wilsdorf later purchased the rights to the patent. 

1922 Rolex Submariner 

Think of a Hermetically sealed watch as being very similar to a jar lid (with a round glass aperture window) screwed on a jar. Once the lid is screwed into place, it forms an impervious barrier. No liquid can get in or out of the jar when the lid is securely screwed into place. (This, of course, is if you do not submerge the watch in deep water. At some point, without a gasket the case would fail and let water in). In many ways the Rolex Submarine was the great grandfather of the Rolex Submariner which Rolex would bring to life three decades later.

The Perpetual Oyster & The Mermaid

In a span of 5 years from 1926 to 1931, Rolex and Hans Wilsdorf would create and successfully patent, back-to-back, two major horological milestones, which would forever set enhance timekeeping and set Rolex apart; the Rolex Oyster waterproof watch-case known as 'The Oyster', and the Rolex Perpetual automatic mechanical Movement. In 1925, Rolex would also create and register their famous trademark logo of the Rolex five-point logo crown.

The Art-Deco era was a time of tremendous growth for Rolex, so much so, there are many art-deco DNA elements which remain today as part of their current design language—many of which remain in the Rolex Submariner.

The Rolex Oyster is perhaps the most revolutionary and profound development in watch history. The following patent application was filed by Hans Wilsdorf on behalf of Rolex in 1926:

How Does A Rolex Oyster Case Work?

The next photo perfectly illustrates how the original Rolex Oyster case was designed, constructed and assembled. Notice the fluted bezel, just like with the one on the previously examined 'hermetic' case, screws down onto the middle inner-case as does the case-back. The actual Oyster case itself was milled from a solid piece of gold, as all Rolex Oyster watch cases are to this day.

1926 Rolex Oyster Case 

For comparison sake, we see the image below that shows a 2010 Rolex Submariner and the notice the Oyster case construction is remarkably similar.

2010 Rolex Submariner Case 

The Evolution Of The Revolution

So what makes a Rolex Oyster an Oyster? The Rolex Oyster winding crown acts like a screw-on cap, or micro jar-lid, and has watertight gaskets in it. The best way to think of it is to imagine a submarine hatch that is threaded and has to be twisted or spun open or closed. The ROLEX OYSTER pictured below can be considered to be the grandfather of the Rolex Submariner.

"Like an Oyster, it can remain an unlimited time underwater without detriment to its parts." 

–Hans Wilsdorf

In 1926, at age 45, Hans Wilsdorf had successfully designed, manufactured and patented the waterproof Rolex Oyster. The challenge he faced was, how to communicate the value-proposition of such a product?

Hans came up with the idea of associating the fantasy of mermaids with the waterproof Rolex Oyster as seen in the 1926 Italian Rolex advertisement seen below.

1926 French Rolex Mermaid Oyster Poster

At the same time, as seen in the Rolex illustration below, Hans Wilsdorf came up with a brilliant idea to have authorized Rolex dealers display the waterproof Rolex Oysters watches, in fish-bowls, in their windows–with real fish swimming around the watch!!! This aquatic theme showcase, of course, gained the fascination of many naturally curious passerby's.

In 1927, Hans Wilsdorf learned about a swimmer named Mercedes Gleitze, who claimed to have been the first woman to swim all the way across the English channel. He also read about how another woman claimed to achieve the same feat soon after, in even less time. The second woman, soon afterward, admitted she lied. As a result, people pointed the finger at Mercedes Gleitze and accused her of lying as well. Mercedes was enraged by the accusation, and declared, that she would "vindicate" herself, by swimming the channel a second time.

Upon learning of this upcoming event, Hans Wilsdorf contacted Mercedes Gleitze and offered to hire her as the first Rolex ambassador to endorse the brand, by wearing a Rolex Oyster (strangely, on a necklace) on her vindication swim across the English Channel. The photo below was taken on the beach in France, as Mercedes dove into the water to begin her "vindication" swim. To learn all the details of the Mercedes Gleitze vindication swim, please click here.

The challenge with Mercedes Gleitze's "vindication" swim was that after 10 hours, she only made it about 4/5 of the way across the channel and had to be pulled-out since she almost froze to death. The vindication swim was not a complete success, but the Rolex Oyster, strapped around her neck, came out of the water in perfect working order. The photo below shows Mercedes Gleitze's actual Rolex Oyster which she wore around her neck, during her vindication swim.

1927 Rolex Oyster Introduction Advertorial

Hans Wilsdorf had a brilliant marketing mind, and he successfully capitalized on the public relations exposure generated by Mercedes Gleitze's vindication swim. Hans Wilsdorf finally found his Mermaid to showcase his Oyster!

The following Rolex advertorial ran on the cover of the London Daily Mail Newspaper on November 24, 1927, and it showcased the Rolex Oyster along with Mercedes Gleitze.

Rolex continued featuring Mercedes Gleitze as a brand ambassador through the 1930s as seen in the magazine ad below.

The Christmas 1927 Rolex magazine ad below shows the Mercedes Gleitze ad at the bottom of it, and Hans Wilsdorf was shrewdly going crazy with his marketing campaigns.

1928 Rolex Oyster Ad

Miss Evelyn Laye

The First Rolex Hotness

Mercedes Gleitze was a secretary and athlete, but had common looks. In 1928 Hans Wilsdorf decided to work with a top British actress from London named Evelyn Laye who is pictured below wearing a Rolex Oyster with her hand in a fish-tank. Evelyn Lay was considered at the time to be a beautiful woman, and she became the first gorgeous female Rolex model.

The ROLEX "OYSTER" ad below was published in Australia on December 15, 1928 and features Evelyn Laye.

1927 Rolex Oyster Introduction Brochure

The next two photos are from a Rolex Oyster brochure, and the first image depicts Hans Wilsdorf observing the Rolex advertorial (pictured above) which he placed in the London Daily Mail on November 24th, 1927.

1929 Rolex Oyster Ad

This is a fascinating Rolex magazine ad from 1929, which means Rolex had obviously already introduced their revolutionary "Oyster" waterproof case, but had not yet introduced their "Perpetual" automatic movement, which came along in 1931. 

The next highly stylized Rolex magazine ad is steeped in art deco design language and features a beautiful mermaid.

The First Rolex Diving Watch

Panerai was an Italian company with a fascinating history, which became part of Rolex history in the mid-1930s. The photo below shows Giovanni Panerai (1825-1897) standing in front of his ’Orologeria Svizzera' watch store in Italy. The first store was established in 1860 on the historical bridge “Ponte delle Grazie” but had to be moved due to the removal of the shophouses in 1876.

The next photo of the Orologeria Svizzera seen below was taken around 1934. Notice it has signs in the window for ROLEX, LONGINES, and Vacheron & Constantin. It's interesting to note there are primarily wristwatches and desk clocks in the window and no pocket watches. This photo appears courtesey of Maria Teresa Panerai.

As mentioned above, Giovanni Panerai  (1825-1897), opened up his 'Orologeria Svizzera' watch shop in 1860. The shop was passed on to his son Leon Francesco Panerai (1851-1918). The shop then went to Leon’s son Guido Panerai. When Guido married in the early 20th century, he took over his wife’s family business, a mechanical workshop, and founded Guido Panerai e Figlio. Guido died in 1934 and his son Guiseppe Panerai (1903-1972) took over the business.

By the mid-1930s, Panerai had grown into a huge contractor for the Italian Royal Navy for many different types of technical equipment. The Royal Italian Navy was developing special underwater demolition vehicles and their divers needed special instruments (compasses and depth gauges) and waterproof wristwatches. Since Panerai wasn’t a watch manufacturer, Giuseppe Panerai used his great relationship as a successful Rolex retailer and asked Rolex to supply a special waterproof watch for divers who were known as 'Frogmen'. In October 1935, Rolex sent an oversized Rolex Oyster Ref. 2533 with a case made of 9ct gold to Florence. This watch was based upon a 47mm Rolex Oyster pocket watch that had lugs soldered on to make it wearable on a strap. The reciept for the Rolex Reference 2533 is pictured below.

The history of Panerai watches and Rolex is a fascinating one which I have chronicled in great detail both on as well as The 47MM Panerai Reference 3646 pictured below is perhaps the most fascinating Rolex made Panerai which really represents Rolex's first attempt at making a dedicated Rolex Oyster waterproof diving tool watch. 

This art deco masterpiece was made by Rolex for Panerai in the mid 1940s and features a generic Rolex patented Error Proof Radium dial which is steeped in timeless art-deco design language. Basically, the Rolex 3646 pictured below can be considered to be the father of The Rolex Submariner, which I will go more into detail about later in this story.

The photo above shows a Rolex Made Panerai Reference 3646, and the photo below shows Rolex's all-new 2020 Submariner. Notice they both feature the 'art deco' upside-down lumed pyramid at 12 O'Clock, and rectangular markers at 3, 6 & 9.

The First Submariners

Rolex made the Submariner model as an homage to two  legendary explorers who were both depth record setting submariners. First was French explorer, Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau as well as Swiss explorer Captain Jacques Piccard. 

After World War II ended, the economies of Europe and the western world began booming and Rolex's sales followed suit. A fascinating Rolex Director from Geneva, Switzerland named Rene-Paul Jeanneret was one of Hans Wilsdorf's right hand men and was also a sportsman and diving enthusiast. Jeanneret was fascinated with the life aquatic and was friends with many leading deep sea divers and submariners. In the 1940s Submarine captains were considered to be the astronauts of their time.

In 1948 Rolex published the following Magazine ad in France which congratulated Adolfo Vanni for setting for setting the World Depth Record @ 1066 feet (325 Meters):

"At the greatest depths and at the highest pressures, my Rolex Oyster watch never left me, and for many years she has been indicating the exact hour to the second, as accurately it she did the first day." 

—Adolfo Vanni (1948)

This Rolex ad is so profound on so many different levels. First, notice Adolfo Vanni was a hardhat diver, meaning he was not using Scuba. 1066 feet of depth is crazy deep!!! When translated from French to English the Rolex ad says: 

"During the repeated dives that allowed him to reach the extraordinary depth of 325 meters (October 1948), the famous diver Adolfo Vanni never separated from his Rolex oyster wristwatch."

The Two Jacques

Rolex Director, Rene-Paul Jeanneret was obsessed with leveraging Rolex's waterproof prowess by taking things to a new depth, and along with a dedicated team of Rolex watchmakers in Geneva pushed the envelope of their development of Rolex specialty diving watches.

Auguste Piccard and his son Jacques Piccard left their French F.N.R.S. III project and decided to build their own Submarine which they named The Bathyscaphe Trieste. At the same time Rolex built their own special prototype diving watch designed to test the boundaries of how far a Rolex could descend into the deep sea without failure.

Rolex DEEP-SEA Special 

1953 Prototype

The photo below shows Jacques Piccard in 1953 in Trieste, Italy, holding and examining a Rolex DEEP-SEA Special prototype while standing in front of his Bathyscaphe Trieste. Bathyscaphe is a greek word for "DEEP BOAT." When broken down in Greek bathos means deep, and scaphos means ship. It is important to note the Bathyscaphe was a Submersible not a Submarine, thus it was able to dive 30 times deeper than a Submarine.

Jacques Piccard pictured above in 1953 with Rolex DEEP-SEA Special Prototype

In September of 1953, Auguste Piccard and his son Jacques Piccard (pictured below) set a new world depth record at 10,392 Feet (3,167 Meters) with their new submersible off the coast of Ponza Island in Trieste, ItalyPiccard's Bathyscaphe Trieste had a Rolex DEEP-SEA prototype attached to the outside of the submersible which came back up to the surface in perfect working order, or as a vintage Timex ad once said, "It took a licking and kept on ticking."

The photo below shows Jacques Piccard with his father and fellow legendary explorer, Auguste Piccard after they successfully set the all-time depth record in September of 1953. Auguste Piccard is in the center of the photo and he is wearing his trademark Beret, and his son Jacques Piccard is standing behind him, holding his arm. It is fascinating to note Auguste Piccard was 70 years old when this photo was taken in 1953.

The photo below is of the actual 1953 Rolex DEEP-SEA Prototype that was attached to the observation chamber of the Bathyscaphe Trieste which is pictured above. This super-high resolution version of the 1953 Rolex DEEP-SEA Special is an exclusive photo that appears courtesy of Christies Auction House, who auctioned it in 2005 for around a quarter of a million dollars.

Rolex commemorated the record set in late 1953 by publishing the following Rolex ad in National Geographic in 1954. Notice the illustration features a watch that is an amalgamation of the Deep Sea Special with a Rolex turn-o-graph style bezel insert, and at the same time the add introduces the 'Submariner' model to the world.

F.N.R.S. Dives Deeper

On February 15, 1954, The French Navy commandeered the French F.N.R.S. III (the Piccard's had abandoned) down to 13,290 Feet (4,050 meters) 160 miles off Dakar, Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean, beating Piccard's 1953 record, set by the Trieste, by 900 meters to (the floor of the Mediterranean off Naples, 10,392 feet (3,167 m). 

The F.N.R.S. III Submersible in 1953

Keep in mind they took the F.N.R.S III Submersible down twenty-five times deeper than a standard submarine could go at that time in history. 

Jacques-Yves Couteau

The Living Manifestation of the Rolex Submariner

It is a fact Jacque-Yves Cousteau worked with Rolex on the original Submariner, which I learned from former Rolex U.S.A. executive, T. Walker Lloyd. Jacques-Yves Cousteau was close friends with Rolex Geneva Director, Rene-Paul Jeanneret. 

From all my deep research I would argue the Rolex Submariner was inspired by and named after Jacques-Yves Cousteau and here is why: Before World War II occurred, legendary Swiss Physicist August Piccard had begun working on his first bathyscaphe design which is pictured below.

The photo below of the French Naval GRS team, shot in 1947 shows Jacques-Yves Cousteau on the far left, Destroyer Quartermaster Georges, Philippe Tailliez, Destroyer Master Pinard, Frederic Dumas and Second Master Morandiere aboard the L'Elie Monnier as they prepare to dispatch the French FNRS2 Bathyscaphe Submersible (pictured above) for Professor Auguste Piccard.

The photo below shows Jacques-Yves Cousteau with Swiss Physicist Auguste Piccard in 1948, in front of the Bathyscaphe F.N.R.S II Submarine which Piccard designed. Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau referred to the The F.N.R.S. II as the "Original Deep-Boat." 

Auguste Piccard & Jacques-Yves Cousteau in 1948 
in front of the Bathyscaphe F.N.R.S. II

At the same time in 1953 Jacques Piccard was setting the world depth record with the Rolex Deep Sea Special attached to the outside of this Bathyscaphe Trieste submersible, Jaques-Yves Cousteau was testing Rolex Submariner Prototypes for Rolex in the Mediterranean.

 The Silent World

Jacques Yves-Cousteau is considered to be the father of Scuba Diving and modern underwater exploration, and he worked with Rolex in the early 1950s to develop the Rolex Submariner as seen on his wrist below in 1953. 

I believe Rolex named the Submariner as an homage to Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Jacques-Yves Cousteau was close friends with Rolex Director, Rene-Paul Jeanneret, who he worked with on the development of the Rolex 'Submariner' Diving Watch. I believe Rolex named the Submariner as a tribute to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and I believe "Submariner" was intended to mean, "Mariner who explores below (Sub) the Sea, or pilots a Submarine". 

It is a important to also take into consideration in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Submarines were a huge deal. All these amazing Submarine events occurred long before President Eisenhower established NASA in 1958. Captain Cousteau was as close as the world came to a real Buck Rogers in the 21st Century... 

Jacques-Yves was instrumental in the development of the Rolex Submariner, and Jean-Michel and I discussed the image below taken in 1953 when his father was testing Rolex Submariner prototypes with his team aboard the Calypso in the Mediterranean.

The close up photo above of Jacques-Yves Cousteau shows him wearing an early Rolex Submariner with pencil hands that looks like the similar vintage model seen below.

The document below confirms Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his team were testing Rolex Submariner prototypes in early 1953.

1958 Rolex Submariner Brochure

This 1958 Rolex Submariner brochure features the Reference 6536 and 6538, and the most exciting detail may be on the back page as seen on the back page.

Notice at the end of the last paragraph in the section on the left with white background the second to last words says "The SUBMARINER is a strong and reliable wrist-watch the importance of which has already been recognized by those concerned in sea-going or sub-marine activities." What is significant about sub-marine'? There has always been a debate about whether Submariner was pronounced Submeriner, or Sub-mariner? My take is that according to this brochure that back in 1958 it was pronounced Sub-Marin-ER. Also, on the cover of the brochure, as seen above it says "A watch specially designed for all SUBMARINE and aquatic activities." This would ad further support to the fact the proper name is pronounced Rolex Sub-marine-er, not Sub-marin-er!!!

(Update: Nick Gould sent me a message and pointed out: "Did you noice the brochure shows a 6536 with no depth rating? Also, the brochure says the 6538 was the more heavy duty version. Makes sense as the 6538 has a big crown.")

"The sea, once it casts its spell, 
holds one in its net of wonder forever." 

—Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Jacques-Yves Cousteau's film, The Silent World won the Academy Award in 1957 for Best Documentary, which is the same year the vintage Rolex Submariner magazine ad seen below is from.

Revolutionary, Fidel Castro is pictured below wearing his Submariner in 1959, which he wore when he overthrew Batista to take Cuba.

Return of the Trieste

This record was not broken until Piccard had sold his Trieste Submersible to the U.S. Navy in 1958, and on January 23,  1960, it set the all-time depth record in the Challenger Deep, off the coast of Guam when she dove to 10,911 meters (35,797 ft), in the deepest known part of the Earth's oceans, the Challenger Deep, in the Mariana Trench near Guam in the Pacific. 

The Challenger Deep

The following diagram gives a fascinating perspective on the Mariana Trench and the Challenger Deep. It is profound to note that the Challenger Deep at more than 35,000 feet is deeper than the highest point on earth which is Mt. Everest at just over 29,000 feet.

All Time DEEP-SEA Depth Record 
Trieste Descends To 36,070 Feet
January 23, 1960

The photo below shows the Bathyscaphe Trieste out in the Pacific Ocean as she prepares to set the all-time depth record of 36,070 Feet on January 23, 1960.

And of course the Trieste once again had another Rolex Deep Sea Special prototype attached to the outside of the submersible which came back up to the surface in flawless working order. Rolex produced the AMAZING documentary seen below that tells this incredible story:

The 1960 Rolex DEEP-SEA Special Prototype

The following Rolex Magazine appeared in the international version of Life Magazine on October 24, 1960, and it perfectly contextualizes the way Rolex saw this achievement at the time. You can click on the image to make it easier to read the text.

A Rolex DEEP-SEA Special prototype similar to one that was attached to the outside of the Bathyscaphe Trieste in 1960 is pictured below.

President Eisenhower is pictured above congratulating Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh at the White House in Washington D.C.

As we see in the picture below, President Eisenhower as the first U.S. President to wear a Rolex.

The press release below tells the story of the actual Rolex DEEP-SEA Special Prototype watch, and how it ended up in the Smithsonian Institute.

The photo below shows Sir Edmund Hillary with Jacques Piccard, who both set world records in 1953. Sir Edmund Hillary was the first to summit Mount Everest on foot, and Piccard set the all time depth record in 1953 with his bathyscaphe Trieste of Ponza Island in Italy.

Elvis Presley

The popularity of the Rolex Submariner carried over into popular culture with actors like Elvis Presley as seen below in 1962 on the set of Girls, Girls, Girls wearing his Submariner 'Big Crown' on a leather strap.

James Bond

Sean Connery also wore a Big Crown Rolex Submariner [Reference 6538] in the early James Bond movies like Dr. No which debuted in 1962.

Sean Connery returned in Goldfinger in 1964 still sporting his big crown Submariner as seen in the photos below.

In the 1964 movie Goldfinger, Sean Connery as James Bond wears a Rolex Submariner [Reference 6538] as pictured below, on a Regimental belt strap. 

In Goldfinger Sean Connery is in an early action scene were he is wearing his Submariner over his SCUBA suit as seen below.

If we fast-forward a decade to 1964, we begin to understand mans fascination with the life aquatic, which happened to be the same time Flipper debuted on TV. At the time, many people, including AndrĂ© Heiniger who was Rolex's CEO believed humans would soon be building cities under the sea, as this 1964 Rolex ad discusses at the end of Number 4:

Below we see a 1966 Rolex Submariner magazine advertisement that talks about how Rolex came up with the Submariner and how it was designed for seagoing men.

The next Rolex ad seen below is from 1968 and illustrates how focused Rolex was on undersea exploration.

The First Rolex Submariner

Pronounced: Suhb-muh-ree-ner

Have you ever wondered how and why Rolex ended up naming the Submariner model? Submariner is most commonly pronounced Suhb-mar-uh-ner, but it's original and proper pronunciation is Suhb-muh-ree-ner. Meaning the watch was designed for a Submarine Captain, NOT a Mariner who was Sub-par. I first recall learning this from NASA Mercury Astronaut and SEALAB Aquanaut, Scott Carpenter, (pictured below) and have been reminded/corrected about this mispronunciation several times by U.S, Navy SEALAB Aquanaut and mission leader, Bob Barth. 

"The Rolex Submariner & Rolex SEA-DWELLER have a cachet that is unmatched by any other watch. The Rolex brand is the most highly respected in my book. The Rolex Submariner was the preferred diving watch for U.S. NAVY SEALAB Divers." 

–Scott Carpenter

When I originally interviewed Scott Carpenter he mentioned he was inspired to become the first Astronaut/Aquanaut by Jacques-Yves Cousteau who he is pictured with below.

Scott Carpenter is pictured below in front of the U.S. Navy SEALAB II Habitat with fellow Aquanauts, and later in this story we will be taking a closer look at the significance of the SEALAB program.

U.S. Navy SEA-LAB Aquanauts: 
Bob Barth, Wilbur Eaton & Scott Carpenter
Team 1 Preparing To Dive Down To 
SEA-LAB 2 Habitat [August 28, 1965]

Below we see a 1967 Rolex Submariner magazine ad which was published during the U.S. Navy SEALAB program. This is the closest vintage magazine ad I am aware of Rolex advertising the Submariner in relation to a Submarine Captain. Notice the text in the ad reads:

"You're looking at the Rolex Submariner. For many years, it's been standard gear for SUBMARINERS, frogmen and all who make their living on the seas."

It's so ironic when you think about it that two different Jacques were each testing different Rolex prototype diving watches in the Mediterranean in 1953. Jacques-Yves Cousteau with his Submariner and Jacques Piccard with his DEEP-SEA Special...

was in the south of France as he was a sportsman and SCUBA diving enthusiast. His name was Rene-Paul Jeanneret, and at a chance meeting he met Jacques-Yves Cousteau and the two hit if off and became fast friends.

Return To The

Challenger Deep

This major historical Rolex record has not been broken to this day, but director and explorer James Cameron basically matched it in 2012, and of course his submersible named the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER had a new generation of Rolex DEEP-SEA prototype attached to the outside which came back to the surface in one piece. I covered this amazing event live on Jake's Rolex World as it unfolded out in the south Pacific ocean.


2012 Rolex DEEP SEA Challenge

In this photo from Rolex, we see the two generations of special Rolex DEEP SEA watches that both traveled down to the deepest known part of the ocean, both setting all-time depth records. The first is the 1960 Rolex DEEP SEA SPECIAL which dove down attached to the outside of the U.S. Navy Bathyscaphe Trieste, and the second one also dove down into the Challenger Deep in 2012 attached to James Cameron's DEEPSEA CHALLENGER

Despite the fact it took Rolex 62 years to return to the deepest part of the ocean floor on earth, Rolex remains the undisputed King Of The DEEP...

Rene-Paul Jeanneret was Hans Wilsdorf's right-hand-man at Rolex and was largely the architect of the concept of specialized professional 'tool' watches, which included the Rolex Explorer, GMT-Master, and Submariner. Jeanneret basically developed the Submariner with Cousteau's assistance which included the Calypso ship crew, including many divers testing Rolex Submariner Prototypes in 1953. 

There are so many adjectives that come to mind when I think about THE Rolex Submariner including but not limited to timeless, ultimate, archetype, only, real, criterion, standard, sporty, vault-like, yardstick, reference, yardstick, norm, pattern, iconic, benchmark...

This is The Rolex Submariner is in many ways otherworldly, almost as if it were designed by alien's. 

Celebrities Wearing Rolex

Queen Latifah

American Rapper, singer, songwriter, actress, producer.

Al Pacino

Academy Award Winning Actor for Best Actor

Pictured below winning Academy Award for Best Picture Performance in Scent of a Woman.

Jason Statham


Will Smith


Denzel Washington

Academy Award Winning Actor for Best Actor


Jamie Fox

Academy Award Winner for Best Actor

I remember once I noticed a man wearing a Submariner and I said, 'Nice Submariner!' He looked at me with a look of complete confusion. I pointed to his wrist and repeated, 'Nice Submariner! Your watch...' He responded by saying, "No. It's a Rolex!" To this day I don't know if this was an indictment of his lack of awareness or some kind of profound declarative statement.