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Essential Classics: The Rolex Submariner

Watch snobs: your collection is incomplete without a Rolex Submariner. The Submariner is a classic among wristwatches, revered not only as a sport watch but also as an elegant personal accessory. While the watch rose to fame for its ground-breaking functionality, it soon became even more famous for the sporty good looks that make it beloved by mavericks of land and sea alike.


The first Rolex Submariner was introduced to the public in 1954 at the Swiss Watch Fair. Rene-Paul Jeanerret was the director of Rolex at the time, and under his guidance the brand began developing dedicated “tool-watches.” Tool-watches were specialized timepieces specifically engineered for individual tasks, and designed to withstand even the most difficult conditions. The Submariner was one of these timepieces, a watch designed with the unique needs of the deep sea diver in mind.

Before the Submariner was released to the public, an early version was put to the test in 1953. Auguste Piccard and his son Jacques attempted a world diving record while wearing Submariner prototypes. They claimed the record, and the Submariner survived the adventure 10,335’ below the ocean’s surface.

Over the years, Rolex has made only a few changes to the Submariner’s classic style. Innovations over the course of the watch’s 50+ year history include a helium escape valve, a 31-jewel movement, superluminova hour markers, and an even greater depth rating of 300 meters. The latest version was launched at BaselWorld 2012, and the Rolex Submariner continues to be one of the most recognizable timepieces on the planet.

In Popular Culture:

The list of famous names associated with the Submariner is endless. James Bond, Sean Connery, Steve McQueen, the British Royal Navy…just to name a few. Thor Heyerdahl, Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer, wore a Rolex Submariner during his famous 1970 sea expedition that proved ancient mariners could have crossed the Atlantic using the Canary Current. Jacques Cousteau – celebrated filmmaker, explorer, inventor, and author – also sported a Submariner, and may even have had a hand in its development.

Where To Buy:

Find your nearest official Rolex retailer on Rolex.com.


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