It’s been a big week for Rolex fans.
Ahead of their 2020 model launch, speculation was rife as to what the brand was going to bring to the table this year. ‘Conspiracies‘ and bold predictions abounded; hype was at a predictably stratospheric level; fans were restless.
September 1st came and Rolex had the floor, announcing a number of updates and new offerings. While the Datejust, Oyster Perpetual and Sky-Dweller got some love, the focus of the launch was squarely on the Submariner, arguably Rolex’s most iconic model and one of the most consistently popular timepieces of all time.
In a big move for the conservative brand, Rolex has overhauled the staid diver’s watch: slightly bigger with a more shapely design and an updated movement, the new ‘Sub’ is also available in a number of new colour combinations, most notably the black dial / green bezel colourway that’s already been dubbed the ‘Hermit’.
However, it’s very much a case of ‘out with the old, in with the new’ as news that Rolex is discontinuing one of their most unexpectedly popular models of all time has almost overshadowed yesterday’s announcements. What’s the controversy? The Rolex Submariner 116610LV, better known as the ‘Hulk’ thanks to its green dial and bezel, is being discontinued by the Swiss horological titan in 2020 – and the aftermarket has already gone bananas.
Belgium-based watch fan @watchrookiee shared on their Instagram Story evidence of how Chrono24, the world’s biggest watch aftermarket, has reacted to the Hulk discontinuation: interest in the ‘Hulk’ has skyrocketed, as have prices.
The Hulk was first released in 2010, and was originally considered a cheaper alternative to the much more desirable black dial / green bezel ‘Kermit’ (which Rolex has re-released in 2020). The double green initially failed to inspire Rolex fans, but in the years since the Hulk has steadily become a genuine Rolex ‘grail’ alongside other models like the GMT-Master II ‘Pepsi’ and ‘Batman’ or the Daytona ‘Paul Newman’ and ‘John Player Special’.
Prices have remained reasonably steady, hovering around 17,000 USD (~23,000 AUD) for a mint-condition Hulk Submariner Date, but since yesterday’s confirmation of the Hulk’s demise, prices have steadily increased. At the moment, 23,000 AUD would get you a preowned Hulk down the lower end, with unworn Hulks now fetching an even higher premium. It’s early days yet but interest in the Hulk is likely to only grow as the news of its discontinuation makes the rounds.
Conversely, now that the ‘Hermit’ will be back in boutiques, the similar ‘Kermit’ might see its prices take a slight dip. (Indeed it’s called the ‘Hermit’ because it combines the heftiness of the ‘Hulk’ with the colourscheme of the ‘Kermit’.) That said, the original ‘Kermit’ had an aluminium bezel while the 2020 release has a Cerachrom bezel, and the older ‘Kermit’ is slightly smaller at 40mm. They are small differences but Rolex fans are incredibly discerning – again, time will tell.
Perhaps the ‘Hulk’ has been discontinued because the updated, larger Submariner might eventually be given the green dial treatment. Rolex tends to save the colour green for special occasions – being that Rolex pulled out of Baselworld, maybe they’re saving a new ‘Hulk’ for another convention?
One thing is clear: current ‘Hulk’ owners are feeling pretty good right about now.