Few watches are more iconic than James Bond’s, Rolex Submariner.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner was introduced at the Basel Watch Fair in 1954. It was first intended for use as a sports diving watch with professional and military divers widely making use of it. During the 1960s, a time where items used in the military often influenced fashion, the ‘Submariner’ became a crowd favourite, and particularly a wealthy crowd favourite.
The original design featured a steel Oyster chain link, pencil styled watch hands and a steel case. The pencil hands would be switched out for the Mercedes watch hands, which became the standard. A specialised crown and strong case ensured the watch would be protected from water damage up to 300m. A small crown model and oversized crown model were in production for some time until the oversized crown became the preferred style.
The rounded shoulders were added post-1964 which gave the timepiece a smoother finish. The Swiss Chronometer, a certified precision standard movement, was included in the 2000s. The self-winding mechanism generates energy in the mainspring which allows time to be kept for several days without any movement. Radium was initially used for the watch hands and indices to give them their luminescence, this would later be changed to tritium when it became clear that humans and radium should not be in contact.
With the ’Submariner’ becoming a classic fashion icon there are probably not many divers that still use the timepiece, ranging now from $7,500 – $45,000. The ‘Submariner’ is a descendant of the original Rolex Oyster line that was the first waterproof watch in the world. Even though there is no existing ‘Oyster’ line in Rolex it is still used to refer to some of the products.