Oyster Perpetual Submariner
THE MOST POPULAR WATCH
If the Rolex Datejust is one of the most popular and highly collectable watches that withstood the test of time, than Rolex Submariner has to be one of the most iconic models that Rolex has produced. There is an old saying: "Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery", if that saying is true, than Rolex should be flattered by the sheer amount of Submariner imitations that are out on the market today. According to the experts, the demand and popularity of vintage Submariners is so high, that it also created a large counterfeit market. Regardless of whether you are purchasing a Rolex Submariner or any other luxury, vintage, highly collectible watch, a consultation with an expert is always a good idea.
THE FIRST SUBMARINER
Although no one can say for certain what the very first Rolex Submariner model was, experts and collectors have narrowed it down to two potential candidates: Rolex Submariner reference 6204 and Rolex Submariner reference 6200. The debate is still ongoing on the topic of which reference number of the two above came first, and the most knowledgeable of experts are 95% positive that the reference 6204 preceded the 6200. That may not make a lot of sense, and we understand, we were also confused at first, but after further research a few things became apparent. Rolex Submariner 6204 had an engraving on the verso that stated that the watch was produced in 1953, the serial numbers on the back of the case also predate the 1954 designation on the 6200 model. Some experts believe that another key proof of the fact that the 6204 model came first lies in the fact that the 6204 came with a standard winding crown, lacked the circle marker on the minute hand, and had significantly more primitive hand design as compared to the later models. Rolex Submariner 6204 also has a Submariner designation on the dial while reference 6200 doesn't. Some speculate that Rolex had to pull the “Submariner” designation on the second model produced because they lacked the complete rights to the name "Submariner". Rolex Submariner 6200 also had a different depth rating due to the "big crown". Although it is not designated on the dial, the big crown depth rating is 200 meters where the previous crown design was only rated to 100 meters.
COUSTEAU AND ROLEX
The Rolex Submariner was designed as one of the first tool watches available to the general public and it all started with Jacques- Yves Cousteau, the man who changed our knowledge of the ocean forever. Jacque- Yves Cousteau and Rene-Paul Jeanerrete, were extremely good friends through Jeanerrete's directorship in 1953 at Rolex Geneva. This close friendship lead to many improvements in the world of oceanography as well as in the world of luxury tool watch making. Rolex legend has it, that with Jeanerret's influence, Jacque Cousteau was the first man to test the advanced prototype model of the Rolex Submariner in 1954. The story and the evolution of the Submariner does not stop there, however. Later Rolex and the French diving company, COMEX, would come together and use the Submariner as the jumping off point in order to create the first diving watch with the helium escape valve that will become known as the Sea-Dweller, but that is another story.
ROLEX ON THE BIG SCREEN
Growing popularity of Rolex Submariner came with the spirit of exploration that enveloped the world during the 50's and the 60's. Scientists, explorers, and adventurers began actively pushing the boundaries of what is known thus creating the need for stylish, functional, and luxurious timepieces. During this adrenaline filled time shrouded in mystery of the unknown, Ian Fleming, the creator of the infamous 007, wrote the series of books that eventually grew into an extremely successful movie franchises.
BOTH THE AUTHOR AND THE SPY LOVED ROLEX
When Ian Fleming created the James Bond character, he specifically stated in his books that James Bond only wore Rolex. It is said that the author of the Bond novels wrote the character of James Bond as his own alter ego. So it comes as no surprise that the most famous spy character in history wore the same watch as his creator.
SEAN CONNERY, THE ROLEX WEARING SPY
However, it was not until Sean Connery appeared in Goldfinger that James Bond and Rolex became inseparable. In that film, Sean Connery appears sporting a Rolex Submariner 6538 on a Regimental Belt strap. Over the years a misconception has developed that James Bond wore his Rolex Submariner on a NATO strap. Rolex Historians as well as James Bond movie buffs agree that there has never been a James Bond film in which 007 wore a NATO strap.
MYSTERY MAKES FOR A GREAT ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN
Although there was never any direct affiliation between Rolex and the James Bond movie franchise, Rolex seemed to be aware of the 007 spy appeal. In 1965 Rolex produced an ad featuring a man's hand holding a glass with a Rolex Submariner 6538 on his wrist and a woman's hand gracefully reaching for his extravagant diving watch. The text of the ad says: "We invented the Submariner to work perfectly 660 feet under the sea. It seems to work pretty well at any level." It is not until one looks in the rightmost corner of the advertisement at the small print that a nod to James Bond is seen. The lower text proclaims: "The Rolex Submariner is a salty watch for divers of the Royal Navy. That beefed-up Oyster cases resists pressure down to 660 feet. You will find it in the cockpits of most ocean racers as hard-diving skippers beat down to Bermuda, Hobart, and the Fastnet Rock. How come it's seen so much where the wettest thing is a dry martini? Who knows. Maybe it's because the black dial goes so well with a black tie. Ask her, maybe she knows. When a man has a world in his hands, you expect to find a Rolex on his wrist." Through the power of suggestion this ads draws in its viewer and promises all the charisma, sophistication, and mystery in the world so long as a Rolex Submariner 6538 is worn.
However, not every Submariner is known as the "James Bond". In order to be considered a Rolex Submariner 6538 "James Bond", the watch has to have a black gloss dial, heavy case, bezel markings for the first 15 minutes, and a red triangle at the 12 position.
Rolex Submariner has an incredibly rich, complicated, and at times confusing history. To some degree, we can speculate that Rolex wanted it that way. Creating a mystery to spark the imagination of their customers, inspire romantic notion of travels and spy adventures, benefited the sales of this incredible luxury watch series. However, do not mistake this, potentially deliberately created mystique for unnecessary hype. The Submariner has no equal in the purpose that it serves. The rich history of the watch only adds to its value and allows us its owner to communicate strength, stability, and unwavering determination to overcome all odds in order to reach his ultimate goals. The Submariner is the watch for the adventurer in all of us, the explorer, the constantly curious, fearless, spy that lives deep with us.
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