/// Rolex Submariner: 10 Year Review
I received this watch as a retirement gift from the agency back in August of 2012, only to have to barter it for something to help me escape a hostile force just weeks later. It saved my life. After reacquiring it a month later, it has been with me ever since.
The Rolex Submariner is the most iconic wristwatch ever created, full stop. The company itself is 117 years old while the Submariner line of watches is 70.
Despite being in continuous production for almost 3/4 of a century, the very first Sub (ref. 6204) looks strikingly similar to the most current version, the same with all the models in between.
Usually when a product looks almost the same through every iteration, it tends to be a negative factor as things need to change with the times and to keep it interesting. Unless that product’s design is timeless perfection from inception.
The Submariner is the epitome of timeless design, evolving through the years as if it is occurring naturally like it does in nature, not forced by corporate to attempt to please everyone by administering the latest trends and styles of the changing decades.
Considering the Submariner was (and still is) created to be used as a hard-wearing tool, its aesthetics is incredibly attractive yet subtle. This watch was made to be worn and used as you please and need.
Despite its 5 figure cost, it’s not a delicate dress watch you have to “baby”, it’s something you take with you as an integral part of the journey of life.
If barely worn and living mostly as a prized display on my desk, this Sub can last well over a hundred years. If worn daily but not carelessly so, as I have, it can be passed down to my future son in a couple of decades.
It has now been 10 years, of which it’s been on my wrist 95 percent of the time. Regardless of what I’m doing or where I’m going, the Submariner worked and looked the part. I’ve done everything with it on, including while sleeping, showering, exercising and love making.
There were stretches of time were it wouldn’t be removed from my wrist for months at a time.
The summer I received this watch ten years ago was also the year I began my life as a permanent nomad, living and traveling the world nonstop. Naturally my worldly possessions were limited to what I can carry on my person, in a small backpack and duffle bag.
Things wear out, break down, my taste changes or I find something better. My Submariner hasn’t worn out, broken down, still looks / functions outstandingly and I haven’t found something better – the same can’t be said about literally every other single physical possession I’ve had for the last 10 years.
For an inanimate object, that’s quite the special bond, like a wedding ring or a priceless ancestral heirloom.
After all, this Rolex sports watch is just a small machine made up of steel, gold, platinum, sapphire, rubies, ceramic and rubber. But using those materials, this little mechanical wrist device was painstakingly constructed to a human’s ability of near absolute perfection to be the best of its kind.
So it’s fitting for it to represent my decade of work of making this world and my country a better and safer place in the small ways that I was able to.
Contrary to popular belief, Rolex isn’t the “best” or most renowned watchmaker, there are a handful of watchmakers like Patek Philippe, A. Lange & Söhne and Vacheron Constantin that are on an even higher level. If Rolex is Mercedes, then these other brands are Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Ashton Martin.
And yet, I believe the Rolex Submariner Date 116610 is the “best” watch ever made, for general everyday wear that you can actually wear everyday.
I plan on wearing my Sub as my beater watch for at least another 10 years, of which hopefully by then I can earn another watch, except at that time I’ll be paying for it myself and also picking the brand and model.
As this Submariner wasn’t my choice – it’s an unwritten agency tradition to give out various Rolex “sport” model watches for retirement.
If I had to choose what watch to get next after I hand down the Sub to my future child – right now, it would be the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Reference 4500V in black. It retails for $22,500 but realistically the current market price is north of $40,000.
As for my specific Submariner at the time I received this in 2012, it was readily purchasable by going to an authorized dealer for $8,500. Today, as with the Vacheron, is almost impossible to buy at retail.
Unless you have a costly purchase history with a specific authorized dealer or are a celebrity, it will take months to years on a waiting list to get yours at retail price. Today my Sub Reference 116610LN is $8,950 retail, but goes for about $13,000… used.
So if I bought this 10 years ago, wore it almost everyday enjoying it while compounding wear and tear, I can sell it today for thousands of dollars in profit. And because of the Submariner’s ubiquitousness and demand, these things are highly liquid, easy to sell.
Against market theory, this luxury product should be a liability and yet it has acted like an investment asset over the years… a lucratively appreciating asset.
I don’t plan on ever selling my watch but it’s a remarkable factor how a wristwatch can be an investment that you can use and enjoy while the value of it goes up and stays up like a bluechip stock.
Many owners of Submariners and other Rolex sport models “baby” their watches and only wear them for special occasions. To each his own but these types of watches are made for hard and daily active use.
I’m not careless with this watch but I am carefree due to how robust and finely this thing is constructed. I can wear it comfortably as an extension of my hand.
Rolex uses their own proprietary steel (904L), which is actually visually and physically noticeably different than other stainless steels. It has special sheen to it and is soft to the touch, for metal anyways.
However, there are countless scratches and marks all over the steel bracelet and case while retaining its unique luster. But this 904L alloy ages gracefully like full grain leather. I would never polish away the stories “inscribed” throughout the watch.
The sapphire crystal and cerachrom (Rolex’s ceramic blend) bezel is still legitimately flawless, with not a single scratch – it’s as if it was just unboxed.
That is, except for the protruding sapphire cyclops (date magnifier lens on top of the crystal). It has a deep line of circular abrasions that was caused by a motorcycle accident in central Vietnam.
Another motorcyclist ran a red light and struck me on the side, throwing me off the bike. It was raining hard and from what I can recollect, I slid on the street on my front with my right hand on my chest. My hand was dragged on the wet street with my body weight on top of it with the watch being the main contact point to my right arm (and rest of the body) and to the street.
Fortunately I was wearing a rain jacket and sweater, of which both had the cuff over the watch. So it took the blunt of the abrasions but because the cyclops lens protrudes from the watch, it caused it to rip through the 2 pieces of clothing as it met the street surface.
The bike was nearly totaled, I broke a pinky, wrist and elbow. The helmet was cracked through-and-through down the middle. The watch suffered some scratches but kept on ticking while I laid there bleeding.
The Rolex Submariner Date is the most hyped, copied, counterfeited and sought after wristwatch in horology history. After 70 years, it’s all well earned because as just a time keeping machine, it was, is and will continue to be a marvel of human invention.