3 aligned Rolex Submariner watches are shown with a black background.
Gifts for Men

Buying Guide to the Rolex Submariner: Prices and Popular Models

Monday, November 6th, 2023

A Legacy Born in the 1950s 

The legendary Rolex Submariner, introduced in the 1950s, was a pioneering dive watch that merged utility and luxury. Born from Rolex’s vision to blend prestige with purpose, the Submariner represented a groundbreaking achievement – a rugged professional tool watch endowed with refined styling. 

Designed for divers, the Submariner delivered revolutionary water resistance to 330 feet, allowing it to withstand deep sea conditions while retaining refined aesthetics for everyday wear. Its patented rotatable bezel enabled divers to track immersion times safely, soon becoming an essential feature of serious dive watches. 

The Submariner’s robust functionality combined with its sporty elegance made it both a diving instrument and fashionable status symbol. Its classic style has inspired countless other luxury sport watches over the decades. With timeless design, durability, and Swiss precision, the iconic Submariner remains one of Rolex’s greatest masterstrokes, epitomizing their devotion to bridging purpose and prestige. 

Why the Submariner Stands Out  

The Submariner isn’t just famous in pop culture; it’s a symbol of Rolex’s relentless innovation and fine craftsmanship. This watch showcases the brand’s commitment to pushing watchmaking boundaries.

At its core, the Submariner boasts Rolex’s renowned in-house Caliber movements, renowned for precision and reliability. It’s crafted with materials like sturdy steel and advanced alloys such as 904L stainless steel and Oystersteel. These are chosen for their durability, corrosion resistance, and shine, perfect for the sea’s challenges.

Functionality drives the Submariner’s design. It’s more than a reliable tool meant to last for generations; it’s a finely crafted piece, made with the finest materials. Initially a diver’s watch, the Submariner has evolved into a stylish accessory and a coveted collector’s item.

The latest models feature innovations like Chromalight, a luminescent coating that ensures visibility in all lighting conditions. Rolex’s commitment to innovation keeps enhancing the Submariner, meeting the demands of modern wearers.

Moreover, Rolex champions sustainable manufacturing. Efforts to minimize the Submariner’s environmental impact include using renewable energy and recycled materials, ensuring eco-friendly yet top-quality craftsmanship.

For over fifty years, the Submariner has blended luxury with utility, prestige with purpose. Its fusion of design and engineering excellence cements its status as a timeless classic.

Pricing Guide to Popular Rolex Submariner References 

The Rolex Submariner is a watch that has transcended time, with various models each earning their own unique nicknames. Here’s a closer look at some of the most iconic Submariner models: 

Reference 6538 “Big Crown” (1950s):  

The James Bond Submariner, with its iconic vintage aesthetics, operates with the Caliber 1030 movement and is priced at approximately $80,000-$250,000. 

Reference 5510 “Big Crown” (1958) 

A vintage ad featuring the 5510 ref. no. Rolex Submariner, circa 1958

Sporting a glossy black dial, vintage acrylic bezel, and powered by the Caliber 1530 movement, this model fetches prices between $30,000-$120,000.  

Reference 5514 COMEX “COMEX” (1970s):  

The Rolex Comex with a black dial and bezel shown.

A special edition for COMEX divers with the original bracelet, it houses the Caliber 1520 movement along with the first iterations of the Helium Escape Valves and is valued at around $50,000-$100,000+. 

Reference 1680 “Red Sub” (1960s-1970s):  

A vintage Rolex Submariner ref. 1680 ad, circa 1970s, is shown, with a man surfing and the timepiece highlighted in the bottom right quadrant.

Featuring the red “Submariner” text, tropical patina, date function, and the Caliber 1575 movement, it’s priced around $15,000-$100,000. 

Reference 116610LV “Hulk” (2000s):  

Rolex Hulk with Green bezel and dial

The green dial and bezel beauty, enhanced with modern luminescence, runs on the Caliber 3135 movement and is priced at about $18,000-$30,000. 

Reference 126613LN “Bluesy” (2010s):  

Rolex Bluesy Submariner shown with a blue dial and bezel, as well as gold and silver two-tone bracelet. 

A blend of two-tone gold and steel with classy styling, it operates with the Caliber 3235 movement and has a price tag of roughly $12,500+.  

Reference 126610LV “Kermit” (2010s):  

Rolex Kermit is shown here with its silver bracelet, black dial, and green bezel.

Known for its vibrant green bezel and contemporary features, it’s powered by the Caliber 3235 movement and is valued at around $18,000+.  

Reference 126610LN “Ceramic” (2020s):  

The Rolex Ceramic Submariner is shown with a black dial and bezel, as well as the date to the 3 o clock position.

A modern black masterpiece with state-of-the-art technology, it utilizes the Caliber 3235 movement and is priced at around $15,500+. 

Reference 114060 “No Date” (2010s):  

Rolex No Date Submariner is shown with a silver bracelet, and black dial and bezel.

Celebrated for its simplicity and refined monochrome design, it’s driven by the Caliber 3130 movement and is available for about $11,500+. 

These models, each with their distinct attributes and eras of production, represent the rich legacy of the Rolex Submariner. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a budding enthusiast, there’s a Submariner model that speaks to every watch aficionado. 

Whether a mint-condition rarity or a battle-worn tool watch, every Rolex Submariner reference carries its own allure and place in the model’s rich seven-decade journey. For enthusiasts, the thrill lies not in just owning a Submariner, but in discovering the stories behind each reference number unlocking the time capsule of this diving legend

*Note: Prices are approximate and can vary based on specific features, conditions, and market demand.  

Newest Rolex Submariner Models   

Although 2023 has seen many new Rolex models, the 2020 version of the Submariner is still going strong.  

Ref. 124060 

The stainless steel 2020 Rolex Submariner with a black bezel is shown with a white background.

This stainless-steel Submariner with Caliber 3230 movement forgoes a date display for a symmetrical, vintage-inspired black dial and matching black bezel insert. Its classic proportions and simplified design provide versatile everyday wearability. $9,100. 

Ref. 126610LN 

The Rolex Submariner ref. 126610LN with a date on the right side of the face, with a black bezel is shown.

The stainless-steel Submariner with Caliber 3235 movement and redesigned case proportions. It features the signature black dial and bezel, now with a date aperture at 3 o’clock. $9.650 

Ref. 126610LV

 The green bezel on this Submariner ref. 126610LV has garnered it the nickname "Hulk".

Identical to the 126610LN in specifications but with a vibrant green dial and bezel, earning the “Hulk” nickname. Has a bold and sporty aesthetic, with a stand-out color scheme, featuring all the same amazing specs of a traditional Submariner. $9,100.  

Ref. 126613LB 

This 2020 Rolex Submariner watch in stainless steel and 18k yellow gold with a blue dial and blue/gold bezel.

A two-tone Rolex Submariner in stainless steel and 18k yellow gold with an elegant blue dial and blue/gold bezel. The striking contrast of materials is sure to make a statement. $18,695.  

Ref. 126613LN 

Two-tone steel and yellow gold Submariner with a black dial and Cerachrom bezel.

The two-tone steel and yellow gold Submariner with a classic black dial and Cerachrom bezel. $19,500.  

Ref. 126618LB 

Solid 18k yellow gold Submariner with a blue dial and bezel.

Crafted from solid 18k yellow gold, this precious metal Submariner features a sophisticated blue dial and bezel. $41,400. 

Ref. 126618LN 

All-18k yellow gold Submariner Ref. 126618LB with black dial and bezel accents, priced at $39,000.

The all-18k yellow gold counterpart to the Ref. 126618LB that instead pairs black dial and bezel accents. $39,000.  

Ref. 126619LB 

White gold Submariner with a vibrant blue dial and bezel.

Topping the range is the white gold Submariner with an eye-catching blue dial and bezel. $42,000. 

Buying Pre-Owned Submariners vs. New Edition 

Purchasing a new Submariner directly from Four Nines or in-store means immediate ownership without the wait. Pre-owned Submariners, while offering a lower entry price and a wide range of available options, come with their own considerations. Vintage enthusiasts often find their treasures in the pre-owned market. However, buying used may mean forgoing the factory warranty and facing uncertainties about the watch’s authenticity, condition, and potential servicing needs.

Choosing a new Submariner ensures a pristine start to your ownership journey. Conversely, a pre-owned watch, when expertly inspected and authenticated, can present significant value. The choice between new and pre-owned largely depends on individual preferences, including budget constraints, the necessity of warranty coverage, and the specific model desired.

Often, buying pre-owned is the only way to find certain models or editions, given Rolex’s controlled release of its timepieces. This makes pre-owned options more accessible, especially for those seeking collector’s items. For those new to the Submariner line, models from the early ’90s, like the Ref. 14060 introduced in 1990 as the successor to the 1962 Ref. 5513, might be an ideal entry point.

With the Submariner representing a significant portion of Rolex’s brand identity and sales, it’s evident that this iconic model will continue to be a focal point for the brand in the years ahead.