The Rolex Submariner is perhaps the most popular watch Rolex has ever made. It has become the standard design for almost all divers watches, and its popularity has only grown since it was introduced. Over the years Rolex has made a number of small adjustments to the Submariner, and in this post we will focus on a few of the changes from a 1990s era 16610 to the most up to date model, the 116610.
The most commonly referenced update is the bezel. Previous Rolex Submariners, including the 16610, have an aluminum inset bezel, and the 116610 was updated with a ceramic bezel. While the ceramic bezel is almost objectively prettier, and much more scratch resistant, the aluminum bezel is far less expensive to replace and a sharp impact could potentially shatter the ceramic. Another point that vintage watch lovers will point out is that the aluminum can develop a very unique patina over time, the ceramic seemingly does not.
Another major change Rolex made was the bracelet and clasp. Previous model Submariners had hollow links, an option for micro adjustments on the clasp requiring the proper tools to change the size, and flip out extension link to extend the bracelet size to fit over a divers suit. The 116610, however, has all solid links, and the new Rolex Glidelock bracelet system, which allows one to easily change the bracelet size without the need for any tools. While I find it hard to say that the new system is not superior, many do prefer the older, classic Rolex, bracelet.
Finally, you have the size. Rolex lists both models as 40mm in size, but the 116610 wears much larger. The lugs and shoulders around the case are thicker than in older versions, as are the protectors surrounding the crown. To some this is a welcome improvement, and yet others still opt for the smaller look of the 16610. Personal wrist size of course being a major factor.
All in, you cant possibly go wrong with either version, and all model Rolex Submariners carry a very significant value on the secondary market. We have purchased countless Submariners over the years, and look forward to seeing many more, both new and old.
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