There’s no question: The Rolex Submariner is one of the most iconic watches of all time. However, its ever-increasing popularity, poor availability, and current market prices are worrisome to many watch enthusiasts. Those who want to buy Rolex’s quintessential diving watch in 2023 should be prepared to dig deep into their coffers as market prices have never been higher. Therefore, you may be asking yourself if you can still justify adding the Rolex Submariner to your collection if you don’t already own this particular timepiece. My answer is yes. Why? Read on to find out my three reasons to take the plunge!
Reason 1: Timeless Design and Iconic Looks
One of the biggest selling points of the Rolex Submariner has always been its classic, timeless design. Rolex knows better than any other watch brand how to improve and modernize legendary models over time while still preserving their quintessence. So, what differences can you expect between a vintage reference and a modern Submariner? When comparing five-digit references with six-digit ones, you’ll actually find several significant distinctions. The bezel on the vintage variants, for example, is still made of aluminum rather than scratch-resistant ceramic. Additionally, the vintage bracelet and clasp do not quite embody the perfection of newer models. Finally, and rather understandably, the technology powering older references does not measure up to the latest edition of this iconic diving watch.
Despite all this, the unmistakable core design of the Rolex Submariner has remained virtually untouched. Even in the latest iteration of this legendary diving watch, one still recognizes the same timepiece that made history in 1954 and became world-famous for sites role in the first James Bond films starring Sean Connery. In my opinion, the Submariner is a true style icon: It is a watch that suits every outfit, every occasion, and everyone. It will no doubt remain in fashion for another fifty years. There are certainly more exciting and, objectively, more technically advanced diving watches than the Rolex Submariner, but none is as timeless and iconic. It is, in my opinion, a genuine watch to last a lifetime. If you have fallen in love with the Sub’s design and can forgo some technical intricacies, you should have no problems looking for an older and hence somewhat less expensive reference.
Reason 2: Comfort and Haptics
By no means have I held every watch out there in my hands. Nevertheless, throughout my three-year “career” as a watch collector and author, I have had the privilege of seeing, touching, and trying on countless watches from a wide variety of manufacturers. I’ve been awestruck by the beautifully ornamented movements from A. Lange & Söhne as well as Audemars Piguet. And if you’ve ever had the pleasure to see the dégradé dial of a Patek Philippe Nautilus in the flesh, you can well imagine how my watch-lover’s heart went aflutter when I laid eyes on this timepiece for the first time.
And yet: when it comes to haptics and the general feel of a watch, no other luxury watch brand impresses me more than Rolex. The haptic experience of a Rolex timepiece is truly extraordinary and a feast for the sense. This applies overall to Rolex’s modern watches, but especially to the Submariner, which famously boasts a handful of special features. The exclusive “Glidelock”-clasp – which allows the wearer to shorten or lengthen the bracelet by several centimeters easily – is, in my opinion, the best out there on the market. While most of us won’t usually take advantage of the wetsuit extension feature during our day-to-day routines, the Glidelock feels perfect and is extremely fun to use. In fact, I often catch myself operating the Glidelock extension system or simply opening and closing the clasp throughout the day just to hear that satisfying “click.” In terms of optics, haptics, and quality, I can only describe the clasp system in one way: perfect. However, the absolute highlight of the Rolex Submariner is the diving bezel: This, too, is the best in the entire watch industry. You can feel – and hear – the exceptional quality in every single one of the 120 clicks. No other diving bezel feels so perfect and gives such great acoustic feedback. And let’s be honest: We don’t really need to wear watches nowadays, what with the proliferation of smartphones that can tell us the time down to the very second. For me, wearing a luxury watch is not about necessity but, above all, about emotionality. Rolex succeeds better than almost any other brand in channeling these emotions through the robust quality, perfect feel, and incomparable wearing experience of all their watches.
Reason 3: It isn’t getting any more affordable
Objectively speaking, there’s no reason to buy a Rolex Submariner at almost double its list price – that’s where the current market price for this diving watch is in 2023. Today, you can find a handful of diving watches that are not only more affordable but also better quality. But if the Submariner is your dream watch, objectivity will not do much in keeping you from wanting one. As I’ve said before, luxury watches are all about emotions. If you wait for prices to go down, you may actually see prices climb even higher and your dream watch disappear out of reach forever. I’d like to share a personal story on this subject: A good friend of mine and fellow watch enthusiast had his sights set on a white Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 in July 2020. He was even ready to drive over 100 miles to buy the watch on his birthday but then suddenly changed his mind. After taking some time to consider the purchase, he concluded that he wasn’t willing to pay a premium of over $1,000. We even had a long phone conversation as watch enthusiasts and agreed that the watch wasn’t worth the extra price. While that may still be objectively true, we now both look back today and believe it would have been better to have paid the surcharge and bought the watch then. Just two months after my friend decided against his dream watch, the Oyster Perpetual 39 was replaced by the 41, and the white dial was removed from the collection. To this day, the white dial is a very rare find. Thus, compared to today’s prices, the watch was a real bargain back in 2020. We still talk about that timepiece, kicking ourselves that he didn’t take the plunge. Even as I write this, it still pains me a bit to think about it. If the Rolex Submariner is your dream watch and you have the financial means, don’t hesitate to buy one in 2023. I don’t anticipate Rolex watches to drop abruptly in value anytime soon. And even if prices do ultimately go down for some reason, you’ll already be wearing the timeless icon you’ve always dreamed of.