Rolex Submariner Date: Hands-On Review [116613LB]

Rolex held in hand - Submariner Date: Hands-On Review [116613LB]

Two-Tone Rolex Submariner Review

Hands-On Review: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date [116613LB]

Perhaps the most recognisable watch on the face of the planet – the Rolex Submariner is such a tremendously iconic and timeless design, from the biggest luxury watch brand in the world.

This Hands-On Review will focus on the two-tone edition [116613LB] Perpetual Submariner Date that you can buy from our shop [Here]

The two-tone Submariner [116613LB] with a blue dial offers both the toughness of the 904L stainless steel that Rolex uses and the prestige of a gold watch simultaneously packaged into just a single watch. It’s blue faced sunburst dial (a textured effect involving brushing the face in a radial pattern – as opposed to linear) contributes to the sophisticated feel of the watch and gives off some funky patterns under different lighting environments.

Rolex Submariner Date: Hands-On Review [116613LB]

History

Rolex never originally started out to become the most prestigious luxury watch brand in the history of the world; it has just been something that they have become, while making the most reliable and accurate watches that simply tell the time and nothing else (other than perhaps a chronograph or date function, or built for a very specific environment in mind).

The Submariner is a watch that people tend to gravitate towards once they believe they have attained success. It’s by no means an end of the line for a serious watch collection, but rather a signal that the beginning has just begun.

Origins

The Rolex Submariner started life in 1955 as a humble diver watch. It’s now so completely intertwined with dive watches because like so many other innovators, they may not have been the first to make something: but, they were the first to make something that worked, and worked well.

Previous attempts to make a divers watch that could be fully submerged under water for any considerable amount of time – failed! All the top brands at the time had water condensation on the inside of the watch face, from the moment the watch was immersed under water – not particularly inspiring confidence to prospect buyers.

Rolex Submariner Date: Hands-On Review [116613LB]

Rolesor

In 1983 the first 16613Rolesor‘ two-tone gold and steel Submariner was released (Rolesor watches first appearing from Rolex in the early 1930s). So the original 16613 is currently 33 years old and has been updated with the 116613 that shows no signs of stopping production. The fact that Rolesor Submariners are still today being manufactured talks buckets for a Rolex watch’s enduring value. They are certainly not going out of style anytime soon…

The Age of Ceramic

Ceramic bezels were first added to the white gold Sub in 2010 with a blue dial and have now been added to every other Sub available. Rolex has continued this trend and has recently announced the new Daytona’s with a black Cerachrom bezel.

Rolex Submariner Date: Hands-On Review [116613LB]

A Note on Copy-Cats

While the Submariner may be the most replicated watch of all time, there are a few things that copycats will not be able to copy anytime soon. Whether they be a £40 obvious fake or a £400 Swiss clone. These are:

  • The special stainless steel used.
  • The highly accurate and reliable precision engineered 3135 calibre movement that Rolex makes in-house that exceeds the COSC requirements.
  • A laser etched crown in the sapphire crystal above the 6 o’clock marker.
  • The same level of perfectionist obsession.

Rolex Submariner Date: Hands-On Review [116613LB]

Rolex is one of very few watch brands to manufacturer their stainless steel watches with the 904L alloy, which is overseen by their very own expert metallurgy department. It’s harder wearing, is resistant to strong reducing acids and has a reduced susceptibility to chloride induced stress corrosion cracking and pitting. Is this a great leap in metallurgical advancements? Not particularly.

The advantages of the 904L steel over the 316L are so astronomically minute that nobody else bothers to make watches out of it. (It’s a bit more scratch resistant and can be refinished like new more often because of its increased hardness). But this is Rolex we are talking about. They use this more expensive steel that requires new tooling equipment to work with – because every effort that they go through that competitors fail to do is to their advantage, and is what makes them so incredibly special. All these improvements that may seem small in isolation of each other, add up to a vastly more refined and sophisticated watch as an end result.

Casing Construction

The casing of the Rolex Submariner [116613LB] is exemplary. I challenge anyone to find a better constructed stainless steel watch for less than the price of a Submariner, or even considerably more – it’s realy that good. 

Watch facing right with bracelet and clasp in view - Rolex Submariner Date: Hands-On Review [116613LB]

It’s a watch that manages the troublesome art of balancing both its diving capabilities (it being water-resistant to 300m) and ability to be worn with a suit and tie. Just the right amount of brushed finishing that resists showing its age and polished segments to give it that sparkle.

Watch facing left with bracelet and clasp in view - Rolex Submariner Date: Hands-On Review [116613LB]

Rolex has also worked their magic with the difference between how big it looks in person, and its actual constructed dimensions. The Submariner is a watch that looks like it has a 42mm diameter despite it still being only 40mm wide, it’s bigger than life.

Strap and Clasp

When handling the Oyster bracelet it is immediately obvious that an incredibly long amount of thought and attention has been spent to make the most faultless solid strap possible. The attention to detail in the construction of a Rolex Oyster bracelet is exceptional. Outer links of stainless steel are brushed on the front and back, but polished on the edge to both wear well and be reflective enough to catch people’s attention. The centre solid gold links are polished to a mirror finish on the front but brushed the same as the stainless steel on the reverse. This polishing of just the centre links, acts similarly to the way in which gravity pulls down objects thrown upwards into the sky above the earth, pulling eyes towards the face of the watch. If both the gold and steel links had been polished; then, it would cease to be a proper dive watch, look too blingy and disrupt the harmony between the dial of the watch and its strap.

The clasp is robust and versatile; contained within it is Rolex’s patented Glidelock Extension System buckle, that allows for the length of the strap to be increased in 2mm increments up to 20mm, without the need for tools. Its mechanical clasp closes with a reassuring clicking sound that assures it won’t be falling off anytime soon. Which is just one part of why the Submariner is such a reliable watch – and so astronomically desirable.

Bezel

The bright blue ceramic Cerachrom bezel will fend off virtually all scratches during everyday wear – keeping it look like new for far longer than the previous aluminium ones of yesteryear. The colour will not fade with exposure to ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. And is also exceptionally corrosion resistant; which, can only be a good thing with this being a diving watch and all that.

The cut-out Arabic numerals and graduation indexes are all coated in yellow gold that gives an alluring yellow glow. The grip on the bezel is built of solid yellow gold, with a knurled edge to give excellent grip when underwater or with gloves on.

The bezel is unidirectional and turns with 120 clicks, and is solid without any play.

Some may lament the passing of the aluminium bezels in favour of the ceramic ones used today. As they will not build up a ‘patina’ over decades of use that are a demonstration to the experiences the watch has gone through. But Rolex is not in the industry of the preservation of watches.

Servicing

When watches are sent to Rolex or an independent party they will go about polishing and buffing the case and bracelet to make it look like new, take the entire watch apart, painstakingly cleaning and checking the entire watch and movement’s individual parts; replacing gaskets, the mainspring and the rotor axle if required.

Each part is then calibrated and has one of 6 different liquid lubricants applied, for the optimal running of the movement.

After this, the Submariner undergoes a dry pressure test, and if it passes – a wet one as well, to make sure the watch never leaks water on you and damage your precious timepiece.

The movement will finally be timed, and fully calibrated, in 5 or 6 different positions to maintain its timekeeping accuracy, and keep it going for many more years to come.

Dial

The Submariner Date’s [116613LB] dial is a vivid electric blue with a brushed sunburst texture: but yet, the dial has been polished sufficiently to reflect the back of the hour and minute hands. This delicate equilibrium between being brushed and conspicuous, or reflective and ostentatious has been expertly balanced for the best result possible.

Rolex Submariner Date: Hands-On Review [116613LB]

An additional example of this is the use of anti-reflective coatings on the sapphire crystal. Most manufacturers tend to apply this to both the interior and exterior sides of the crystal – Rolex have not for the Submariner!

Hand held Rolex Submariner Date [116613LB] review with face catching the light

As far as I can tell this would be down to two reasons:

  1. Having an anti-reflective coating on the external side of the sapphire crystal would eventually wear away over prolonged use, leading to a watch that will inevitably show signs of wear because the anti-reflective coating is softer than the sapphire crystal.
  2. The second reason Rolex may have only put an anti-reflective coating on the underside would be because they want the watch face to catch the light. Not enough that the dial’s hard to read, but enough of a glint to draw some attention to the watch.

Each hand is built from solid polished yellow gold, with a luminescent fill applied, and matches the gold bracelet, crown, and bezel.

The luminescent fill used is Rolex’s Chromalight that should last the night with a rated 8 hours of glow time

Being made from 18kt yellow gold means that they will not tarnish over time – meaning it will keep looking like new, but for longer.

The Chromalight hour markers are all circular and rimmed with applied yellow gold; with the exception of the 3-hour marker where the date window lives, the 6 and 9-hour markers that are rectangular, and an isosceles triangle at the 12. The different shapes being used make reading the time as robust as possible, with the fewest number of things that could go wrong. The rectangular indexes cut up what would be an endless circle of circles, into four manageable sections, that would otherwise blend into each other. The top triangle helping to orientate the watch in the dark (perhaps when under water) without the clues of the casing visible to see.

Movement

Underneath the case back of this ‘Rolesor’ two-tone Submariner is Rolex’s in-house 3135 movement. It has not only been certified a Chronometer (COSC); but, has also been tested by Rolex as a Superlative Chronometer after casing to meet their own incredibly strict precision requirement of +2/-2 seconds per day

Rolex Submariner Date: Hands-On Review [116613LB]

It is rated by Rolex with a 48-hour power reserve, being powered by a bidirectional self-winding rotor.

The movement is fully automatic, constructed in-house, with an additional date function which can quick-set the date and is hacking for quick but accurate time setting.

The calibre 3135 Rolex self-winding movement is both resistant to temperature changes and shock, because of its blue Parachrom hairspring, making it incredibly reliable and helps maintain its super accuracy.

Verdict

It’s very hard to find a better divers watch than the Submariner as Rolex has spent such a tremendous amount of time making it the archetype divers watch. (Though if you intend to go diving with your watch I would perhaps opt for a fully stainless steel variant).

The Submariner Date is such a classic design that’s been around for a while and is not going to disappear anytime soon. If you’re thinking about getting a watch and are contemplating the Sub, then just pull the trigger, you can’t go wrong with choosing one. Whilst not the rarest or most expensive Rolex watch available; the Submariner is such an important horological piece that any serious collection should have one.

When spending so much time reading, writing, taking photos of, and talking about the Submariner; I sometimes forget that it’s actually a divers watch that will happily plunge a 1/3 of a kilometre underwater. The Submariner is not just singularly a great divers watch; but, is also an incredibly versatile watch. Wear it with a diving suit, shirt and tie, jeans and a t-shirt, or perhaps even a tuxedo. Because this 40mm Rolex watch is probably the most versatile watch on the planet!

Buy this Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date [116613LB] from our shop [Here].

The other Submariner Date’s available from our shop are found [Here].

Rolex Submariner Date: Hands-On Review [116613LB]

Photo Gallery:

Watch Specs:

Brand

Rolex

Series

Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date

Model Number

116613LB

Size

Mens

Case Material

Stainless Steel & Gold

Dial Color

Blue

Bracelet/Strap

Stainless Steel & Yellow Gold Brushed & Polished

Clasp

Folding Clasp With Safety Latch

Movement

Automatic – Chronometer

Bezel

Uni-Directional Rotating

Screw-down Crown

Yes

Crystal

Scratch Resistant Sapphire

Case Back

Solid

Water Resistance

300m/1000ft

Diameter

40mm

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