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A look at the new 2020 Rolex Submariner two-tone 126613LB

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At the time of writing it has been exactly three weeks since the release of the Submariner, and I feel that after this time I have gathered enough information in order to be able to properly access the new release. The responses to the updated submariner where, inevitably as I may add, a mixed bag. Some people talked about how the new model changed everything, while others cried over the lack of creativity that has defined this model since 1953.

In my own opinion, it is a little bit of both, there are aspects that I like and some that I fail to understand to this day. In order to fully explain what has changed I want to undertake the act of making a comparison between two generations of the most legendary dive-watch ever created. In order to not be a repeat of every single other blog out there, the variations of the watch I want to focus on are the two-tone yellow gold versions with the blue dial, also referred to by the incredibly creative name “bluesy”.

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The first thing I want to touch on is the new case which has received the most attention. Yes, it is 1mm larger in diameter which is a change in formula that has persisted as long as the name submariner has. If I have to be honest I would have rather if Rolex kept the original sizing, which would not have worked with the other changes made. These other changes are much more significant than the diameter, because they are the reason that despite this watch being objectively larger, it still does not wear any bigger.

This has been achieved through a few visual tricks which make the Submariner seem almost smaller than its predecessor. The lugs have been slimmed down, the bezel widened, and the dial given more room to breathe. Beyond facts and figures stand the vibe that the new submariner gives you while wearing it. The old version feels chunky, over-engineered, with crumple zones like a Volvo that will forgive more polishing than you can reasonably want in a life-time. The new version on the other hand hasn’t lost any of that heft, and yet feels less top heavy, sleeker, and stands out less as a piece of edgy metal on your wrist, a feature I welcome a lot on the more dressy two-tone.

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The flattening, or should I say flattering (sorry), effect has also been helped with the new bracelet. At 21mm it will unfortunately not fit with many third-party bracelets, however, when owning the two-tone version there really is not a single reason I could think of where you would want to change the strap in the first place anyway. What’s more the links on the outside of the bracelet have been widened which ends up being less taxing on the eyes as the added steel helps smoothen out the bling of the solid gold centre link.

The watch movement inside this new two-tone model is the same as can be found in the stainless-steel variant, or in fact most other modern date Rolex. Caliber 3235 is the third generation of the 3X35 series and has a lot of perks that are attractive to the modern watch geek. 14 patents bless this marvel of technology, and with the new “chronergy” escapement, a reworked gear train, and a more efficient barrel the power reserve has been increased to 70 hours. If your watch is a daily wearer you might argue that this is rather pointless for you, but for most two-tone wearers this is not their only watch, meaning they can store it on the weekend and return to their Submariner still happily ticking away.

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There is one feature though that I personally find more important than the lugs, diameter, or movement. It is the thing that you look at every single day: the dial. In my mind no feature is as important as this one. A bad dial can ruin a perfectly good watch, and a good dial can save a watch that you otherwise would have not granted a second look. There is no better watch than the Bluesy to highlight just how small the details are that can differentiate between a dial that works, and one that just doesn’t.

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Now keep in mind that these observations on colour choice are a highly personal matter, unlike power reserve for example there is no objective decision as to what watch is better. Now concerning the old bluesy it was a watch that has always left me somewhat cold. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why that was the case, but after seeing the new version it immediately became obvious to me: it was the Lettering, that’s all there was to it. While the old model had a golden text, logo, and branding this was switched out to a contrast-rich white which is now the standard for every single Submariner available.

Alright, I may be overdoing it a bit with the hyperboles. All of these changes are not major in their magnitude. Would I choose this watch if what I really wanted was a stainless steel one? No. Would I get this watch if I already had the old one? No, I would not. But, if I was in the market for a two-tone professional model, would I now consider the 126613LB as one of the best offerings available? Yes, I one hundred percent would.