The Rolex Submariner is in my eyes not only the most famous watch in the world, but also the single most successful piece ever created. Over half a century old it has not lost an ounce of its relevance, becoming a real horological heavyweight through immortalising itself on the wrists of such a diverse group including the likes of James Bond, Fidel Castro, and Steve McQueen. In 2003 the Submariner had its 50th birthday and in true Rolex tradition, they acknowledged it with a touch of green. Just how much of an ironically perfect anniversary edition this would be though is something that I don’t think even Rolex was aware of.
Let’s begin with a trait that can be found on many of Rolex’s most desirable watches; they were not very desirable when they were initially released. When the reference 16610LV (LV stands for Lunette Vert which is French for green bezel) was first presented to the public a lot of people found themselves questioning whether this watch was worth getting. All that was different about this model was a change in the colour of the bezel and the use of the Maxi dial which utilizes larger hour markers and minute markers. What made matters even worse was that the case was not specifically engraved for the LV model, meaning that technically you could change the bezel and dial and no one would notice the difference.
While I think it would be too early to consider this watch vintage, the lacking interest back in the day is already paying dividends to the lucky few who bought one when it was initially released. Today the LV has found itself subject of a new surge of interest as it presents a conservative alternative to the Hulk. Put these two green submariners next to one another and the LV offers so much more of what made Rolex great back in the day. With the sleek dimensions of 40mm in diameter and 13mm in thickness as well as the thin lugs and stamped bracelet, this watch wears so much lighter and unobtrusive than the supercase models produced from 2010 on.
Rolex has always been a brand that understood that simplicity is key. You do not need a huge amount of ingredients to be a good chef. What you need is quality ingredients and how to properly combine them. The Submariner 16610LV understood this more than anybody. With only a few key changes it did not provide enough novelty for those who had the chance to buy it when it was released. That scarcity in features has led to a scarcity in circulation. What we are left with is a unique and fun twist on the last true classical Rolex before they adapted to the 21st century through the use of the supercase.