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Considering buying a Rolex Submariner? This guide will help you to cover all due diligence

If you’re thinking about buying a pre-owned Rolex Submariner , there are many advantages to be had. Like fine wines and vintage cars, a pre-owned Rolex is a collectable – a symbol of success and wealth. Rolexes are synonymous with luxury and quality, but not everyone who deserves one can afford one and that’s where buying a second-hand Submariner can have many benefits

Likewise, a Submariner that is no longer in production will now be considered hugely desirable on the pre-owned market, so if you happen to stumble upon a rare one, the value of your Submariner is going to significantly increase over the years. The bottom line is that second-hand Rolex watches make for great investments and family heirlooms. Whilst you can enjoy it for a significant price discount compared to buying new, you can also cut out a ridiculous waiting time and acquire an elite and valuable investment whilst doing so. But first thing’s first – why a Submariner?

What does it make Submariners so collectable?

Whilst a dive watch, a Rolex Submariner watch is also incredibly versatile. Many Rolex enthusiasts collect and wear Submariner watches due to their robustness, their instantly recognisable aesthetics and their functionality rather than their underwater capability alone. Rolex Submariner watches have survived and thrived over the years.

Gaining popularity between 1954 and the 1970s, the trend for dive watches increased and thus did the watch’s price tag. Backed by brand provenance and a reputation for robust, reliable materials and technology - a Submariner watch, like any Rolex watch, will always remain a collectable and an investment for the future. The watch was first released in 1953 and left luxury watch collectors speechless with its new design.

The original 6204 reference was a dive tool that used the brand’s proprietary Oystersteel case. In 1959 a crown guard was added to its design and gradually its water-resistant capability improved from 100 meters to 300 meters. The classic black and steel model is by far one of the most popular collectable Submariner watches to this day, whilst other upgrades over the years include the addition of a Cerachrom ceramic bezel insert, chosen for its superior colour-fading resistance.

What should you expect to pay for a pre-owned Submariner?

114060

You can expect to pay anywhere between $10,000 and $141,000 for a second-hand Rolex Submariner watch. The Rolex Submariner No Date watch with the reference number 114060 is probably one of the more affordable collectables. You can expect to pay around $10,500 for one in mint condition. The Submariner Date version goes for around a grand more.

Kermit and Hulks - 116610LV and 16610LV

Whilst date editions tend to be more popular, the green iteration named the “Kermit” reference 16610LV is considered a rare piece on the preowned market that can sell for around $21,000 for this reason. Other green variations such as the "Hulk" reference 116610LV with a green bezel and matching green dial sell for around $16,500.

Our Pick

Rolex Submariner

Reference: 116610LV-0002

Case/Dial: 40mm Steel, Green
30 ATM (300 meters / 1000 feet)

Movement: 3135, Self-winding

Functions: Date, Calendar, 70h power reserve

Strap: Steel

Style: Dress

Rolex Submariner Kermit

Reference: 16610LV

Case/Dial: 40mm Steel, Black
30 ATM (300 meters / 1000 feet)

Movement: 3135, Self-winding

Functions: Date, Calendar, 70h power reserve

Strap: Steel

Style: Dress

116619LB

For a white gold Submariner watch, the only option is the so-called "Submariner Blue" reference 116619LB, featuring a blue dial and bezel, which sells for around $37,000 in mint condition due to its rarity.

Our Pick

Rolex Submariner

Reference: 116619LB

Movement: Self-winding

Style: Sporty

Price: -$3.00

How to avoid buying a fake Rolex

The first thing to consider when investing in a pre-owned Submariner watch is how much you want to pay for one. With such a wide price bracket to consider, the cheapest models can be purchased for a price range of $4-5,000, whilst anything past the mid-range price bracket (anywhere between £7-12,000) is limitless. First and foremost, the condition and authenticity of a used Submariner are most important.

Always bear in mind that when investing in a second-hand Rolex watch, they are not inexpensive objects. Therefore, warning signs that someone is selling you a counterfeit Rolex watch may be in the price tag itself. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. At the very least, a genuine Rolex watch sold by a legitimate owner will start at no less than $1-2000.

Legitimate certificate of authenticity.

Always ensure upon purchasing a pre-owned Rolex watch that you are given a legitimate certificate of authenticity. Never rely solely on the weight and feel of a watch. Rolex submariner imitations are becoming better and better by the day, making it even harder for a first-time buyer to know what they are really looking at. The location should also be considered before buying a pre-owned Rolex submariner watch.

Serial Numbers: A Finger Print

The serial number of a Rolex Submariner watch is like its fingerprint. Familiarise yourself with where a Rolex Submariner watch displays this DNA made up of a unique sequence of numbers and letters (in between the lugs of the watch). In that same vein, the serial number can locate the origins of every Rolex watch, so it makes sense to acquire this information and check this before parting with your money.

Check accurately the Dial

It's absolutely important to look at the dial and understand the year of production / model combination. This is a must specially for vintage models from 1950's to early 1990's because there is less documentation compared to modern Submariners and they command higher prices.

An example can be seen in this selection of dials from the legendary Submariners 1680 "Single Red" aka "Red Sub" - where are there are six dial variations.

For vintage model a research is required to validate all the Mark type dials and check the watch carefully to compare with the existing documentation.

Bezels and fonts

Bezels and their font have changed over the years. Rolex never specified the bezel font so only accurate research shown different patterns and font changes. An example can be seen in this picture which compares all 116610LV fonts and bezel colours.

Rolex unveiled the Rolex Submariner green 16610V in 2003. So the F series has a Flat Four on the bezel considered the rarest. The early Flat Four is very collectible, next will be the grassy Green bezel B3. This photo shows already how attentive you need to be with modern bezels.

Movements

Opening the case or images displaying a close look at the movements will allow you carefully inspect, compare and see if there are replacement parts or other parts that have been damaged. There are many movement databases that can help you finding the right caliber with high quality images and compare it with the watch you are interested.

Ask these questions to the seller

It helps to know your seller before buying from them. Take the time to understand what is important to the seller. Why do they want to sell their Rolex Submariner? Is it to invest in another? Do they know a lot about their watches? As a buyer, you should never shy away from asking too many questions. Likewise, if the person selling his watch has the buyer’s best interests at heart, he will be more than happy to answer all your questions without hesitation.

Do you want to sell your Submariner?

Should you want to sell your Rolex Submariner watch one day, its original box and warranty, as well as its certificate of authenticity are all integral features to a seamless and happy buying and selling process later down the line. Ensure you acquire the genuine presentation box to your Rolex Submariner upon investing in the watch in question so that you can go on to sell it in the same condition. Other precautionary steps worth taking before parting with your money would be to familiarise yourself with the dial of a Rolex watch, particularly if you are not a keen collector already.

Listen to the watch to ensure it is operating as it should (you should be able to detect no “ticking” sound on any automatic Rolex watch). Lastly, check for imperfections and familiarise yourself with other online buying platforms by asking for advice on what to expect when buying a pre-owned Rolex watch on online watch forums.

Even if your Submariner watch is not one of the most sought-after models on the market, a combination of superior, robust materials, a reliable movement, brand authenticity and reliability all play a hand in adding to the value of your investment. Whether you keep it, sell it, or hand it down, you won’t have made a mistake in buying any genuine pre-loved Rolex watch.

The advantages of buying used Submariner

As mentioned, one of the key advantages in purchasing a second-hand Rolex Submariner watch is that you can enjoy the watch at a slightly discounted price compared to buying a new one (unless an extremely rare vintage Submariner). Like all collectables, the value of your Submariner watch is likely to climb as years go by, making it an investment piece to hand down the family line.

Our Pick

Rolex Submariner Date

Reference: 16610

Case/Dial: 40mm Steel, Black
30 bar (300 metres / 1000 feet)

Movement: 3135, Self-winding

Functions: Date, Calendar, 48h power reserve

Strap: Steel

Style: Elegant

Rolex Submariner

Reference: 14060

Case/Dial: 40mm Steel, Black
30 bar (300 metres / 1000 feet)

Movement: 3000, Self-winding

Functions: Date, 48h power reserve

Strap: Steel

Style: Dress

Rolex Submariner

Reference: 5513

Case/Dial: 40mm Steel, Black
20 ATM (200 meters / 660 feet)

Movement: 1520, Self-winding

Functions: Date, 48h power reserve

Strap: Steel

Style: Dress

Craftship

Rolex watches are not mass-produced. This is why new iterations grow a very long waiting list that only adds to their desirability even more. Carefully assembled by hand, every Rolex watch is a masterpiece that will long outlive your wrist and stand the test of time. Rolex produces many of its materials in-house whilst also developing proprietary materials within its material research and development facilities. Industry-grade stainless steel that is prized for its robustness and corrosion-resistance is just one example that reflects the price tag of a new or pre-owned Rolex watch, thus this guarantee of technology and craftsmanship, combined with precision, makes your chosen timepiece a good one.

Tested beyond endurance

Lastly, one of the great advantages to consider before investing in a preowned Rolex Submariner watch is its list of specifications. Hand-assembled, tested beyond endurance and subjected to withstand some of the harshest of environments, many Submariners, particularly those that are not considered all that old still promise the same water resistance and robust qualities that they did on the day they left Rolex’s manufacturing facilities. Some of the younger generations of promises 300-meter water resistance, strong anti-glare sapphire crystal glass fronts and a Triplock triple waterproofness system. Above all, before purchasing a second-hand Submariner, consider whether you want to become the centre of attention for your taste in luxury wristwatches. Submariner watches draw the crowds in with their iconic styling and unavoidable aesthetics, making every wristwatch a centrepiece to smart, professional or casual attire alike. 

Our Pick

Submariner 124060

Reference: 124060

Case/Dial: 41mm Steel, Black
300

Movement: 3230, Self-winding

Functions: Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous date with rapid setting. Stop-seconds for precise time setting, 70h power reserve

Strap: Steel

Style: Diver

Submariner 126610ln

Reference: 126610ln

Case/Dial: 41mm Steel, Black
300

Movement: 3235, Self-winding

Functions: Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous date with rapid setting. Stop-seconds for precise time setting, 70h power reserve

Strap: Steel

Style: Diver

Submariner 126613lb

Reference: 126613lb

Case/Dial: 41mm Steel and 18ct Yellow Gold, Blue
300

Movement: 3235, Self-winding

Functions: Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous date with rapid setting. Stop-seconds for precise time setting, 70h power reserve

Strap: Steel and 18ct Yellow Gold

Style: Diver

Submariner 126613

Reference: 126613

Case/Dial: 41mm Steel and 18ct Yellow Gold, Black
300

Movement: 3235, Self-winding

Functions: Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous date with rapid setting. Stop-seconds for precise time setting, 70h power reserve

Strap: Steel and 18ct Yellow Gold

Style: Diver

Submariner 126618lb

Reference: 126618lb

Case/Dial: 41mm 18ct Yellow Gold, Blue
300

Movement: 3235, Self-winding

Functions: Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous date with rapid setting. Stop-seconds for precise time setting, 70h power reserve

Strap: 18ct Yellow Gold

Style: Diver

Submariner 126618

Reference: 126618

Case/Dial: 41mm 18ct Yellow Gold, Black
300

Movement: 3235, Self-winding

Functions: Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous date with rapid setting. Stop-seconds for precise time setting, 70h power reserve

Strap: 18ct Yellow Gold

Style: Diver

Submariner 126618

Reference: 126618

Case/Dial: 41mm 18ct Yellow Gold, Black
300

Movement: 3235, Self-winding

Functions: Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous date with rapid setting. Stop-seconds for precise time setting, 70h power reserve

Strap: 18ct Yellow Gold

Style: Diver

Submariner 126619lb

Reference: 126619lb

Case/Dial: 41mm 18ct White Gold, Black
300

Movement: 3235, Self-winding

Functions: Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous date with rapid setting. Stop-seconds for precise time setting, 70h power reserve

Strap: 18ct White Gold

Style: Diver

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