The new 2020 black dial black bezel stainless steel Submariner (reference 126610LN) was unveiled earlier this month along with all-new generations of Submariner watches. We got news of this at the beginning of the year and we’ve been waiting to get our hands on the new stainless steel Submariner, one of the most classic watches the world over. We finally got one and we are here to answer a major question that we’ve been getting from our clients about the new Submariner, and that is, “what has changed from its predecessor, Rolex 116610LN?” So, in this post, we are going to do a comparison of the Rolex Submariner 116610LN vs 126610LN, outlining all the details of both the new generation steel Submariner and the last generation, with a focus on what changes and upgrades have been made.
ROLEX SUBMARINER 116610LN VS 126610LN
While the Rolex Submariner reference 116610LN and ref 126610LN appear to be quite similar, there are some significant differences between the two models. The newest model, reference 126610LN, has changes in the design and upgrades to the mechanics. Below we are going to compare both watches to see how the new Submariner 126610LN stacks up to its predecessor Submariner 116610LN.
WHAT’S THE SAME?
Both watches are undoubtedly quite similar. After all, they clearly have the original Submariner DNA. Moreover, the upgrades and evolution in materials and features that have occurred over the last 4 generations of the steel Submariner are present.
Reference 116610 and Reference 126610 have an Oyster case with a Triplock crown offering 1,000ft of water resistance, the same uni-directional black ceramic bezel, a black Maxi dial with hand-applied white gold indexes, the Mercedes-style hand, and an Oyster bracelet with the newest version of Rolex’s Glidelock System.
Thus, the overall appearance is essentially identical, as are the functions.
However, there are subtle changes to the design of the new steel Submariner. And when it comes to Rolex, even a subtle change can be major news….
In terms of design, the changes are somewhat elusive, with the exception of the case size, which has gone from 40mm to 41mm. While 1mm may seem negligible, in the world of Rolex, it is very significant and newsworthy. And the truth is, it is quite noticeable when you put them side by side.
Beyond the change to the case size, the design has been slightly altered too. Along with changes to the crown guards and bracelet size.
And while these changes surely have people talking, and we will dive into specifics in a moment, the biggest change to the new Submariner lies within it. The Submariner 126610 has a new engine, replacing the old Calibre 3135 that has powered the last two generations of the Rolex Submariner.
Now, to really give you an in-depth comparison of the two Submariner watches (reference 116610 vs 122610), we are going to discuss each component of the watch in detail, which includes the:
- Case & Crown Guards
BLACK CERACHROM BEZEL
The bezel of both the Submariner 116610LN and 126610LN are identical. It is a black Cerachrom ceramic bezel with a 60-minute diver’s scale engraved and filed with platinum PVD numerals.
Since the 1980s, the Submariner has featured a uni-directional rotating serrated-edge bezel with a beautifully tactile 120-click operation. The bezel’s numerals allow divers to track their time underwater and the uni-directional rotating feature ensures divers will never go over their diving time. With it rotating in only one direction, if the bezel was to accidentally turn, the diving time can only get shorter, not longer. This is obviously a vital characteristic of the bezel as divers have limited oxygen when submerged underwater.
Although the uni-directional feature has been an asset of the Submariner for the last 4 generations of the watch, the bezel being ceramic is a newer feature. Before Rolex 116610, the bezel of the steel Submariner was an aluminum insert.
The Cerachrom bezel, which is made from Rolex’s proprietary ceramic, was first introduced in 2003 with the 50th anniversary Rolex Submariner “Kermit”. Cerachrom bezels are scratch-resistant and fade-resistant. So, it will keep it’s gorgeous glossy new look forever.
There is absolutely no need to make changes to the Cerachrom bezel as it is perfect (at least for now). So, the new Submariner’s bezel has been entirely unsullied.
BLACK MAXI DIAL
At first glance, the dial is going to look almost completely identical, except for the fact that it is a bit bigger as the case size has increased.
While it is the same “Maxi” dial, the handset has been tweaked. The minute hand is just a little bit longer on the Submariner 126610. It now reaches the minute track. The Mercedes hour hand is a bit wider now too.
What’s more, the proportions have changed. With more room to work with, the dial has a more spacious, balanced look. In our opinion, it creates a somewhat tidier look. It also helps to increase visibility, especially in low light conditioning, such as when diving underwater.
The only other change is between the small “Swiss Made” below the 6 o’clock baton. The new Submariner 126610LN has a Rolex coronet crown in between the words while the Rolex 116610LN did not.
Beyond that, everything else is the same. The date display is there, the trademark dot and baton appliqués are white gold and filled with Chromalight lume, and the lettering on the dial is all the same.
With the release of The Rolex Submariner 116610 in 2010, the world was introduced to the Super Case design.
The Super Case was a way to address some complaints that Rolex fans had about the previous generation of the Submariner (ref 16610) being too small for a modern sports watch. Rolex’s Super Case, which is still an Oyster case, offered lugs and crown guards that were nearly twice the thickness of the previous model.
It didn’t have the same flowing lines as previous models, but instead, it was robust, with a square bulky, beefy kind of look. It gave the impression of a larger watch without actually sizing up in its case diameter.
And while many people loved it, and reference 116610 was and still is a very popular model, as always, there were some complaints. A certain percentage of people felt it was too blockish and not refined enough.
Rolex reacted to this criticism, or they just felt it was time for a change in design, as the new Submariner, reference 126610, no long has the “Super Case”.
The Rolex Submariner reference 126610LN is something of a mix of old and new. The case diameter is larger now, at 41mm rather than the 40mm dimension it has been for many decades. However, it is more refined and sophisticated in its design. It’s smoother, more ergonomic. It is bigger and slimmer in all the right places.
Now, 1mm doesn’t seem like a lot. But when it comes to the appearance, it is definitely noticeable. When the Submariner 116610LN and 126610LN are side-by-side, you can see the 126610 is bigger immediately.
You can also see the difference in the lugs and crown guards. The lugs are slimmer and the crown guards are slightly smaller. It may seem insignificant, but looking at the watch as a whole, most agree that the proportions are better. The crown guard is less bulky and on the wrist the watch just feels more elegant, classic, and svelte.
Both The Rolex Submariner 116610LN and 126610LN have the brand’s iconic sporty three-link stainless steel Oyster bracelet.
However, like the case, the bracelet has a slight alteration. Since the lugs are now 21mm apart on reference 126610, rather than 20mm measurement of the 116610, the bracelet had to be wider. This increase by 1mm spans the entire length of the bracelet. This also means the clasp is 1mm wider.
As always, Rolex continues to improve upon their designs, so the newest Submariner has tightened up the tolerances. Meaning there are virtually no visible gaps between the links.
Besides that, the bracelet is the same classic Oyster bracelet as it has been for the past decade. It is solid (not hollow) and the finishing is immaculately done with polished center links and satin end links.
OYSTERLOCK CLASP WITH GLIDELOCK EXTENSION SYSTEM
The Oysterlock Clasp has been around for quite some time now, although the beak and hook design is somewhat new. However, the Glidelock Extension System was only introduced to the stainless steel Submariner when reference 116610 was released back in 2010.
That said, early models of the 116610 featured the older version of the Glidelock Extension System. It use to only have a 5mm extension capability. A few years into its production, Rolex upgraded the Glidelock Extension System. They made it so it was capable of 20mm of adjustment, in 2mm increments, all done without the use of tools.
So, Submariner 116610 from 2012 and on will have the more advanced Glidelock Extension System. The Rolex Submariner 126610 also features this same advanced 20mm Glidelock Extension System. Therefore, there are no changes on that front.
If you aren’t a gear head, it may come as a surprise that the Rolex Submariner’s movement was the same calibre since 1988. Rolex 16610 and 116610 had the same movement, calibre 3135.
Although the calibre 3135 has been credited as one of the finest mass produced mechanism ever, 3+ decades without any change to the engine is shocking for a Rolex watch, especially a watch as revered as the Submariner.
In 2020, the Calibre 3135 simply isn’t up to par with the specs that we come to expect these days. Great movement, reliable as ever, but an upgrade was long overdue, and we got that with the new Submariner 126610.
The steel Rolex Submariner 126610 has a calibre 3235 movement. This is definitely the most notable difference between the 116610 and 126610, as the 3235 brings new definition to the word “mechanical workhorse”.
The Calibre 3235 was introduced back in 2015 with both the Sea-Dweller and Deepsea adopting the movement first.
This movement brings a major improvement to the Submariner line. 90% of the movement features new components and it is protected by 14 patents.
One of the most important aspects of the new movement is the power reserve is now 70-hours, compared to 48 hours that the 3135 provides.
Additionally, the automatic winding system now highlights a new monobloc rotor set on ball bearings. This is a first, and it is fantastic as it increases the longevity and necessary maintenance that the automatic assembly requires over time.
The Calibre 3235 also includes Rolex’s proprietary Chronergy escapement, which displays a revolutionary redesign of the classic Swiss Lever system. The two main components of this are the pallet fork and escape wheel, and it has been significantly redesigned for the better. Now the escape wheel is skeletonized, which reduces its weight, and in turn, its inertia. In regards to the pallet fork, it is also lighter, and although the teeth are slimmer, the contact surfaces on the escape wheel have increased twofold. To top it off, both components are constructed from a nickel-phosphorous alloy, so they are highly resistant to magnetism.
Altogether, the upgrades and modifications increase the escapements efficiency by 15%!
Apart from the above, things are all typical of Rolex’s new generation movements. It has Rolex’s Parachrom alloy, a frequency of 28,800vph, and Paraflex shock absorbers. Also, the movement obviously conforms to the brands Superlative Chronometer rating, which guarantees accuracy between-2/+2 (best in the business).
All in all, this is exactly what we’ve been waiting for in regards to the Submariner line.
ROLEX SUBMARINER 11660LN vs 126610LN PRICE
Rolex Submariner 116610LN is a very popular model. During its production period from 2010-2020, it was a very hard watch to acquire new from an authorized Rolex dealer. However, The Rolex Submariner 126610LN is even more popular. This new Submariner has proven to be hugely desirable. Right now, most authorized Rolex dealers are suggesting an 8-10 year waiting list. That’s two years longer than the stainless steel Daytona!
If by some miracle you were able to get the new Submariner 126610LN new from a Rolex dealer, you are looking at a suggested price tag of $9,150.
Note: The Rolex Submariner 116610LN was $8,550 at first. But close to when it was going to be discontinued, the price jumped to $8,950.
In any case, it’s safe to say you will not be getting the new Submariner brand new from an authorized Rolex dealer. Your only chance of getting your hands on this watch is on the secondary market. Needless to say, you can now only get the 116610 on the secondary market as well, as it has been discontinued.
On the second hand market the prices for these watches are as follows…
Rolex Submariner 126610LN Price: $21,995
Rolex Submariner 116610LN Price: $8,500-10,500
That really covers it all. The new Submariner is here and its an even bigger winner than its predecessor. And although the alterations seem minor, they add up to a much different watch.
Nevertheless, both the Rolex 116610LN and the new Rolex Submariner 126610LN are great watches and will forever be classics. These are more than watches, they are collectibles. If you can purchase either one you will be adding one of the holy grails to your watch box collection.
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