The biggest design difference is the lugs, which are slimmer on the new generation of Rolex Submariners. This gives the watch a slightly more proportional look, but given that Rolex increased the diameter of the case by around 1mm, the new Submariner with the narrower lugs actually wears almost identically to the older Submariner with the wider lugs. Rolex says that the old Submariner is rated to be 40mm-wide, while the new 2020 Submariner models are 41mm-wide. This is mostly true, but the actual wearing-size difference between the new and old Submariners is under one millimeter, from our understanding.
For watch enthusiasts, the most compelling reason to get a new 126610 generation Submariner watch is the updated movement. For 2020, the Submariner models receive either the in-house-made Rolex caliber 3230 (no date) or, as seen here, the caliber 3235 (with the date). The movements are a bit more accurate and stable as compared to the 3135 movements of the old-generation watches, but notably offer an additional day of power reserve bringing up total movement running time to about 70 hours. The implication is that the automatic movement can be put on a table over the weekend and will be perfectly ready for your day on Monday.
To remind you that the new movements are in-house “Rolex Superlative Chronometer-certified,” the dials now have a small Rolex crown logo between “Swiss Made” under 6 o’clock on the dial. Otherwise, the dials more or less look the same even though they are technically new dials.
No one does a steel sports watch better than Rolex, and its use of OysterSteel (the brand’s name for its blend of 904L steel) results in tight tolerances and beautiful surfaces. Rolex has a great steel diver’s watch with the old Submariner, and that remains true with the 2020 Submariner. There are minor upgrades to the finishing here and there on the watch and bracelet — though, again, I’d caution that most people would probably not notice it. I say this because while Rolex offers a brand-new incentive for people who don’t have a Submariner to get one, I am not so sure that people with a previous generation Submariner would gain too much by getting one of the new-generation 126610 models just because they are technically newer. Of course, upgrading your timepiece is nice, but given the price of Rolex watches and the ongoing challenges of buying them from retailers, I think watch fans can bide their time and wait a few years before chasing one down to acquire. If you don’t have a Rolex Submariner watch in your collection, it is possible that now is the time to start seeking one out since the new generation Submariners offer an excellent wearing experience.
At 300 meters of water resistance, the Submariner is going to satisfy the sport and diving needs of more than 99% of wearers out there. Rolex, of course, produces the larger-sized Sea-Dweller and Deepsea diver’s style watches, but people get those mostly because they like the larger sizes or want something a bit different. Rolex has already recently updated those watches, so it was the Submariner that was last to get the new generation of 32XX caliber movements. I say all this because, while the Sea-Dweller and Deepsea are really cool watches, it is the Submariner pieces that I still think are ideally suited to meet most watch consumers’ needs.
If you want the most classic, most conservative, most recognizable, and most popular luxury diver’s style watch around, the Rolex 126610 (more specifically the black on black 126610LN) is your very best bet. It isn’t the only game in town, but in a lot of ways, it exists in a category of its own. Those with earlier Submariner models don’t need to be immediately jealous, but Rolex has given watch fans a new reason to clamor over the Sub. Price for the Rolex Submariner 126610LN watch is $9,150 USD. Learn more at the Rolex website here.