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The Most Popular Rolex Watches from 2010 to 2015

December 9, 2020

BY Paul Altieri


The 2000s were an exciting and important time for Rolex. Not only had the brand perfected the ceramic bezel, but it had also made several advancements to its movement technology, including the development of the blue Parachrom hairspring and the very first in-house automatic chronograph movement for the Daytona. By the end of the decade, many of the technologies that had first emerged during this time were starting to assert themselves in Rolex’s catalog. It’s now time for us to dive deeper into the Rolex watches that defined the next era in the brand’s history: 2010-2015.

2010-2015 Rolex Watches

A Brief History of Rolex

Rolex’s story began over a century ago in 1905. What started as a dream to develop reliable wristwatches that could be worn every single day evolved into the most iconic luxury brand in the entire world. In just a few short decades, Hans Wilsdorf went from a timepiece distributor to the mastermind behind the world’s very first waterproof wristwatch in 1926. A few years after developing the waterproof Oyster case, the self-winding Perpetual movement was introduced. Following not too far behind in 1945 was the Datejust – the world’s first chronometer wristwatch with an automatically changing date mechanism.

Those early years were just the beginning of what would ultimately go on to become decades of innovation in luxury watchmaking. During the 1950s, Rolex created its famed Professional series, which included the Submariner, GMT-Master, Explorer, and Milgauss. The elegant Day-Date also hit the market during this time, bringing with it the day spelled out in full on the dial and the exclusive President bracelet.

Rolex released a handful of other watches in the decades that followed, although completely new models were relatively few and far between. The Explorer II was first launched in 1971, featuring a fixed 24-hour bezel and a dedicated 24-hour hand on the dial. The GMT-Master II hit the market in the 1980s, bringing an upgraded movement with independently adjustable hour hands. Additionally, some of the more notable new model releases came in the 1990s with the first Yacht-Master and Pearlmaster watches.

2010-2015 Rolex Watches

Modern Rolex History

By the 2000s, Rolex had started to increase the number of watches in its catalog. 2007 marked the release of the Yacht-Master II, a purpose-built extension of the original Yacht-Master collection that features a programmable regatta countdown timer with a mechanical memory. The Deepsea Sea-Dweller was released the following year in 2008, offering the greatest water-resistance in the Rolex catalog of up to 12,800 feet. Last, but certainly not least, came the Sky-Dweller in 2012 – Rolex’s most technologically advanced watch yet and positioned as the ultimate luxury traveler’s companion.

That brings us to the 2010s in our very brief Rolex history. Perhaps, the most notable innovation to leave Rolex HQ during this time was the single piece, bi-color ceramic bezel in 2013 – something that Rolex originally claimed was impossible to manufacture. Instead of inserting two separate ceramic pieces into the bezel, the two different tones are incorporated into a single component, with a perfect line separating the different colors.

In 2014, a new ladies movement hit the market in the form of Caliber 2236. This movement introduced the brand’s catalog to the Syloxi hairspring (Rolex’s special silicon-based material). The following year, the Lady-Datejust model grew from 26mm to 28mm, catering to modern trends for larger watches. Also released in 2015 were the Caliber 3255 movement for the Day-Date and the revolutionary Oysterflex bracelet.

Rolex Submariner “Hulk” – 2010

2010-2015 Rolex Watches

Hulk Submariner 116610LV Key Features:

Case Size: 40mm

Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display

Dial: Green w/ Luminous Hour Markers

Bezel: Unidirectional, Green Cerachrom Insert w/ 60-minute Scale

Crystal: Flat Sapphire w/ Cyclops Lens

Movement: Caliber 3135

Water Resistance: 300 meters / 1,000 feet

Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

Click here for our ultimate buying guide on the Rolex Submariner.

Rolex Submariner

The first green Submariner hit the market in 2003 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the model in the form of the “Kermit” ref. 16610LV. Equipped with a green aluminum bezel and a black Maxi dial, the Kermit was the first of its kind. It is also the only instance of Rolex ever offering a Submariner with a green aluminum bezel.

The model was discontinued seven years later to make way for an even more impressive green Submariner, the Hulk ref. 116610LV. While this edition keeps the green bezel, it is now presented in Cerachrom (ceramic) instead of anodized aluminum. The black Maxi dial has also been swapped out for one in matching green with a metallic sunburst design. As a 6-digit Submariner reference, the Hulk is also noticeably larger and more angular in its design with squared-off lugs, larger crown-guards, and a completely solid-link bracelet with a machined clasp. The green-on-green dial and bezel color profile, paired with the newer case and bracelet design gives the “Hulk” its comic book hero nickname.

At the core of its design lies Rolex’s waterproof Oyster case fitted with the brand’s Triplock screw-down crown with three separate sealed zones. Water-resistant up to 1,000 feet and equipped with a diver-friendly unidirectional timing bezel, the Submariner Hulk is more than just a colorful Rolex; it’s also a highly capable and reliable professional diver’s tool.

The reference 116610LV has since been discontinued to make way for the brand-new ref. 126610LV with its 41mm case. The newer edition goes back to its Kermit roots with a green ceramic bezel and a black dial. With the recent discontinuation of the Hulk – now the only Rolex Submariner watch to ever feature a green dial – there has never been a better time to invest.

Rolex Explorer II (42mm) – 2011

2010-2015 Rolex Watches

Explorer II 216570 Key Features:

Case Size: 42mm

Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, GMT Functionality

Dial: Black or White w/ Luminous Hour Markers

Bezel: Fixed, Stainless Steel w/ 24-Hour Scale

Crystal: Flat Sapphire w/ Cyclops Lens

Movement: Caliber 3187

Water Resistance: 100 meters / 330 feet

Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

Click here to learn the difference between the Rolex Explorer and the Rolex Explorer II.

Rolex Explorer II

Perhaps the most notable new addition from Baselworld 2011 was the Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570, which marked an increase in case size from 40mm to 42mm and included a larger Maxi dial along with the return of the famed “Freccione” orange arrow hand (a reference to the very first Explorer II ref. 1655). The Rolex reference 216570 was released to celebrate the Explorer II collection’s 40th anniversary, and the return of the bright orange arrow-shaped hand is about as much of a throwback as you will ever see from Rolex.

The Explorer II 216570 is offered with either a black dial topped with white gold-trimmed luminous hour markers or a white “Polar” dial adorned with black-finished hands and markers. Both options offer a highly visible reading in both light and dark environments thanks to Rolex’s proprietary Chromalight lume that provides the watch with a long-lasting blue glow. Additionally, the orange 24-hour hand can be set independently of the standard 12-hour on the dial, allowing the wearer to track a secondary timezone against the fixed 24-hour bezel.

Rolex Sky-Dweller – 2012

2010-2015 Rolex Watches

Sky-Dweller Key Features:

Case Size: 42mm

Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Annual Calendar, GMT Functionality

Dial: Multiple Options Available

Bezel: Ring Command, 18k Gold, Fluted Style

Crystal: Flat Sapphire w/ Cyclops Lens

Movement: Caliber 9001

Water Resistance: 100 meters / 330 feet

Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet; Oysterflex Bracelet; Leather Strap

Click here for our ultimate buying guide on the Rolex Sky-Dweller.

Rolex Sky-Dweller

It isn’t very often that Rolex debuts an entirely new model, but the brand did just that in 2012 with the release of the Sky-Dweller – the most complex Rolex watch to date. The Sky-Dweller followed hot on the heels of the Yacht-Master II with its sophisticated movement and Ring Command bezel. Part sports model and part dress watch, the Rolex Sky-Dweller disguises the Ring Command bezel as the brand’s iconic fluted bezel in solid 18k gold.

Included within the highly-complex Caliber 9001 movement are an annual calendar, dual-time GMT display, and date mechanism that displays both the date and month. The wearer can keep home time set on the register just offset from the central hands while reading local time on the centrally-mounted hands. The month display for the annual calendar function is cleverly displayed above each coordinating hour marker in a contrasting color for easy reference, while the date is ever-present in classic Rolex fashion at the 3 o’clock location.

The wearer can gain access to either of these functions by setting the Ring Command bezel into one of three positions and changing the corresponding values via a single position on the winding crown. As is often customary when releasing a brand-new Rolex model, the Sky-Dweller debuted in precious metals only. It wasn’t until 2017 that the luxurious traveler’s watch was released in White Rolesor and Yellow Rolesor (both two-tone options that pair 18k gold with stainless steel). What was once one of Rolex’s most expensive watches is now available to a broader range of collectors, and is rapidly becoming a favorite among enthusiasts.

Rolex GMT-Master II “Batman” – 2013

2010-2015 Rolex Watches

Batman GMT-Master 116710BLNR Key Features:

Case Size: 40mm

Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, GMT Functionality

Dial: Black w/ Luminous Hour Markers

Bezel: Bidirectional, Black and Blue Cerachrom Insert w/ 24-Hour Scale

Crystal: Flat Sapphire w/ Cyclops Lens

Movement: Caliber 3186

Water Resistance: 100 meters / 330 feet

Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

Click here for our ultimate buying guide on the Rolex GMT-Master.

Rolex GMT-Master II

Starting in 2005, Rolex began to roll out a new generation of GMT-Master II watches, complete with Maxi dials, Super Cases with thicker lugs, and advanced bezels that featured high-tech inserts crafted from Cerachrom – Rolex’s proprietary ceramic material that is virtually impervious to scratches, fading, and corrosion. However, although Rolex’s Cerachrom material offered superior longevity and performance, it was significantly more difficult to manufacture and Rolex was originally only able to offer its new generation of GMT-Master II watches with all-black bezels.

Rolex’s split-color ceramic bezel made history when it hit the market in 2013 fitted to the GMT-Master II ref. 116710BLNR. Also dubbed the “Batman” by collectors, the bezel on this edition of the GMT-Master II series features a bi-color black and blue Cerachrom (ceramic) insert. Rolex was the first to perfect the technique required to make a single ceramic component in two different colors. The process was previously thought to be too difficult to produce on a commercial level, but Rolex surprised the world when the ref. 116710BLNR was unveiled with its striking two-tone bezel. Presented in all stainless steel, the 116710BLNR was an instant hit. The model has since been discontinued in 2019 with the release of its successor (the ref. 126710BLNR) and it is now highly sought-after by collectors.

Rolex Milgauss (Z-Blue Dial) – 2014

2010-2015 Rolex Watches

Z-Blue Milgauss 116400GV Key Features:

Case Size: 40mm

Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Antimagnetic

Dial: Z-Blue w/ Luminous Hour Markers

Bezel: Fixed, Stainless Steel, Smooth Style

Crystal: Flat Sapphire (green-tinted)

Movement: Caliber 3131

Water Resistance: 100 meters / 330 feet

Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

Click here for our ultimate buying guide on the Rolex Milgauss.

Rolex Milgauss

As with every model within the tool watch series, the Milgauss was developed with a certain profession in mind. However, the Milgauss is unlike most Professional series watches in Rolex’s catalog because it was created for scientists and laboratory workers rather than athletes and explorers. If not for its larger 40mm case size and special antimagnetic capabilities, one might even mistake the Rolex Milgauss for a dress watch. However, what it lacks in visible purpose-built styling, the Milgauss makes up for in hidden functionality and a highly unique aesthetic. Surrounding the movement within the case is a soft iron shield that acts like a Faraday cage, redistributing potentially disruptive magnetic fields and protecting the precision movement up to forces in excess of 1,000 gauss. In fact, the ‘Milgauss’ name for this anti-magnetic watch comes from the French word, “mille” (which means a thousand) and “gauss” – the unit of measurement for magnetic fields.

After being discontinued in 1988, Rolex revived the Milgauss collection in 2007 with the reference 116400. To celebrate the collection’s 50th anniversary, Rolex equipped a version of the ref. 116400 (known as the ref. 116400GV) with a striking green sapphire crystal. It is the first and only Rolex watch ever produced that has featured a colored crystal, making it truly unique within the brand’s catalog. A few years in 2014, Rolex introduced a new variation of the reference 116400GV and the most vibrant iteration of the Milgauss yet – this time fitted with an electric blue dial that the company calls ‘Z-Blue’ (rather than a black dial like the original ref. 116400GV). In addition to featuring the mesmerizing green-tinted sapphire crystal, the 2014 Z-Blue Milgauss also boasts a vivid blue dial. Pair that with the model’s signature bright orange lightning bolt seconds hand, and the result is a watch that is truly unlike any other model in the company’s current portfolio.

2010-2015 Rolex Watches



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