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ROLEX BLOG

Rolex Submariner: Different Types of Bezels

November 7, 2019

BY Paul Altieri

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The Rolex Submariner has been a part of the Rolex catalog for well over 60 years. As expected, the famed dive watch has undergone plenty of design and mechanical enhancements over the past six decades, including the all-important timing bezel. Read on to discover all the different types of bezels of the Rolex Submariner.

Rolex Submariner Black Different Types of Bezels

The Rolex’s Submariner’s signature rotating timing bezel has gone through a number of changes over the years.

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Rolex Submariner Bidirectional Bezels With Aluminum Inserts

When Rolex debuted the Submariner in 1953, the stainless steel dive watch included a rotating bezel marked to 60 minutes to allow divers to track immersion times. The steel bezel turned both ways for simple timing adjusting, the edge of the bezel was knurled for easy gripping underwater, and the insert was fashioned from black aluminum.

The printed 60-minute scale on the earlier versions included markings for every 5 minutes, alternating between batons and numerals. By the late 1950s, Rolex started to include hash marks for the first 15 minutes on the bezel followed by 5-minute markings.

Around 1969, Rolex introduced the first yellow gold Submariner, the Submariner Date ref. 1680/8. Accordingly, the knurled rotating bezel was fashioned from 18k yellow gold. What’s more, the Rolex Submariner ref. 1680/8 now offered the choice of either a black or blue aluminum bezel insert and matching dial.

Submariner References With Bidirectional Aluminum Bezels

  • Submariner 6204 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner 6205 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner 6200 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner 6538 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner 6536 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner 6536/1 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner 5508 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner 5510 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner 5512 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner 5513 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner 5514 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner Date 1680 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner Date 1680/8 – yellow gold bezel; black or blue aluminum insert
Vintage Rolex Submariner Bezels Different Types Black Aluminum Red Triangle

Vintage Rolex Submariner bezels have black aluminum inserts and rotate in both directions.

Rolex Submariner Unidirectional Bezels With Aluminum Inserts

While bidirectional rotating bezels may be quicker for wearers to turn to the appropriate spot, as a dive bezel it’s not the best option. If the bezel gets accidentally knocked, this could cause divers to miscalculate how long they have been underwater. Therefore, a unidirectional bezel is more prudent because accidental knocks to the bezel can only result in overestimating immersion time – it’s far preferable to start ascending to the surface earlier or spend longer than necessary at a decompression stop.

Rolex began equipping the Submariner with unidirectional bezels starting with the Submariner Date ref. 16800, which was introduced around 1979. The no-date Submariner model received a unidirectional bezel with the introduction of the Submariner ref. 14060 in 1990.

Like the previous generation, the new unidirectional bezels included aluminum bezel inserts. In 1983, Rolex introduced the first two-tone Submariner model in the form of the Submariner Date ref. 16803, which sported a yellow gold knurled bezel with a black or blue aluminum insert. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Submariner in 2003, Rolex introduced the stainless steel Submariner Date ref. 16610LV with a green bezel insert.

Submariner References With Unidirectional Aluminum Bezels

  • Submariner Date 16800 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner Date 168000 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner Date 16808 – yellow gold bezel; black or blue aluminum insert
  • Submariner Date 16803 – yellow gold bezel; black or blue aluminum insert
  • Submariner Date 16610 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner Date 16618 – yellow gold bezel; black or blue aluminum insert
  • Submariner Date 16613 – yellow gold bezel; black or blue aluminum insert
  • Submariner 14060 – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner 14060M – steel bezel; black aluminum insert
  • Submariner Date 16610LV – steel bezel; green aluminum insert
Rolex Submariner Different Bezels Types Aluminum vs Ceramic

Unlike aluminum bezel inserts, Cerachom ceramic bezel inserts will not scratch or fade over time.

Rolex Submariner Unidirectional Bezels With Cerachrom Inserts

In 2008, Rolex introduced the first Submariner models equipped with unidirectional bezels featuring Cerachrom inserts. Cerachrom is Rolex’s proprietary ceramic alloy that is not only resistant to scratching but also to fading. The 60-minute graduations are cut into the bezel and then the ceramic bezel insert is fully coated with either yellow gold (for yellow gold and two-tone models) or platinum (for white gold or steel models). The gold/platinum is then polished away from the ceramic surface until only the recessed numerals and markings are left with the metal filling.

By 2012, Rolex had rolled out the Cerachrom bezels across all Submariner models and color options include black, blue, and green. A quick way to know the color of the bezel is to look at the letters in the reference number: LB (blue bezel), LN (black bezel), and LV (green bezel).  

Submariner References With Unidirectional Cerachrom Bezels 

  • Submariner Date 116618LN – yellow gold bezel; black Cerachrom insert
  • Submariner Date 116618LB – yellow gold bezel; blue Cerachrom insert
  • Submariner Date 116619LB – white gold bezel; blue Cerachrom insert
  • Submariner Date 116613LN – yellow gold bezel; black Cerachrom insert
  • Submariner Date 116613LB – yellow gold bezel; blue Cerachrom insert
  • Submariner Date 116610LN – steel bezel; black Cerachrom insert
  • Submariner Date 116610LV – steel bezel; green Cerachrom insert
  • Submariner 114060 – steel bezel; black Cerachrom insert
Rolex Submariner: Different Types of Cerachrom Bezels Black Green

Rolex Submariner Cerachrom bezel inserts can be found in either black, blue, or green.

Rolex Submariner Gem-Set Bezels

Although the rotating bezel serves to record dive times, this has not stopped Rolex from making a few ultra-lavish Submariners with precious gem-set bezels that forsake the tool watch nature of the model. First, there’s the white gold Submariner 116649EMBR (presented in 2010) with a bezel set with 36 emeralds and 12 diamonds. Then in 2018, Rolex introduced the white gold Submariner 116659SABR with a bezel set with nine light blue sapphires (to mimic the first 15-minute markings), 27 dark blue sapphires, and 12 diamonds.

To summarize, the history and evolution of the Submariner bezel is generally divided into three generations: bidirectional bezel with aluminum insert (early-1950s – late-1970s), unidirectional bezel with aluminum insert (late-1970s – late-2000s), and unidirectional bezel with Cerachrom ceramic insert (late 2000s until present). Which is your favorite type of Submariner bezel?

Rolex Submariner Different Bezel Kinds Aluminum and Cerachrom Ceramic

Rolex Submariner bezels can be found in a number of different colors and materials.

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