A Guide to Buying a Rolex Submariner No Date
The Rolex Submariner has two main versions - one with a date function and one without. The original Submariner, which was first launched in 1953, was created without the date function. The first version equipped with a date was the reference 1680, which was released more than a decade later in the 1960s. Rolex enthusiasts can usually be divided into two camps - those that favor advancement and those that lean towards nostalgia. Those that favor the retro-charm of the past, also known as purists, would regard the Submariner "No-Date" as a truer interpretation of the original Rolex diving watch. Devotees of the Submariner No-Date relish in its symmetry due to the lack of the date aperture at 3 o'clock.
Our guide will focus on the Rolex Submariner in its purest form, starting with an in-depth history of the Submariner dive watch and how the date evolved and ending with a review of the No-Date collection's most notable references.
Rolex Submariner No-Date
Submariner No-Date Key Features:
Introduced: Developed in 1953 (released to the market in 1954)
Case diameter: 40mm; 41mm
Materials: Stainless steel; 18kt gold (white, yellow); Yellow Rolesor (steel and yellow gold)
Functions: Time + running seconds
Bezel: Rotating with black 60-minute timing scale
Dial: black, luminous hour markers
Bracelet: Oyster or leather strap.
Water Resistance: 100m/330ft; 200m/660ft; 300m/1,000ft
History of the Rolex Submariner No-Date
Rolex developed the Submariner in 1953, officially releasing it to market in 1954 during the Basel Watch Fair that year. The first generation was waterproof up to 100 meters and measured 37mm in diameter. The bezel was not yet uni-directional, and the case did not offer crown-guards.
From its initial introduction in 1953, until the release of the reference 1680 in the late 1960s, Rolex's Submariner only displayed the time of day. Given that almost every early Submariner lacked a date complication, one of the defining characteristics of a vintage Rolex Submariner is the absence of a date window on the dial.
The date-displaying version of the Submariner has had Rolex's famous "Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified" text on its dial since its introduction in the late 1960s. However, the no-date Submariner did not uniformly receive chronometer certification until a revision of the 14060M, which brought the entire Submariner line into the COSC-rated range. By this time, every Submariner watch had already been equipped with sapphire crystals and updated winding crowns that offer 300 meters of water resistance.
Additionally, the No-Date Submariner was the last Rolex sports model to retain several traits that have become characteristic of the classic Rolex sports watch. Traits that are shared by a number of vintage references that are now held in high regard by collectors, such as drilled holes in the lugs, hollow end-links, a stamped bracelet clasp, and an aluminum bezel insert.
Until August 2020, the most recent rendition of Rolex's No-Date Submariner was the reference 114060, which had done away with many of the hallmark characteristics that defined the dateless Submariner for many years. The movement was upgraded to Rolex's in-house, COSC-rated, Caliber 3130 movement. The drilled lug holes and stamped bracelet components were replaced with equivalents that are more in-line with the rest of the Submariner range. Additionally, although the ref. 114060 retains the same 40mm size as its predecessor, it actually wears noticeably larger due to its redesigned case with more angular and wider lugs.
Also new to the reference 114060 is the scratch and fade resistant Cerachrom bezel insert in Rolex's proprietary ceramic material rather than the previous anodized aluminum inserts. It features the diving scale engraved into the bezel surface and then topped with a thin layer of PVD coating in platinum. Of course, this being a diving watch, the bezel is of the unidirectional rotating variety and features a 60-minute timing scale to keep track of immersion and decompression times.
Built to withstand extreme diving conditions, but more often than not worn a man's everyday companion, the Rolex Submariner seamlessly travels from setting to setting without ever being out of place. Arguably the most imitated design in the history of the sports watch, the Submariner clearly enjoys wearing its well-deserved crown at the top and the Submariner 1140060 "No-Date" represents the perfect evolution of the iconic family.
A Brand-New Dateless Submariner for 2020
That brings us to 2020 and Rolex's current lineup of dive watches. Rolex teased the collection days before the September 1st launch with the phrase, "Out of the Blue" and what appeared to be the lume on a dateless Submariner. Rolex rolled out an entirely new generation of Submariner watches, discontinuing all existing models with 40mm cases.
Among the latest offerings was a brand new Submariner No-Date ref. 124060, complete with a new cal. 3230 Perpetual movement and a larger 41mm case with slightly more refined lugs. The Cerachrom ceramic bezel, sapphire crystal, blue-glowing Chromalight lume, and Triplock screw-down crown with 300-meter water-resistance are all still featured on the watch. However, along with the new case size, the width of the bracelet was increased from 20mm to 21mm.
The Rolex Submariner Date
Since this is an ultimate guide on the No-Date Submariner, we won’t spend too much time on the variations with a date on the dial, other than to detail a few notable upgrades made to the Submariner series.
Reference 1680 was another great success in a long line concerning the Rolex Submariner because it was the first to feature a date mechanism. Some purists believed it marked the end of the model as purely a dive watch and the beginning of another role, as a status symbol. Many didn’t see the point of having a date display at all and claimed it had an unbalancing effect on the dial, especially topped by the magnifying Cyclops lens fixed to the crystal. As a compromise, Rolex split the range in two, and we have had, since that point, both date and no-date Submariner models.
In 1979, the ref. 16800 took to the stage. It was one of the more important references in the Submariner's lineup as it introduced a host of features on both the date and no-date editions that we now take for granted. It was the first Submariner to be waterproof to 300 meters, where the previous models had been resistant up to 200 meters. It also debuted a sapphire crystal over the dial, replacing the former acrylic. The bezel became unidirectional after the patent for the device, which was held by Blancpain for the Fifty Fathoms, had expired. A unidirectional bezel is a vital safety feature in a dive watch because if it accidentally gets knocked, it will overestimate immersion time rather than underestimating it.
However, perhaps the biggest change came with the movement, which was updated to the Cal. 3035. That caliber brought the now-standard balance frequency of 28,800vph, an increase from the 19,800vph of the previous Cal. 1575. A very short-lived reference, the 'Triple Zero' was only produced from mid-1988 until 1989. The only real difference from the ref. 16800 was in the type of metal Rolex used. The ref. 168000 was the first Submariner to be given 904L steel, now employed catalog-wide across all stainless steel Rolex watches in the brand’s current portfolio.
The ref. 16610 is commonly called 'the last of the best' since it is the final example to maintain an aluminum bezel insert and the classic shape of the watch before the "Super Case" was introduced. Launched in 1988, it also benefitted from another upgraded movement, the Cal. 3135, an engine built so well that it remained the Submariner’s movement until just this year.
The stainless steel Rolex Submariner was the last edition released among the first 6-digit generation, following the 2008 unveiling of the yellow gold ref. 116618 and the solid white gold reference 116619. This generation marked the watch's move away from its tool origins. The ref. 116619 was issued with exclusively a blue dial and bezel, earning it the unofficial 'Smurf' nickname due to its all blue and white color profile. The two-tone ref. 116613 followed in 2009 and then, finally, the stainless steel ref. 116610 emerged in 2010. All versions of this contemporary generation of the Submariner received re-designed case proportions referred to by many as the "Super Case" and featured ceramic bezel inserts made from Rolex's proprietary Cerachrom material.
How Much is the Rolex Submariner No-Date?
In the decades following the addition of the date complication to the Submariner line, the no-date Submariner slowly assumed the position of Rolex's entry-level dive watch. The no-date Submariner historically has been priced lower than its date-displaying counterpart. While Rolesor (two-tone) and solid-gold options exist for the Submariner with a date, the no-date version is only available in stainless steel and with a black dial and bezel insert.
Stainless steel models are typically less expensive than two-tone or gold, with the exception of rare references. Vintage examples, such as the reference 5513, will set you back about $13,000. It's counterpart, reference 5512, commands a higher price because it boasts a COSC-rating and was produced in significantly fewer numbers. Prices for that example vary greatly, starting as low as $17,500 and exceeding $50,000.
The more modern ref. 14060 Submariner No-Date costs around $8,000 pre-owned. It's immediate successor with the ceramic bezel, reference 114060, sells for around $10,000 used. The brand-new 2020 Rolex Submariner No-Date with a 41mm case has an official retail price of $8,100.
Pre-Owned Rolex vs. New
Unfortunately, options are limited when it comes to buying the Rolex Submariner No-Date in new condition. The long-running ref. 114060 was recently discontinued in favor of the new model No-Date Submariner ref. 124060. Brand-new stainless-steel sports watches are notoriously difficult to purchase on the retail level. We can only assume the ref. 124060 will be no different and will require a long wait should you choose to invest in one through an authorized dealer. There are, of course, many benefits to buying new vs. pre-owned. The watch will be in pristine condition, never worn before. Additionally, authenticity is not an issue and you will receive the full duration of the manufacturer's warranty.
However, buying new isn't an option for many of Rolex's most desirable models due to demand far exceeding supply. In this case, pre-owned may be the only course. If you know where to shop, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Not only will you be able to skip the waiting list, but many reputable sellers employ certified watchmakers inspect every timepiece that comes through their doors to ensure the watch's authenticity. They are also serviced to bring the watch as close to like-new condition as possible. Coupled with quality Rolex craftsmanship, one could expect a second-hand Rolex to last a lifetime.
What you Should Know Before You Shop for a Pre-Owned Rolex Submariner
Rolex watches will always be a serious investment, which can make shopping pre-owned stressful. Armed with the right information, you can rest assured that you are receiving a good deal and that the watch you are purchasing is 100% genuine. Both factors are crucial to making sure your Rolex remains a good investment for years to come.
Do your research - First and foremost, learn as much as you can about the watch that you wish to purchase. What are its distinguishing features? What is the average price? Knowing this information before you shop will net you the most value.
Find the right seller - There are many options to choose from on the secondary market. A general rule of thumb is to steer clear of platforms, such as Craigslist and eBay because you can never be sure who the actual seller is and if the purchase is guaranteed.
Ask for additional information - Does the watch come with its original parts? Does it have the original box and papers? Has it been serviced? These questions play a role in the watch's overall price and are just a few factors to consider.
Rolex Submariner No-Date References
You've done your research, and now it's time to decide which Submariner No-Date to add to your collection. It would be a daunting task to summarize every early dateless reference within the series as there are countless variations among them, particularly in the model's infancy when Rolex was still perfecting its design. Below is a brief summarization of some of the most notable references produced by Rolex that are worth considering for your next purchase.
Reference 6xxx Series
Rolex Submariner ref. 6536
References 6204 and 6205 were the first in the series. Depending on the reference, the hands are either straight or traditional Mercedes. In a strange move that still mystifies many Rolex aficionados, the distinction "Submariner" was removed from the dial on some ref. 6205 examples and then added again later in production. There are also variations of the placement of the dial text and the shape of the seconds hand. The price for either reference starts out at around $20,000 to $30,000 and then significantly goes up from there depending on the specific examples and its overall condition.
Another notable reference produced during this series is the James Bond "Big Crown" Submariner ref. 6538, which Sean Connery wore in the first 007 film, Dr. No. It is incredibly collectible and features either four or two lines of text on the dial. The editions with four lines were the first in the Submariner collection to include the chronometer distinction on the dial. It was also the first Submariner to offer water-resistance up to 200 meters instead of 100 meters. Due to its status as the original James Bond Rolex and its role in Submariner history, the ref. 6538 commands a premium on the market, upwards of $200,000.
Reference 55xx Series
Rolex Submariner ref. 5512
By 1960, the 55xx series had been introduced, starting with the ref. 5512 (the chronometer-certified model famously worn by Steve McQueen) and its non-chronometer brother, the reference 5513. These two models, especially the ref. 5513, carry such iconic desirability today that they represent grail pieces for many collectors.
In the early 1960s, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth tapped Rolex on the shoulder. Her Royal Navy needed reliable watches for their frogmen, and they chose the ref. 5513 and had a couple of unique requirements. Permanent bars instead of spring-bars so the watch could not come adrift mid-dive. A sword-shaped hour hand would replace the Mercedes-style on the standard production model, and while the original bezel contained only five-minute markers, this soon changed to one-minute hash marks for the whole circumference for the military-issued model.
The watch became known as the MilSub and was eventually given the reference number 5517. It was denoted with an encircled 'T' on the dial for the Tritium luminous material used and first got wet on Royal Navy divers' wrists in 1965. Production of the ref. 5512 ceased in 1978, but the venerable reference 5513 continued until 1990. It was replaced that year by the ref. 14060, which lasted in the lineup for 12 years. References 5512 and 5513 are the most common. Reference 5513 is often more affordable, with prices starting around $10,000. Meanwhile, reference 5512 commands a higher price that starts around $15,000 and can exceed $50,000.
Rolex Submariner ref. 14060
For the first time since a date display was added to the dial in the 1960s, a brand-new date-free edition was released to market in the form of the ref. 14060. Compared to its counterpart with a date (ref. 16610), the ref. 14060 includes similar white gold-trimmed hour markers, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and water-resistance up to 1,000 feet.
In 2002, the ref. 14060 was superseded by the ref. 14060M. The M stood for 'modified' movement, which replaced the Caliber 3000 with Cal. 3130 and brought with it a full balance bridge and a bigger balance wheel. More than a few people consider the ref. 14060M "the last of the best" as it retained the narrow lugs and sleek crown guards of its forefathers before Rolex introduced the broader "Super Case" present in the 6-digit series. For around $8k, you can add the first modern dateless Submariner to your watch box.
Rolex Submariner ref. 114060
Rolex released ref. 114060 in 2012 - the first no-date Submariner to be fitted into the new "Super Case" that had first been used by Rolex in 2008. The newer case has thicker lugs and larger crown guards. The black "Maxi" dial features large luminescent hour markers and "Mercedes" hands that emit a blue glow in the dark, referred to by Rolex as a Chromalight display, rather than the previous green color. This upgrade offers perfect legibility, whether on land or in water - and because it is a No-Date reference, the dial is beautifully balanced and streamlined.
A big enhancement on the Submariner 114060 is the solid-link stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet with an improved folding Oysterlock safety clasp and a new Glidelock extension system that allows for an easy lengthening of the bracelet without the use of any tools. This feature is especially practical when securing the Sub around a wetsuit, and the solid center links and solid end-links (SEL) provide a noticeably more substantial presence on the wrist.
The original ceramic bezel Rolex Submariner No-Date was just discontinued this year. The average price is around $10k. If you've always had your eye on this edition of the Submariner, now is the time to buy.
Rolex Submariner ref. 124060 (Image: aBlogtoWatch)
As we already mentioned, Rolex released a new 41mm dateless Submariner reference in August of 2020. The new movement follows suit behind the brand-new cal. 3235 with a more efficient Chronergy escapement and longer 70-hour power reserve. The biggest difference between the two powerhouse movements is the lack of a date complication within the Caliber 3230.
The bezel remains Cerachrom, which is topped with platinum-coated graduations. Additionally, hour markers and hands are filled with Chromalight blue lume. The "Super Case" has grown 1mm to 41mm in diameter and utilizes a similar flat-link Oyster bracelet secured by a Glidelock clasp; however, the bracelet is now 1mm wider to better match with the case. The reference 114060 and 1166xx series are both now discontinued, superseded by the ref. 124060 and the ref. 1266xx collection.
The Submariner No-Date represents Rolex's original vision for its legendary dive watch, presented in its most traditional, humble, and utilitarian form. The Rolex Submariner was never created to be a luxury item or status symbol; instead, it was designed to be a premium and reliable dive instrument.
While the no-date Submariner entirely lacks options for dial/bezel colors and precious metal configurations, it serves as a reminder that Rolex has not forgotten the heart and soul of its iconic Submariner line, which is exactly why they continue to manufacture a stainless steel dive watch without a date complication.