The beginnings of the Submariner

Despite the admiration of the Rolex Submariner story, The Submariner was not the first water resistant watch Rolex crafted. The Rolex Submariner back story goes even further to the 1930’s when Panerai produced ‘tool watch’ a 47mm cushion-shaped Oyster case watch. This was fitted with a pocket watch movement and set up an affiliation with Panerai who at the time were specialists in diving equipment. The Submariner that we know today hasn’t changed enormously since its release at Basel watch fair in 1954. It has gone on to be not only become one of the most iconic timepieces in the world, but also one of the most desired and emulated. Between 1953 and 1954 three different versions were produced, the 6200, 6204 & 6205 these all differed slightly.

First came the 6200 ‘Big Crown’ only a small number of these submariners were produced. The 6200 had a thicker case in comparison to the 6204 & 6205 models. It also came with a larger winding crown and was marked ‘Brevet’ this is derived from the French word brevette meaning Patented. The 6200 was made with an explorer type dial, pencil shaped luminous hands and a ‘lollipop’ second hand. These explorer dials also featured an equilateral triangle at 12 o’clock, were as later models would go on to have a more elongated triangle. Earlier versions didn’t have the word Submariner or any depth indication printed on the dial although the watch had been tested & depth rated to 200 meters

The 6204 was also produced in 1953 and had slight differences to the dial and crown. It was the first of all the models to display Submariner in small print on the dial this version also has a larger gap between the words oyster & perpetual and had a more elongated crown in comparison to the 6200. The crown was smaller and displayed a Swiss cross instead of the former ‘brevette’. In 1954 the 6204 was re-launched they made the submariner logo larger and was issued to the British Royal Navy.

The 6205 was the third model to be produced this watch was very similar to the 6204 model but didn’t always display the Submariner logo, confusingly and for reasons unknown there are a few 6204 models where the submariner logo has been masked by black paint consistently in the same place and of the same size this suggests it was done at the time of manufacture. But by late 1954 all were being fashioned with the submariner logo and in 1960 the Submariner name was finally registered to Rolex