Rolex Submariner 126619LB White Gold Blue Bezel
When it comes to refreshing an iconic collection, Rolex's approach is always about restyling rather than shaking things up; unless the brand introduces new proofs of a concept like a Sky-Dweller or a Yacht-Master 2. The Rolex Submariner is like a traditional recipe passed down from one generation to another; if you're ready to change any of the ingredients, you won't affect the final taste. In the end, who's so crazy to drastically redesign the most sought-after sports watch in over half a century? No one is, I assume. Therefore, when discussing new Rolex watches belonging to mainstream collections, the sentence "it's a new watch!" has a whole different meaning.
As far as the 2020 new Submariner collection concerns, we were supposed to get our hands on the new Rolex Submariner with Green Bezel or Rolex Cermit. However, our agenda changed all of a sudden. You'll discover the green bezel Submariner sometime soon, I hope, and as soon as I'll collect mine at a Rolex official AD. Meanwhile, we had a chance to go up close with the top-of-the-range new Rolex Submariner 126619LB in white gold. Not a bad option, after all, isn't' it? With that said, here is our first time we review a Rolex Sub gold and the latest generation Submariner. Quite an exclusive chance to dissect what makes new and phased-out Subs stand apart, through a reference 126619LB, the pinnacle of the Rolex Submariner 2020/2021 collection's offering.
If we quickly scroll 2020 in a review:
Baselworld is out. Rolex has postponed the new product launch to September the 1st. It's quite a brilliant move, given the brand went under the spotlights immediately after the summer break. From a communication strategy standpoint, Rolex raised the expectations so high that once they pulled the trigger, the Internet was flooded with everything new-Submariner related. Back then, any Rolex related topic skyrocketed according to Google Trends; thus, the 2020 new Submariner collection was in the headlines, globally, for almost a week, longer and better than any other watch brand had ever achieved.
Did the new Submariner change? Yes, it did. No, it did not.
Talking about a new Rolex watch is like stepping into a chemistry laboratory. It's all about changing tiny details here and there that, once combined, always make the magic happen. I think a Rolex Design team's task when restyling the new Submariner is as challenging and risky as Michael Mauer's when drawing a line of the next 911 gen. Again, it all has to do with managing icons in their respective class of products. From an enthusiast's point of view, let's be honest and admit the newly introduced caliber is somewhat pointless and barely appealing to any potential buyer; those who are today buying a Rolex sports watch are often regardless of what's ticking side, proven robustness and long-term reliability, any Rolex watch is known for, excluded.
Please prove me wrong, but the main topics of discussion among the old or new Sub supporters were primarily on new Vs. Old case and bracelet design, and how the tens of millimeters, rather than millimeters, along with new color options, set the 2020 Submariner apart from its 10-year-lifecycle old reference models. From a size standpoint, the main differences between the 40mm "Super Case" Submariner and the new 41mm Submariner are negligible. What is not insignificant, instead, is where the designers applied such changes.
We all found out the case width gap is below the one mil threshold, for example. In contrast, the lug to lug has grown from 20 to 21 mil; by shaving off half a millimeter, side by side, the lugs look as thinner as the bracelet is wider than ever before. The original "Super Case" has been thus replaced by a sleeker, more elegant silhouette. The hour hand is now larger, and the minute hand so long to touch the minute track. According to unofficial sources, Rolex aimed at somewhat going back to its roots and draw inspiration from five and four-digit product references, highly appreciated by the most enduring Rolex watch aficionados. The devil is in the detail; that's why I love the crowned logo placed amidst the words "Swiss" and "Made" at six.
As stated above, the Rolex caliber 3235 is housing the 2020 Submariner. The Rolex Submariner 126619LB (Lunette Bleu) will run for seventy hours when fully wound, adopts the Chronergy escapement, and has a +/- 2 seconds per day accuracy. It is no breaking news, and we extensively reviewed the 3235 elsewhere; the latest Submariners are now housing the state-of-the-art Rolex mechanical movements. I'll rather spend more time talking about the new black dial, making the old Smurf look too fleshy when placed alongside the fair, more refined new one.
Rolex is usually short on details when introducing any new model or collection; the task is up to the watch community, with collectors, "wanna-be," haters spending most of their time scrutinizing the tiniest differences between old and new generation. This kind of strategy has long since paid off and keeps growing the halo effect surrounding any new Rolex watch released, including long, endless discussions that end up placing the spotlights on any new timepiece.
Rolex masters communication and brand awareness like no other in the industry. To sum this new Sub up, here are my thoughts; as stated in the introduction, this is the first time I ever write about a Gold Submariner, and we review one as a magazine. I love the white gold Submariner, and it is the one I would pick among the top-of-the-range options; I never disregarded the now-old reference in white gold, but I feel the new Submariner 126619LB has an elegant and subtle touch to it, the phased-out model is missing.
I believe Rolex is embarking on a new chapter, aimed at grabbing the attention of a more classic, refined, and possibly European audience than ever before. I also hope this design process will welcome a further case-thickness reduction along the way, thus closing the gap between modern and older four or five-digit Rolex Oyster watches further. The Rolex Submariner 126619LB retails for 38,000 Euros. Most watch fans might argue it's a crazy price for a three-hander, and, case in point, there's no reason for purchasing a white gold Submariner. Assuming that those who can afford a Rolex 126619LB do include other (and even more expensive) luxury watches in their collection, I think the 2020 Submariner in white gold is the best looking new Sub. The feel on your wrist, how the in-house manufactured Rolex white gold shines, the blue bezel with contrasting black dial make it for a Submariner as appealing as refined in the luxury sports watch category.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®