Model: Rolex Submariner 16610 LV
Movement: Mechanical with automatic winding, Caliber 3135, 31 jewels
Power Reserve: 50 Hours
Water Resistance: 300m
Lug Width: 20mm
Watchwinder Direction: Both
Reference Numbers: 16610, 16610LV, 16613
In 1953, Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf introduced a watch that was specifically designed for the unique needs of professionals who work beneath the water’s surface — the famous Rolex Submariner. The watch combined several of Rolex’s most significant design innovations, such as the “Oyster” waterproof watch case (1926), and the perpetual automatic winding mechanism (1931), and was an immediate success. Over time, the Submariner has changed remarkably very little and the Rolex Submariner is to this day one of the most popular, and highly sought after wristwatches in the world. In 2004, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the famous Submariner, Rolex released a special model Submariner at the Basel Watch Fair — reference number 16610 LV.
The 16610 LV differs from the standard 16610 Submariner only in a few key areas to be found on the watch dial and bezel. The most apparent change is the color of the unidirectional rotating bezel — a Rolex green bezel insert is used on the 16610LV instead of the standard-issue black bezel insert. A closer examination of the dial will reveal a second significant cosmetic change. Rolex has given the LV Submariner their signature “Maxi Dial” white gold markers (such as can be found on the Yacht?master) which are larger in diameter than the standard markers that can be found on the 16610. While the differences are relatively subtle, they are notably distinct. The Rolex green bezel is particularly radical for the house of Wilsdorf that historically has had a very conservative approach to style and change. Here’s a photo of my Submariner 16610 LV next to my Submariner 16613 to illustrate the differences in the markers and hands between the two:
The other key factor to understand about the LV Submariner is that it is relatively scarce. Given that it was a brand new model in 2004, clearly the existing supply of 16610LV models is a small fraction when compared to the supply of the standard reference 16610 Submariners (which incidentally is almost always in short supply with authorized dealers due to its ongoing popularity). The 16610 LV also is no longer in production, as it was replaced by the green ceramic bezel and green dial version of the 116610 which Rolex debuted at Basel 2010:
The rest of the features and specifications of the 16610LV are virtually identical to the 16610 Submariner — and this a good thing given the standard set by the 16610. It has the same scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, triplock crown, and flip-lock clasp (with dive suite extension) as the 16610. The 40mm diameter case, as well as the 20mm tapered bracelet, are constructed from the same ultra-high grade 904L stainless steel (the only watch I’m aware of which uses such a high grade of stainless steel) and has the same 300 meters/1000 feet of water resistance. The 16610LV is also equipped with the same fabulous self-winding movement as the 16610 Submariner — the Rolex Caliber 3135.
The 31 jewel Rolex 3135 (designed and manufactured entirely “in house” by Rolex) in the Submariner has been in service since 1989. In those 15 years of services, the 3135 has garnered a reputation as being one of the most reliable and robust watch movements ever created. At the same time, the movement has been criticized at times for lacking refinement and technological sophistication. True, the 3135 won’t win any beauty contests, but intentionally so. It was designed from the beginning as a movement to be encased in a stainless steel Oyster case, and to endure rigorous conditions and treacherous environments — it’s a clear case of function over form. I would also argue that the 3135 isn’t lacking in technological sophistication — Rolex Research and Development is second to none. Rolex has implemented several, truly notable features into the 3135, such as a Breguet overcoil balance-spring, Microstella adjustment screws, and Kif shock absorption. The high-beat movement oscillates at 28,800 beats per hour (BPH). In short, it’s hard to criticize Rolex for setting the benchmarkwhich other manufactures strive to attain. Every Rolex caliber 3135 is COSC tested and certified for the highest standards of accuracy.
The Rolex Submariner is not without fault, but it’s also the archetype which has defined the modern day dive watch for 50 years. It combines Rolex’s exacting manufacturing standards of excellence with undeniable and enduring aesthetic appeal into a watch which remains one of the best watches ever created. I personally owned a 16610 LV Submariner when they first came out, and very much enjoyed the watch – I didn’t get as much wear from the watch as I did with the more versatile black bezel 16610 so I did end up selling it. But perhaps I’ll someday re-acquire one for it’s collectible significance.