The Rolex Submariner is one of our favorite watches. It is a pure classic, which has evolved gradually over the years, undergoing enhancements without dramatic changes. It is, at its core, an extremely well-designed diver’s watch, that has (for good reason) been replicated by numerous other luxury brands.
We just love this watch, and have, ourselves, worn many variations of the traditional Submariner model over the years. Recently we did a side by side comparison of a newer, ceramic bezel model (est. 2011) and a slightly older stainless steel bezel model (est. 2005).
- Both watches are the same 40mm case size, black face, date complication, oyster finish bracelet. And since a comparable brand new Submariner is going to cost you $8500 retail, they both offer great values.
- We really enjoyed wearing each watch, and the differences are subtle. They both offer exactly the same fashion look, so to the eyes of anyone checking out your watch, the impact is the same – great looking Rolex classic watch.
- Both have the same stainless case, sapphire crystal and oyster bracelet design and finish.
- Both have the same rotating bezel which is one of the best designs for a timer (by rotating the bezel counter clockwise, you align the arrow with the minute hand, and keep track of elapsed time without the risk of a chronograph stopping).
- The newer model has larger markers with more luminescence on the face, making it just a bit easier read (important for anyone with aging eyes).
- The durability of the bezel is higher on the newer model, given the superior ability of ceramic to resist scratches and dents.
- The clasp on the newer model is thicker, and feels a bit more solid.
Conclusion: After 2 days of wearing each, we prefer the ceramic model, mainly because the increased heft of the clasp when putting the watch on, but also because the increased luminosity makes it very easy to read in lower lighting conditions.
Overall the difference between the two watches comes down to very subtle improvements in the design, however, those improvements, at least for us, are certainly meaningful ones.