Back in early April 2020, in the midst of widespread event cancellations and lockdowns as a result of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, Rolex announced it would be delaying its 2020 novelty releases indefinitely. While this announcement sent ripples throughout the watch industry at the time, the brand has finally revealed its new models for the year, and the results are more than worth the wait. The best-selling Submariner line has been dramatically overhauled (by Rolex’s famously conservative standards, at least) with new cases, movements, and revised dial designs, creating a new baseline for the world’s most famous dive watch as the industry heads into a new decade. Of the four new models released by the brand, perhaps the most interesting of the set is the stainless steel Rolex Submariner 126610LV, which revives the classic “Kermit” green bezel and black dial colorway with a more subdued, luxurious, and modern style. As the new face of the Rolex Submariner line in green with the official retirement of the bold green dial Rolex Submariner 116610LV “Hulk,” the Rolex Submariner 126610LV carries one of the heaviest legacies in luxury watchmaking with impressive aplomb.
Model: Submariner 126610LV
Water Resistance: 300 meters
Case Material: Stainless steel
Crystal/Lens: Sapphire w/date cyclops
Movement: manufacture Caliber 3235: COSC certified automatic three hand w/date
Strap/Bracelet: Stainless steel Oyster bracelet
Price & Availability: Available now through authorized dealers, $9,550
Updates to any of Rolex’s stainless steel models are usually more about evolution than revolution, as with a legacy as popular and iconic as the Rolex Submariner line it can be difficult to change too much without alienating some part of the consumer base. By the standards of the famously conservative Rolex brand philosophy, however, the 41mm 904L stainless steel case of the Rolex Submariner 126610LV is a substantial leap forward. The previous generation of Submariners focused primarily on making the classic Sub profile bolder and more impactful, with wider lugs, a larger bezel, and an overall heftier apparent presence on the wrist without substantially changing the dimensions. For the Submariner 126610LV and its stablemates, however, Rolex has responded to the trend over the past decade towards more refined, slimmer, vintage-inspired designs. As a result, the new 126610LV’s case is more classically proportioned than its predecessor, with narrower, more vintage style lugs and a more streamlined appearance through the case sides. The approach to reaching this point may seem almost counter-intuitive at first, with an actual increase in diameter from 40mm to 41mm for this new generation, but the way the Rolex Submariner 126610LV wears this visual weight makes a difference that far outweighs the slight numerical increase. Thanks in part to a slightly thinner overall case thickness, this new design helps the Rolex Submariner 126610LV to feel more in line with the classic Submariner models of the ‘60s and ‘70s than its purposefully modern cousins like the 116610LV “Hulk.” Of course, it wouldn’t be a modern Rolex Submariner without 300 meters of water resistance, and naturally, the new model delivers dutifully on this front.
The largest change for the case of the Rolex Submariner 126610LV, however, comes courtesy of the bezel. Like the rest of the design tweaks, this is a subtle, evolutionary change rather than an out-and-out reimagining, but the impact on the look is dramatic. This is the first time a Submariner has combined a green bezel with a black dial since the original Submariner 16610LV “Kermit” was discontinued in 2010, and the approach this time around is far more subdued. The aluminum bezel used for the original “Kermit” took on a vibrant, almost Kelly green tone, in addition to its narrow old-school width. For the Rolex Submariner 126610LV, however, the brand takes on a far more serious and restrained character. The green bezel here is a deep, desaturated, forest green hue, with a much wider and more substantial presence when viewed from above. Naturally, this also brings the green on black colorway in line with Rolex’s modern Cerachrom ceramic bezel inserts, giving the look some added depth thanks to the lustrous ceramic sheen and etched diving scale. Whether this shift towards a more restrained green hue will be a hit with consumers will likely be a point of contention. When the “Kermit” was first released in 2003, Rolex brand faithful cried foul, with many considering the bright green hue too garish for the serious tool watch design of the Submariner. That said, the model has since gone on to gather its own cult following. This darker, more restrained tone goes a long way towards making the design feel more refined and luxurious but also feels less instantly recognizable at a glance. With that in mind, the Rolex Submariner 126610LV may be due for a new nickname. The “Kermit II” may be an obvious choice for a moniker, but to my eye, the shade of green calls to mind the deep Highland Green paint used for the famous 1968 Ford Mustang GT fastback driven by Steve McQueen in the classic film “Bullitt.” Perhaps a more fitting nickname for the Rolex Submariner 126610LV, then, would be the “Bullitt.”
Like the case, the dial of the Rolex Submariner 126610LV is less revolutionary than evolutionary, but the changes here are even subtler. While this is still undeniably a modern Submariner, with the iconic Mercedes hands and applied diver indices, the proportions are once again slimmed down for a more vintage look. In this case, that mostly takes the form of shrinking the indices, moving away from the aggressive “maxi dial” look of the previous generation of Submariners. Other changes to the dial for the Rolex Submariner 126610LV are negligible, with the most immediately noticeable being a small crown emblem in the middle of the “Swiss Made” text at 6 o’clock to signify the new movement within.
The powerplant inside the Rolex Submariner 126610LV is Rolex’s own manufacture Caliber 3235 automatic movement. First appearing in the brand’s lineup in 2015, the Caliber 3235 has steadily been replacing the decades-old Caliber 3135 in Rolex sports models since to become the standard three-hand date movement across the lineup. Surprisingly, the Rolex Submariner 126610LV and the Submariner line as a whole are nearly the last series of models to make this transition, with only the Date 34 still using the old movement. In terms of performance, the Caliber 3235 is a generational shift over its predecessor, offering a robust 70-hour power reserve to the Caliber 3135’s 48 hours with no increase in size. The Caliber 3235 maintains a steady 28,800 bph beat rate, is both COSC chronometer-certified and passes Rolex’s more stringent in-house Superlative Chronometer standards. Other modern amenities of the Caliber 3235 include an instantaneous date adjustment, a proprietary Parachrom hairspring, and an innovative efficient Chronergy escapement.
Rolex pairs the Submariner 126610LV with the latest generation of the iconic three-link stainless steel Oyster bracelet. The look is more or less the same as previous iterations, but the tolerances have been tightened even further along with slight proportional changes to keep this as the gold standard of three link bracelets. This latest iteration of the Oyster also maintains the Glidelock micro-adjusting clasp for easy comfort on a variety of wrists.
While the release of the Rolex Submariner 126610LV and its stablemates was delayed nearly five full months, the impact of this new generation of Submariner models is in no way lessened. Whether this becomes the “Kermit II,” the “Bullitt,” or a completely new name in the Rolex collector lexicon, the Rolex Submariner 126610LV is sure to leave a mark on the enthusiast community. The Rolex Submariner 126610LV is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $9,550 USD. For more information, please visit Rolex brand website.