Since the cancellation of Baselworld earlier this year, we gave up hope as a community of seeing new Rolex releases. However, Rolex announced that on September 1st, 2020 they would be releasing some new watches. 

Speculation and excitement began to grow around the new watches. September 1st brought about three major changes to three models for the Swiss brand. 

Rolex announced a new selection of Submariners, an updated Sky-Dweller and some big changes to the entry-level Oyster Perpetual. It’s safe to say that Rolex has divided opinions with these releases. But is it possible to say that the new releases are the most refined and elegant releases from Rolex yet? Here we discuss the changes to the Rolex Submariner. 

How has the Rolex Submariner changed?

2020 Rolex Submariner Date comparison

Photo Credit: Hodinkee

When most think about watches there’s usually one watch that springs to mind before others, the Rolex Submariner. It has one of the strongest cult followings, holds an abundance of historical clout and has proved to be the primary model for the most recognisable brand in the industry. 

Everything has gone so well for the Rolex Submariner over the last fifty or so years. The case size has been perfect, it’s proved to be rugged and dependable and somewhat classy as well, for a tool watch at least. But the recent changes from Rolex moves the model further away from the traditional Submariner we’re used to. 

First, let’s start with the general upgrades that occur on both the no-date and date Submariner. 

Size Increase 

The big change that is on everyone’s lips currently is the case size increase. All new Submariners, regardless of whether it has a cyclops or not, will be increased to 41mm. 

Many of you are probably thinking, it already wore large enough, why make it bigger? Initially, I think that was the thought of many. However, despite the case size increases they’ve slimmed down the lugs to create a sleeker-looking case design. 

When you see the old 114060 and the new 124060 side-by-side, for example, there’s very little difference in size. 

At a glance, they look almost identically proportioned, except for the new Submariners sleeker case design. So, to that end, the new case size increase may put a few people off on paper, but in reality, there’s very little difference and very little to be worried about.

Rolex is clearly following the “bigger is always better” trend with their watches.


Another across-the-board change is to the bracelet on the Submariners; Rolex has broadened the centre links on the Oyster bracelet to give it a more rounded overall look. 

The new bracelet also features a redesigned clasp with a sliding extension system and a refined construction that enhances its overall durability and comfort. 

These updates have resulted in a more robust and secure bracelet that better complements the watch’s updated case design.

The Submariner ref. 124060

2020 Rolex Submariner on wrist

Photo credit: Hodinkee

The no-date Submariner, the reference 124060 now boasts a new movement, the calibre 3230 boosting the power reserve to 70 hours. 

Despite these changes, the 124060 remains true to its origins. It packs a sporty appeal but also proves to be rugged, much like any modern tool watch from Rolex. 

We see other minor changes that are hard to spot and take time to notice, such as the coronet now planted on the dial, dividing “Swiss Made”. 

The changes we see from the no-date are certainly interesting, they’re not irrational but do beg the question are Rolex bowing to trends? I think that with the case size, they are following what the market is demanding of them. 

But then again, you can expect prices on the second-hand market to rise quite dramatically amidst the hype, so buying a 40mm Submariner, if the 41mm doesn’t appeal to you would be doable. 

If you want a solid movement, a larger case size and the rugged dependability of a modern submariner, choose the 124060. 

The Submariner Date models

Photo Credit: WatchBox

This is where things get particularly interesting. The Submariner Date in stainless steel, two-tone and precious metal is seeing some big changes. 

Much like the no-date, there are upgrades to the case size and the bracelet dimensions. We also see a movement upgrade, a first for the Date for a long while. It now leverages the 3235 movement, upgrading from the 3135 movement that Rolex had used for a long time. 

The Date models also offer a great deal of variation when it comes to price points ranging from just shy of £10,000 up to just shy of £40,000, meaning there’s something for everyone.

The introductions that are worthy of discussion and where we’re seeing big changes are the green and blue bezel options. 

The new version of the Smurf, if you like, now has a blue bezel but a black dial, instead of being blue on blue. This is probably the best-looking out of all the releases. Many may think that they are following in Tudor’s footsteps, but this model is in a whole league of its own. 

At a quick glance, this is a regular Submariner with a blue bezel, in fact, it’s in white gold. The other highlight, aside from an all-yellow gold and some two-tone watches, is the green bezel model. 

The Submariner Date in green, which is neither a hulk nor a Kermit, has, by some, been nicknamed the Starbucks. It sports a black dial and a crisp Cerachrom green bezel. Much like the new blue bezel watch, it is far more subtle and refined than it’s the previous generation. 

Overall Takeaways

What have we learnt from the Rolex Submariner releases? Ultimately, Rolex has made nuanced changes in the quest for perfecting the Submariner. 

Are they going to annoy the purists? Maybe, the case size increase is somewhat unconventional. But, have they succeeded in improving the Submariner? 

I think so. They’ve created, by and large, some more refined-looking and slimmer watches. 

We also see upgraded movements which are always good to see from major brands; it shows that a great deal of time and effort has gone into the research and development of these new releases. 

Undoubtedly, like most Rolex releases, we are going to see a great deal of hype around these watches. Expect prices to soar on the secondary market. 

Rolex has made some unconventional changes here, but for the most part, these releases are exciting and set the benchmark for dive watches to come, not only from Rolex but other brands as well. 

Rolex has certainly improved the Submariner line for the better, they look and appear to be the most refined Submariners to date.