|Case||Oyster, 40mm, yellow gold|
|Crown||Screw down, triple lock Triplock waterproofness system|
|Bezel||Unidirectional rotatable 60-minute graduated, scratch-resistant Cerechrom insert in ceramic, numerals and graduations coated in platinum|
|Movement||Perpetual, mechanical, self-winding Calibre 3135|
|Crystal||Scratch resistant sapphire, Cyclops lens (2.5x) over date|
|Waterproofness||Waterproof to 300m / 1,000 ft|
|Power Reserve||Approximately 48 hours|
|Functions||Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous date with rapid setting. Stop seconds for precise time setting.|
|Bracelet||Oyster, flat three-piece links, with folding Oysterlock safety clasp with Rolex Glidelock extension system (5mm)|
The yellow gold Rolex Submariner, reference 116618LB is one of those watches that needs no introduction. It is the ultimate incarnation of a model dating back to 1953; the first divers’ watch rated to a depth of 100m.
Since that time the Submariner’s water resistance has increased to 300m, improving both its versatility and longevity. And let’s not forget this was a piece initially designed in stainless steel, for rugged sporting endeavours. So why would Rolex manufacture one using solid yellow gold, a material renowned for its malleability?
Let’s not kid ourselves; practically, that argument has no place in modern day horology. The Submariner might have been created for divers in the 1950’s but no one in their right mind would use one of these watches for that purpose now, especially when there are dedicated dive watches on the market that give you significantly more useful information than just the time and date.
Now in the 21st century, Rolex has become a status symbol and, in precious metal, that status is amplified. Moreover, when combining the manufacturer’s carefully toned yellow gold with a sunburst blue dial and blue ‘Cerachrom’ ceramic bezel, you start to realise this is a watch that wants to be seen, not hidden away in the depths of the ocean.
Let’s talk about the colours. Firstly, the blue dial is nothing short of a sensation. Every now and then Rolex creates something special and, with this dial, it did just that. It has a gradient of colour that few others can compete with; on occasion it hits the depths of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge with a deep blue black, whilst on others it explodes with a midnight purple. Mesmerising is putting it mildly.
Gone are the days when buying a Rolex would mean the patina would gradually change over time. For some that means a loss of character and, almost certainly, a reduction in the exponential rise in value we have seen in used pieces. But what is lost in said maturation, a nigh on indestructibility is gained. The colouring of the Cerachrom is an expensive process but Rolex has mastered it, meaning not only a depth of colour to the bezel that will not wane over time but also a sharpness to the contrast between it and the gold applied minute markers. It is an evolution with the times and it adds to the model’s versatility and clarity.
As with any Submariner, including reference 116618LN, the dial is easily legible and the Chromalight display has an impressive duration of luminescence.
Crafted out of solid yellow gold, this is a heavy watch. On one hand that means the striking colours of the dial and bezel are offset to stunning effect by Rolex’s own foundry’s precious metal. Additionally it means you can feel precisely why it costs over £26,000. But what you gain in this regard significantly reduces its versatility. Whilst technically, given it is made out of precious metal, it could be perceived as a dress watch, one can’t help but feel it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This is not a piece that wants to subtly slip under a double cuff and suit jacket, only daring to show its crown when, whilst sat at the dinner table, one reaches for a glass of port. Instead, it is bold and beautiful and, much like a peacock, will seize any opportunity it can to display its plumage. Indeed to not let it would be a travesty so, in my view, it should be worn accordingly; smart casual, with jeans and a t shirt or, preferably, accompanying swimming shorts whilst lying by a pool sipping margaritas.
As with all current Rolex Professional models the 116618LB comes with almost bombproof robustness in terms of both movement, bracelet and clasp. This piece looks and feels like Fort Knox and you can tell it hails from a manufacturer that can afford to spend significant time and funds on research and development.
The Rolex Submariner, reference 116618LB, retails for £26,350. Given it is a precious metal version it is not as difficult to find as its lesser stainless steel siblings, albeit a short wait might be required to acquire one through a boutique. Despite this, there is little drop in value on the secondary market, with a good one to be had for around £21-23,000.