Rolex Submariner 40mm vs 41mm

It is often said that changes in Rolex watches are more about evolutions than revolutions. Every change they make in their watches have been especially gradual, that even the smallest of changes make headlines.

That’s why the new Rolex Submariner models have disrupted the entire industry. Aside from the fact that releases were not expected from Rolex this year due to the pandemic, the new Submariner models marked the end of an era.

Historically speaking, the Rolex Submariner has been sized at 40mm or less since its inception, and for the first time in its history, its Oyster case has been enlarged to 41mm.

However, if we only looked at the diameter size, we’ll be missing the finer points of the Rolex Submariner’s update. Let’s dig deeper and look at what sets the new Rolex Submariner apart from its predecessor.



The newly released 41mm Rolex Submariners replace the 40mm versions, which will now be out of production. Eight new Rolex Submariner references have been unveiled by Rolex, all measuring 41mm, presented with the Oyster bracelet and equipped with the extendable Glidelock system.

It’s available in stainless steel with references 124060LN (Non-Date), 126610LN (Date), and 126610LV with a green Cerachrom bezel. This revives the “Kermit” green bezel and black dial colorway which was first introduced in 2003.


Rolex Submariner 41mm: Non-Date, Date Green and Black Bezel  | photo: Rolex

The Rolex Submariner 41mm also comes in solid gold and Rolesor (steel and gold) references. The Rolesor references come in stainless steel and yellow gold, with a choice of a black dial and bezel (126613LN) and a blue dial and bezel (126613LB). These come with two solid yellow gold counterparts (126618LB and the 126618LN).

Rounding off the collection is the solid 18k white gold model (126619LB); which features a blue bezel and black dial. Collectors consider this an update to the Rolex “Smurf” from 2008, which features an all white gold finish and a blue dial and bezel.


Rolex Submariner 41mm: Rolesor, 18k Yellow Gold, 18k White Gold  | photo: Rolex



Rolex Submariner 40mm: Steel 16610 and Steel Ceramic Bezel 116610


Prior to this update, the last time that the Rolex Submariner was updated was in the early 2010s. The previous generation of Rolex Submariners were updated with the Cerachrom ceramic bezel, beginning with the Submariner Date (ref 116610) in 2010, followed by the Submariner Non-Date in 2012 (ref 114060).

They were also equipped with the “Super” case, which has broader and squarer lugs, bigger crown guards, and a beefier look and feel overall. The difference is quite noticeable when they are placed next to the previous generation of five-digit reference Submariners with aluminum bezel inserts, particularly the 16610 (seen above).

Prior to the black bezel models, models of the Rolex Submariner 40mm were already released with the Cerachrom bezel, such as the 18k white gold “Smurf” in 2008, the yellow gold editions in 2009, and the green dial and bezel “Hulk” in 2010.


Rolex Submariner 40mm: Steel 16610 and Steel Ceramic Bezel 116610




This time around, we’re getting an update to the whole Rolex Submariner line-up all at once. Aside from the 1mm increase in diameter, it comes with a new look and feel, and a new movement.


Despite the wider 41mm case, the new Rolex Submariner actually looks and feels more similar to a vintage Submariner than to its immediate predecessor. The lugs have been made longer and slimmer, and the crown guards are thinner, giving it a more tapered profile. This makes it ideal for Submariner fans who find the previous generation too bulky.


Rolex Submariner 41mm Non-Date

Other changes are just as subtle, they are easy to miss: The bracelet is now 21mm (from 20mm), tapering down to 19mm. There are now two crowns that appear on the dial. Where there used to be just the “Swiss Made” text, the 6 o’clock position now has the Rolex crown between those two words, and they’re positioned right at the bottom of the dial, with the minute markers located above the text, instead of below them.


Within the new Submariner also beats a new generation of movements. They feature the in-house caliber 3230 (non-date function) or 3235 (date function). These movements result in increased power reserve of 70 hours (from 48 hours), and have been updated to a precision of -2/+2 seconds per day. They are also equipped with the Parachrom blue hairspring and Chronergy escapement – all resulting in more accurate and superior timekeeping.



Changes to the Rolex Submariner are sure to please some; or have others pining for the previous generation of Submariners. Such is the way of the watch world. They’re still available at SwissWatchExpo, whose wide selection of pre-owned Rolex Submariners will have something to suit every taste.





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