What’s the Difference Between the 116610 and 126610 Rolex Submariner?

The Rolex Submariner is beyond an icon. The watch defined an entire segment of timepieces and has retained its classic styling decades after its initial release. Rolex has improved on the watch’s technology and construction over the years, but has only recently (in the last decade) started fiddling with its dimensions. The 116610 Submariner that debuted in 2010 brought a ceramic bezel, the “Super case” design, and an updated bracelet. That design stuck around until last year in 2020, when Rolex showed off the new and improved 126610 Submariner.

Unless you’re a true eagle eye, you won’t be able to see the differences from across the room, or even from across the table, in most cases. There were some changes between the two, however, so let’s take a look at the updates Rolex made to the iconic Submariner with the latest release.

Size

With the move from 116610 to 126610, Rolex increased the Submariner’s size from 40mm to 41mm, making it the largest watch in the Submariner’s history. This, in turn, brought a larger dial and a tweaked handset. The minute and hour hands are just a bit larger to reach the edges of the larger dial and everything is spaced further out for a cleaner, more balanced appearance. To denote the new generation watch on the dial itself, Rolex added a crown logo between “Swiss” and “Made” at six o’clock as well.

Proportions

The increase in case size to 41mm gave Rolex an opportunity to rework some of the Submariner’s dimensions. Some complained that the previous Submariner’s lugs were too thick and that the crown guard was too chunky. The 126610 Submariner has slimmer lugs that have a more delicate taper, which softens the boxy look that the previous watch had. The crown guard has also been slimmed, giving the watch a more balanced and refined look overall.

Bracelet

Don’t worry. The legendary Oyster bracelet is still on board. The difference here is with its size and taper. The 126610 Sub’s lugs are further apart, now at 21mm instead of the 116610’s 20mm lug. The bracelet was widened to meet that requirement, but it still tapers to a comfortable size under the wrist. Further, the incredibly useful Glidelock system is still in place, allowing the wearer to adjust the bracelet in or out by up to 20mm on the fly. 

Movement

The caliber 3135 that powered the previous Rolex Submariner had been around for over 30 years, and while it was still a capable movement, its age was starting to show. With the 12661, Rolex added the 3235 movement, which had already proved itself in the Sea-Dweller and Deapsea since 2015. It improved on its predecessor with a 70-hour power reserve, a new rotor design, and several updates to the internal workings of the movement that increase its shock resistance and accuracy. The no-date Sub picked up a brand-new 3230 movement as well.

If you’re looking to get your hands on a Rolex Submariner, there is absolutely no way to go wrong with either the 116610 or the 126610. Both models are in extremely high demand, so your chances of finding one is just as good as the other. If you’re shopping new and willing to wait, the only model your local jeweler carries new, unless it’s old stock, is the 126610. Happy hunting!