Rolex Submariner 116610 vs 16610 Comparison

P.J. IngenitoWatch Comparisons53 Comments

The 16610 model of Submariner Date was discontinued in favor of the 116610 model Submariner Date, which is often referred to by its most notable feature as the ceramic bezel Submariner.

So when discussing features, we should start with the bezel.

Rolex 116610 Sub Bezel Dot

Rolex 116610 Sub Bezel Dot

This is the most exciting and visually accessible difference between the two models. The ceramic bezel (officially Cerachrom) insert is certainly interesting as a material. It is for most purposes scratch-proof unlike the 16610 aluminum inserts.

Rolex 116610 Assembly

Rolex 116610 Assembly

I say ‘for most purposes’ because if you hit it hard enough against the right material, you probably could scratch ceramic, but you’d be more likely to shatter it. Now, if you did shatter it, it would likely be very expensive to replace compared with the aluminum bezel insert which can be replaced for about $200. I have yet to see or hear of a broken ceramic bezel, but we have seen a considerable number of aluminum inserts that have needed to be replaced within a few years, so I think the ceramic is a true advantage for most owners.

A scratched 16610 bezel insert

A scratched 16610 bezel insert

What I do not see pointed out frequently is the improvement in the actual mechanism of the bezel.

In the 16610, a single click-spring controlled the bezel’s rotation and it could become stuck or rotate freely. It was also difficult to seat the bezel accurately, the bezel might be a frustrating half tick off of true centered after being replaced during service.

The 116610 uses four click-springs set into the case. This results in a perfect alignment of the bezel markers and a consistently smooth and solid turn.

LUME

The next most noticeable feature is the luminous which has an obvious size difference (so-called Maxi dial) and a less obvious color difference in that it glows bluish-green in the dark instead of green.

Rolex terms the blue luminous as “Chromalight”, although we suspect that it is the same SuperLuminova material that Rolex has been using for years, just with an alternate color. The particular color of blue-green is one that the dark adjusted eye is most sensitive to. So whether or not it is objectively brighter, your eyes are more sensitive to that wavelength and you will perceive it as brighter.

steel-sub-compare 060

Luminous Compare

steel-sub-compare 049 - Copy

Sub C Blue Lume

CASE SIZE

Ostensibly the 16610 Submariner and the 116610 Submariner measure the same 40mm width. However, the 116610 will appear larger on the wrist than 40mm and many who would think a 40mm case too small, find the 116610 to be a good fit.

There are two major reasons for this. The first reason is the crown guard, which is nearly twice as wide on the new model. This gives the impression of a wider case.

Rolex 16610 & Rolex 116610

Rolex 16610 & Rolex 116610

The second reason is the lugs. The lugs are nearly twice as wide on the 116610 meaning the case tapers down much less. So instead of measuring 24mm at the base of the lugs, the measurement is 27mm.
Rolex 16610 & 116610

Rolex 16610 & Rolex 116610 lug to lug

BRACELET AND BUCKLE

The links of the new Submariner date are entirely solid. This is difficult to see without removing a link, so we’ve done that in the photo below.

Oyster Link Comparison

Oyster Link Comparison

This gives the overall bracelet a little extra weight but likely removes the issue of bracelet stretch that has been all too common on Rolex bracelets prior to this.
Rolex Glidelock Clasp

Rolex Glidelock Clasp

The Glidelock clasp is a truly noticeable and great improvement. Not only does it give a greater degree of precision when micro-adjusting for fit, it also makes it easier for owners (as opposed to jewelers) to perform the task of adjusting the bracelet themselves. If you live somewhere hot like we do, you’ll notice your wrist swells in the summer, so an easy micro-adjustment is a godsend.

Rolex Submariner Buckle Comparison

Rolex Submariner Buckle Comparison

Overall, the new 116610 model presents a series of strong, clear improvements over the earlier 16610 model while remaining visually true to the classic form.

We try our best to always have a selection of Rolex 16610 and Rolex 116610 Submariners in stock, however they are great sellers and tough to hold on to. If we don’t have the steel models, we always have some two-tone and solid gold Rolex Subs listed.

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P.J. Ingenito

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53 Comments on “Rolex Submariner 116610 vs 16610 Comparison”

  1. Both great timepieces. I personally prefer the older version’s case; the new models, save the 42mm Exp II, are too blocky looking. My ideal watch is the older version Sub LV, replacing the green aluminum bezel insert with a black one. I love the maxi hour markers and larger hands. I cannot argue with the bracelet and clasp improvements However.

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  3. I owned the new submariner for one week and really did not like it. Yes there are some new features, but I found the watch to be heavy and bulky. I did not like how it fit my wrist compared to the older model which I also own.

  4. Fantastic post! Really well done. I tried both models on and also found the new submariner too bulky and the transition from the case to the band to have too much of a step off. No question I prefer the former model and ended up purchasing an M serial number 2008 submariner and absolutely love it..

  5. I just received my 116610; really like the ceramic bezel: its deep ebony black color is enhanced (my speculation) on the ceramic material. I’ve owned mine for its inaugural 24 hours, and it’s fun to check the time.

  6. Very informative article, and I appreciate all your insights. I’m actually in the process of deciding which rolex submariner model to purchase.

  7. Have both models took a week or so to evaluate the new ceramic love the bezel and the glide lock clasp great for weather changes if u can afford the ceramic model imo go for the sub c

  8. Great article in depth comparison of the two models and own the new model and love it thanks keep up the good work

  9. I’ve purchased my 116610 several months ago and have taken it off since. The watch is a tank, and can take on any normal daily bumps I throw at it without any noticeable wear. I love it’s blue lume at night, its much clearer and vivid than my Omega sea master. I can also adjust it’s Gridlock bracelet subtly throughout the day, as my wrist requires. I’d highly recommend this watch.

  10. While I own the previous gen, it’s extremely clear that the new model is better in every aspect. The lug issue isnt really an issue, as sport watches are expected to be bigger over the past decade.

  11. The 116610 also features an anti-glare date bubble (those of us with 16610 models know the benefit of this).

  12. I also found this to be an extremely helpful comparison. I am currently searching for the right watch. This will be my first really exspensive piece of jewelry and want to get it right…thanks

    1. Go for black submariner ceramic you will love it
      The best watch ever I have the non date
      Which I think is better
      No date spoiling the face
      You have to get a sub..it can Only be a submariner

  13. Owned a Milgauss and really struggled to `love` it. Good watch but couldn`t get into it. The 16610 on the other hand is next I think but it looks like Ill be buying used.

  14. People love to hate Rolex. It’s like, if you work hard, look what you get. Plus ever notice jewelry stores and pawn shops sell used Rolex, but not timex, cassio, etc.?

  15. Submariner ceramic non date 114060 I love this watch and my explorer 2 black new model
    If you are buying your first rolex
    it’s has to be a submariner ceramic or non ceramic date or no date it’s up to you

  16. very helpful review. Got my very first Rolex though its just a 2nd hand Submariner 16610 ( tnx to this, ive known that mine is a 16610 ).

  17. Great comparison!!! One thing you forgot to mention is the laser etching of “ROLEX” all throughout the rehaut (inner bezel) on the 116610. On the 12o’clock position is a Rolex crown and on the 6o’clock position is the random serial number. I just purchased the new sub and absolutely love it.

    1. So everyone is clear on the Raihans post – The later 16610 also include the inner bezel laser etching. I own many Rolex watches, including a daytona and 3 Sus, the 16610 with date remains my favorite.

  18. Great article. Looking to purchase first Rolex. I have decided on the Submariner . Cannot decide whether to purchase one with Date or without the date. I prefer the look without the date. However, interested in knowing which would have a better resale value in the long term. That would be a factor in my final decision. Any input would be appreciated.

    1. I don’t find much difference in resale value, relative to the original retail, in the recent ceramic models 114060 (no-date) and 116610 (date). Beyond the date, they have identical features. However, in the prior non-ceramic models (14060 and 16610) you will find differences in features beyond the date, which have given the 16610 a slightly stronger resale.

  19. Nice piece, good guide for newcomers. Just picked up a 166100, 2001, clean. Very pleased… The Sub is easy to love, you’re so used to seeing it. It’s an icon, even the Rolex haters have to agree. I waited a while to get mine – I have three Omegas 8500 PO, SMPc and Speedy – but if you collect, you’ve gotta have a Sub and Rolex is an immense company, with history and an unequalled focus on organisation and attention to detail. I honestly think the ‘new’ 116610 makes a great choice for the ‘one watch’ person. But if you collect, a good 166100 is all you’ll ever need.

  20. What are the model numbers of the old submariner no date and new submariner ceramic no date? When did the ceramic no date become available? Thanks!

      1. P.J.,

        I bought a new stainless steel and yellow gold Submariner 6 weeks ago from an authorized Rolex dealer. Model number is 116613360B9720. The 3 dots on the crown are small-big-small. My Internet research indicates the dots should be small-small-small, and that the white gold Submariner is small-big-small. What am I missing?

        Thank you.

        Earl (in Houston)

        1. Earl, your internet research is not wrong, it is just not complete. Rolex stopped using gold capped crowns relatively recently. Now that the crowns are solid gold, the small-big-small dot pattern is correct. It is simply an indication that you have a newer model.

  21. Really good article PJ I bought my submariner date ceramic 2 weeks ago and love it! I have been wanting to buy one for 2 years now . But reading your article makes me like it more

  22. Owning several Rolex and Omega watches, I’d like to see Rolex make an improvement to changing only hours, like Omega offers. I travel through time zones and it’s much more convenient just changing the hour hand than having to reset the time which is precisely set. My Submariner 16610 is 17 years old and looks like the day it was purchased. I did have the Submariner serviced once (four years ago) for $675.

  23. Great job! I will buy a sub next year. I love your comparison. I am now sure that the new sub is the right one for me. Not sure about the date yet, but I am giving myself a year to figure that part out. I am only going to spend the money once on this item and it “must” be the right one.

  24. Dear Ben, don’t fool yourself. There is no cure for the Rolex syndrome. After purchasing a Rolex, (your first Rolex), wealth, cars, lovers, and property will multiply exponentially. It just happens. Naturally you can’t wear the same watch in both cars, or at more than one of your estates. Simply buy another watch and move on. We’re always here to support you if you find this phenomenon to be stressful. I’m obfuscating again, but you get my point. KGR Phoenix AZ

  25. Awesome comparison. Been contemplating new sub with new GMT. Recently I’ve gotten an interest in the older subs: 6536, 6538, 5512, or5513.

  26. I have a Sub circa 2005 pre ceramic bezel, purchased new, it’s like a first love for me, went round with Breitling and Panerai’s but the Rolex looks as good as it did when I opened the box. Wow what a watch. I am a fan of the upgrades too, I can’t justify one as it is too similar forms but I do fancy a GMT Batman just need to convince my other first love on that

  27. Excellent review PJ!

    I’m from london but work in Dubai and have noticed Rolex are cheaper here to buy……perhaps tax free.

    The perfect watch to accompany a suit or a T shirt, i have hard a finally decided that the submariner with date is the right choice for me, now with a 5 year warranty i really can’t go wrong. Only down side is most local men & women wear a rolex

  28. I already bought 116610 without knowing the difference since I’m a first time Rolex user… Happy to know that mine is better

  29. Another great comparison. I don’t think you touched on the difference in size in the hour dots and watch hands or maybe I just missed it. Anyway I have an older tritium 16610 and prefer the smaller hour dots to the larger ones. I would prefer the new adjustable bracelet however I would never swap out the original as I think that an original timepiece is more desirable. How often should I have the service to the watch performed? I have owned the watch for four years now and have never had the service done.

    1. Michael, I usually suggest service intervals of four to seven years for your average mechanical watch being worn daily. Much longer (even ten years) is not unusual for a good Rolex. Frequency of wear has an impact on service intervals (much like miles driven in a car) so there is simply not a hard and fast answer. If the watch is keeping time within 10 seconds per day and holding its power reserve while off the wrist, then I don’t see much reason for you to service it quite yet.

  30. Hello just wanted to clarify is the 116610 the same watch as the 114060 ?? Obviously with one of them with date and the other without right?? I love how how the new they made the newer one look a little bigger with the lugs and crown guards. Basically my question is the 114060 the same dimensions as the 116610 ?? Thank you in advance.

  31. I’m a first time Rolex Sub owner, having just scored a very good deal on a 2001 “16620” model. Can you please tell me what differs between this one and the 16610? They’re both date indicators, right?

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