Rolex Hulk, History of the Submariner Beast

The iconic Rolex Hulk Submariner was born from a risky design that shocked watch fans. Nowadays, watch collectors can’t get enough of the Hulk. This beast made an instant impact, and its value has been steadily rising ever since.

If there is one iconic watch instantly recognizable and admired by all, it’s the Rolex Submariner.

In the long history of horology (watch or clock making), many brands have entered the marketplace dazzling consumers with intricate craftsmanship and aesthetic design. Yet, few have captured the attention of the masses and collectors alike than Rolex.

The Rolex Submariner made history when it launched in 1954 as the first diving watch water resistance to 100 meters.

Over the decades, the Submariner went through different modifications and design tweaks, crafting timepieces from various materials and improving mechanisms.

Rolex Hulk Packs a Punch

Then in 2010, Rolex took a daring path and launched the Rolex Submariner Date 116610LV, also known as the Hulk.

The dark green bezel and dial hue came as a surprise to enthusiasts, and it took a bit of time for the skepticism to wane.

Not long after the Hulk entered the market, it became a modern classic. The Hulk’s sleek, refined design meets a bold, color aesthetic while retaining impeccable functionality.

Being part of Submariner heritage means maintaining world-class craftsmanship and design. The Submariner series has become so valuable, collectors have been buying up various timepieces as a lucrative investment asset.

Vintage Rolex

Currently, one could sell a second-hand Submariner for up to 100% of its retail value. Moreover, auction houses have brought the hammer down on Submariner’s value for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In 2015 alone, a 1972 Rolex Submariner sold at Philip Watches Auction for $365,000.  

It is no surprise that Rolex Submariners are not only cherished by enthusiasts but valued as an investment. The Rolex Submariner Hulk is already a collector’s item and an icon in the world of horology.

This article will dive into the origins of the Submariner series, how the Hulk came about, and why it is a valuable timepiece to collect.

  • Brief Overview of Rolex
  • The Origins of the Submariner
  • How the Hulk Came About
  • Why is it Valuable and Why Add it to Your Collection?

Brief Overview of Rolex

Today, Rolex is synonymous with luxury and prestige. Yet, further back in its history, that was not the original intention.

Over its almost 120-year history, Rolex had one overarching mission: to create the most reliable and robust timepieces in the watch market.

Rolex was a comparatively young company compared to other watch manufacturers such as Patek Philippe founded in 1839, and Omega in 1848. As with all great companies, Rolex has an intriguing story and humble beginnings.

Hans Wilsdorf the Founder

The Rolex watch company was founded by German watchmaker Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis in 1905.

At 20, Wilsdorf became fascinated with horology while working as an English correspondent at Cuno Korten, an exporter of Swiss pocket watches in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland.

Wilsdorf moved to London, inspired to make pocket watches as robust and convenient wrist-warm timepieces. After seeing similar but not fully successful wristwatches manufactured by Aegler in Bienne, Switzerland.

After arriving in London, Wilsdorf obtained a job at a watch-making company.

After gaining insight into the company’s marketing techniques, Wilsdorf partnered with Alfre Davis, a businessman who later married Wilsdorf’s younger sister. In 1905 they launched their own watch company Wilsdorf & Davis.

The Beginning of Rolex Wristlets

While the company worked to sell watches and spare parts, Wilsdorf wanted to bring wristwatches or “wristlets” as they were called into the mainstream market. In the same year, Wilsdorf placed a massive order of Aegler’s wristlets and proceeded to build a market for them.

In three years the Wilsdorf & Davis company achieved outstanding success producing wristwatches for both men and women in several casings and strap designs.

By 1908, Wilsdorf wanted a name that could cement his brand into the marketplace, something easy to pronounce and remember. During a carriage ride through London, the name came to him: “Rolex.”

He registered the name days later but only in 1910 did his first-ever Rolex receive official chronometer certification from the Official Bureau of Watch Observation in Bienne.

Setting up Shop in Switzerland

During war times, Wilsdorf moved Rolex headquarters to Bienne. The main reason was to avoid the steep import tax at the time. He also acquired the Aegler factory and renamed it Rolex Watch Co. in 1914. Later Wilsdorf relocated to Geneva.

The brand continued to gain popularity as its convenient, accurate timekeeping proved consistent.

However, the company sort to make its watches as robust as possible and soon developed the waterproof casing that became a hallmark of Rolex craftsmanship.

The Rolex Oyster entered the market in 1925 and made headlines worldwide as the watch that could defy the elements. Rolex’s reputation for sturdy and reliable timepieces built to the highest standards steadily grew ever since.

Becoming a Luxury Brand

Notable early endorsers spreading the brand image, like professional swimmer Mercedes Gleitze, racing motorist Sir Malcolm Campbell, and British actress Evelyn Laye.

Rolex continues throughout the decades to raise its manufacturing standards and deliver the best luxury watches in the market.

One interesting fact about Rolex is that it’s owned by a charitable foundation. After the death of his wife, Wilsdorf decided to commemorate her life by establishing the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation.

He stated that upon his death, Rolex SA ownership would pass to the foundation. He further said that Rolex would never be sold, traded, or merged with any other company.

All profits would be donated to charity, with additional funds going to watchmaking education and development.

The Original Submariner

1953 was a game-changing year for Rolex. Two key developments occurred which propelled the brand into further fame and global admiration.

As the story goes, Wilsdorf’s second wife had difficulty reading the date on the Datejust series watch.

While washing his hands, Wilsdorf noticed how a drop of water magnified the date through the crystal cover. Wilsdorf realized an ingenious idea, and very soon, the Cyclops date magnifier entered the marketplace.

The second and most iconic development was the creation of Rolex’s most successful series: the Submariner. In 1953, Rolex developed the Turn-o-Graph and was the first mass-produced watch to feature a rotating bezel.

The stainless-steel casing was water-resistant to 50 meters. The design featured a black dial, aluminum bezel, luminescent hands, and riveted bracelet taken from the Oyster series.  

Launch of the Rolex Submariner

The short-lived Turn-o-Graph soon became the iconic Submariner divers watch.

The original design was first launched to the public in 1954 at the Basel Watch Fair in Switzerland. The inspiration came from brand director René-Paul Jeanneret, a diving enthusiast who joined forces with diving master Jacques Cousteau to produce a professional diving watch.

Wilsdorf agreed to add the new timepiece to the catalog, and the original generation of Submariner became the first mass-produced watch water resistance to 100 meters.

Over the next 20 years, Rolex continued to refine the mechanisms and design of the Submariner. Before the official launch date, the Submariner was tested to the limit.

Rolex Pushing the Limits

Another famed diver, Jacques Piccard took a Rolex model Submariner Deep Sea Special and attached it outside his bathyscaphe Trieste and plunged to a depth of 3150 meters.

The original reference 6205 was the first to feature the inverted triangle at the 12 óclock position to the current dial layout we know today.

The Mercedes-style sports hands only came into production in the second series. In 1962, the Submariner made it big on the silver screen when actor Sean Connery wore a reference 6538 in the first James Bond film: Dr. No.

The Constant Innovation of Rolex

The 1960s saw the development of the Submariner reference 5513 and 5517.

Production lasted between 1962 and 1989 and featured a 40mm stainless-steel casing, 60min bezel, gloss dials, and powered by a caliber 1520 automatic movement.  

By the 1970s, the Submariner progressed with newer features. These features included a unidirectional bezel, sapphire crystal dial cover, a patented Trip-lock crown, and water resistant capabilities up to 300 meters.

Versions in the 1980s and 1990s introduced different design elements and materials but retained the basic styling from the first model of the 1950s.

How the Rolex Hulk Came About 

The Rolex Submariner Hulk, officially called the Rolex Submariner, reference number 116610LV, launched in 2010 and caused a stir with timepiece collectors and Rolex fans.

The obvious standout factors are the bold green dial, green Cerachrom bezel, large case lugs, and a redesigned bracelet, soon dubbed the Hulk.

However, the Hulk is not the first Submariner model to sport the green color schemes and finish. Rolex first used green when in 2003, they launched the Rolex 50th anniversary reference 11610V, known as the “Kermit.”

The 11610V Rolex Kermit featured a green aluminum bezel and the first use of the modern Maxi dial.

The Rolex Hulk watch follows previous generations of Submariner models by redesigning and adding a new feature to an already finely crafted timepiece.

Who Started Calling it the Rolex Hulk?

The name quickly stuck on the new Rolex model not only for its stunning green color but also for its thicker Super Case design.

Starting with the dial, Rolex described its color choice as “green gold” and is subsequently Rolex’s long-standing signature corporate color. The green dial has a Soleil metallic finish that produces a 3D-like effect in direct light, complimenting the subtle sunburst grain pattern.

The iconic ceramic bezel received the green submariner treatment adding extra exuberant to the styling.

Rolex’s Cerachrom ceramic bezels are scratch resistant and will never fade or rub off. The dial is topped off with a sapphire crystal cover, which is equally scratch and scuff resistant.

The Durable Rolex Hulk

The legendary durability Rolex is known for does not end there. The Stainless steel case construction consists of 904L stainless steel, which is the same grade used in the aerospace industry.

The movement consists of the self-winding mechanical Rolex caliber 3135, which provides power and an impressive 48 hour- power reserve. 

Moreover, the Triplock water-resistance system, screw-down crown, and 40mm oyster case can maintain functionality 300 meters below the sea surface.

The comfortable Oyster bracelet snaps together with a Glidelock clasp, enabling adjustments without the need for tools.

And to add just a bit more class to this powerhouse, the hour markers are constructed from 18ct gold to retain its sheen and compliment the deep green hue.

Below is a breakdown of the impressive functionality of this beast of a watch:

  • Case: 40mm diameter 904L stainless-steel
  • Oyster Architecture: Monobloc middle case, screw-back, winding a larger crown guard
  • Bezel: Unidirectional, 60min graduate, Cerachrom ceramic insert with numerals and graduations coated in platinum
  • Winding Crown: Triplock triple water-resistant system up to 300 meters/1000 feet
  • Crystal: Scratch-proof sapphire with Cyclops date lens
  • Movement: Perpetual self-winding Calibre 3135 by Rolex
  • Oscillator: Paramagnetic blue Parachrom rotor
  • Functions: Centre hour, minute, and second hands, cyclops lens date window with rapid settings
  • 48-hour power reserve
  • Flat three-piece stainless steel oyster bracelet with folding Oysterlock safety clasp and Glidelock extension system.
rolex hulk original box
The Rolex Hulk in great condition with the original box will fetch huge money in the secondary watch market.

Why is it Valuable and Why Add it to Your Collection?

One might think that the green coloration of the Rolex Submariner Hulk is overkill, but surprisingly, it gives off a good look and a fantastic design aesthetic.

Furthermore, the past decade has shown that the Hulk is one of the most popular watches in the world. The super case construction makes it worth the Hulk nickname, and its powerful functionality lives up to its superhero persona.

The Hulk shares its status symbol heritage like all the Rolex watches before it. The Hulk is valuable for many reasons, from the rich Rolex heritage to its status as an object of pedigree.

Apart from being a luxury item, the Submariner Hulk remains at its core, a functional and robust timepiece capable of withstanding the elements and providing accurate and reliable timekeeping.

The Rolex Attraction

What makes Rolex admired by many is that you can wear it to a fancy dinner or while diving to hunt fish. In short, it’s the go anywhere, do anything sports timepiece.

In 2020, Rolex discontinued the Rolex Submariner 116610LV Hulk to make way for the next generation of Submariners.

So, the secondary market has responded profoundly, and second-hand prices have started climbing.

Collectors and admirers already had respect for the Submariner Hulk, and even when in production, buyers could wait two or three years to receive their prized timepiece.

How Much is a Rolex Hulk Worth?

When the Rolex Hulk was first introduced in 2010 the original retail price was $8,900.

Consequently, the secondary market became the only place to seek out top-quality Rolex watches. Currently, a buyer can expect to pay between $22,000 to $25,000 or more for a pre-owned Submariner Hulk in good condition with the original box.

A Hulk Rolex Submariner in perfect condition could sell for over $30,000. As the Hulk was an extremely popular and successful watch, owning one makes for a good investment.

The fact that the Rolex Hulk price is more than triple the original retail value shows that it’s a truly epic model in the history of vintage Rolex watches.

Conclusion of the Rolex Hulk

The Rolex Submariner Hulk wears the Rolex brand with stature and pride.

The Hulk perfectly embodies the history, the craftsmanship, the functional rigor of what a Rolex timepiece stands for.

The bold, luminous green color stands out among its forbearers and captures the attention and passion of countless watch enthusiasts and collectors alike. Today, the Hulk is already a prized collector piece not long after Rolex ceased production.

The future is bright for the Submariner Rolex Hulk as a worthwhile investment and a prized chronometer in any watch collection.

This is a great review of the Rolex Hulk by Bruce Williams. “Rolex just nailed it here.” I couldn’t agree more. The Hulk looks great and will be an epic collector watch for many years to come.

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