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If you keep up to date with watch releases and are a fan of Rolex watches, you would have no doubt have come across the biggest watch release of 2020: the introduction of the new Submariner 41 collection. Rather than release just one or two references per year like it did in the past, Rolex rolled out the entire lineup of new Submariners including steel, two-tone, and gold models. Now that we have some of these new Rolex Submariner 41 watches in stock, it’s time to have a closer look at how they differ from their predecessors. Join us as we compare the Rolex Submariner 41 vs. Submariner 40 watches and outline the differences and similarities between these two generations of diving watches.

Submariner 41 vs. Submariner 40
Rolex Submariner 41 vs. Submariner 40

What Are The New Submariner References?

In one fell swoop, Rolex discontinued all the no-date Submariner ref. 114060 and Submariner Date ref. 11661x models and replaced them with the new no-date Submariner 124060 and Submariner Date ref. 12661x models. Here’s a breakdown of the eight new Submariner references released in 2020:

  • Submariner 124060: Stainless steel, no date, black bezel, black dial
  • Submariner 126610LN: Stainless steel, date, black bezel, black dial
  • Submariner 126610LV: Stainless steel, date, green bezel, black dial
  • Submariner 126613LN: Stainless steel/yellow gold, date, black bezel, black dial
  • Submariner 126613LB: Stainless steel/yellow gold, date, blue bezel, blue dial
  • Submariner 126618LN: Yellow gold, date, black bezel, black dial
  • Submariner 126618LB: Yellow gold, date, blue bezel, blue dial
  • Submariner 126619LB: White gold, date, blue bezel, black dial

Submariner 41 vs. Submariner 40, What Changed?

In classic Rolex fashion, at first glance, the changes to the new Submariner are more subtle than dramatic. After all, why reinvent the world’s most famous luxury dive watch? However, these tweaks here and there have come together to create a fantastic new version of the Submariner that many Rolex fans welcome.

The most talked-about change is the increased case size to 41mm replacing the once-standard Submariner size of 40mm. Interestingly, while there was some initial resistance to the announcement of a larger case size, Rolex reshaped the Submariner 41 case where it actually looks and wears closer to the classic Submariner watches with aluminum bezels (such as the ref. 16610) of yesteryear.

The new Submariner 41 ref. 126613LB

These case redesigns include slimmer lugs and shorter crown guards. Therefore, in comparison to the stockier “Super Case” of the now-discontinued Submariner 40 ref. 11661x, the Submariner 41 ref. 12661x may be larger on paper but its new proportions don’t make it appear so.

Due to the larger case and slimmer lugs, Rolex also widened the Oyster bracelet of the Submariner 41. While the Submariner 40 included a 20mm wide bracelet, the Submariner 41 is fitted with a 21mm one.

There are a handful of blink-and-you-might-miss updates when comparing the Submariner 41 vs. Submariner 40. For instance, the Submariner 41 include a Rolex crown in-between “Swiss” and “Made” at the bottom of the dial under the 6 o’clock marker, a marginally longer minute hand, and a slightly wider bezel. Furthermore, the “Swiss Made” and coronet marking is placed below the minute track instead of above it.

The new steel Submariner 126610LN

There are some significant Submariner colorway changes to note, but we’ll go into more detail further below.

New To The Rolex Submariner 41: Caliber 3235

The biggest change to the Submariner 41 is not one that can be seen from the exterior but rather, hidden from view, tucked inside the case. While the recently-discontinued Submariner 40 collection runs on Caliber 3135 (for date versions) and Caliber 3130 (for the no date version) fresh to the Submariner 41 are Caliber 3235 and Caliber 3230, respectively.

Caliber 3235 is not brand new, having made its debut in 2015 in the Pearlmaster and rolled out to models within the Yacht-Master, Sea-Dweller, and Datejust collections.

Caliber 3235 is new, however, to the Rolex Submariner, and wearers will certainly appreciate its longer 70-hour power reserve (compared to the 48-hour power reserve of Caliber 3135). On the other hand, Caliber 3230 that powers the new no-date Submariner 41 ref. 124060 is brand new to the Rolex lineup, based on Caliber 3235, but without a date indication.

Submariner 41 vs. Submariner 40, What Stayed the Same?

So what rolled over from the previous Rolex Submariner 40 over to the new Submariner 41? With the Submariner 41, you still get 300 meters of water resistance thanks in part to the Triplock screw-down winding crown fitted into the Oyster case.

The new Submariner 41 ref. 126613LN

Also, the dial continues to emit a blue glow in low light due to the use of Rolex’s proprietary Chromalight luminescence on the Mercedes hands and hour markers. As expected, the new Sub dive watches are also furnished with sapphire crystals to protect the dials and the Submariner Date models maintain the ubiquitous Cyclops magnification lens protruding above the date window.

The same unidirectional Cerachrom ceramic bezel used on the preceding Submariner generation is also found on the new Submariner 40, providing superb resistance to scratching and fading.

The now-discontinued Submariner ref. 116610LN

Furthermore, we’re happy to report that the new Subs retain the super sturdy Oysterlock folding clasp and practical Glidelock extension system of the previous generation.

New Rolex Submariner 41 Colorways

If we dig even further into the Submariner ref. 12661x collection, we see that some important color changes have occurred compared to the Submariner.

For example, though Rolex has retained the popular green bezel option with the steel Submariner 41, unlike the matching green dial and green Cerachrom bezel of the Submariner ref. 116610LV “Hulk,” the latest green Submariner ref. 126610LV features a black dial.

The discontinued Submariner 116610LV has a green bezel and green dial

As a result, some have taken to nicknaming the Submariner ref. 126610LV as the “Cermit,” which is short for “Ceramic Kermit” in reference to the very first green Submariner ref. 16610LV “Kermit” with a green aluminum bezel and black dial.

Similarly, while the older white gold Submariner ref. 116619LB (aka the “Smurf,”) has a matching blue bezel and blue dial, the new white gold Submariner ref. 126619LB has a black dial contrasting with the blue bezel.

The discontinued Submariner 116619LB has a blue bezel and blue dial

Conversely, the new yellow gold Submariner 41 and two-tone Submariner 41 watches retain the matching black bezel and black dial (LN) and blue bezel and blue dial (LB) colorways of the preceding Submariner 40 references. Moreover, like all no-date Submariner models that came before it, the latest no-date Submariner 41 ref. 120460 is exclusively available with a black dial and black bezel.

Rolex Submariner 41 vs. Submariner 40 Specs Breakdown

ModelsSubmariner 41 12xxxxSubmariner 40 11xxxx
Case41mm “Classic Case”
Slimmer lugs, shorter crown guards
300 meters WR
40mm “Super Case”
Thicker lugs, longer crown guards
300 meters WR
MaterialsSteel, White Gold, Yellow Gold, Two-Tone Steel/Yellow GoldSteel, White Gold, Yellow Gold, Two-Tone Steel/Yellow Gold
LumeChromalightChromalight
CrystalSapphireSapphire
BraceletOyster
21mm
Oyster folding clasp
Glidelock diver’s extension
Oyster
20mm
Oyster folding clasp
Glidelock diver’s extension
BezelCerachrom
Black (steel, yellow gold, two-tone), green (steel), blue (white gold, yellow gold, two-tone)
Cerachrom
Black (steel, yellow gold, two-tone), green (steel), blue (white gold, yellow gold, two-tone)
MovementCaliber 3230 (no date)
Caliber 3235 (date)
70-hour power reserve
Caliber 3130 (no date)
Caliber 3135 (date)
48-hour power reserve
Submariner 41 vs. Submariner 40
Rolex Submariner 41 vs. Submariner 40

Regardless if you have a preference for the beefy “Super Case” versions of the Submariner 40 or the officially larger but in reality leaner new Submariner 41, both generations are topnotch luxury dive watches that mark different moment’s in the Rolex Submariner’s long and illustrious history.

Written by

Celine Simon

Celine is a freelance luxury watch writer who has enjoyed working in the horology industry for over ten years. Like many of the high-end timepieces she writes about, she comes from Switzerland—the heart of fine watchmaking. From Singapore to Montreal to Geneva to Dubai, Celine has lived all over the world but now calls Southern California home.