Sometimes Change Can Be Ever So Subtle

A friend sent me an article about a woman from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who was seriously injured in a traffic accident in 1991 who has made a seemingly miraculous recovery after emerging from a 27-year-long coma.

Apart from the huge amount of rehabilitation required and catching up to do with family and friends, there is a whole new world of awesome technology and progress that has occurred since 1991. Both the internet and mobile phone revolutions have happened since that time, and Dubai itself has emerged from a sleepy backwater to state of the art high rise global player with two international airlines that dominate the skies. So much change, and yet, at the same time, upon first inspection, so little.

Take the Submariner family of Rolex watches for instance. They are rightly among the most popular models in the world, known for their classic style and durability. The Rolex Submariner 16610 was first introduced in 1989 as a Date model with a water resistance of 300 meters (1000 feet). This particular model was produced until 2010 when it was discontinued and replaced with the Submariner Date 116610 model.

Visually it appears nothing much has happened in terms of development since 1991, but dig beneath the surface and you will see the changes are impressive.

BETTER BEZEL

Many improvements were made for the release of ref 116610. One of the most significant features is the inclusion of a ceramic bezel. The new ceramic or Cerachrom bezel on ref 116610 is scratch-proof, unlike ref 16610’s aluminum bezel. This notable feature has led to ref 116610 being nicknamed the “Ceramic Bezel Submariner.” Ref 116610’s scratch proof bezel improvement also allows for perfect alignment of the bezel markers as well as a consistently smooth and solid rotation.

IMPROVED MOVEMENT

Ref 116610 introduced the Rolex Parachrome Bleu hairspring to Caliber 3135. This is a substantial improvement over the Caliber 3135 found in the Submariner 16610 because it ensures lasting functionality for the watch’s movement, even after exposure to the most extreme conditions like high water pressure during a dive.

BRIGHTER LUMINOSITY

Ref 116610 also introduced Chromalight. While ref 16610 offers luminous features that glow green in the dark, ref 116610 offers more luminosity with a bluish-green glow. This color change was made because dark adjusted eyes can read it better. Even though the luminosity is not brighter, it does appear so to the eye.

LARGER APPEARANCE

Both ref 16610 and ref 116610 measure 40 mm width. However, ref 116610 appears larger when worn because of its over-sized crown guard and larger lugs. Ref 116610 features a crown guard that is nearly twice as wide as on ref 16610. The watch’s lugs are also nearly twice as wide as on ref 16610. Both over-sized pieces give the impression of a larger case.

HIGHER PRICE

Of course, one big change is the price of a Rolex Submariner. In 1991 the Rolex Submariner with date sold for around US$2,200. In 2019 the same watch bought new costs US$8,550 a three-fold increase.

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