The Rolex Submariner and “The Incredible Hulk” completed their unlikely 48-year collision course in 2010. While the renowned durability of each may have been their only common thread for a half-century, the Baselworld 2010 appearance of the Rolex Submariner 116610 LV “Incredible Hulk” forever bound the two icons from Rolex and Marvel Comics.
This one doesn’t require much preamble; it’s a big green Rolex Submariner. Combine the “Super Case”/”Maxi Dial” of 2008’s 116619 Submariner with a green bezel and a green dial, and you’re one online forum quip away from a gamma-burst of Rolex collector infatuation. It seems like all of five minutes passed between the LV’s Basel ’10 reveal and its transformation from Bruce Banner decorum to raucous radioactive myth.
Truth be told, Bruce always came across as more of a Rolex Milgauss kind of guy, but a standard Submariner wouldn’t seem totally out of place on his wrist. It’s a sober choice, after all.
But the green Cerachrom bezel and sunburst metallic dial of the Submariner 116610 LV aren’t sober touches. They’re incredible.
Rolex debuted the 116610 LV “Hulk” as the heir to its well-loved 16610 LV fiftieth anniversary model that debuted in 2003 to mark a half-century of the world’s favorite dive watch. Critically, the “Hulk” broke from the color scheme of its predecessor, which featured a green bezel in tandem with a black dial. Green is a long-running corporate signature of Rolex, and for 2010, the Geneva giant doubled-down with a second helping of verdure.
The green dial, which Rolex described as “green gold” upon its launch, is a soleil pattern metallic finish that radiates from the junction of the hands and pulls one’s eyes toward the matching bezel. In direct light, the dial has a three-dimensional effect and morphs between shades of green as light dances across its gentle sunburst grain pattern.
Like the Hulk himself, the appearance and intensity of this dial are anything but static.
Rolex’s Cerachrom dial continues the metamorphosis from staid Sub to superhero. For the first time, the company’s proprietary ceramic has been rendered in Rolex green, and the effect is… smashing. Colored ceramic bezels remain a rarity even in the year 2014, and the charm of this Submariner remains as pointed today as it was upon debut in 2010.
The benefits of ceramic bezels are present in full; Rolex’s Cerachrom never will fade, rub off, or wear-through. Its resistance to scratches and scuffs is as formidable as a sapphire crystal, and barring a truly catastrophic hit (e.g., a “Dude, where’s my arm?” level of trauma), only diamond or gamma-enhanced violence can mar Cerachrom.
Rolex never fails to deliver durability, but refinement is the other pillar of its reputation. To that end, the Submariner 116610 LV’s incorporates deposited platinum within the recesses of the indexes and numerals of the ceramic bezel.
While the “Hulk” color scheme was a 2010 novelty, the bolder dial details and “hulking” case proportions debuted on the 2008 Submariner 116619 “Smurf.” Lascivious musings on Smurfette notwithstanding, there was little about that megabuck white gold super-Sub to animate the perpetual adolescent mentality that drives luxury sports watch sales.
The 2010 “Incredible Hulk” Submariner was a different story; the standout size and color of this thing speak to the kid in every grown man.
Rolex deserves credit for a success rate that puts Marvel’s Hulk film adaptations to shame. With the money studios have spent on “Incredible Hulk” reboots since Ang Lee’s 2003 fiasco, a watch nut could raid about a decade of marquee events at Christie’s and Antiquorum. In contrast, Rolex hit box office “green” with its first shot.
But the Rolex Submariner 116610 LV has a sensible side to match its alter ego. There’s a reason why the legendary Submariner model – which predates the 1962 debut of Stan Lee’s big guy by nine years – stands as the most beloved model within the world’s most coveted line of luxury watches. In short, the Sub epitomizes the go-anywhere luxury sports watch.
Durability is a given with any Rolex Submariner. Each of the 116610 Subs features 1,000 feet of water resistance, a bank-vault case, and, when the Submariner in question is stainless steel, Rolex employs its peerless 904L proprietary steel blend. The latter is cast in Rolex’s own foundry and will hold a finish far better than the industry-standard 316L stainless found in virtually all competing watches.
An Oyster bracelet with solid intermediate and end links matches the lofty standard of the burly case. This bracelet features gorgeous brushed finishing on the broad faces of its links; link shoulders are polished for contrast. The milled Oysterclasp continues to avenge the Rolex reputation sullied by the old stamped clasps. Milled steel imparts a feel best compared to a solid ingot of metal, and the luxuriously smooth “snick” of the lock’s action will inspire repeated use simply to admire its quality.
In the hand, the granite-like 116610 LV inspires confidence. Seriously, this thing is tougher than Bruce Banner’s purple shorts.
While previous stamped clasps made do with mediocre adjustable-pin systems for field sizing, the new Oysterclasp’s Glidelock moves with fluid ease. Its tool-free adjustment permits 20 mm of on-the-fly sizing in 2 mm increments. Slip “The Hulk” over a wetsuit or winter coat with consummate ease. Short of Bruce Banner-grade wardrobe issues, the Glidelock should provide all the sizing support an owner ever could require.
Within the 116610 generation of Submariners, Rolex’s in-house caliber 3135 keeps the time. Like the Porsche 911 and the Gibson Les Paul, the Rolex 3135 is a classic that only improves with time. Today, the 28,800 VpH movement combines Rolex’s exclusive Parachrom Blue antimagnetic hairspring, free-sprung balance, and full balance bridge to maintain precision in the face of extreme conditions.
More than a tough movement, the Cal. 3135 is timed to COSC chronometer standards twice: firstly at the COSC lab and a secondly at Rolex after being cased. While chronometer-grade watches are not terribly rare, testing for this standard of accuracy after casing is exceptional.
Having found favor on wrists from Hollywood (Sean Connery, Roger Moore) to Whitehall (British Royal Marines), there are few assignments a Rolex Submariner cannot handle. Since the 1980s evolution of Rolex divers into luxury accessories, the rugged Submariner has become a welcome companion among the business elite and keepers of polite company.
And if you happen to alternate between a lab coat and purple shorts, the Sub’s good for that, too…