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This is the 50th anniversary Rolex Submariner Ref 16610LV. Or Rolex Kermit for short. It’s not super well-known to the general public. At least not compared to the Rolex Hulk. Still, it’s a very cool watch with an interesting backstory behind it. And one that is worth reading about if you fancy yourself a budding Rolex aficionado. It’s also one of the last examples of modern-day Rolex doing something a little quirky. A little unexpected. Which is why, among other reasons, we love the Ref 16610LV so much. Let’s get into the full story.

A (Very) Brief History Of The Rolex Submariner

In the early 1950s, recreational diving was starting to become a thing. Nowadays, of course, everyone and their grandmother goes snorkelling and diving. But before the middle part of last century, this type of activity was undertaken only by the military. Elite soldiers – often referred to as Frogmen – with incredible stamina and nerves of steel.  Their mission briefs included underwater intelligence, sabotage operations, and clandestine port-attacks.

Around the same time a certain René-Paul Jeanneret was indulging his passion for scuba diving. A close personal friend of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, he had good idea of what a diver’s watch needed. And what it didn’t. He also happened to serve on the Board of Directors Rolex. Jeanneret came up with the idea for a sporty yet elegant everyday watch that would be waterproof. He saw it as an opportunity to pursue his hobby and expand Rolex’s customer base at the same time.

Development began in earnest and by 1953, Rolex was ready to begin production and testing. But they needed a way to get the word out about the company’s ability to produce water-resistant watches. They came up with an ingenious but somewhat risky publicity stunt. It included Swiss physicist, inventor and explorer, Auguste Piccard. When he took his Bathyscape deep-diving submarine down to a mind-bending depth of 3,131.8 meters, a specially-designed Rolex went with it. The watch emerged from the successful dive completely intact and running fine. Point made.



The next year, in 1954, the Rolex Submariner Ref 6204 made its debut at the Basel watch fair. The design was practical and easy to read, yet also very attractive. The 38mm steel Oyster case offered unprecedented water resistance at 100m (300ft). A rotating bezel allowed divers to keep track of elapsed time.

50(ish) Years On: The Rolex Kermit Ref 16610LV

In 2003, Rolex marked the 50th anniversary of the Rolex Submariner with the launch of the Ref 16610LV. Better known to collectors as the Rolex Kermit. Hold on though, you’re thinking. Isn’t that a year early? I read above that the first Submariner debuted in 1954. Wouldn’t that mean the 50th anniversary would be in 2004? It’s a valid question. But it seems this is another of those delightful quirks of the watch industry.


IN THE SHOP: check out this pre-owned Rolex Submariner Ref 16610LV Kermit available now.


Development of the Submariner likely started around 1950. And Rolex had working models of the Submariner in testing in 1953. The model was formally announced later that year, in September. But was not actually available for public sale until 1954. In any event, Rolex has determined that the Submariner was born in 1953. Hence the 50th birthday celebrations took place in 2003.

The timing discrepancy is not the only reason the Ref 16610LV stands out though. Nowadays, the use of color in Rolex Submariner watches is somewhat more common. There’s the blue on blue Rolex Submariner Ref 116619LB. Also known as the “Smurf”. And of course, the green on green Rolex Hulk. Which is something of an evolution of the Rolex Kermit.

It’s important to note though that these models both came after the Ref 16610LV. Before that, the GMT-Master series was the only sports model to have a non-black bezel. And even then, that use of color serves a very functional purpose. So, at launch, aficionados and enthusiasts weren’t so sure about the green bezel on the Ref 16610LV. In fact, many decried it as ruining the beloved tool watch aesthetic of the Submariner. Leading to another, less flattering nickname: the Vomit Sub.

Amplifying this was the fact that it took the place of the Rolex Submariner Ref 16610. The most popular Sub in modern history (at that time). Debate raged online and off about whether Rolex had made a mistake. As usual, the Geneva brand paid little to no attention to the feedback.

Why Green?

Rolex has long associated itself with the color green. Its logo, boxes, hang tags, etc. are all green. The brand has never offered any official explanation for why this is. The general consensus though is that it’s because green is synonymous with money. And by extension success, power and so on. All things Rolex seeks to represent.

When it comes to the Submariner though, there is no special connection with the color. Which is what made the Ref 16610LV all the more unexpected. Exactly what Rolex was trying to achieve. They were marking a major milestone, so they wanted to create something that would stand out. But that didn’t deviate too far from the model’s core DNA.


IN THE SHOP: check out this pre-owned Rolex Submariner Ref 16610LV Kermit available now.


The bezel itself is quite striking. It’s lighter, brighter and more eye-catching than the Cerachrom bezel found on the Hulk. And stands in strong contrast to the black dial. The insert is aluminium. That means over time these will fade and age, developing their own unique character. Unlike the Ceramic models, which will look exactly the same 50 years from now.

Some people like that, others don’t. It’s all a matter of personal taste.

More Than A Green Bezel

The bezel wasn’t the only thing that looked different on the new Ref 16610LV. The 50th anniversary model also saw the introduction of the Maxi dial to the Submariner. Having made its debut on the Yacht-Master in 1991, the dial features larger hands and indexes. Further improving legibility and giving a subtle nod to some of the earliest examples of the Sub.

The slim(ish) profile of the Oyster case and the tapered lugs ensure a comfortable fit on the wrist. In fact, it is one of the best proportioned Submariners ever. Particularly because later variations of the Submariner would introduce the so-called “Super” case. After all, the Rolex Hulk doesn’t only take its name from the fact it’s all green. If you compare it side-by-side with the Kermit you will notice it’s a bulkier watch. That’s not a bad thing of course. It does mean though that the Ref 16610LV is an ideal choice for those with smaller wrists.


IN THE SHOP: check out this pre-owned Rolex Submariner Ref 16610LV Kermit available now.


It’s worth mentioning here as well that early versions do not have an engraved rehaut. It wasn’t until 2008 that the word ‘ROLEX’ repeated three times was laser engraved on the rehaut. Along with the watch’s serial number. The model number remains between the lugs at 12 o’clock. Pre-engraved rehaut models tend to be more popular. But it’s a matter of personal taste.

There were several other variations during the 7-year run of the Ref 16610LV too. In fact, collectors have determined 9 different generations of the Kermit (Mark I – Mark IX). These include revisions to the case. The bezel. And the text on the dial. Most are indistinguishable unless you know exactly what you are looking for.

The most well-known is that of the FAT 4 bezel. (Or FLAT 4, as it is also called.)

The FAT 4 (Or Flat 4) Bezel

The first generation of the Ref 16610LV is the Mark I. This model is also referred to as the FAT 4. You could say this is the true anniversary model. The FAT 4 designation arises from the different font used on the bezel. If you look at the ‘4’ on the 40, you see the top is flat. Much like the ‘4’ on this Rolex GMT-Master Ref 16750.

To make things extra confusing, there are actually two different versions of the FAT 4 bezel. The first one is the FAT 4 “Serifed”. On this bezel, the inside of the four in ‘40’ is square at the top. While the numbers with internal angles have pronounced serifs. The bezel is also a lighter, olive green than on later models. So, of course, it has nickname too: Bertolli. This specific bezel was only in production for a few months.

The second version is the FAT 4 “non serif”. The top of the 4 on “40” is flat like the first bezel. But the other numbers don’t feature serifs. Both bezels are only found on models up to serial number F54. Or Mark I or Mark II versions of the Ref 16610LV. With the Bertolli being the rarer of the two.



If you’re wondering what’s so special about the earlier bezels, the answer is nothing. The only impact of the FAT 4 bezel is is aesthetic. And even then, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you would miss it. On all later versions of the Ref 16610LV, the four is triangular, with the two lines meeting at a point. Although there would be 3 further bezel variations. (5 in total.) This is consistent with all later model Rolex Submariner and Sea-Dweller watches.

That said, it is one of those little quirks of Rolex that has become prized by collectors. That’s why the Mark I or Mark II version of the Rolex Kermit often sells at a major premium. Is it worth the extra money? Yes and no. These versions of the Rolex Kermit are the actual anniversary ones. And there were less FAT 4 bezels made. So, it is rarer than the other generations. But there are other factors to consider too. Such as condition, accompanying documentation, and so on.

The Rolex Submariner Ref 16610LV “Kermit”

As mentioned above, the Ref 16610LV is one of the best proportioned Submariners ever. The Oyster case is a compact 40mm in diameter (excluding the crown and crown guards). And it stands around 13mm high, meaning it can slide under your cuff with ease. The lugs are thinner than on later models, such as the Hulk, which makes it well suited to smaller wrists. But you still have the benefit of the maxi-dial. As with all modern Submariners, the case is water resistant to 300m.

The watch comes on hollow link oyster bracelet made of 904L stainless steel. With solid end links giving it a bit more weight on the wrist. Something that older watch lovers will appreciate. It closes with a Rolex stamped clasp with clamshell. And incorporates the Rolex Glidelock extension system.


IN THE SHOP: check out this pre-owned Rolex Submariner Ref 16610LV Kermit available now.


It’s modern enough to make you feel like you’re wearing a ‘new’ watch. But also has a hint of a vintage vibe to it, a sort of retro cool. It’s almost a throwback to to the Submariners of the 80s and 90s, but with more contemporary styling. And quality control.

Inside is the ultra-reliable Rolex Caliber 3135. It’s one of the brand’s oldest production movements and is still in use in the Submariner today. (At the time of writing at least.) Certified as a superlative chronometer, it offers a 48-hour power reserve. Along with a quick-change date.

Price & Availability

At the time of launch, the Ref 16610LV retailed for around US$5,000. Even when production ceased in 2010 there was not an immediate jump in price. Not like what happened with the Ref 116710BLNR Batman last year. In fact, it’s only been over the last 5 years or so that the Kermit has started to appreciate in value.

Pricing on the secondary market varies, depending on condition, generation, and so on. Expect to pay upwards of US$$15,000 for a good example of a non-FAT 4. We have this Z-serial Rolex Kermit in excellent condition in the shop now. It comes complete with box and papers and is selling for US$15,500.


IN THE SHOP: check out this pre-owned Rolex Submariner Ref 16610LV Kermit available now.


If you want a FAT 4 expect to pay a significant premium. A word of warning though. The green bezel insert on the Ref 16610LV is not that difficult to swap out. Before you commit to paying big money for a FAT 4, make sure all the other criteria checks out. And always buy the seller.

Is It Collectible?

The Ref 16610LV is not even 20 years old yet but has already seen significant appreciation in value. Several factors are responsible for this; it’s limited production run (approx. 7 years). Its anniversary status. And the unusual green bezel/black dial combo giving rise to the Kermit nickname. There’s also the fact that it’s the last of the non “super-case” Submariners. It seems reasonable to say we will never see another watch quite like the Kermit from Rolex.

In the near term though, prices continue to fluctuate. It seems collectors still haven’t quite made up their mind about the Kermit. What’s most important to consider from a long-term value point of view though is condition. It’s likely not worth paying a premium for a scratched-up FAT 4.

If you want to own a distinctive piece of Rolex history that also wears well, then the Ref 16610LV could be for you. We don’t have a crystal ball of course, but it seems likely this model will continue to appreciate in value. The most important thing though is that you enjoy owning and wearing it now.


IN THE SHOP: check out this pre-owned Rolex Submariner Ref 16610LV Kermit available now..


Technical Specifications: Rolex Submariner Ref 16610LV ‘Kermit’

  • Case: Oyster – 40 mm – Oystersteel – monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown – unidirectional rotatable bezel with diving scale. Green insert in aluminium – waterproof to 300 metres / 1,000 feet.
  • Dial: Matt black – Maxi-dial – 18ct gold hour markers – luminescent hour markers and hands.
  • Movement: Calibre 3135 – bidirectional self-winding via Perpetual rotor – Parachrom hairspring – 48-hour power reserve –  Centre hour, minute and seconds hands – Instantaneous date – Stop-seconds for precise time setting – COSC-certified chronometer.
  • Price: Discontinued / ~USD15,000 on secondary market.

 

Tom Mulraney
Tom Mulraney
Founder & Editor
Tom likes to write about luxury watches. So much so, that he created The Watch Lounge just so he would have an outlet for his passion. Together with his team, he is dedicated to bringing you original, entertaining (and maybe even a little educational) luxury watch and lifestyle content.

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