The lifecycle of a Rolex watch has always been much more about evolution than revolution. Rolex knows what makes a timeless design classic, and any changes made to a particular model are subtle rather than shocking. For a brand so inextricably linked with ideas of opulence and luxury, Rolex has never really done flamboyant. But every now and again, they can still throw in a surprise or two.
One of their most polarizing revelations came in 2003 with the release of their 50-year pat on the back to themselves, the Rolex Submariner 16610LV. Introduced to commemorate the half-century of one of the most iconic timepieces ever made, the anniversary edition of the world’s favorite dive watch shocked the Rolex faithful with its bright green bezel.
Like any great upheaval, it split opinion, gaining as many detractors as admirers and clogging up countless forums with those arguing for and against.
To its fans, it will always be known as The Kermit. Those not so enamored of that gleaming emerald surround nicknamed it The Vomit Sub. It’s not easy being green!
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The Rolex Kermit
As so often happens with challenging breaks from the norm, the initial resistance to the changes with the much-loved watch was short-lived. The LV quickly found its audience, attracted by the unique nature and collectability of the design.
Its acceptance was helped along with aficionados by its relatively short lifespan. Although on its introduction there was much debate on whether the Kermit was going to be a limited edition, it was included in the normal Sub line-up, but only for 7 years. Production ended in 2010 with the release of the replacement 116610LV (The Hulk), with its green dial to match the bezel.
The limited numbers made its status as a piece of Rolex history and its quirky eccentricities have all added up to put a premium on used versions of the watch. Where it once divided sentiment, today it has become one of the most desirable of the modern Submariners, with pre-owned examples selling for more than a brand new, all-black version.
Design Changes For The 50th Anniversary
A 50th birthday is a big event for anyone. Some people buy a Porsche or have an affair. Or both. Rolex decided to go green. If it was a mid-life crisis, it was elegant and well-thought-out.
The lustrous color is immediately eye-catching, reflecting the light to a degree that the Cerachrom used for the Hulk’s bezel can’t quite match. While it sets the wearer apart with a subtly unique air, it’s restrained enough to maintain the party piece shared by every Submariner of being at home in just about any occasion. Subs match with everything from jeans and a t-shirt, a business suit, all the way to a wetsuit.
Along with its bold new color scheme, the 16610LV was the first Submariner to be issued with the new Maxi dial, originally seen on the Yacht-Master in 1991. As well as making the watch easier to read, the fatter hands and indexes hark back to some of the earliest vintage models and are a pleasing nod to its heritage on the occasion of its birthday.
The case itself is seen by many as being the most perfectly proportioned iteration yet. Unlike the Hulk’s appropriately bulky, broad-shouldered lugs, the Kermit tapers gracefully into the bracelet, giving the piece an overall more fluid, flowing look. It’s the ideal Sub for more slender wrists.
The version changed very little during its brief production run. The only subtle alteration happened in 2007 with the laser engraving of ‘ROLEX’ repeated three times on the rehaut, along with the serial number being included on the case below the 6 o’clock position. This meant there was no need to remove the bracelet to check it. Pre-engraved models have become the most sought after by collectors.
If It Ain’t Broke
The epitome of iconic cool or not, Rolex Submariners was designed first and foremost to be tool watches. Supremely durable and incredibly tough, their long history of well-tested reliability and innovation has always remained the same, and their anniversary version is no different.
Featuring the 300-meter waterproofing that made them famous, to begin with, the Kermit shares the trip-lock crown of the standard 16610, along with its 904L steel construction and ultra-tough sapphire crystal. It may be unorthodox in color, but it’s a watch that will be around to see in many more birthdays.
The movement is the tried and trusted Caliber 3135, Rolex’s own in-house 31-jewel creation, with its 28,800 vph frequency and 50-hour power reserve. It’s a completely dependable movement worthy of the crown.
Which Green is Your Green?
Do a quick search for Hulk vs. Kermit and you’ll discover there is a huge amount of bandwidth given over to these two green Submariners and which is the best. Some of the debaters on online forums are definitely not shy about voicing their opinions.
Of course, there’s no ‘best’ version. There are two beautifully sculpted and engineered watches, one with a black dial and one with green. The best version is your favorite one, but whichever you choose, you take ownership of a piece of watchmaking history that has always stayed true to its original spirit.