Two years ago, watch collector and connoisseur Mike Stockton contributed a wonderful write-up about his Rolex Submariner 14060M. A 2000 word write-up about the classic Rolex Submariner 14060M, from the very early moment he laid his eyes on this iconic diver from Rolex, the moment he bought it (years later) up to now, years of ownership. Time to bring this story to your attention again, a wonderful (Christmas) tribute to the Rolex Submariner 14060M.
South Florida. The words evoke different things to different people. To some, it means sun, fun and vacation. To others, images of Scarface style hustlers, gangsters and drug dealers come to mind. To me, it is simply home. Make no mistake; South Florida is a melting pot of nationalities, professions (I use that word loosely), and moral fibers. Amongst this stew, there lies the ocean and aside from the boating fun that it brings, it is also a rich fishing ground. If you’d travel back in time with me to my childhood during the late 70’s, early 80’s in South Florida, you’d view a typical “SoFla” fast money phenomenon that, for a brief period before conservation laws kicked in, gave rise to the region’s newest nouveau riche: the swordfish fisherman.
You see, during this period, the swordfishing craze caught on en masse and before the fish became protected due to overfishing, South Florida’s commercial fisherman were longlining for these predators and turning their bounty into instant cash. Amongst the many toys that these folks spent their truly hard earned money on, one purchase was overwhelmingly common: the Rolex Submariner. Rolexes have always been immensely popular in a showy South Florida as a sign of wealth; the sign that you’ve “made it” via one avenue or another. In the case of the swordfisherman, the Sub may have been the flashy go-to choice, but the watch did need to stand up to the daily, or nightly in the case of swordfishing, rigors of the task. Smacking into gunwales, scraping against big Penn reels, reaching into chummy bait buckets, chopping up squid or ballyhoo, and standing watch at whatever local bar were the likely daily tasks a Sub would see.
Oh, and let’s remember that with lobsters aplenty and other spearfishing targets, diving was also a typical activity for any South Floridian. No, the Sub generally didn’t test its depth rating in South Florida, but it was tested. I still recall seeing these watches on leather-skinned people and the pieces always stood out as looking incredibly large and rugged. There was simply something about the Submariner that has stayed with me until today.
Fast-forward to 2011 before Christmas and your author was coming off a delayed 10-hour flight from Frankfurt to Houston. Upon arrival, I did my best OJ Simpson Hertz commercial (you-tube it if you’re not familiar) through the massive airport to catch a small plane to Shreveport, Lousiana to see family. Once I arrived and did the “family thing” for a couple days, my father and I set out on Christmas Eve to look at the two fantastic jewelers in the area.
I had not flown to the USA with any thoughts of buying a watch, but when you throw vacation, holiday cheer, being with my Dad and a decent year into the mix, you have the perfect recipe for bank account destruction. I walked into Clarkes Jewelers and saw the Rolex Submariner 14060M. I had seen this watch so many times before, and while I always wanted one; I never gave it much thought because it was eternally available.
In 2010, in Basel, though, the Submariner Date had been replaced with the current maxi-cased, maxi-dialed, ceramic bezel version. Despite the typical non-response from Rolex or its dealers, one could hear the tolling of a death knell for this version of the Submariner. Perhaps I saw this as a last chance to buy (new) the direct offspring of the watch I remembered so clearly from my childhood. After about 30 minutes of perfunctory hemming and hawing, the papers were signed and the Sub was mine. Three months later at Basel, Rolex announced the inevitable and replaced the Submariner 14060M with the current maxi-dialed, maxi-cased, ceramic bezel version: the 114060.
Unlike the conservationists who stepped in to save the mighty swordfish, they’re just fine now thank you, Rolex killed off the last remaining sports model so directly tied to its past. Now, exactly three years later, as I type this fireside on Christmas Eve, it seems like an appropriate time to give a retrospective on the Rolex Submariner 14060M.
The Rolex Submariner 14060M was the last of its kind. There’s a lot here that evokes the spirit of the original Sub from 1954. When it was retired in 2012, it was the last Rolex sport model to feature drilled through lug holes, a stamped bracelet clasp, stamped end links, and an aluminum bezel insert: all hallmarks of the original.
As information, it’s sibling, the 16610 Sub date was replaced in 2010 but even it lost its lug holes in 2003 and stamped end links in 2001. For reference on the other “old line” sport models, the Rolex Explorer 114270 was replaced in 2010, the Explorer II 16570 in 2011 and the GMT-II 16710 fell victim back in 2007. Despite its vintage looks and feel, the Rolex Submariner 14060M was treated to hosts of upgrades during its lifetime. Originally introduced in 1990 as the Rolex Submariner 14060, it was the successor to the legendary 5513 (introduced in 1962!!).
The watch, with its 3000-series movement, brought in modern elements such as the sapphire crystal, applied indices and a unidirectional bezel. It soldiered on until 1998 when slight changes to the movement created the 3130 movements and “M” designation. In 2007, the Rolex Submariner 14060M became a certified chronometer, which added lines of text to the dial.
Rolex collectors are amongst the most particular in the world of watchdom. I’d be foolish to try and convince anyone that the last Rolex Submariner 14060M models are any better or worse than their successors, predecessors, those with dates, etc.
What I am here to do is give you an impression of what it is like to wear this watch, own it, and why I find it significant. Let’s start with the dial. This is likely where the most controversy lies, as there are some who love all the text and many who cannot stand it. For me, it reminds me of the legendary chronometer rated 5512: aka the Steve McQueen Submariner.
Furthermore, the markers retain non-maxi size and the hands are also still diminutive. Sans date, the dial obtains perfect symmetry. A slight sideways glance reveals another controversial point to purists: the engraved rehaut. Personally, it’s never bothered me and I am happy for another piece of anti-counterfeiting technology.
Let’s journey outside of the dial and take a look at the bezel. This aluminum bezel is simply fantastic. There is just something about the semi-matte finishing that contrasts so well with the gloss of the crystal and dial. Add a shiny bezel, or ceramic for that matter, and the whole thing loses sharpness. The simple lume pip with its surround just ices the cake.
Speaking of sharpness, the teeth on the bezel have knife-like serrations that ease function while adding detail to the overall package. Slide right to the crown and its guards and you come to a tactical time-changer that looks large enough to be used with gloves.
The crown guards, on the other hand, do their job without dominating the case like so many other designs from other brands and currently within the Rolex stable. A side profile reveals an elegant case that is downright slim in today’s world. The caseback is vault-like in its design with absolutely no engravings.
The lugs. When I sat down to write this article, I thought about my favorite attributes of the Rolex Submariner 14060M and the lugs really speak to me. While the previous details scream masculinity in a loud and bold way, I find that the elegance of the lugs serves to soften the overall blow. The taper and proportionality to the case are absolutely, unequivocally perfect. Yes, I know it’s 2014 and 40mm is not big anymore, but these lugs do such an effective job of bringing down the visual mass of this watch so that it can become, as some say, one of the only sport watches that can be worn from the depths directly into the boardroom. Those lugs are elegant, beautifully finished and, yes, they are drilled.
Drilled lugs are of huge benefit for cleaning the watch but, more importantly, for those who wish to throw any number of straps on the Rolex Submariner 14060M. I own other Subs amongst the two in these pictures, but the Rolex Submariner 14060M is the only one I’ve never worn on anything other than its bracelet. Why? Well, I am hiding in a bunker with a Kevlar vest to protect myself from the upcoming hate-comments because I love this bracelet and its clasp. The bracelet is so light and comfortable with incredible polish on its sides. Coming to the clasp, I think it looks amazing. The link finishing stamped into the clasp is iconic and is one clear sign that brings me back to those childhood memories. It is massive and business-like; just compare it to a later, similar clasp used on the Rolex GMT-II 16710 to see the difference. The fold out wetsuit extension, which I have never used, is basically the same as on a piece I own from 40 years prior. Sure, it’s stamped, and, yes, it is archaic, but it all clicks together soundly and I have never once had an issue of this clasp failing or springing open.
Capability-wise, a 300M depth rating takes care of all but the most serious divers. Anything greater than 300M becomes bragging rights to the watchmaker or wearer. This, of course, is aided by the famous Rolex trip-lock. Other things to note are hacking, above average lume and a 48 hour power reserve.
What’s it like to wear a Rolex Submariner 14060M? It’s funny to think that this was such a big, heavy watch not so long ago. Now, it seems almost normal size-wise but still quite current. Owing to the fact that this basic case design was made for so many years, it’s highly unlikely that it will go out of style any time soon, if ever. I own many watches and try to rotate as often as possible to give my addiction a bit of credence.
That being said, I find this watch on my wrist more often than not. It simply works with everything attire-wise, has presence, and can go anywhere above or below sea level. It fits under a dress shirt, hangs out well by the pool and goes with your favorite pair of jeans. Three years in and the watch still looks amazingly new thanks to its impeccable finishing and rugged design.
Despite complaints from some about the accuracy, or lack thereof, of their Rolexes, this Sub keeps great time. Oh, and one thing it has that newer Rolexes lack is the lovable, trademark clattery, somewhat squeaky bracelet. It’s not loud or annoying but it’s there; owners understand my comment.
Finding a Rolex Submariner 14060M is easy despite the fact that most consumers buy the Submariner Date. Also, compared to other Submariner references, the chronometer rated version was produced for a relatively short period but they were still mass-produced. They are available in all sorts of condition and pricing seems to range from about $5K to over $7K. At the higher end, I think a lot of these are NOS and come from speculators who put them aside towards the end.
Personally, I’d find a barely used one and wear the heck out of it. Also, there’s little reason to buy one without box and papers as it is still such a new watch. While 14060M’s won’t be setting auction records any time soon, if ever, you can bet that they’ll likely appreciate over time.
Am I timepiece curmudgeon or simply sentimental? Probably both, and maybe a bit of a contrarian as I tend to lean towards simple, non-date watches. However, I’d like to think that I can recognize a fantastic piece of industrial design when I see one and the Rolex Submariner 14060M defines this. Like a Speedmaster, the Sub is seen as a foundation piece for any collection. Even if you do not harbor fond memories of Subs, I’d highly suggest that you try one on for size. You’ll be able to look down at your wrist knowing you’re wearing a true modern classic, the last of the old line, while benefiting from its go-anywhere modern technology.
A big THANK YOU to Mike Stockton for this wonderful contribution. – Fratello Watches