The Rolex Submariner has been one of the most iconic watches ever made since its launch in 1953. Appearing in countless films from James Bond to All the Presidents Men and being closely associated with everything from militaries to rock stars. It has truly cemented itself as the defacto watch for the action orientated leading man. As such the watches design has stayed largely the same year on year. Black dial and bezel, stainless steel case, triangle at the twelve, batons at the six and nine with circular lume plots between them and a date at three o’clock that is magnified by a cyclops lens. A simple and clean design with lots of functionality. That classic design though wasn’t how it started.
The very first submariners had no date and instead a third baton at the three o’clock. This made the watch perfectly symmetrical if slightly less functional. Of all the complications the date is arguably the most useful. Whilst most people can keep track of the day of the week it is easy to forget the date. This means whilst the submariner is universally liked, there is a division between which layout of the classic diver is better. Date or no date.
The appeal of the no date is immediate, the symmetry is pleasing and the added lume at the three o’clock makes reading the watch in low light easier. Design wise it is difficult to argue that the no date isn’t the cleaner looking watch. So if design, symmetry and legibility are your only concerns than the no date is the watch for you.
The alternative though is the added feature of the date complication. It does make the watch more useful for more people, by being able to at a glance know the date. It can also be argued that for many the date submariner is the more iconic and ‘truer’ submariner. The date was introduced in the 1960s and supplanted the no date as the iconic watch for many. Back then form followed function unlike today where the reverse is true and as such the more useful version became the favourite.
Like with all things that concern personal taste there is no definitive answer, just personal preference. For some the added feature is a must and the no date is harkening to a bygone design. For others the date is overly messy and disturbs what is an otherwise perfectly symmetrical design. Who can say. Either watch is good looking, capable and iconic so you can’t exactly go wrong.
Both of these watches can be found on our shop at the below links;