Dubbed the Rolex “Kermit,” the Rolex Submariner Ref. 16610LV was officially unveiled to the world in 2003. Since then, the popularity of the timepiece has gone up and down, just like its market price. But why the nickname? Why do some collectors scoff at the idea of a colorful Sub, and what is in store for the future?
The Original Rolex ‘Kermit’ – 50th Anniversary
Rolex started its operations as ‘Wilsdorf & Davis’ in 1905. The company changed its name to ‘Rolex’ in 1908 when it moved operations from England to Switzerland. Soon, Rolex rose to be one of the best watchmakers on the horology industry, but perhaps their biggest ‘hit’ only came around 50 years later.
In the post-war economic boom, Rolex was free to innovate and drive both design and technological prowess. Rolex decided to focus on a type of watch called a ‘sports watch’ as we know it today, but back in the 50s these watches were more commonly used as tools.
The first of these was the Explorer Ref. 6610, released in early 1953, a 36mm stainless steel watch with a water resistance rating of 50 meters. A few months later, Rolex would release perhaps the most recognizable diver watch on the planet, the Submariner.
Technically, the first models only appeared a year later at Baselworld 1954, but even Rolex confirms that 1953 is the birth year of the Sub’. The Ref. 6204 features a 37mm stainless steel case, a black dial with legibility in mind, and a whopping 100 meters waterproof rating.
Right after its release, this model line has been one of the cornerstones in the Rolex catalog. In fact, in the year 2003, Rolex decided to celebrate its 50th anniversary in a remarkable fashion, launching the Ref. 16610LV.
The most defining feature of this Submariner model was its bright green aluminum bezel, which paired with the black dial conjured up the nickname ‘Kermit’ by enthusiasts. In case your parents didn’t allow cartoons, Kermit is the lovable frog character from The Mupper Show. Kermit (the character) is green and has black eyes, so, you can see how the name came to be.
The “LV” in the reference number is French for “lunette verte”. Lunette refers to the bezel and verte means green in French. You’ll find similar nomenclature used on other Submariner models, like the contemporary Ref. 126610LN – Lunette Noir (a black bezel Submariner).
The leafy tinted bezel wasn’t the only change introduced in 2003, as Rolex also unveiled the ‘Maxi dial’. This featured enlarged hour markers and hands, doubling down on the legibility focus dive watches are known for. The case size remained 40mm, however.
Internally, the Ref. 11660LV was still powered by the tried and tested caliber 3135, an in-house self-winding mechanical movement and a certified Swiss chronometer.
The Kermit (the watch, not the character) soon became a crowd favorite with its combination of a traditional case shape and a modern dial layout.
The Ref. 16610LV stayed in production until 2010 when it was replaced by an even greener Rolex. The Ref. 116610LV ‘Hulk’ featured not only a green bezel but also a green dial. Again, the nickname isn’t strictly the naming convention used by Rolex but rather a name given by enthusiasts.
Different Versions of the ‘Kermit’
As you might expect with any Rolex, there have been numerous iterations and changes to the base model as ‘the Crown’ tries to nail down the perfect blend of design, utility, and technology. The first for the Kermit is the Flat 4 bezel version.
As you can see in figure 2 the ‘4’ in ‘40’ on the bezel has a flat top, compared to the newer Pointed 4 versions seen in figure 3.
The Flat 4 is not only massively in demand but increasing in value almost daily. Not only was the watch (obviously) produced a certain amount of times, but it is not uncommon to see Submariners undergoing service and having their bezels replaced.
The Pointed 4 is still a sought-after Rolex, but not nearly as much as the Flat 4. There are, however, a lot of other factors you need to pay attention to, including:
- The spacing of ‘Oyster Perpetual Date’ has changed over time, from being quite wide and then narrowing down in later models.
- The shape of the ‘O’ in ‘Rolex’ has changed from an oval shape to a round shape.
- The position of the ‘R’ in ‘Oyster’ has also changed because of spacing (see point 1). Sometimes it falls within the legs of the ‘R’ in ‘Rolex’, and sometimes it doesn’t.
- The ‘Swiss Made’ spacing has changed, which influences how many minute markers are shortened.
Another version is called ‘the Bertolli’, referring to a range of olive oils and pasta sauces from Italy. The Bertolli has a lighter olive green colored bezel along with pronounced serifs.
The Rolex ‘Kermit II’… or ‘Cermit’… or ‘Starbucks’
As mentioned, the Ref. 116610LV ‘Hulk’ was released in 2010 and remained in production until 2020 when big changes awaited both the green-colored Submariners and the entire model lineup with the Ref. 126610LV.
Firstly, the shape grew an extra 1mm, now measuring 41mm in total. As always this was a hot topic of conversation for most – personally, I don’t mind the bigger size. Luckily the bracelet was smaller, decreasing from 21mm to 20mm.
The biggest aesthetic change, however, was the introduction of a new bezel and dial. The dial was now black again, but the bezel remained green. However, it was now made from ‘Cerachrom’ or ceramic. This offers the wearer increased resistance to scratches and is also featured in some other Rolex models.
The movement within was also updated, and the new 41mm Sub’ is now powered by the caliber 3235 featuring Chronergy escapement, which improved efficiency by 15%, and a 70-hour power reserve. Held together by 31 jewels, the movement is now more accurate, being rated at -2 / +2 seconds per day.
As the heading hinted, there isn’t really a set ‘nickname’ for the Ref. 126610LV. Some call it the ‘Kermit II’, others refer to it as the ‘Starbucks’, the popular coffee shop. Some (including myself) call it ‘the Cermit’ but the ‘C’ is pronounced ‘sh’. This is to denote it has a ceramic bezel, unlike the Kermit.
What Is Next for the Green Submariner?
The year is 2023 and for those of you that aren’t gifted with quick maths, that means the Submariner is celebrating its 70th Anniversary. Obviously, this has spared rumors and theories from every corner of the globe.
Perhaps a Submariner on the Oysterflex?
A babyblue Submariner reminisant of the Platona?
The new Titanium Rolex used for the Challenge could appear in the Submariner line?
Whatever ends up showing up this year, enthusiasts are sure to love it, collectors are sure to be skeptical, and I am sure to only see in its “Exhibit Only” glory.
Featured image courtesy of eBay.
Searching for a more classic and affordable diver watch? Spare time to read our review of the Steinhart Ocean One 39: A Rolex Submariner Homage?