Discover more from Mid-Century Mondays
It's 1953 and Rolex just released the Submariner
20 Mid-Century Modern Home Listings from CA to FL 📍
No shortage of superlatives apply to the Rolex Submariner. It is after all, the most influential, the most iconic, the most enduring, and the most counterfeited watch there ever was. While not a modernist design, per se, the Submariner represented the era’s forefront of engineering and design.
Today the Rolex name connotes luxury, but the Submariner (and other Rolex watches of the era) were created as purpose-built tools rather than status symbols. Released in 1953, the Submariner was the first dive watch water-resistant up to 100 meters. Other aquatic features included a luminous dial for murky water visibility and a rotating 60-minute timing bezel to help divers track their underwater time. The first reference, the 6204, came only in stainless steel with a black bezel and no date function. Over the subsequent decades, countless evolutions of the watch would be sold. But, even the modern Submariner of today would be instantly recognizable to a 1950’s time traveler.
Prior the release of the Sub, Rolex had established itself as a group at the cutting edge of horological innovation. The company, formally founded in 1905, had been focused on the challenge of waterproofing timepieces since its inception. A series of innovations over the following five decades paved the path for the Submariner of the 1950s. 1926 saw the emergence of the legendary Oyster case, a development that allowed a wristwatch to be worn in conditions previously unthinkable. Next came the self-winding Perpetual movement. The innovation eliminated the need for winding and opened up new possibilities for form factors. Thanks in part to these innovations, male preferences during the era shifted from pocket watches to wrist watches.
Now back to the 1950s. America’s post-war boom was in full swing. Summarizing the setting well, Winston Churchill said “America at this moment, stands at the summit of the World.” The U.S. economy was unstoppable and the fruits of prosperity - suburban houses, televisions, and new cars were being purchased like never before. Along with this new wave of consumerism, the domain of aspirational lifestyle marketing was born. Where pre-war advertising focused primarily on the price and features of any given product, the relative buying power of 1950’s consumer empowered advertisers to sell a dream. Rolex would play into this wave brilliantly over the years, partnering with the peak of aspiration; James Bond, Formula 1, the PGA Tour and more. The Submariner’s wide adoption in military use, including the British Royal Navy, would further cement the watch’s place as the ultimate male accessory, where it remains today.
GEMS FOR SALE THIS WEEK
5281 E El Roble St, Long Beach, CA 90815 - John Lautner “Alexander House”
9011 Linkmeadow Ln, Houston, TX 77025 (Price Cut)