No one’s out there making a Rolex Submariner the way they used to in 1958 – except when it’s ORIS’s DIVERS 65 watch. ORIS DIVERS 65 looks surprisingly like an alternate version of the future.
Consider, with each choice, with each exercise of free will, we create alternate futures, alternate universes. One future is the one we know: a modern Rolex Submariner 116610 costs $10,000 USD or more – if you can even find one. The Rolex case of today has ginormous crown guards, bulky fat lugs, solid end links that are machined to look like the oyster links of the bracelet, and heavy solid links. The clasp tapers down from the widest point of the end links, but because it’s an adjustable Glidelock, it’s also bulky. The crystal has been changed from the domed acrylic of years ago to one that is a flat sapphire.
But what of the alternate universe? What if instead, the form was overall the same, but the execution improved without growing the size and weight?
The 6536/1 was a Rolex Submariner that was thinner than most, and came on the thin and narrow rivet bracelet, which was one of the different variations of oyster bracelet as they experimented trying to figure out how to make them more robust while using folded links. It was a no-date sub, and it had a thinner mid-case, and a small crown, as opposed to the 6538 big crown made famous by Sean Connery as James Bond.
I had the pleasure of trying on a 6536/1 recently, and comparing it with the ORIS. Case profile? Similar. Rivet bracelet? Yes. Small crown? Absolutely.
What makes the ORIS DIVERS 65 the modern interpretation of the 6536? The bracelet is thin and narrow like the original, with rivets at the sides of the links, but with a modern clasp measuring at a very vintage-ly narrow 14mm wide. It’s ridiculously thin for a modern watch, and it’s fantastic.
The sapphire crystal is what you might call a super-dome. The dial and hands aren’t faithful homages. The 12 indice is a shield shape instead of a thin triangle, and the 6 indice of the model reviewed is a date window instead of an hour marker. The lume is colored a light brown vintage color which looks a lot like the aged radium found in the original to which it pays tribute.
Instead of being applied directly to the dial as they were in the old days, these take a cue from 1980s Submariners, and use silver applied indices not that different from the white gold markers Rolex uses today. As an alternate future, this makes sense. Not every part of these divergent histories has to be different, they can rhyme if not repeat precisely.
Instead of the iconic Mercedes hands, we get pencil hands.
Instead of a bezel with 15 minute marks, the bezel insert has 60 minute marks, like a 5517 Sub.
Even the lume stays bright hours later.
The date wheel is a black background with white numerals, which looks sharp, but diverges from the historical choices: black on white background, black and red on white background, or black on bare-metal silver background. In the brave new other-universe, it’s a beautiful choice.
The end links of the bracelet are machined, but instead of the positive center link of a modern fat Submariner, the center link is a female link, like the folded bracelets of old, or like Tudor does today on some of their watches. This bracelet is light, comfortable, and my only criticism of it is that it was annoying to adjust the pins, which uses a collar and pin system that goes inside the link.
The side profile of the case is nearly the same. The bezel has a firm click, where the original was a friction spring, adjustable by pushing down and turning. The click spring is a relatively recent invention, only appearing on Rolex 16800 models starting in 1979. The bezel shapes are very similar, with the wide, flat coin edge bezel the early Submariners are known for.
The ORIS Divers 65 on bracelet is excellent. It is a fantastic watch in its own right, and the closest thing to a 6536 in a Swiss watch you could find. It feels like a love letter to a sibling from other parents. Like the original, it is water resistant to 100M. This seems strange, given the sapphire crystal, but there you have it, it’s a depth faithful to the original, and it’s available for $2,200 USD from oris.ch .
- Brand & Model: ORIS DIVERS 65 01 733 7707 4055-07 8 20 18
- Price: $2200 USD
- Who we think it might be for: Living in the future with a tastefully updated model based on the past.
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: Oh man, I am so tempted.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: I wish it were easier to adjust the bracelet links.
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: You want a new watch, made more like an old one, but without the risk of vintage movements and someone else’s wear and tear.
Tech Specs from ORIS
- Case size: 40mm
- Case material: stainless stel
- Crystal: Sapphire, domed on both sides, anti-reflective coating inside
- Strap: stainless steel
- Movement: ORIS 733 based on the Swiss-made Sellita SW200-1