Rolex has been using the colour green in its logo and advertising material since the first half of the twentieth century. While the internet appears not to know a sole reason for this love affair, a quick look at where else the colour is used paints a clearer picture: the dollar bill, the Masters winner’s jacket, the felt on casino tables, British hunting attire, lawn tennis. Green, it seems, is the colour of affluence. But it’s also the colour of everyone’s favourite frog, Kermit the Muppet, and when Rolex first used it for the bezel of its most popular watch, this was the name the collector community decided to assign to it.
Despite what you might think, naming the new Submariner after a Muppet wasn’t a reflection of any negative feelings towards it. Rolex collectors often assign such comical names—the Batman, the Bart Simpson, the Hulk, the Smurf, the Great White. That said, when the curtain was raised on the green Sub, it wasn’t exactly well received. It was released in 2003, replacing the 16610, a watch that since 1988 had established itself of one of the most popular pieces on the planet, and so its arrival was huge news to the Rolex faithful. However, the non-standard colour came as a shock and it was widely considered to be out of sync with the refined, conservative look that Rolex had built its name on.
But of course Rolex had their reasons. The 16610LV, the “LV” meaning lunette verte (green bezel), was released on the 50th anniversary of the Submariner. Naturally, for such a momentous occasion, Rolex wanted to make something memorable without departing too much from the tracks. The resulting watch had the same flawless case, bracelet and movement as its predecessor, but it had the new “Maxi” dial set-up—the hour markers and minute hand were slightly puffed up—and for the first time its bezel was the colour of Rolex’s logo.
It wasn’t the first time Rolex had used the colour on a watch, there had been green-dialled Datejusts, Day-Dates and even Air Kings, but it was a first for the sports watch. This wasn’t the major frustration however—Rolex has since used it on a number of sports models, including the GMT-Master 116718 and the Submariner 116610lv, aka “the Hulk”—instead it was that green is not exactly inconspicuous and not everyone, including a large percentage of die-hard Submariner fans, is at home with it on their wrists.
The Kermit was in production for just seven years and despite the mixed reception, its value has since appreciated at a rate considerably higher than many of its siblings from a similar time. It turns out it has three key selling points in the eyes of the collectors: individuality, a nickname and anniversary status (albeit unofficial).
The latter of these selling points is only really true of the early references, which is why some Kermits are worth considerably more than others. During its seven years in production, as is often the case at Rolex, there were a number of miniscule dial tweaks that only the fanatical eye usually recognises. Each tweak is then assigned a “Mark X” by the community, with X starting at “I” and increasing as the changes are introduced. The Mark I 16610LVs were those produced in 2003, the anniversary year, and by 2005, the birthdate of the present piece, we were up to Mark III. This can be ascertained by the “R” in Oyster, which aligns under the right foot of the “R” in Rolex, the flat top to the “4” on the bezel, and the five ticks under Swiss Made at six o’clock.
Although the Mark III technically doesn’t have anniversary status, it’s still of value to the collector; it was after all designed for the anniversary and it still has the cute name. But it has something else, especially if you don’t mind the bold frog colour, Rolex’s colour, the colour of money—you don’t actually see it around very much.
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