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A look at the iconic watches which inspired five Apple Watch faces

If you’ve ever wondered what inspired the design of Apple Watch faces, Carrot Fertility co-founder Arun Venkatesan has put together a really interesting look at the iconic watches behind them …

The blog post looks at five of the designs.

The analog faces reveal what Apple does so well — taking the familiar and making it their own. Over the years, they have released quite a few faces with roots in history. Each one started as an iconic watch archetype and was remade to take advantage of the Apple Watch platform […]

Just dive into five Apple Watch faces — California, Chronograph, Chronograph Pro, Count Up, and GMT.

For example, Apple’s Count Up face takes its inspiration from dive watches, of which the Rolex Submariner (Ref. 6204) is the best-known example.

In 1953, Rolex set new records by strapping its Deep Sea watch to the outside of the Trieste submersible, which took it in the ocean to a depth of 3,150 meters and back unharmed […]

The very next year at the Basel Watch Fair, Rolex showcased the Submariner, easily the most famous of all dive watches. It features large indices, the high visibility hands we saw earlier in the Rolex “bubble back” watches, and an extendable bracelet that allowed wearing over a wetsuit[15]. The rest is history […]

The Count Up face is a descendant of great dive watches like the original Submariner. Its bezel is nearly identical. The dial is simplified with a uniform set of circular hour indices.

Tapping the watch face turns the bezel clockwise to meet the triangle with the minute hand, revealing a start button. Tapping the face again turns the bezel counterclockwise back to zero. This behavior is a little different than in the Submariner, where the bezel only turns counterclockwise. That constraint is a safety measure to ensure that the dive time only gets shorter if the bezel is bumped.

Monochrome has more on the Submariner.

This is the Ref. 6204, the first Rolex model to feature the word “Submariner” on the dial. A single line of text, printed above 6 o’clock, that would change the entire course of sports watch history […]

The layout of the dial is immediately familiar: upside-down triangle at 12 o’clock; baton-shaped markers at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock; and dot markers for the remaining hours. Around the periphery is a chapter ring for the minutes and running seconds.

Eagle-eyed observers will also note the absence of Rolex’s now-iconic “Mercedes” sports hands. Instead, the Ref. 6204 features thin, pencil-shaped hands. And the seconds has a lollipop at the tip. Framing the dial is a rotating bezel with a black insert. You’ll notice there are no smaller graduations (hashings) for the minutes between 0 and 15 that would become standard on later models.

Read about the other faces over at

Rolex Submariner photo: Monochrome

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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