Review: Rolex Submariner Story HD App for iPhone & iPad


A Submariner Wish Come True
Back in November 2012, in my published exclusive interview with Giorgia Mondani, I concluded with these statements:

Just when you think you know, you might be in for a reversed surprise. My wish for Christmas 2012 – a digital format of The Submariner Story for sure. Maybe in time…

2nd April 2013 marks the official launch of The Submariner Story HD app on iTunes store by Mondani Editore. The wait is finally over! The Mondani team is setting the standards for the future of vintage Rolex references, with every release of a digitalized version of their printed titles. Both the Rolex Gallery HD app and 100 years of Rolex app have been a pleasure to browse on the iPhone & iPad, as I immerse myself into the world of Rolex on the go – be it at waiting lines, daily commute or flight transits. 

In this golden age of technology, Apps of Apple iOS or Andriod OS platforms have transformed our old habits into new ones inevitably. As much as I enjoy physical touch-feel-flip with traditional printed pages, digital books on a single smart device is the dawn of a new era for passionate readers, and collectors alike. In this first ever review of a vintage Rolex reference on, I will present an analysis of the Rolex Submariner Story HD App for iOS devices from an end-user’s perspective. 


An Essential Reference Guide For Rolex Collectors
At the beginning of my vintage Rolex journey, it was imperative to accelerate knowledge gain on Rolex model reference numbers, dial characteristics, and variations specific to a time period.  While Internet resources are widely available, the legitimacy of posted information is often and then questionable. A proactive hunt for vintage Rolex books was initiated, in search for authority in this niche field. 
Mondani Editore’s Rolex Submariner Story ranks at the No. 1 spot – attributed by a large sized print format, categorization techniques, information flow, content relevance, and watch photography.

My collection of reference books comprises of: Vintage Rolex Sports Models by Martin Skeet and Nick Urul, The Best of Time: Rolex Wristwatches by James A. Dowling and Jeffrey P. Hess, 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger and Rolex Submariner Story by Mondani Editore – all of which are exemplary documentation of vintage Rolex watches written by researchers in the field. Of all, Mondani Editore’s Rolex Submariner Story takes the coveted number one spot – attributed by the unique large size print format, categorization techniques, information flow, content relevance, and watch photography.

Visual Impact of Rolex Submariner Story Book & App
When I first encountered the Rolex Submariner Story back in 2010, I was astonished by the sheer size of this Italian publication. Flipping through the pages, I gradually understood why Guido Mondani has decisively chosen to print on a larger format. Think about it. In order to study a watch optically, one usually use a loupe to observe the dial, hands, rehaut distance etc. If a visual reference book was printed according to industry standards, will a collector need a loupe to carry out the same observation? Book size is the key differentiating factor that seperates Mondani Editore’s publication from the rest of the publishers. This large format foundation on which Guido Mondani has laid down for print will eventually be responsible for taking off his “digital dreams” of Apps on iTunes.

The Submariner Story HD App, for any collector, is a complementary extension that offers mobility yet provides the identical rich content that is present in the print version. The integration of a content icon (as seen below) which lists the Rolex model references, allows an App user to choose a particular reference model of his or her desire simply with a touch of finger. This instantaneous gratification of information is closely associated to this smartphone era powered by Apps – where the motion of the finger swipes command the content on the screen. Although a collector can google for images, the search engine is not as smart (due to filtering techniques in which some images are tagged with wrong references etc.) as to what this Submariner Story App is capable of providing accurate visual and on-demand description. 


Review Criteria Points
1. Appeal
2. Content & Images
3. Value

The above three (3) points are selected based on the importance on the UX/UI of The Submariner Story HD App for iPhone & iPad. (UX = User Experience, UI= User Interface)

1. Appeal
As a vintage Rolex collector and ethusiast, I am in search of as many visual examples of a particular reference model as possible. The more exposure I experience optically, the faster learning processes can be achieved. Generally, examing watches in detail will require the assistance of a loupe. Rolex watches are no more than 40mm for the Submariner range, and consideration for the reader’s experience is Mondani Editore’s forte. Every page on this Submariner Story App depicts a supersized photograph of a specific vintage Rolex model reference in high resolution, with an adjacent watch description in both Italian and English. This design choice enables me to flip to a particular reference, as shown in the above image – a Rolex Submariner Ref. 6536 with year, as well as case number. I can’t emphasize how important case numbers are as they provide a collector a range in which the model is produced.  In today’s marketplace, it is very unlikely (with exceptions) to see such open exhibition of case numbers due to the privacy of a collector. 

In recent years, consumers have been cyclically conditioned by super-mini-sizing culture. Think back to the first time you ever converted printed pages into PDFs for viewing on a display monitor. Recent tech reports have reported that smart devices will overtake traditional computing devices sooner than expected. iTunes took the world by storm with the integration of AppStore. The rest is what we are soaking up right now by social networks that connect millions around the world. Information is being shared and distributed more rapidly than before. Organization of information is the next re-invention of the wheel – the Digital Wheel. As fast as we are consuming information, the capability to learn a new skill, trade or hobby has the curve drawn exponential. Swiping actions by our fingers on screens of smart devices are like a mini-dance event happening on a global scale. Every rythmn that empowers the user to click on decorated square-shape Apps, and enjoy the activity as it was meant to be. The Rolex Submariner Story App appeals to me as a collector, as my thirst for vintage Rolex Submariner knowledge is instantaneously quenched. 

The Submariner Story Book & App is a blessed union in this infotech driven world: visual and referencing communication is now a digital reality with Apple & Andriod smartphone OS.

The single most important appeal of such apps for vintage Rolex collectors is strongly correlated to: portability. As much as I love printed book copies, I can’t help not having these apps on my iPad, iPhone or Andriod smart devices. Best of both worlds is how I view the compliment of print & digital. The Submariner Story Book & App is a blessed union in this infotech driven world. The substitute of our iPads for books have already begun years before. Favourite classic titles of which are embedded in sleak portable machines stimulating our consciousness on-the-go. With increased frequencies of meet-ups and GTGs (get togethers) celebrating the united passion for vintage Rolex watches, the Rolex Submariner Story App can enhance any discussions in session between collectors.  The App user is able to identify a specification of a Rolex model, with special attention to year, markings, case shapes etc. and exchange these documented knowledge at length with his or her intended audience. 


2. Content & Images
Fact: Content is King. No matter how engaging visual images of Rolex watches are initially, content is the key enabling a collector to acquire knowledge – about a specific model at a moment in time.  The pursuit of a vintage Rolex watch is strongly correlated to the collector’s desire in ownership – with visual recognition of refined dial, case and movement details responsible for a purchase or not. Whether you are a new or seasoned collector, the documented articles and images from the Rolex Submariner Story App will bring about a new understanding on these collectible watches. Allow me to reiterate on this point.

I recently recieved an email on a possible restoration project of an early Submariner ref. 5513 COMEX dated back to the early 1970’s. Bearing in mind that Submariners COMEX sightings are significantly rare compared to regular production 5513’s, as these watches are issued by Rolex SA to the renowned French diving company COMEX. Aside from the helium valve (HE), and the caseback engraving of CROWN-ROLEX-COMEX that distinguishes a regular 5513 from a COMEX 5513, the dial is identical to that of a regular production 5513 in the same time period. (pictured below) A search on the Submariner Story App took less than 15 seconds on the iPad via the navigation panel, to locate the specific COMEX 5513 relevant to the watch mentioned in the email. Cross referencing the serial numbers, caseback engravings, case and dial properties of both watches reaffirmed that they belong to the same time period. If I had to flip through my hardcopy of the Submariner Story, the time taken would have stretched much longer. The advantages of digital referencing experienced first hand, and I am impressed by the convenience and speed of what the Submariner Story App has to offer. 


In case if you are wondering if there are sufficient content on this Submariner Story App, let me reassure you that Modani Editore has the experience of categorizing information in the watch field for over 20 years.  The depth of knowledge within the Rolex Submariner Story is a work in continuum for Guido Mondani and his collaborators – with regular updates offered periodically to their clienteles. In the illustrated example below, a collector can immediately identify the different variations or marks (denoted by MK) of a Rolex Submariner ref. 1680 Red, how they differ from MK to MK based on side by side comparisons. 


3. Value
With the Submariner Story Book retailing at USD $ 805, and the HD App at USD $ 119.99, the difference is significant. Bearing in mind that the Submariner Story Book is a limited edition print with less than 1600 copies in circulation, there is a possibility of value increment in the future. Apps, on the other hand, are still being tested in this growing market. At a price of USD $ 119.99, will you as a watch collector indulge in a digital reference App in an effort to learn more about vintage Rolex watches? Personally, I am confident Mondani Editore will attract new collectors by pricing their Submariner Story app below $ 100. 

Depending on how a collector strongly feels for the going digital, value is in the eyes of the purchaser. Personally, I do not forsee my printed copy to be anywhere as mobile as the Submariner Story HD App. With the inclusion of Sea-Dweller ref 1665 models, and Submariners ref. 16610LV (as seen below), the integration of both vintage and modern spectrum makes this Submariner Story Book by far the most comprehensive reference guide in the market. 


Text Size Issues with iPhone
Viewing on the iPhone: While the images are acceptable, the text are excruciatingly small at maximal zoom. On the contrary,  there is no such issues with the Submariner Story App on the iPad. My recommendation for Mondani Editore is to research into an updated version of this App for the iPhone with improvements made to the clarity of the text. Like most apps which have been affected by the longer iPhone 5, there are empty spaces at the top and bottom of the screen when the Submariner Story App is opened.

Where’s the Price Guide?
One of the most enjoyable section of Mondani Editore’s publications is their price guide of estimates on featured Rolex models. I was rather disappointed in the fact that the price guide included with the printed book, is missing from the Submariner Story App. I certainly hope that Mondani Editore will supplement their App readers with a price guide in a digital format, so as to aid collectors in understanding the valuation market estimates – either from a purchaser’s or seller’s perspective. 


Collecting watches is a voyage that begins with a progressive interest in details of a horological kind. Any medium or platform that accelerates a collector’s knowledge is empowering. This is no different in the world of vintage Rolex watches. In fact, these accumulated knowledge gained will enable a collector to make decisive actions in the vintage Rolex market place. 

The Submariner Story HD App is a definitive visual guide specific to the Submariner watch model reference. With every featured Submariner illustrated alongside detailed information, a reader is presented with differences between models, in their respective year of production.

The emergence of vintage Rolex references in digital format is still trickling out into the market; as publishers strive to maintain a balance between traditional and future communication tools for their readers. I certainly hope that Mondani Editore will keep releasing more Apps, for this immersion experience has been a most pleasurable one.

The Rolex Submariner Story HD App is available now on iTunes store

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Additional Preview Images from the Submariner Story HD App




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