|Year of production (circa)||
Original steel folding clasp
Rolex Submariner Ref. 16800
Some watches get better and better with age. Lume turns to cream and fading bezels. This 16800 Rolex is a perfect example.
The first Submariner to be equipped with a date complication was the Ref. 1680. In 1979, it would receive a whole host of updates, and an additional “0” in its reference number. The acrylic crystal was replaced with sapphire, the movement was upgraded to a quickset date variant, the depth rating was upped from 200 to 300 meters, and the bidirectional friction-based bezel was replaced with a ratcheting uni-directional variant. All in all, the Date Sub went from truly vintage to modern.
The earlier models came with matte dials with painted indices. Later models came with gloss dials with indices with white gold surrounds. Those earlier models are considered the perfect blend of vintage and modern, and are commonly referred to as “Palletoni”. This is such a watch.
If you are into the looks of a vintage Sub but prefer a little more modern tech, this is absolutely perfect!
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Oh, the mighty Submariner! Could this be the most desired watch ever made?
The Sub certainly has the heritage to go with its iconic status. It was one of those very early dive watches from the era when commercial and leisure diving exploded. The Ref. 6204 was introduced in 1954 (after having been completed in 1953), shortly after the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. It followed the, now familiar, template for a modern dive watch with its rotatable bezel surrounding the dial and crystal.
The Submariner has been in continuous production ever since and saw many updates along the way. Still, the modern Submariner looks eerily similar to its 1953 predecessor, proving that this is one of the most timeless and iconic watch designs out there. One of the most copied as well.
The early Submariners have become extremely collectible. Good examples are exceedingly rare and fetch astronomical prices. A very popular variant is the Ref. 5513, which was made from 1962 until about 1988. It is a true vintage Sub with its acrylic crystal and aluminum bezel inlay. Although variants with applied indices can be found in its later years, the archetypal 5513 features Tritium painted markers. Rare dial variations such as gilt and explorer dials are particularly collectible.
When hunting for a Sub, you will have to make one crucial decision: date or no date? Some people prefer the clean, symmetrical look of a no-date Sub. Others like the date and cyclops on the crystal. While the aforementioned Ref. 5513 is a no-date version, cyclops-loving collectors should be looking at a Ref. 1680 (introduced in 1967) and its successors.
1988 Saw the introduction of the first “modern” Rolex Submariner. Among the updates was a sapphire crystal, which completely changes the feel of the watch, but also its everyday toughness. The Ref. 14060 (no-date) and 16610 (date) are among the most popular Subs today. They combine the ruggedness of a modern Rolex with the classical looks of a slim case and aluminum bezel insert, which were lost in later ceramic Subs.
The Rolex Submariner is arguably the perfect watch. A timeless design combined with great engineering. Versatile aesthetics and rugged build. And it was not exactly hurt by being James Bond’s watch of choice in Dr. No, 1962.
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