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Few watches make a statement like a solid gold sports Rolex.
This contradictory blend of technical design and functionality with a precious metal casing material is a polarizing one, and depending on how its worn (and indeed, by whom), can send very different signals - and we'll just leave it at that. Of course, if you want to avoid any possible negative stereotyping, going with a vintage model will certainly alleviate the concern!
The Rolex Submariner is without question the brand's most iconic model, and is a perennial favorite among collectors, enthusiasts, fashionistas, and yes - actual divers. And while you aren't likely to see a Submariner clad in a yellow gold case gracing the outside of a dry suit, it's hard to argue that models such as this 16808 aren't every bit as awesome as their steel siblings - or perhaps even more so.
Casing a Submariner in 18K gold is almost a tacit acknowledgement that very few of Rolexes sporting models ever get used as originally intended - and that in its own right is a pleasing sentiment. It says that Rolex knows who they are, who their customers are, know they are above any possible reproach - and damn the torpedoes, we're making this beastie in solid gold!
The Reference 16808 we have here dates to approximately 1979, and is a transitional model of sorts; featuring the desirable matte "nipple" dial of its predecessor (Ref. 1680/8), while also housing a hi-beat movement with quickset date function and sapphire crystal. Many would consider this generation to be the ultimate blend of vintage looks and modern wearability, mirroring the transitional period of their steel siblings (Ref. 1680/16800) before matte gave way to gloss and the "vintage" period thusly ended for Rolex.
This particular example is perhaps the finest we have ever come across, featuring a strong case devoid of glaring marks or over-polishing, thick lugs with crisp beveling, a stunning matte black dial, and handset with original Tritium lume. With the exception of a replacement bezel insert and the addition of a slick shell cordovan strap, this watch looks very much the way it did when it left the factory - which is, to say, absolutely brilliant.
So, maybe you think a solid gold Rolex Sub isn't for you. Maybe you think they are gaudy, gauche, or a slap in the face of sporting tradition. Perhaps you feel that for the money, you could buy a pair of steelies and a nice dinner out. And that would be entirely understandable.
But you'd be missing the point.
18k Yellow Gold Oyster case is approximately 40mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 16808. Calibre 3035 Automatic Movement. Circa 1979.
Overall Condition: Case is in excellent condition showing only light signs of wear from age and use, and shows no over-polishing. Lugs are fat and thick with strong bevels, and case hallmarks are clear and deep. Matte black "nipple" dial is in similarly excellent condition with crisp printing. Light even patina to the luminescent elements on the hour markers and hands. Replacement bezel insert. Original case back and signed crown.
Includes one 20mm black Horween shell cordovan strap and two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle