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Why We Love It
In the late 1960s, Rolex made a tiny change to the Submariner that, forty years on, sends ripples through the vintage Rolex collector community. We mean, of course, a single line of red text on the Reference 1680 Submariner, a watch that has gone down in history as the “Red Sub.”
From the late 1960s to the late 1970s, there were seven different dial variations of “Red Sub,” being dubbed by collectors as “Mark I” through “Mark VIII” dials. Generally, these examples vary in the smallest of ways, perhaps the result of being from different printings - or even from different dial manufacturers altogether - with this example being a so-called Mark "V".
What unites all of them is that tiny splash of red on the Submariner printing just under the center post.
At the close of the 1970s, Rolex began phasing out this feature. It was a gradual process, from market to market. Additionally, since many of these watches had been purchased by professional divers or servicemen, the dials with the red printing were often exchanged for dials with all-white printing during the course of a routine service.
As a result, examples that survive with the red printing intact are rare and infinitely desirable!
Rolex first debuted the Submariner at the 1954 Basel Spring Fair. It shared the stage with already-established offerings: the Explorer, the Turn-O-Graph, and a ladies' Oyster Perpetual with a chronometer certification. Compared to these other watches, the Submariner - with its oversized crown and chunky dive-timing bezel looked slightly out-of-place, and yet would become one of Rolex's most enduring models.
Rolex's quest to produce a waterproof wristwatch has its roots in the First World War, when a need arose for soldiers to have a watch that could withstand the wet, dusty conditions on the battlefield. Rolex's Oyster case of 1926 represented the culmination of a decade of development. It gained notoriety in 1927, when Mercedes Gleitze became the first British woman to swim across the English Channel. She took with her an early Rolex Oyster, in what may have been the very first example of sports marketing by a luxury brand. A series of advertisements followed this feat, featuring smiling flappers dunking their Rolex Oysters in fish tanks.
The Submariner hit the market at a time when oceanographer and explorer Jacques Cousteau exposed the world to the wonders of undersea exploration. With the advent of SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) in the late 1950s, skin-diving as a sport became accessible to amateurs. Since a mechanical timepiece was an essential piece of equipmeny for divers in a pre-digital world, the race was on amongst Swiss manufactures to produce a professional grade timepiece. Rolex was fortunate in that René Jeanneret, one of the company's directors, was a skin-diving enthusiast, giving Rolex a unique insight into the development of their diving watch.
The resulting watch was an overnight success, and has been in continuous production ever since. The Oyster Perpetual Submariner, in all of its forms, is an icon amongst icons, a pinnacle of horological design, and a statement piece aspired to and worn by people the world over.
Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 39mm (excluding the crown). Automatic-winding movement by Rolex. Rolex Reference 1680. Circa 1970.
Overall Condition: The case is in excellent condition overall showing wear consistent with age and use, showing signs of prior polishing. Luminous matte black dial is in excellent condition with rich even patina and matching handset. The bezel and luminous pip are later replacements. Signed crown.
Includes stainless steel folded link Oyster bracelet (7836/380) with signed blade clasp.
Analog/Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states. We are happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options