Rolex Submariner Date Transitional

Rolex Submariner Date Transitional

Why We Love It 

In the early 1980s, Rolex improved upon the original Submariner Date model, releasing the Reference 16800. Improvements over the original 1680 model included a sub a uni-directional ratcheting “click” bezel, a sapphire crystal with a lower profile and a quick-set date function. It was also given an increased depth rated to 300m, up from the 200m depth rating of the 1680. A high beat movement was also added, offering additional accuracy. Early 16800 models featured a matte dial, while later variants became some of the first Submariner’s to feature the now ubiquitous glossy dials with applied luminous indices framed with white gold surrounds. 

The white gold indices which house a gently patinated tritium lume stand out from the soft black dial. The handset, which appear entirely untouched, are about a half a shade lighter than the indices- quite common for the time, as different batches and thickness of tritium aged in different ways.

Indeed, in many ways this is the epitome of low key watch nerd's Sub - in that if you don't know exactly what it is, you wouldn't be able to tell at a passing glance. 

The Submariner Story

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.


SKU: AS03755

Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 39mm (excluding the crown).Rolex automatic winding movement. Reference 16800. Circa 1981.

Overall Condition: The case is in fantastic condition overall showing normal wear consistent with age and use and light sleeve wear. Luminous gloss black dial is great condition with having developed an even matte throughout. Applied tritium filled white gold indices and matching handset show soft cream color patina. Signed crown.

Includes stainless steel Oyster bracelet with signed Fliplock clasp (93150/593 HD).

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