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After SCUBA diving became popular in the 1950s, it seemed only natural that Rolex would release a watch specially-designed for that purpose; thus, the Rolex Submariner was born.
Before long, the Submariner found its way on the wrist of amateur and professional divers alike, as well as undersea explorers. A special version of the Submariner with a large domed crystal was strapped to the exterior of the bathyscaphe Trieste as it made its record-breaking descent to Challenger Deep, the deepest point in the world’s oceans. In a telegram the bathyscaphe’s pilot, Jacques Piccard, sent to Rolex HQ in Geneva, he wrote, “Happy to announce that your watch works as well at 11,000 meters as it does on the surface.”
Released in the 1980s, the Rolex Submariner Reference 16800 also made waves.
Prior to the Reference 16800’s release, the Submariner was very much a tool watch, with a no-frills, form-over-function appearance: a matte black dial with large luminous hour plots and no date window. It was a watch that looked at home strapped to the exterior of a diving suit, but perhaps a touch incongruous when paired with a business suit. Unless the business suit in question was worn by James Bond, of course.
But with the Reference 1680, the 16800’s predecessor, the Submariner was given a date window—and an improved depth rating of 300 meters, just to bring the point home that, though it might have a more refined appearance, it's still a dive watch at heart.
And with the 16800, the Submariner now had a sapphire crystal, and the luminous hour plots—still large, still tritium—were now surrounded by white gold. With these changes, the Submariner dove headlong into the luxury realm. Now it was a watch that one could wear every day, in all environments, whether leading a meeting in the boardroom of a Fortune 500 company or on commanding the deck of a yacht in Bermuda.
This watch is a gorgeous example of the reference, with the matte dial and tritium indices that collectors of vintage Rolex so love. The creamy patina of the hour markers and hands tell a tale of hours spent in sun and sea, doing what it was meant to do. Looking at it, you can practically taste the sea salt on your lips.
After all, isn't that what a Submariner is for?
Available exclusively at Marshall Pierce.
Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 39mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 16800. Rolex Caliber 3035 Self-Winding Movement. Circa 1980s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very strong condition with signs of light but careful polishing and minor signs of use and wear in keeping with age. Rotating bezel is in very good condition with minimum signs of use and wear. Dial is likewise in very good condition with stunning overall patina, particularly to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands. Rolex crown. Rolex case back has signs of wear consistent with age and use.
Includes one 20mm 93150/53 bracelet with signed Rolex clasp.