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From its inception, the Rolex Submariner was intended to be a robust tool watch, designed with one mission in mind. The clean, sparse black dial and symmetrical hour plots was the hallmark of sub-aquatic form-meets-function design, able to be read in the murky depths. From 1954 to 1966, the model didn’t bear a date.
However, that all changed when Rolex released the Reference 1680 in 1966. For the first time, a dive watch from the revered manufacture was equipped with a date function. This change was remarkably divisive because, according the diehards, a date on a dive watch is as useless as a screen door on a submarine.
But the first question you should ask yourself when considering a Submariner is: what’s required of a good tool watch? To us, it should be sturdily built from stainless steel. The movement should be robust, capable of withstanding shock, dust, and (in the case of diver watches) the increased rigors of crushing water pressure. Further, a good tool watch should be versatile, capable of accompanying the wearer through any walk of his or her life.
This is where the 1680 shines. The inclusion of a date function was an invitation to Rolex buyers to wear their watches longer and in a larger variety of environments. Effectively, the date function turned a simple dive watch into a timepiece capable of everyday wear.
In the late 1970s, Rolex improved upon the original Submariner date models, releasing the Reference 16800. The 16800 was in essence a transitional model, and throughout its lifecycle came to be a testbed for a number of innovations that ultimately led to the modern day incarnations of Submariners. Chief among these innovations was an increased depth rating (300m, an increase of 100m over the rating of the 1680) and a higher beat movement. They were also fitted with uni-directional ratcheting bezels,quick-set date functions, and a sapphire crystal with a lower profile than its acrylic predecessors. Late models were fitted with the glossy dials and raised hour plots with white gold surrounds that have since lived on Subs for over 30 years.
In its final "glossy" configuration, the Reference 16800 helped launch Rolex into the luxury realm for good. However this early example, dating from roughly 1981, is an earlier earlier execution, and while it comes replete with the modernized features of a sapphire crystal and unidirectional bezel, it retains the matte dial with tritium markers that fans of vintage Rolex could never live without.
Furthermore, this amazing single owner example shows very little wear to its unpolished case, and includes all of its original accessory items; boxes, papers, hangtags, calendar cards, and even the classic Rolex anchor!
This excellent example makes for an entirely wearable contemporary-era Sub with all of the hallmarks of a vintage model, and a full kit to boot. Don't miss it!
Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 39mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 16800. Rolex Caliber 3035 Self-Winding Movement. Circa 1981.
Overall Condition: Oyster case is in excellent condition, likely never polished with crisp bevels and factory brushing. Bezel is in similarly excellent condition with no major discoloration or signs of wear. Matte black dial is in fantastic condition with a lovely even patina to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands. Rolex Trip-Lock crown. Rolex case back is in very good condition with slight signs of use and wear.
Includes one 20mm HD Oyster bracelet (93150/593) in very good condition with very little stretch and only minor signs of use and wear. Also includes two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle
Also includes inner and outer boxes, anchor, hang tags, book, blank papers, 1983 calendar card, extra links, and service papers dated 1992 and 2016