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When you change a classic design like the Rolex Submariner, you risk raising the ire of Submariner purists. The Reference 1680, released in 1966, deviated from previous iterations of the Submariner--like the beloved ref. 5513--by including a date window. This change was remarkably divisive because, according the diehards, if you need a date on your dive watch, you're kind of screwed.
Despite the divided opinions on the ref. 1680, from a non-purist's standpoint, it ticks all the boxes for a tool watch. A sturdy stainless steel case? Check. Robust movement that is dust-proof, shock-proof, and waterproof? Check, check, and check.
The ref. 16800, successor to the ref. 1680, is viewed as a transitional model because it's the first Submariner reference to have a sapphire crystal. Another slightly polarizing change is the inclusion of white gold surrounds to the hour plots. It was also fitted with a uni-directional ratcheting bezel, a glossy (rather than matte) dial, the Rolex Cal. 3085 movement, and--most infuriating of all to the diehard Submariner purist--a quick-set date function.
But we're here to argue the case for the much-maligned Submariner Ref. 16800, a transitional model that gets no love even though we think it should. Whether or not you actually need a date on your dive watch is one thing, but utility aside, that--and other innovations--launched the ref. 16800 into the luxury realm. Now, the Sub can transition seamlessly from casual wear to the board room with only a change of clothes. Even though James Bond wore a Sub with a suit, that was then, and this is now. These changes dressed up the Submariner and made wearing a Sub with business attire more permissible for those without a license to kill.
Our Submariner is a catch. Complete with its original case back sticker, and coming on the solid-end link Ref. 93150 Rolex Oyster bracelet with folding clasp, this 16800 is the perfect Rolex for a collector who wants a modern watch with vintage looks. The tritium on the dial has faded to an even yellow hue, giving it that weathered look of a tool watch that's been places and bears witness to the watch's incredible history.
Stainless steel case is approximately 39mm (excluding crown). Rolex cal. 3085 automatic movement. Circa mid-1980s
Overall Condition: The watch is in excellent condition, showing only slight signs of light use and wear. Glossy black dial is crisp and shows light, even signs of patination to the luminous elements. The hands likewise show matching even patina. Stainless steel case back is in excellent condition bearing original case back sticker. Rolex-signed crown.
Comes with solid-link stainless steel Ref. 93150 Rolex Oyster bracelet and two nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.