Tudor Submariner Gilt Dial
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Tudor Submariner Gilt Dial

The success of Operation Sunshine, undertaken by the USS Nautilus in 1958, prompted Congress to order more nuclear submarines.

Though many of these were designated as attack submarines, there was one whose purpose was more covert.

The keel of the USS Halibut was laid on April 11, 1957. Though initially a diesel-electric submarine, after the voyage of the Nautilus, she was completed as a nuclear-powered submarine. More than that, the Halibut would be the first submarine in the U.S. Navy designed to launch guided missiles, which she would do successfully in March 1960.

In 1965, the Halibut sailed into the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for an overhaul. She was fitted with side-look sonar, a mainframe computer, and recording and video equipment. Though the Halibut did in fact carry other specialized oceanographic equipment (including an underwater search vehicle or “fish”), her true mission was revealed in 1968, when she would be used to locate the wreckage of the K-129, a Soviet submarine.

But it was in 1971 that the Halibut was used to her fullest potential. The previous year, the United States learned of the existence of a Soviet undersea communications cable in the Sea of Okhtosk, which connected the Soviet naval base at Petropavlovsk to the Fleet’s headquarters in Vladivostok. To the United States, the potential of tapping that cable and learning Soviet state secrets was too great to ignore.

The Halibut was sent deep into the Sea of Okhtosk, below the sound detection devices that the Soviets had installed to deter intruders. The mission was so secret that most of the boat’s crew lacked the proper clearance, and so a cover mission was devised: to recover debris from missiles launched during Soviet naval demonstrations. As far as the Halibut’s true mission, it was a resounding success. So confident were the Soviets of the security of their cable that most of the conversations made over it were unencrypted, allowing the U.S. to keep tabs on the operations of the Soviet Pacific Fleet. More taps were installed, and more nuclear-powered submarines followed in the Halibut’s wake until the end of the Cold War.

In 1954, the year the Nautilus was christened, Tudor would introduce the Submariner.

Originally produced by Rolex to respond to a growing base of sports watch consumers, Tudor was conceived as a more economic way to buy a quality diver. This was achieved by using generic ETA Swiss movements and housing them in Oyster cases with typical Rolex-signed crowns, crystals, and bracelets. In short, the Tudor Submariners of the 1960s and 70s had all the look of their Rolex brethren with guts that were simpler, more common and easier to service.  

While the Submariners from the 1970s and 1980s, with their trademark “snowflake” hands, are the most desirable, the Submariners from the early 1960s are worthy of praise.

This particular Submariner is a Reference 7928 dating from 1965, the year the keel of the Halibut was laid. The early gilt dial (with radium indices and an outer chapter ring) has aged to a gorgeous patina, and the case is strong, with signs of light but careful wear.  A Submariner of a different kind, the Tudor Submariner was mean to dive, and dive deep, like the Nautilus and the Halibut. 

Whether you're engaged in nautical pursuits (or a little undersea wire-tapping), the 7928 is the perfect daily companion.

Details

SKU: AS02088

Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 39mm (excluding crown). Tudor Submariner Reference 7928. Calibre 390 Self-Winding Movement. Circa 1965.

Overall Condition: Stainless steel Oyster case is in very good condition, with sharp lugs. Case does have minor signs of use and wear, including some dings on the lugs and on the sides of the case. Bezel insert is a later replacement. Dial is in very good condition with gorgeous overall patina. Luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands are puffy and have taken on a creamy hue over the years. Rolex crown. Rolex case back has some signs of wear, particularly scratches, but is in otherwise good condition.

Includes one 20mm dark brown leather strap with white contrast stitching.

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