It’s Sunday, meaning time for Monochrome’s Weekly Watch Photo. Like last week, when we looked at the newest A. Lange & Söhne timepieces that always look classic, again we take a look at a classic. And it immediately shows how different “classic” can be interpreted.
Who doesn’t know the Rolex Submariner? It’s probably the most copied watch on the planet and still Rolex manages to sell ’em like hot cakes, although the design has changed just minimal over the past 47 years. This is the first Rolex Submariner Date, reference 1680, that was introduced in 1966.
Sweet isn’t it… The first Submariner with date has a nickname: Red Sub. That’s because the word “Submariner” is printed in red on the dial. The triangle-shaped luminescent marker at the 12 o’clock position, the two stick markers at 6 and 9 o’clock and dots on all other hours; the dial style has remained the same over the years.
Just like the iconic Rolex coronet and brand name just underneath it. Below that are the words “oyster perpetual date” (or without “date” for models without a date function). “Oyster” stands for the oyster case that was introduced in 1926 and was the world’s first waterproof wristwatch.
In 1965 Rolex introduced a new movement, caliber 1565, which was both chronometer certified and had a date function. The release of the new movement led to the launch of the first Submariner with a date. The date function introduced the cyclops date magnifier to the Submariner line. By the way, Rolex was also the first to introduce a wristwatch with an automatically changing date on the dial.
The Submariner ref. 1680 marks the transition of the Submariner as a pure “tool watch”, built for serious diving, to a luxury sports watch. From that moment Rolex even manufactured a two-tone (steel/gold) version and even full “pimp-daddy” 18 carat gold version of the Submariner ref. 1680. These versions are rather rare as the Sub was mainly sold in stainless steel.
This face has become the world’s single most iconic watch. Whether you’re wearing one in Africa, South America, the Far East, Middle East or downtown London, Paris, Berlin or Amsterdam. Everybody recognizes the Sub!
The Submariner ref. 1680 was produced from 1966 through 1977, when the Submariner reference 16800 was introduced. That also marked the introduction of a new movement, caliber 3135, and a different depth rating. The new Sub could be taken down to 300 meter/1,000 feet instead of the 200 meters/660 feet depth rating of the Sub ref. 1680. The Sub ref. 16800 was produced from 1977 through 1987.
Towards the end of the production of the Submariner ref. 16800, Rolex introduced a new reference… 168000. Besides adding a zero to the reference number, Rolex changed the sort of stainless steel they used to the now famous stainless steel grade 904, which is more scratch resistant than the previously used 316L.
In 1989 the Submariner ref. 16610 was introduced and in 2003 they added a green bezel, resulting in Kermit. One of many nicknames for the Submariner LV or Lunette Verde. In 2011 the latest version was introduced, the Submariner ref. 11610LN, featuring a ceramic bezel.
The Sub comes on an oyster bracelet, which is probably equally iconic as the watch it holds on the wrist. Since older bracelets tend to stretch & scratch, many older Subs are worn on a nato strap. Although the nato strap is associated with wearing a watch in harsh conditions, it has become more of a fashion statement lately. Although lately… James Bond already wore his Sub on a nato in the movie Goldfinger!
This article is written by Frank Geelen, executive editor for Monochrome Watches.