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Iconic Rolex Red Submariner 1680: A Collector’s Red Gem

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rolex red submariner

The Rolex Submariner 1680, or “Red Submariner,” is an exquisite representation of elegance and horological mastery, distinguished by its unique red inscription, crafted between 1967 and 1975. 

Originally seen as an essential tool for divers and the military, it introduced a groundbreaking First Sub date window on the dial, changing perceptions and elevating its status to a luxury artifact.

The red writing on this Rolex vintage watch model is a symbol of rarity and heightened value in watch collecting, a trait observed in the significantly pricier Double Red Sea Dwellers

Delve into this Rolex Red Submariner Review and discover why this remarkable piece, known as the ‘Red Sub’ due to its distinctive red inscription, stands as a zenith of watchmaking artistry, attracting the admiration of enthusiasts and vintage collectors alike.

The Case

rolex red submariner 1680 case

The Rolex Submariner 1680 presents a case that is meticulously crafted to meet the demanding needs of divers and military personnel, highlighting why it was originally seen as an indispensable tool for these professions.

  • The 40mm stainless steel case of the reference 1680 serves as a formidable shield with a depth rating of 200 meters, surpassing real-world demands.
  • This ensures precision and reliability for divers and military personnel in extreme underwater conditions.
  • The thick crystal withstands pressures at 200m depth and includes the renowned Cyclops for enhanced date readability, crucial in critical situations.

The case of the Red Submariner, crafted in the fourth quarter of 1972 and marked by the “IV.72” stamp inside the caseback, stands as a testament to time, revealing meticulous craftsmanship and enduring design inherent to Rolex. This is reflected in the finely defined knurling on the crown and the bezel’s edge, and the sharp, unpolished lines of the case. 

Additionally, the subtle overhang of the bi-directional bezel, equipped with a fat font insert, is a distinguished feature, only noticeable when the watch is observed on a table, enhancing the unique allure of this exquisite timepiece.

The Dial

rolex red submariner 1680 dial

The dial of the Rolex Red Submariner is significant and distinctive, marked as the first Submariner to introduce a date window, a closer look at the feature that became a standard in subsequent models. The model, produced between 1969 and 1979, is revered for bringing the date complication and the Cyclops magnification lens to the Submariner line, enhancing functionality and visibility.

rolex submariner 1680 dial with white submariner name

The dial is distinguished by its immaculate black background, adorned with luminous hour markers and Mercedes-style hands, highlighting the red text “SUBMARINER” name—an exquisite feature that stands out against the contrasting backdrop. This particular red inscription is exclusive to a small batch of the earliest reference 1680 watches, with later models featuring the White Submariner name in white ink, making it a prized possession for serious Rolex collectors.

The dial of the Rolex Red Subs 1680 is pivotal to its identity and value, prominently featuring a single red line “SUBMARINER” inscription—a defining and unique characteristic that separates it from subsequent models. This red writing, particularly on the rare Mark IV dial, is not only the origin of its nickname but also a marker of its rarity and desirability among collectors.

The Strap/Bracelet

rolex red submariner 1680 bracelet

The bracelet of the Rolex Red Submariner 1680 is a stainless steel Oyster bracelet with Oyster, three-piece solid links, and a Folded link Oysterlock safety clasp with Rolex Glidelock extension system, synonymous with Rolex’s commitment to durability and style.

This particular bracelet design is renowned for its robustness and versatile aesthetic, making it a perfect complement to the watch’s distinctive dial and resilient case.

It secures the timepiece with unwavering strength while offering a timeless appeal, reflecting the unparalleled craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail inherent in Rolex creations.

The Movement

rolex caliber 1575 movement

The movement within the reference 1680 Rolex Submariner is the precise and reliable Rolex Caliber 1575 Automatic Movement, comprised of 26 jewels. This caliber is a testament to Rolex’s attention to detail and commitment to accuracy, featuring a date display and an overcoil balance spring, pivotal for maintaining timekeeping precision.

The aesthetic detailing of this movement is also noteworthy, with the main plate exhibiting a distinctive spotted pattern and the bridges adorned with a subtle-grained finish. The solid construction of the barrel bridge is efficient, housing only the barrel and maintaining a streamlined profile, while the train wheel bridge ingeniously consolidates all the train wheels, ensuring the integrity and functionality of the movement wear.

The Competitive Landscape

The Rolex Red Submariner finds its competitive counterparts in the realms of high-quality, precision-driven watchmaking. While they might not all share the distinctive red inscription, the watches listed below are revered for their craftsmanship, reliability, and innovative design, making them worthy contenders in the luxury watch market.

  • The Tudor Submariner 7928: Known for its unique chapter ring and point d’exclamation, stands as a significant competitor to the Rolex Red Submariner. While it lacks the iconic red inscription, it holds familial ties to Rolex and mirrors its principles of precision and durability, making it a revered alternative in the luxury divers’ watch realm.
  • Omega’s Seamaster 300 165.024: Although without a red inscription, is a formidable counterpart to the Red Submariner, renowned for its precision and underwater prowess. It’s a comparable option for those valuing high craftsmanship and a blend of style and functionality in a luxury timepiece.
  • Panerai’s Luminor Submersible Mike Horn Edition: With its robust design, is a distinctive competitor. It aligns with the Red Submariner in terms of craftsmanship and reliability, and its innovative features make it a choice variant for those seeking design and functional diversity in professional-grade dive watches.
Model3 Key FeaturesAVG SGD Price
Tudor Submariner 7928• Unique chapter ring
• Point d’exclamation
• Rolex ties
S$28,280
Omega Seamaster 300 165.024• Precision
• Underwater prowess
• Craftsmanship
S$12,556
Panerai Luminor Submersible Mike Horn Ed.• Robust design
• Craftsmanship
• Innovative features
S$23,230

Why You Should Invest?

Despite having a design that has remained largely unchanged since its initial introduction in 1954, Rolex’s Submariner watches – especially well-preserved vintage references – frequently receive the most attention (and brings in the highest prices) at auction.

The reference 1680 Rolex Red Submariner is among the most desirable vintage Rolex Submariner references for collectors to own, and the extraordinarily well-documented history of this particular reference 1680’s military service has helped make it an entirely unique addition to any serious Rolex collection.

Pricing & Availability

The Rolex Red Submariner, priced at S$39,471, is a symbol of rarity and luxury in the world of horology due to its limited production numbers. This unique piece commands a premium, attracting aficionados willing to pay a significant amount more compared to its counterparts adorned with white writing text dials.

Availability is scarce, making each find a treasure for collectors seeking to own a piece of Rolex’s innovative and distinctive history. The search can be challenging, but acquiring such a rare piece is a rewarding accomplishment for enthusiasts.

The high value and limited availability intertwine to enhance the allure of the Red Submariner, making it a sought-after masterpiece for those who appreciate the fine craftsmanship and historical significance embedded in this iconic timepiece.

Final Word

The Rolex Red Submariner 1680 stands as a symbol of elegance and precision in horology. With its unique red inscription and military history, it’s an exceptional investment for collectors and enthusiasts.

Key Takeaways

  • The Red Submariner 1680 introduced the iconic red design and Submariner date window, marking a significant moment in Rolex’s history.
  • Priced at S$39,471, its rarity and exclusivity add to its allure, making it a collector’s dream.
  • As both a collector’s item and an investment, the Red Submariner offers the potential for long-term value.

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