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Watch Review

A Rolex Tropical Dial You Won’t Believe

Paul Altieri

Purple reigns

There are tropical dials, and then there are insane tropical dials. When speaking of Rolex watches, tropical refers to color changes on the dial due to chemical reactions from exposure to sunlight. And because Rolex collectors get as excited (if not more so) about imperfections as they do about perfection, tropical dials are a prized detail on any vintage Rolex watch. The majority of tropical dials turn into a rich brown color, but what we have here is not typical. Instead, this particular Rolex Submariner 1608/8 sports a vibrant purple dial.

Submariner 1680/8
There are tropical dials, and then there are insane tropical dials.

Dating back to 1978, this Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner 1608/8 is crafted entirely in 18k yellow gold. When it was first produced it had the blue bezel and matching blue dial configuration. However, over the years, it has transformed into the rich purple shade we see now. Which, along with the blue bezel, gold case and bracelet, and gold accents on the dial, it is a fantastic look. Adding to the distinct appeal are the nipple style hour markers that are found on gold vintage Submariners 1680/8. The bezel still includes the original luminescent pearl within the inverted triangle, while the Mercedes style hands are luminescent thanks to its tritium material.

Submariner 1680/8
Rolex Submariner ref. 1680/8 with purple tropical dial.

The ref. 1680/8 was the first solid gold offering of the Submariner. Its case is stamped “1680” (which is the stainless steel version of the same watch) and the “/8” is the Rolex code for gold. Two versions of the ref. 1680/8 included the black bezel and black dial combo, in addition to the blue model as seen here. The stainless steel 1680 was the first Submariner to offer the date function with a date aperture at 3 o’clock in addition to the corresponding magnifying Cyclops lens on the crystal. The gold versions of the Submariner 1680/8, which came after the steel model, also came equipped with the date. As this was pre-sapphire crystal, protecting the face of the Submariner ref. 1680/8 is acrylic crystal. Adding to the luxury of the yellow gold vintage Sub, is the full gold Oyster bracelet. A solid gold diver’s watch in the 1970s was an audacious proposition and reserved for only a select few.

Rolex Submariner ref. 1680/8 tropical dial
Rolex Submariner ref. 1680/8 with purple tropical dial making it a highly coveted piece.

The 40mm Oyster case of the Submariner ref. 1680/8 houses the Rolex Caliber 1575, which is the Caliber 1570 equipped with the date module. Because of the watertight case and the Triplock crown, the water resistance of the vintage Submariner 1680 is 660 feet (200 meters). Of course modern Submariners can safely plunge to (1,000 feet) 300 meters, but during the era of the ref. 1680, 660 feet was indeed an impressive water resistance for a diver’s watch. Perhaps this luxury Submariner may not be the best watch to take with you while you dive.

Indeed a distinct vintage Rolex watch, not only is this Submariner a member of the already coveted 1680/8 family, but it stands out for its violet tropical dial. As the colors gold and purple are associated with royalty, this Rolex watch truly deserves the crown it wears.

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