The Rolex Submariner reference 1680 was introduced in the late-1960s and was manufactured until 1980. The Submariner 1680 is a popular vintage Rolex watch to collect since it was the very first Submariner to include a date window on the dial. However, there is a specific variant within the 1680 family known as the Red Submariner that’s the most coveted of all.
As its nickname suggests, the Rolex Red Submariner 1680 includes a red SUBMARINER inscription on the dial. Rolex eventually replaced the red version with an all-white text Submariner 1680 in the mid-1970s. Yet, despite its less-than-a-decade production run, Rolex still made several versions of the Red Sub, which makes collecting this vintage model even more interesting.
Join us as we highlight the vintage Rolex Red Submariner 1680 and outline its history, evolution, and current market value.
About Rolex Red Submariner 1680
Red Submariner 1680 Quick Specs
- Reference Number: 1680
- Production Years: 1967 – 1975 (Approx.)
- Case Diameter: 40mm
- Case Material: Stainless Steel
- Functions: Center Hour, Minute, Seconds Hands, Date Display
- Dial: Black with Luminous Hour Markers and Mercedes-Style Hands, Red “SUBMARINER” Name
- Bezel: Bidirectional, Black Aluminum Insert, 60-Minute Scale
- Crystal: Acrylic with Cyclops Lens
- Caliber: Rolex Caliber 1575 Automatic Movement
- Water Resistance: 200 Meters (660 Feet)
- Bracelet: Stainless Steel Oyster Bracelet
Brief History of the Rolex Red Submariner 1680
The Rolex Submariner 1680, fondly nicknamed the “Red Submariner,” is a rare and highly prized Rolex model. Perhaps the most distinctive and valuable feature of the Red Submariner is the red writing on its dial. Produced from about 1967 to about 1975, the earliest batch of the Submariner 1680s featured the name “Submariner” written in red as opposed to the normal white.
Red writing on Rolex watches has become highly valued and sought after by collectors. The Double Red Sea-Dweller, for example, is often triple the price of similar models with white writing. Similarly, the single red line of writing on the Red Submariner 1680 makes the watch rarer, and thus more valuable.
The Red Submariner is a historically significant Rolex reference because it was the first Submariner to feature a date window as well as the Cyclops lens above it. The watch’s crystal was also modified from other Submariner crystals, standing 3mm above the case and bezel. This unique feature makes this particular model recognizable.
The Red Submariner 1680 features the 1575 Chronometer movement, which is essentially the same as movement 1570, only with the additional date feature. The Red Submariner 1680 was rated to a depth of 200 meters (660 feet).
Dial Variants of the Rolex Red Submariner 1680
The Red Submariner 1680 was produced with seven different dial versions that have been consistently recognized by Rolex collectors. They are titled Mark (or MK) I-VII, plus a service dial version.
- Red Submariner 1680 Mark I Dial: Meters First, Closed Sixes (the numeral 6 in the depth rating uses a closed font)
- Red Submariner 1680 Mark II Dial: Meters First, Open Sixes (the numeral 6 in the depth rating used an open font, Red SUBMARINER is printed on top of white letters
- Red Submariner 1680 Mark III Dial: Meters First, Open Sixes, the f in the depth rating is slightly shorter than Mark II, Red SUBMARINER is printed directly on the dial with no white base
- Red Submariner 1680 Mark IV Dial: Feet First, Open Sixes, Red SUBMARINER is printed on top of white letters
- Red Submariner 1680 Mark V Dial: Feet First, Open Sixes (but smaller gaps than Mark IV), Red SUBMARINER is printed directly on the dial with no white base
- Red Submariner 1680 Mark VI Dial: Feet First, Closed Sixes, Red SUBMARINER is printed directly on the dial with no white base
- Red Submariner 1680 Service Dial: Luminova luminescence instead of Tritium lume, distinguished by the “SWISS” marking under 6 o’clock instead of Swiss-T<25.
Mark II and III were produced simultaneously and can be somewhat challenging to differentiate. Some Red Submariner 1680s feature a rare brown “tropical” dial variant. The brown dial most likely spawned from a manufacturing flaw. This flaw is now highly sought after by collectors, as so few brown dials now exist. The brown dial Submariners are generally only found in watches with Mark II & Mark III dials and case numbers in the 2.2M or 2.3M ranges, but not all of the examples will have dials that have changed color from black to brown.
Rolex Red Submariner Price and Value
The 1680 “Red Sub” was once known as a relatively affordable vintage Rolex watch to collect. For instance, while other Rolex models, such as the Double Red Sea-Dweller were always highly collectible, their smaller red counterparts, such as the Rolex Red Submariner were often overlooked, therefore, valued less. For the more conservative collector, the Red Submariner 1680 was a more affordable, yet still rare and aesthetically pleasing “red” Rolex.
However, the prices and value of the Red Sub have increased significantly in recent years as the reference gained more attention in the collecting community. A Red Submariner 1680 is valued more than a white Submariner 1680. A Feet First Red Sub is typically priced above $20,000 while a Meters First Red Sub will generally cost more than $30,000. An early and complete Red Submariner set in mint condition will command much higher prices than that.
For example, a Rolex Red Submariner 1680 Mark II with a brown tropical dial and bezel sold at auction in 2020 for more than $105,000 – a record for the reference 1680. That same year, a Red Sub 1680 Mark III (not tropicalized) sold for a little more than $70,000.
As more collectors seek to add Red Subs to their collections, this important Rolex reference will be harder to find in the vintage market. The first Submariner with a date window, the only Submariner Date with acrylic crystal, and the first and only Submariner to include red text on the dial, the Red Submariner ref. 1680 is a fantastic vintage Rolex watch to study, hunt, and collect.