For this week’s look at an exceptional Rolex watch in Bob’s inventory, we examine a vintage Submariner 1680. And not just any ref. 1680, but an 18k yellow gold reference 1680/8 model with a stunning blue dial. Join us as we look further into what makes this vintage Rolex diving watch so special.
The Many Firsts of the Blue Gold Submariner 1680
The Rolex Submariner 1680 brought about several “firsts” for the brand. The Rolex 1680 was introduced to the public in the late 1960s and it was the first Submariner with the date function. In addition to the new date window at 3 o’clock, it also had the Cyclops lens attached to the crystal for optimal legibility. Since this is a vintage Rolex, the dial is topped with an acrylic crystal. Sapphire crystal became available on Rolex Submariners more than ten years later.
The 1680 was also the first Submariner to offer a yellow gold—the ref. 1680/8—version alongside the stainless steel models. This is where we see the Submariner taking on a more luxurious approach rather than exclusively a tool-watch position. Furthermore, as we see here, in addition to the black dial and black bezel configurations, the gold Submariner ref. 1680/8 was also available with a blue dial and blue bezel combo.
The Blue and Gold Submariner 1680/8
This particular vintage Rolex Submariner ref. 1680/8 dates back to 1972. Both its 40mm Oyster case and matching Oyster bracelet are entirely in 18k yellow gold. As a result of the 18k gold, this Submariner feels nice and heavy on the wrist. It certainly makes its presence felt.
The warm yellow gold tone of the Submariner ref. 1680/8 is superbly complemented by the vibrant blue dial and coordinating blue bezel. On the rich blue dial we see the “nipple dial”, distinguished by the raised faceted hour markers. This style of dial is characteristic of gold Rolex Submariner and GMT-Master watches of the era. This is pure 1970s glam right here! We, of course, also see the Mercedes-style hands—typical for the Rolex diver’s watch—which, due to the age of the watch, have clear signs of aging.
Right above the 6 o’clock position, we see the water resistance rating of 660 ft = 200 m. This was before the Submariner achieved a water resistance of 1,000 feet—which is today’s standard. The Submariner became waterproof to 1,000 feet (and outfitted with a sapphire crystal) in 1979 with the ref. 16800.
The Rolex Caliber 1575
Since the Submariner ref. 1680 boasted the new date window, its movement had to be updated. The Rolex Caliber 1575 is essentially the same as the preceding Caliber 1570, except for the addition of the date function. The Caliber 1575 automatic mechanical movement operates at 19,800 beats per hour.
While early models of the Submariner 1680 has the Twinlock screw-down crown, this Submariner has the Triplock winding crown to keep the water out.
Although it’s common today to see solid gold diving watches, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the concept of a full 18k gold “tool watch” was audacious, to say the least. Not only is the Submariner ref. 1680/8 an important model in Rolex’s history for being the first gold Sub, but it’s a mighty fine watch to look at too! Historically significant and supremely attractive is an irresistible combination indeed. And it is for these reasons that we’ve decided to shine Bob’s Spotlight on this vintage Rolex timepiece.