Details 

A rare, highly collectible and extremely charismatic stainless-steel diver’s wristwatch of the famous Swiss watch brand Rolex, founded in 1905. Estimated production period: early 1970s. Case in stainless steel, diameter 40mm, bidirectional stainless-steel bezel with a patinated dark grey (originally black) aluminium insert and ‘fat font’ 60-minute graduation, solid stainless steel screwed-down case back, signed screwed-down winding crown, and box-shaped acrylic crystal with Cyclops lens over date aperture. Matte black Mk6 ‘feet first’ dial with red “Submariner” inscription, patinated luminous tritium hour markers, patinated luminous ‘Mercedes’ hands. Caliber 1575, marked as 1570, self-winding. Functions – indication of time in hours and minutes, central seconds hand, date aperture at 3 o’clock. Case serial number 3388xxx, stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet stamped “9315”, endlinks stamped “380”, double folding secure clasp. 

Lot essay 

The Rolex Submariner Date Ref. 1680 in a special version, widely known in the collectors’ community as the ‘Red Sub’, represents a very important page in the history of Rolex Submariner diving watches, produced from 1953 to the present. While almost all steel Submariner models have a distinctive monochrome design (steel, black and white), the reference 1680 ‘Red Sub’ undoubtedly stands out with its red “Submariner” lettering, which gives this watch a special charisma – hence the nickname ‘Red Sub’. Reference 1680 was produced from 1967 until 1980, while the 1680 ‘Red Sub’ models ceased earlier, circa 1975, and ranged from approximately 2 to 4 million serial numbers. In the history of the Submariner collection, this reference is as important as the first watch with a date display and the only Submariner with an acrylic crystal, date display and Cyclops lens. 

The Mk6 dial of the present lot, with the ‘feet first’ depth rating, closed ‘6’ digits and other period-matched and type-matched features was a completive chapter of a ‘Red Sub’ story. It is the last ‘Red Sub’ type, therefore it evokes special emotions, making the present lot a highly desirable item.

In total, six main versions were found in the production span of the ‘Red Sub’, referred to as Mk1 to Mk6. The first three varieties are distinguished by the ‘meters first’ depth rating, with the last three distinguished by the ‘feet first’ depth rating. The present example, bearing a Mk6 dial with a corresponding 3.388 million case serial number, features red ‘Submariner’ lettering printed directly over the black dial’s background without a white base layer, recognised by the fact that among the ‘feet first’ dials, they are the only ones featuring a font with two closed ‘6’ digits in the depth rating. Additional consistent features of this example’s Mk6 dial include the same-level aligned horizontal strokes in “ft”, and an alternate form of the “S” in “Superlative”. Also of value, among period-matched and type-matched Mk6 features, are the stainless-steel Rolex Oyster bracelet stamped with “9315” and two endlinks stamped with “380”, the bezel with a patinated dark grey aluminium ring insert and ‘fat font’ 60-minute graduation of an original design, and the pleasant uniform patina of the luminous markers and hands, having acquired a light creamy shade, which certainly enhances the vintage charm of the present example. 

Reasons to bid 

The Submariner Date ‘Red Sub’ Ref. 1680/0-9315 Mk6 is an excellent purchase for the collector who desires a rare, highly collectible and extremely charismatic Rolex Submariner, a must-have for a discerning collector and an impressive part of the Rolex legend. The Mk6 dial of the present lot, with the ‘feet first’ depth rating, closed ‘6’ digits and other period-matched and type-matched features was a completive chapter of a ‘Red Sub’ story. It is the last ‘Red Sub’ type, therefore it evokes special emotions, making the present lot a highly desirable item.