Is it selfish to want to keep this Sub tucked away in our vault? Perfect Reference 1680 Submariners don't come along everyday...can you blame us?
We don’t need to tell you that the Rolex 1680 Submariner is a classic, and there’s good reason why almost every collector winds up with a vintage Rolex sports model in their stash eventually- these are timeless, tough, do-anything, go-anywhere tool watches. Rolex has been producing Submariners uninterrupted since the watch was introduced at the Basel Fair watch exposition in 1954, and while those first Big Crown subs are truly incredible pieces, we’ll have to wait for our lottery numbers to hit to get one of those strapped to our wrist.
The 1680 comes from the time when Jacques Cousteau had the world enthralled with life underwater, SCUBA’s popularity was booming and the greatest depths of the oceans were being explored for the first time. Rolex created the Submariner with the tagline “A diver’s dream come true!” in a testament to the tool watch embodied in the waterproof Oyster case, rotating dive timer bezel, luminous hands and markers and large (for the time period) steel case.
Generally, 1680s are easily available on the market, but we’re privileged to present a 1680 that is extremely uncommon. Part of the charm of vintage watches is that they show their history and tell a story with every scratch and ding about their previous owners and where they’ve been.
But we’d be lying if we said that there isn’t something very special about a watch that has been worn sparingly and carefully, and that has never seen a watchmaker’s polishing wheel. This piece is one of those special vintage watches, a simply stunning, unpolished and creamy 1680.
Unpolished is a very charged term in the vintage world, one that is often overused to misrepresented. Many Rolex cases are redone to mimic the original factory brushing and bevel chamfers, but an honest, collector-quality Sub is seldom offered for sale. Unfortunately few Submariners were purchased new in the 60s and 70s by people who share the sensibilities of today’s originality-obsessed collectors, so most were polished at every service, leaving their cases in sad states.
Luckily we are here to save you from having to wade too far through the morass of over-polished and incorrect Subs to find one worthy of your wrist. Few things are certain in life, but we can say with complete confidence that this particular 1680 is going to make someone very, very happy.
Very few complaints leveled against the iconic Rolex Oyster can be taken seriously. It is without exception one of the finest case designs ever conceived, and has been a favorite worldwide for the better part of a century. That said, for larger- wristed gents seeking an Oyster for dress and casual wear, the usual 34-36mm models can seem a little on the small side, and short of opting for a sports model there isn't anything to be done.
Or is there?
Tudor, in addition to being the budget-minded arm of the Rolex family, has some great alternatives to your more common offerings from their parent brand (namely the Datejust) in larger sizes. Perfect for the aforementioned large wrist crowd (as well as anyone who just prefers a few extra millimeters of girth), "Jumbo" models, such as this Reference 7025, fit the bill handsomely.Utilizing a roughly 38mm Oyster case, the Reference 7025 is essentially an oversized Datejust. In this instance, fitted with a crisp black dial, stick markers and a roulette date wheel, this awesome Tudor blurs the line between a dress piece and sports watch. This a combination of elements is a true rarity on the market, and clean examples don't pop up frequently. Despite this, values are still incredibly reasonable, and if you can find one in good shape you should pick it up while you can (hint, hint)!
It's good to be the king.
When wading through the sea of vintage Rolex, it can be difficult to know in which direction one should travel. At times, the divide between the tool watch models - the Submariners and Explorers - and the dressier gentlemen's pieces - Presidents, Datejusts and the like - seems incomprehensibly enormous, and it can be hard to know just what each model and execution would be suit you best.
But wrapped around each iconic Rolex is the understated benchmark of the brand's success. The Rolex's Oyster Case is probably one of the most ubiquitous designs in the modern era, and can be found in the simplest Oyster Perpetuals to the most sought after Explorers and Submariners. It is the silent canvas upon which every one of the brand's executions has been painted, and regardless of the movement that fills it, or the dials that adorn it, this simple and elegant case is a huge part of the brand's global success.
The Rolex Air King, Rolex's most attainable model, is no different. Built upon the sturdy foundation of a 34mm Oyster Case, the Air King is one of the cleaner Rolex designs with simple stick markers and baton hands. And while recent trends have deemed the Air King a bit on the small side, modern manufactures are beginning to re-focus on slimmer, simpler cases, making this svelte, classy design totally en vogue.
This particular piece is especially intriguing because it has a gorgeous matte black, gilt dial, complete with stylized 'Air-King' script. Gilt dials are highly prized among collectors, and often command huge premiums, making this execution an incredible value proposition ringing in at thousands under what other gilt dials go for.
With a full service and a professionally restored case, this piece is ready for any fan of the brand with the big crown.
The Explorer II is definitely a timepiece for the man who craves something a little different from his sport model Rolex. Released in 1971 as a follow up to the original Explorer made famous by mountaineers in the 1950s, the Explorer II utilized a larger Oyster Case-design more in line with the sports models already offered (the Submariner and GMT). Featuring a four hand display with a large and distinctive 24-hour pointer hand, the Explorer II was essentially a GMT Master with one notable difference: a fixed steel bezel was installed in place of the characteristic two-tone from the aviator's model.
The reason for this fixed bezel was the target demographic: Speleologists - subterranean explorers. This hearty breed of mankind spends days on end underneath the surface of the earth and without seeing the sky, are prone to losing track of daytime hours. The 24-hour hand would point to the appropriate place on the fixed 24-Hour bezel indicating whether it was AM or PM. Essentially, while the original Explorer was designed to go into the clouds, the Explorer II was designed to descend into darkness. Pretty cool, right?
Although the Explorer II was produced in far fewer numbers than its Sub and GMT counterparts, it has been in constant production since its inception, with several modifications and improvements made through the years. This particular example is a Reference 16570 and dates from roughly 1994. With case proportions of the original 1655 model, this generation was fitted with an improved movement that offered a 12 Hour hand that could be independently set (that also doubled as a semi-quickset date function). It also features a sapphire crystal and a heavy duty Oyster Bracelet with flip lock clasp, enhancing the daily wearability significantly.
The 16570 also did away with the oversized orange 24 Hour hand that was the signature of its predecessor, but also a polarizing design element. In essence, this model offers all the usability of a second time zone without the loud colors of a GMT, and a wrist presence similar to the far more common Submariner. If you're looking for a great modern daily you can bang around and depend on, but want something just a little different than every other Sub at the water cooler, this is your watch!
We are a couple of guys based in New York City with a passion for bespoke style, substance, and authenticity. Admittedly, we appreciate ALL well-crafted and precious things, from fine single-malts to handmade cordovan bluchers, but we have a special and earnest love for the world of vintage goods, in particular, the world of vintage and luxury timepieces. We love the stories and histories vintage watches contain and the unparalleled craftsmanship with which they were made, often harkening back to an era when raw value was respected and a firm handshake was unflappable. Most importantly, we enjoy them for the works of wearable art that they are. We've had it with digital...we are 100% analog.
Our goal is to find and bring to market a small collection of exceptional vintage and contemporary timepieces. All of our items are hand-picked by our team, representing horologically interesting, important and desirable pieces. Essentially, we scour the market for the best available wristwatches, authenticate them and present them to you in an honest and straightforward manner.
We are here to help you buy a watch — not sell you one.