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The Highly Collectable Vintage Rolex Submariner ‘Red Sub’ 1680

August 2nd, 2021

The Rolex Reference 1680 holds an important place in the brand’s famous dive watch history. It was the first-ever Submariner with a date display. The vintage Rolex Submariner Reference 1680 turned up in several versions over the years. However, the ‘Red Sub’ iterations are among the most popular and collectable Rolex watches.

vintage rolex 1680 submariner

The defining feature of the Submariner 1680 is the single line red ‘SUBMARINER’ text above the 6 o’clock side on the dial, hence the nickname ‘Red Sub’. However, the fascinating fact is that Rolex has offered nearly seven dial variations of the ‘Red Sub’ in a handful of years. Are you ready to dive into the details?

There are a lot of things to know about the vintage Rolex Red Submariner 1680. Let’s take a look!

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The Rolex Submariner 1680 ‘Red Sub’ – A Brief History

The Rolex Submariner Reference 1680 debuted in 1967, and Rolex continued to produce the model until nearly 1980. However, the brand made the ‘Red Sub’ reference featuring the defining red ‘SUBMARINER’ name on the dial until about 1975.

Rolex introduced Reference 1680 as the first-ever Submariner with a date display. It was a significant deviation from the original time-only Submariner watches. However, the timepiece was not the first diver’s model from Rolex with a date aperture. This is because the Sea-Dweller already debuted the same year.

Regardless, a significant difference between the two separate dive watches was –

  • Rolex did not feature the Sea-Dweller with today’s signature Cyclops lens above the date aperture at 3 o’clock.
  • On the contrary, the Submariner 1680 featured a Cyclops lens. And ever since then, every Submariner Date timepiece sported the magnification lens.

The Submariner Date Ref. 1680 was water-resistant up to 200m like the Submariner No-Date watches of that era. Moreover, Rolex equipped the watch with black bi-directional aluminium insert bezel and crown guards encircling the winding crown.

Well, the watchmaker produced the ‘Red Sub’ Reference 1680 only for some years. However, they offered at least seven dial variants over its production years.

Related: The Vintage Rolex Submariner 1680

The Vintage Rolex Red Submariner – Dials

There are a total of eight variations of the Rolex Submariner dials, and it includes the non-red editions too. However, the brand named these dial-variants as MK1 through MK8. The rarest among them is the ‘Red Sub’ Service Dial with LumiNova luminous element rather than tritium.

Nonetheless, before exploring the dial types, you need to understand some major vocabulary –

  • MK refers to ‘Mark.’
  • ‘Meters First’ refers to the dial version that features the meter depth rating first, followed by the equivalent feet rating. However, the meters and feet ratings are printed in red on the dial.
  • ‘Feet First’ indicates the dial that flaunts the feet water-depth rating first and then the meter rating.
  • Open Sixes and Closed Sixes – Some Submariner 1680 dials feature Arabic numeral sixes engraved with a closed and open font. When the numeral six features a closed font, the dial is known as ‘closed sixes’. And the numeral 6 in an open font is referred to as ‘open sixes’.

The ‘Red Sub’ MK1 Dial

Rolex offered the earliest iterations of the Submariner’ Red Sub’ with MK1 dials and ‘meters first’ variety. The dial flaunts the ‘SUBMARINER’ text engraved on the top of white letters at the 6 o’clock side. Moreover, the MK1’ Red Sub’ dials are also closed sixes variety.

The Red Submariner MK2 & MK3 Dial

The MK2 & MK3 dials debuted in 1969, featuring overall a similar appearance. The MK2 dials are open sixes and meters-first type. However, this dial features the red Submariner name engraved on top of the white text. On the contrary, the MK3 dial has the name Submariner printed straight on the dial surface.

The ‘Red Sub’ MK4 Dial

The earliest examples of the feet-first dial type are the MK4 dials. Rolex introduced it in the late 1970 and continued using it for a few years. These dials flaunt the text ‘SUBMARINER’ in red stamped on the top of white and unique open sixes style.

The Red Submariner MK5 Dial

The MK5 dials also come with feet-first and open sixes. However, the watchmaker printed the red Submariner text directly on the dial surface.

The ‘Red Sub’ MK6 Dial

Rolex equipped the last ‘Red Sub’ dial with tritium luminescent material, known as the MK6 dial. However, it is the feet-first variety. The watch’s name in red is printed on the dial surface. Moreover, this dial variant comes with closed sixes, and the alphabet ‘S’ in ‘Superlative’ shows a more curved look.

The Rare Rolex Red Submariner Luminova Service Dial

Rolex produced a rarer Red Submariner dial version known as Red Submariner Service Dial or MK8. These dials feature the LumiNova luminous component instead of tritium. Thus, they also do not sport the text’ Swiss-T <25” beneath the 6 o’clock marker.

The Red Submariner Service Dial feature the marking ‘SWISS’ below the 6 o’clock marker. And it indicates the use of LumiNova. However, Rolex retained the desirable red text on the MK8 dials.

Later, the watchmaker replaced the Red Submariner models with today’s standard monochromatic white and black dial. Eventually, the red service dial versions became extremely rare and collectable.

Overall, the Submariner’ Red Sub’ Reference 1680 is a highly collectable vintage Rolex watch. Potential watch buyers are often willing to pay a premium for the watch, especially if its condition is excellent.

However, if you want to sell a Rolex watch in London, get in touch with the trusted watch buyers. We buy all Rolex watches, vintage and contemporary, for the best possible price in the market. Fill in our online form or call on 07828750705 for a free accurate quote. You can also book an appointment at our London based office.

Also Read: The Vintage Rolex Submariner 5512

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