Everything you need to know about the Submariner 1680

Written by:Alessandro M.|

What if we’d ask you to think about an iconic model by Rolex? Which model would you think to?

We would instantly think about the SUBMARINER, no coincidence it’s one of the most faked and copied watch in history. And there should be a reason, after all!

We’d like to focus on a reference that we learned to love and that marked a turning point in this model’s history: we’re talking about the SUBMARINER 1680.

The ref. 1680 was the first in Submariner’s history to feature a date and, to ease the reading, the “cyclops” lens on the plexy, allowing for a 2.5x magnification. The 1680 is labeled as waterproof up to 200 meters.


THE MOVEMENT

The caliber inside is a 1575, who’s actually a 1570 with a date disc.

Let us explain: both movements derive from the famous cal.1530, the 1570 being a simpler time only, the 1575 featuring a date indication.

Fun fact: you’ll never find a movement labeled as “1575” because, regarding of the actual version of the movement, they were both inscribed as “1570”.

From 1971, the movement was equipped with “hacking seconds”: when you want to set your Submariner’s time, the seconds hand stops allowing you for a more precise setting. The date mechanism is “Quick switch” and “Slow set”.


THE DIALS

Have you ever heard the term “Mark”?
Well, we refer as MARK (or MK) followed by a number, to determine a well-defined graphics dial (or bezel insert).

The 1680 Submariner was introduced in 1967 and up to ‘76-’77, it came in a famous variant known as “RED SUB”. In this configuration, we can find 6 different “Marks”: three “METER FIRST” (depth in meters and in feet) and three “FEET FIRST” (depth in feet and meter).

By the way, we’ll now focus on the three “Marks” that the 1680WHITE” came with. This is the model that Rolex sold between 1977 and 1979, with all white graphics.
All dials are “FEET FIRST” and we want to specify that there is no chronological order in the different marks release. We can find MK1 with high serials and MK3 with low serials.

MK dials
Thanks to Tommaso Migale for the pics

Where are the differences?

  • MK1: The “L” in Rolex stands perfectly in the middle under the crown. The SUBMARINER text is as wide as the depth ratings, the number 6 is closed and at 6 o’clock we can find the text “SWISS-T<25” (meaning the luminous paint is tritium based, as in all 3 variants)
  • MK2: The most particular in our opinion. The “L” in Rolex is moved to the left compared to the crown, the SUBMARINER text is longer than the depth ratings and the 6 are opened (detail that can only be seen with a magnifing lens)
  • MK3: Similar to the MK1, the “L” in Rolex is slightly moved on the left compared to the crown

There are then 3 SUPPLY dials (produced as spare parts).

Supply dials
Thanks to Tommaso Migale

USED BRACELETS

From 1967 to 1979, the submariner came with three different bracelets:

  • Ref.7206: steel riveted links (early models)
  • Ref.9315: steel folded links (up to the mid 70s)
  • Ref.93150: steel solid links (from the mid 70s to 1979)

CURIOSITIES ON THE 1680

To check if the date wheel is coeval, meaning that’s an original part Rolex intended for that specific model, it must be silver with open 6 and 9.

The bezel is bidirectional, free to spin in both directions.

The correct crystal is a beautiful plexy, that stands really tall and with the classical “step”, from the 25-127 family.

In 1969 Rolex introduced the 1680/8 version (the /8 at the end of a Rolex reference means that the watch is made in 18k yellow gold), the first 18k yellow gold SUBMARINER. Available both in blue or black dial, came with gilt prints. For the bracelet, the options were a solid yellow gold bracelet or a leather strap with gold buckle.


Fuerza Aérea del Perú

In the 70s, the SUBMARINER 1860 was adopted by “FAP”, the Peruvian Air Force. These examples can be recognized by the inscription “Fuerza Aérea del Perú” on the back.
They’re extremely rare and sought-after.


THE MARKET

Regarding of the different dial variants, the marketprice is the same for every mk. The average price for a 1680 Submariner whiteis in the 7.500-10.000€ range depending on the conditions, for the watch alone.

The full set demands a sensible premium. A 1680 Whitewith box, papers, booklets and accessories can easily sell for 14.000€, alwaysdepending on the conditions.

Recently,bezel inserts had a substantial price increase. It’s becoming everyday harderto find good vintage bezel inserts on the market. A coeval SUBMARINER 1680WHITE one (from 1877 to 1979, called MK3) sells for around 1.500€. The MK3bissells between 1.000€ and 1.200€.


Let’s see how a coeval Submariner 1680 White is defined and so its market price:

  • DIAL: check if fits in one of the categories above. If it’s a supply (or even a fake), the price will drop
  • BEZEL INSERT: for high serials, so the end of 1979, it’s possible to find a 1680 white with a “MK3bis” bezel insert where the font is “fat” and “serif”. We can determine the type of bezel by looking at the 4 in “40”: if the space inside the 4 is a triangle, it’s a MK3, if it’s a trapeze, then it’s a MK3bis. There are different points of view, some says that the only coeval bezel insert for a 1680 White is the MK3. We can find the MK3bis on Sea-dwellers and 5513s as well.
  • CASE: Did you know that some case batches were made for supply? Yes, from 4.4 million to 5 million were made by Rolex as spare pieces (the range is approximative)
  • BRACELETS AND END-LINKS: A 1680 White must come with a solid links 93150 and 580 end-links.
  • CLASP: we can find a code stamped on the clasp to show the year of production. “VB” for 1977, “VC” for 1978 and “VD” for 1979
  • DATE WHEEL: as previously said, the background must be silver, with open 6 and 9
  • CASE BACK: check that the reference is 1680

Translated by Lorenzo Spolaor (@itsdoc_oclock)

Author

Alessandro M.
Author
Est. 1993. Mechanical Engineer since 8 years now. He fosters a great passion for watches and the vintage world specifically. Collector and enthusiast he is working on his dream of manufacturing a caliber of its own craft.

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