Meters First, Tropical Mk3 1680 Rolex Red Submariner

The path to learning is through making mistakes. Rolex are often said to never make mistakes. That’s not quite true. There’s the double 9 Air King, 16710 ‘Error’ Dial, Patrizzi Daytona, Fuchsia GMT, Cream Explorer, I could go on. There’s a trend here: do you see it? Rolex do make mistakes, but when they do, the mistake often looks better than the standard production. When I make a mistake, such as last week when I tried to flambé a flan and set off the fire alarm for a block of my apartment, it’s not so graceful. But Mk3 1680s and their tendency to go Godiva, that’s peak Rolex fault.


The 1680 was not Rolex’s first Sub with a red line of text (that was probably the 6536/8), but it was the most widely-distributed watch to do so. It was, however, definitively Rolex’s first Sub to introduce a date complication to the Sub line, which was distinct amongst its competitors. Ever curious where the famed cyclops crystal was popularized? Look no further. Granted these are all highly-nuanced details only collectors seek, but for those who care about details the reference holds immense charm.


The red line of text was only available for the first half of 1680 production. This example is a Mk3 dial, characterized by its meters first depth rating. It features a calibre 1575 with a 40mm steel case. Although it is highly collected, this reference is not particularly rare. But Mk2 and Mk3 dials have shown a proclivity to turn chocolate more frequently than the rest, and rather evenly too. The entire appeal of this particular Sub is in the life it has lived previously, and I quite like that.


The standout on this example is the dial which is a beautiful warm brown. It’s tritium is also deep honey, take it with you to Barbados for a trip and it’ll probably come back pumpkin. The case is full but has seen a light polish. Nothing egregious. It comes from a well-regarded California retailer.

Find this tropical 1680 here from Grey & Patina for 49250 USD.