Tropical 1680/8 Rolex Submariner
For decades, a gold Sub has always been the universal standard ‘F-you money’ watch. In much the same way that Rolls Phantom wafts past in total opulence, the 1680/8 wears with similar imperious grandeur. People know what it is, people know what it means. This one, though, it’s a bit different. One of the primary joys of vintage Rolex collecting is just how drastically different two watches, which on paper are identical, may look. It’s like seeing the Olsen twins side by side after one developed a penchant for needles and the other went to the Maldives and hit the gym incessantly. This wildly volcanic-tropical 1680/8 is the latter, and it sort of takes the classic gold Sub look into another category altogether: it’s the ‘F-you money sure, but I also know precisely what I’m doing instead of tagging along predictably’ watch. Catchy, that.
In an episode of the excellent @collectorsgeneradio recently, a friend of Hairspring, Todd Levin, brilliantly described collecting as a push/pull dichotomy between both wanting to signal oneself as part of a group and simultaneously demonstrating a sense individuality or personal taste. I’ve ruminated on this description often since, particularly with regard to the hyper-individualistic watches for sale I often cover here. But this? I believe Mr. Levin’s dichotomy perfectly encapsulates just what makes this Sub special. It’s of an aesthetic, decidedly in the upper echelons of Wilsdorf’s vintage stables as decided by nipple indices. But then because it’s been loved and worn often, it has an entire vibe that is irreplicable. It’s in a perpetual (not a pun) quantum state of in the group and entirely on its own.
And, god, do I love a tropical dial for its ability to pull that trick off gracefully. I’m aware that at least 50% of you will have scrolled past immediately after seeing the word tropical. This style of patina is so divisive that there is no middle ground. But the tone is so even that I’ll bet many of the lesser experienced here may have thought this was normal, how they all look. No, this is an object that will only be created once, a unique dial forged by years of adoration in time on wrist, out in the world. Is there a better way of creating beautiful patina than telling the entire world that you have F-you money for decades? I’m not sure there is. What a legend, the original owner. In fact, he’s probably still out in the Maldives with Olsen twins today.
This case has full lugs, bevel still present. There’s light surface wear as to be expected, but great deep lug-back engravings still. Its bezel is only lightly ghosted. The crystal is a NOS top hat, full marks on that one. And then there’s this dial, which, well, look at it. Orange-tan-citrus with perfect tritium and evenly matching hands. Applied coronet. It’s magnificent. The watch has been given a once-over and is running at COSC. It comes from a well-regarded German retailer.
Find this 1680/8 here from Voys Timeless for 36900 EUR.