Tropical Dial 1680/8 Rolex Submariner

Nothing on Earth says ‘F-you money’ like a gold Sub. In much the same way that an S-Class wafts past in total opulence, the 1680/8 wears with similar imperious grandeur. Except this particular example, it’s a bit different. One of the primary joys of vintage is that two watches, which on paper may be identical, look nothing alike because of the lives they have lived. This particular Sub has enjoyed a level of graceful ageing comparable to George Clooney. Its dial has gone from blue to this volcanic-tropical orange, which elevates the ‘traditionally monied’ look a gold Sub normally carries into something altogether more casual and personable. Like a 12 year old S63 that’s been covered in door dings and scratches from parking in Paris, it’s gone from being a little bit ostentatious to something really rather charming, almost of its environment more than of Rolex.


If you wanted a 1680/8 in the 70s, you could have it in a black dial or a blue dial. Notably, not rootbeer; this tone is an artifact of age. We’ve seen the blue ‘nipple’ dials from this time (as they’re called for their conical applied indices) run the gamut of tones from brown to orange or even purple. Sometimes it’s completely uniform as seen here and other times it can take on marbled effect. Something about the construction of these dials in particular lent itself to not staying blue. This is all environmentally determined, through humidity, UV, heat, and years on wrist. At least, in a perfect world. This is other, shall we say tomfoolery, these days at play as well.

The 1680/8 has been on an arc, in Rolex only rivaled by the Day-Date, where it’s risen from selling in the 20-25K range mid 2015 to 40K regularly and well beyond for specialty dials like this. And from my personal vantage point of watch enthusiasm, I see it; no one is afraid to wear gold or bimetal anymore. A gold Sub isn’t what it used to be. And this gold Sub in particular is more beautiful today than it ever was in 1979. Should its dial command a premium that nearly doubles its value? That’s a question that will polarize this audience entirely. But I’m very glad examples like this are out there. It’s an impossible watch to not love.

This example presents in excellent and dramatic patina. It’s even and quite unlike anything else you’re likely to see anytime soon. The case sports light wear as to be expected with lightly but not aggressively polished lugs. This is a dial-lover’s sub for sure. It comes on its original Oyster bracelet, still quite tight by the looks of things. It comes from a well-regarded Los Angeles retailer, watch only.