Rolex’s fabled gold Submariner may in fact be the single watch most classically representative of the ‘fuck-you-money’ attitude. Or at least, it was. See, the gold Submariner has gone through this sort of inverse bell-curve of public acceptability from the 1960s through today in 2021. To start, it was a hallmark of a highly successful career: a gift bestowed at the end of a lengthy career on one’s whose efforts deserved opulent celebration. However, by the mid 80s, it was already more closely associated to fine powders, wall street, and cigarette boats than hard work. Despite this, in last few decades a groundswell has been building from the most hardcore collectors outward. Gold does not suit all watches. But I swear the Submariner was destined to be rendered in aureate.
The gold Sub was born in 1969 with either black or blue matched dials and bezels. Blue dials mostly went tropical over time, black ones mostly did not. This example will be a grail to many collectors, from that very first year of production. In 1969, dials were printed with ‘200m=660ft’. Shortly thereafter, Rolex printed the feet rating first. These earliest gold Subs also came with a bracelet marked patent pending and this one’s is still present.
To mark an extra distinction over the standard 1680, Rolex used applied indices also in gold. The centers are tritium. Their shape helped collectors term this style the ‘nipple dial’. The style is steel deeply sought after by collectors. The 18k yellow gold case is 40mm and houses the calibre 1570. This first generation ran from 1969 to 1979. It’s hard to argue with the look once you get the opportunity to try a vintage gold sports Rolex on. I’m not at the point in life where I feel that aesthetic is deserved, but I’ll be damned if when I am I’m not hunting this exact type of example.
This example is remarkably sharp. The bevels look to have a razor’s edge, impressive for a soft 70s gold alloy. Its dial and bezel are perfectly preserved, both in gilt hue and tritium applications. It comes from a well-regarded California retailer.
Find this Meters First 16808 here from Oliver and Clarke for 89500 USD.