How the Rolex Submariner has Changed over the Last 35 Years

An interesting look back in time at the many changes Rolex has made to the (Oyster Perpetual) Submariner: We’ve all come to appreciate in the 16610 classic dive watch of today! It’s easy to forget that Rolex originally launched the 1680 Submariner model way back in 1966, the good old days where unemployment was around 4.5%, a stamp was .05 cents, and Baltimore beat the Dodgers 4-0 in the World Series.  When Rolex rolled out the 1680 Submariner, it introduced for the 1st time a (date) version that featured a Cyclops bubble magnifier over the date and utilized a very thick crystal with a flat surface unlike previous models with the bubble shaped crystals. The 1680 incorporated the 1575 and 1570 movements. Mostly 1575s allowed the date, and the 1570 did not. The 1680 of the late 60s came with the 9315 folded link bracelet that was manufactured until the 1970s.

 

 

What’s interesting is that “Submariner” appeared in Red ink on the dial above the depth. This later changed to a white font. Also, the depth changed from 200m-660ft being reverse order on various later models. The 1680 Subs of those early issues still remain a hot commodity and a very sought after model, and depending on the bracelet, they can be extremely valuable and expensive to acquire. The 1680 was not renumbered to the 16800 until later in the early 80s when fitted with a scratch resistant sapphire crystal. Rolex also made other changes: one crucial one was to the bezel which went from unidirectional to just counter-clockwise. This was done to prevent accidental movement during diving. It wasn’t until 1996 that the 16800 was once again renumbered to 16610 that featured the 3135 movement. 

 

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