Rolex has a long established history of creating a timepiece that lasts. By the 1950s, Rolex had begun to establish a reputation of developing tool watches to function beyond time telling. Intended to conquer the lowest of depths in exploration and highest of heights, the timepieces had to contain groundbreaking inventions to aid explorers in breaking new ground. Two timepieces in particular were released between the 1950s and 1980s that are still revered and highly sought after by the vintage watch collector community today.
Vintage Submariner 5512/5513/1680 & Tudor Submariner ref. 7928
As diving equipment technology progressed and became more affordable, diving as an activity was taken up by more and more individuals. Rolex answered the need for a reliable, waterproof dive watch with the Submariner. The rotating bezel offered divers the ability to read immersion time. The Submariner 5512 was in production from 1959 to 1978. The biggest change to this Submariner versus the previous models: 5510 & 6538 was the inclusion of crown guards.
Images by @rolexdiver
The square crown guards made it exceptionally difficult to use the crown with diving gloves on, so they were redesigned and replaced with pointed crown guards. The remaining 5512 cases were sent to Tudor to become the Tudor Submariner ref. 7928. The early 5512 models were not chronometer certified. But, newer versions were released with a chronometer certified caliber 1560. The ref. 5513 was also not chronometer certified and favored by the general public because it was a less expensive option than its nearly identical predecessor 5512.
The Rolex Red Submariner Ref 1680 was produced beginning in 1969. The nickname stemmed from the red writing “Submariner” on the dial which was later changed to white beginning in 1973. Of course, this has lead to the models with the red writing to be highly sought after by the watch collecting community. Another major difference between the 1680 and its predecessors the 5512 and 5513 is the addition of a date window at the 3 o’clock position with the cyclops lens.
Vintage GMT 1675/16750
As Intercontinental travel developed, pilots began crossing multiple time zones more and more, and the need for a timepiece to tell more than one time at a time arose. The 1675 GMT Master was produced between 1959 and 1980. This was the first watch that was available with both an Oyster and Jubilee bracelet.
Image by @rolexdiver
On many models, the dial markers have since turned a creamy color, and the “Pepsi” bezels have faded over the years, turning the colors to lighter shades of blue and red (almost pink). Interestingly, this makes the models more sought after by vintage watch collectors. The 16750 was released in 1980 with a new movement. The model offers the more modern quickset date function. Only in production until 1988, it is a highly sought after model. The 16750 offers the perfect combination of both modern features but a vintage vibe.
Leather straps are now available for both the Submariner 5512, 5513 and 1680 and the GMT 1675 and 16750. With a curved end, the strap is a custom fit to the case, giving your Rolex even more of a phenomenal look with a beautifully crafted, Swiss-Made watch band.