In the late 1960s Rolex first introduced a Submariner featuring a date display : the model 1680.
For a number of reasons, not least the fact that Rolex used more than one dial maker, we see many different versions of dial used in these watches. Early watches had the word SUBMARINER written in red text, about which I will write separately, but here we look at a couple of later watches with all-white text.
While commercially less valuable than the “Red Writing” (or simply “Red”) 1680, the “White” is hardly any less rare. These two examples are in Miltons’ special selection and at first glance they look almost identical :
There are, however, subtle differences in the dials and significant differences in their histories (more on that later).
The watch on the left has the Mark 1 dial, which has the “L” of “ROLEX” extraordinarily positioned on the mid-line of the coronet above it. Compare it with the Mark 2 dial watch on the right, where the “L” has a more traditional position, slightly to the left :
The Mark 1 dial features “closed 6s,” which is to say that the figures of sixes in the depth rating have unbroken circles in the lower half. The “open 6s” of the Mark 2 dial have circles that are not complete :
You might also note that on the Mark 1 the word “SUBMARINER” is similar in width to the line of depth ratings underneath it, while on the Mark 2 it is slightly wider.
The text at the foot of the two dials is quite similar, but I do note the different, relative positions of the “I” in “SWISS” above the seconds marker :
It should be noted that a well-recognised third version of the dial exists, identified by having both “closed 6s” and an “L” that is left of the coronet mid-line, and there are some others. If you have a 1680 with a different dial, please contact us or send a photo like those here; we’ll incorporate your watch into this post and credit you for it!
Now, the chronology of these dials and indeed their coincidence with case numbers is not as “settled” as we might hope or as might be found on other models. Both of these watches have low 6-million case numbers, but the specific Mark 1 shown here in fact has a case number 38,000 “later” than the Mark 2.
The Mark 1 (above) was supplied by Bucherer in August 1981 and comes complete with green stripe box, Bucherer papers and Bucherer export document. It has the correct (1570-badged) 1575 calibre movement numbered D829xxx.
The Mark 2 (above) was supplied in Singapore in December 1980 and again comes with box and papers. It has an identical movement, numbered D856xxx. This watch was bought by a British pilot, Captain P-, who flew with it throughout his army career in helicopters and then later with his own charter company.
In my view the White 1680 is undervalued compared with the high-flying Red, but like all Rolex sports models from the period its value has steadily increased. I am always keen to buy nice examples!
Haywood Milton, June 2016