The Evolution of the Rolex Submariner Date

Ross Povey delves into the history of the Rolex Submariner Date, and educates us on its finer details.

The Rolex Submariner story begins in 1953 when the no-date sports watch began its legacy as one of the most important sports watches in history. In 1969 Rolex introduced the reference 1680 Submariner Date, which was about the most complicated a diver’s watch needs to be. As a Rolex fan I’ve often pondered the question as to why the date function was added. Was it because the brand wanted to cater more for the everyday guy who was wearing the watch or was it, as per the Seadweller, to enable divers who were on commercial dives and decompressing for days on end to keep a track of the days? Either way, the Submariner Date has been a companion to the no-date from 1969 until now. The 200 metre rated 1680 featured the calibre 1575 and the introduction of a new shaped crystal with straight edges and a date magnifier known as a cyclops. The early versions of the watch had the word ‘Submariner’ in red colour before the switch to white text. In 1979 the watch was revisited and updated to include a new unidirectional bezel and sapphire glass, which meant the watch was depth rated to a 50 percent deeper depth of 300 metres. The reference 16800 kept the matte dial with painted hour markers until 1984 when the dials became glossy with applied white gold markers with luminous filling.

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    Ross Povey

    Published

    March 2021

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