Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

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lilhoody
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Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by lilhoody » Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:37 am

I recently had the privilege of borrowing Matt Wu's 1983 Rolex Submariner, reference 16800. Matt and I have done this back and forth in the past, but I must say, this exchange was different. The watches we have exchanged in the past, while more expensive were expendable; replaceable if you will. This vintage-ish piece is perfect in every way and would difficult to replace. In fact, there was the possibility I would purchase this watch, until Matt realized it would be a long time before he found another in this condition.

In the same shipment with this Sub, was another; the reference 114060, which I purchased from Matt. I was so mesmerized by the 16800 the 114060 sat in the box, unopened, for four days. Odd as it may seem, I have had a SubC before, so I knew what it looked like and how it fit.

I have had watches for a week and wore the 16800 six out of seven days. I wore it with cautious pride and received numerous compliments, including one from my wife, who could care less about my watch hobby and rapid consumption of them. She oft says they all look the same, so, for her to differentiate the 16800 for the others, confirmed it was special.

This particular piece, has a perfectly faded bezel, uniformly faded to a grey-indigo hue. It is nearly absent of scratches and dings. The matte dial is perfect; free of water damage, oil marks, spotting, or other age related decline, expected in a 30 plus year old watch. The tritium hands, lume plots, and bezel pip, have all evenly aged to a bright brown-yellow color.

The case is in fantastic shape; free on deep marks and gouges. It does not appear to have been polished to much over the years. The last service appears to have restored the watch to near original condition. The brushing and polishing Rolex is known for, is exhibited here, after more than three decades of service.

Most will notice the absence of a the iconic date magnification bubble. Purists might cringe, however, I prefer it. It is an easy modification. On this particular piece, there is a little chipping on the crystal, between the 6 and 7 o'clock markers. So, the modification would bee easily reversed with a new crystal.

I know many of you are like me, and don't want to read pages of text. So, I separated my thoughts from a review, which I'll post next.

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lilhoody
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Review: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by lilhoody » Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:37 am

HISTORY:

The Rolex Submariner reference 16800 is a transitional model; bridging the gap between the 1680 and 16610. There was one additional model between these two, the 168000, which was essentially a 16800 with upgraded steel. Reference 16800 used 316L, while 168000 and 16610 used 904L.

Three improvements stand out with the 16800 as compared to the 1680. First, the depth rating increased to 1000ft/300M. Second, the plexi crystal was replaced with sapphire. Lastly, the movement was upgraded. It featured a higher beat and a quick-set date.

In the early years this reference had a matte dial, which was replaced by a gloss dial. The gloss dial, featured white gold surrounds. Both variants had tritium lume.

The caliber 3035 movement featured 27 jewels and a a higher beat than it's predecessor.

Production for for the 16800 seems to range from as early as 1977, to as late as 1989. 1979 through 1985 seems to be more realistic, or an average of dates I could find. Consider 904L steel was introduced by Rolex (per Rolex) in 1985.

REVIEW:

For purpose of this review, I am referring to early, matte dial 16800 models. The later models are essentially 168000/16610's.

The 16800 is an underdog of Rolex Subs. It is not popular among collectors. For this reason, these pieces can be had at lower prices than other discontinued models. Are they vintage or modern? Good question. Definitions and understanding of "vintage" vary. Some would define vintage as any model which has been discontinued, while others might say it is a maturity, which includes the item being outmoded. Regardless of your definition, I think all would agree, the item must have enduring appeal.

I do not care for the reference 1680; the top hat in particular. I have had two 16610 models and did not bond with them either. The 16800, however, was love at first sight. I missed one on HQ Milton's site a few weeks back. It was gorgeously aged and heavily worn. Despite the condition, which would turn off many, I was in love. In fact, as fond as I am of Matt's, it is too nice. I would cringe if it was to get damaged.

One thing I have grown to like about vintage is character. Vintage watches are more than just hollow luxury. They have been proven over time; individually and collectively. They have a story to tell and tell a story about the wearer, even if the watch's stories are not the wearer's.

Many of you know, I have had felt guilty in the past about wearing JLC, the 114060, and a 16613. I realize it is my own issue and it seems silly. Just this week, I found my self concealing a 114060 under the cuff it had slipped out of, while speaking to a peer. I have never done that with a 14060 or 1675. Perhaps this is why the 16800 appeals to me? The matte dial, aged lume and bezel, all project a different aesthetic. Vintage watches, Rolex in particular, don't have the same negative stigma the more modern, common, or flashy models do...certainly not that of the young grad who just blew his first pay check on a Rolex and doesn't know the model number.

As Jeff said, the 16800 is a sweet spot between vintage and modern. Semantics aside, I agree. The 16800 has all the character of a 5513, 5512, or 1680. But, it improves on what they don't have; an improved movement, depth rating, and a sapphire crystal. The crystal is not a deal breaker for me, but there is no debating sapphire is more durable and doesn't need to be restored with polywatch.
The other tangible benefit of the reference 16800 is value. These watches, as mentioned earlier, are not popular. As such, the prices are lower. There are countless posts on the internet affirming this statement. It is not just my opinion.

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Last edited by lilhoody on Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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unixshrk
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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by unixshrk » Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:41 am

That is one seriously HOT watch

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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by Terpits » Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:42 am

Yup
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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by JP Chestnut » Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:44 am

I like watches of this age. They have enough cool vintage features to make them interesting, but they're not so old it's impossible to find one that's in nice condition. Does this watch have the quick set date? I think they do.

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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by Panerai7 » Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:54 am

Matt is one master photographer. When he posted pictures of the same watch the dial looked flawless :lol:

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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by JBZ » Fri Sep 12, 2014 9:57 am

The 16800 introduced the 3135 movement to the submariner, so it is the first sub with a quickset date.

That's just a super example. I agree that this is kind of a vintage sweet spot - modern conveniences like a sapphire crystal and quickset date, but vintage charm with the matte dial and no white gold surrounds on the hour markers.

Edit: Should have said 3035, not 3135 - I'm pretty sure the 3135 didn't get introduced to the sub until the 16610.
Last edited by JBZ on Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by koda240 » Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:09 am

Love that dial.

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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by Zidane » Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:20 am

Gorgeous piece

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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by JDC222 » Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:25 am

Man, that's nice!! Classic, cool and totally wearable.
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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by demer03 » Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:51 am

That patina gives me chub
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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by lilhoody » Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:18 am

Review added to the second post.
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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by cdnwatchguy » Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:41 am

Gorgeous watch, great review.
cheers,

Keith

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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by JP Chestnut » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:08 pm

Nice review BD. While the transitional models are bottom of the barrel for vintage collectors, I think that's set to change in a big way. The older watches are getting historically expensive and it seems, at least from internet postings, that more collectors are acquiring watches as assets than ever before. If you want a water resistant vintage looking watch to wear that doesn't cost $10,000 or more, these transitional models are just right.

I'd like to put together a birth year set (SD, ND Sub, GMT, and Daytona) of these transitional models, but I'm not sure I'll be able to before the prices explode.

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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by 1954Selmer » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:20 pm

That is one bitch of watch! Love it

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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by homathetes » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:40 pm

Great thoughts and a gorgeous watch.

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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by Terpits » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:45 pm

Awesome review BD.
Well said the story thing.
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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by hoppyjr » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:47 pm

I like all of this.

Especially nice of M@ to send them down for trial. :clap:

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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by dukerules » Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:47 pm

Great review. The 16800 does really sit in a sweet spot--vintage charm, modern upgrades. Thanks for sharing, Darin.

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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by matt.wu » Fri Sep 12, 2014 2:38 pm

Damn! Now I'm glad I didn't sell it. :)
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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by Jeep99dad » Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:11 pm

Wow! That's such an awesome example of a great watch.
I'd like to own one in the future.
Thanks for sharing
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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by hoppyjr » Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:13 pm

Jeep99dad wrote:Wow! That's such an awesome example of a great watch.
I'd like to own it multiple times in the future.
Thanks for sharing
Fixed that for you Frenchy :)

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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by Jeep99dad » Fri Sep 12, 2014 4:07 pm

hoppyjr wrote:
Jeep99dad wrote:Wow! That's such an awesome example of a great watch.
I'd like to own it multiple times in the future.
Thanks for sharing
Fixed that for you Frenchy :)
:oops: you know me so well, girlfriend ;)
Merde Alors! Et Vive Les Francais! :)

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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by Joe C » Sat Sep 13, 2014 7:17 am

Soooo nice :fro:
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Re: Thoughts: Rolex Submariner 16800

Post by BSears » Sat Sep 13, 2014 8:00 am

I'm not usually all giddy about aged lume but that aside, that is a fantastic piece of watch history. More importantly it's just simply a gorgeous watch. You need that BD. Just send Matt a box back with a check inside. :lol:
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