• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1353

    Important Pocketwatches and Wristwatches

    12 May 2008, Geneva

  • Lot 21

    Rolex. A fine and rare stainless steel self-winding water-resistant wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, date and bracelet

    SIGNED ROLEX, OYSTER PERPETUAL DATE, SUBMARINER, 660FT=200M, SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED, REF. 1680, CASE NO. 6'122'790, MANUFACTURED IN 1980

    Price Realised  

    Rolex. A fine and rare stainless steel self-winding water-resistant wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, date and bracelet
    Signed Rolex, Oyster Perpetual Date, Submariner, 660ft=200m, Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified, ref. 1680, case no. 6'122'790, manufactured in 1980
    Cal. 1570 nickel-finished lever movement, 26 jewels, the black matte dial with luminous dot, baton and dagger numerals, luminous mercedes hands, sweep centre seconds, magnified window for date, in tonneau-shaped water-resistant-type case with screw back and screw down crown, revolving black bezel calibrated to 60 units, stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, case, dial and movement signed
    40 mm. diam.


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    The present reference 1680 is a typical representative of Rolex's production around 1980, still featuring the matte dial without the white gold borders to the luminous numerals. It appeals thanks to its clean and well-preserved original condition.

    Special Notice

    Prospective buyers should be aware that the importation of Rolex watches into the United States is highly restricted. Rolex watches may not be shipped into the USA and can only be imported personally. Generally a buyer may import only one watch into the USA. For further information please contact our specialists in charge of the sale. Please note other countries may have comparable import restrictions for luxury watches.


    Pre-Lot Text

    "A DIVER'S DREAM COME TRUE"
    (citation from Rolex Submariner 1962 advertisement)

    The Collection of a European Gentleman

    Christie's are proud to offer one of the most complete private collections of the celebrated Submariner and Sea-Dweller models ever to appear in public in recent years. Assembled by a passionate collector of these icons over more than two decades, the watches show the development and the different variants of the model. The collection is divided in three parts offered in each session of this auction (lots 21 - 28, 148 - 155, 259, 261 - 269).

    Already in the late 1940s, Rolex scientifically researched further improvement of the water-resistance of their well-established "Oyster" system. Hans Wilsdorf and the engineers of Rolex set out to demonstrate that watches could be made nearly infinitely waterproof by developing the ultra water-resistant "Deep Sea Special". This model achieved in 1953 the unimaginable by making the deepest dive in history to 10,915 meters (35,810 ft), fixed to the outside of Professor Picard's bathyscape, demonstrating the huge potential for professional diver's wristwatches.

    The Turn-O-Graph model reference 6202 (see lot 160 in this auction) was chosen to serve as the base for further development of Rolex's ambition to manufacture a commercial diver's wristwatch. In 1953, Rolex set the base of an unequalled success story with the launch of the Submariner concept, officially introduced at the 1954 Basle Fair. Originally promoted as "the diver's friend", the Submariner became soon the world's most legendary tool watch and, generations later, is still enjoying wide popularity in its actual version.

    Since its introduction until the present day the development of the Submariner clearly demonstrates Rolex philosophy of updating their models as innovations occur. Always seeking perfection, Rolex is one of the world's leading brands when it comes to patents obtained for the numerous innovations and technologies, notably the Submariner's unidirectional bezel designed for safe immersion time tracking.

    True to one of the firm's motto "An Obsession with Perfection", the Submariner's history of development shows how the model progressed on its journey to excellence. Each model has distinctive characteristics in regard to the movement, case, bezel and dial layout and was attributed its personal reference number right from the beginning.

    The following listing summarizes the years of introduction and characteristics of the different models offered in this collection. A more detailed description has been added to the relevant lot numbers:

    1953/1954
    Reference 6204 (lot 266) - first diving watch marked "Submariner" on the dial
    Released in 1953 but officially launched at the Basle Fair in 1954. Originally depth rated to 100 meters (330 ft), by 1954 updated to 200 meters (660 ft). Smaller case than ref. 6200 and smaller 6 mm. crown, no crown guards. Dial with gilt printing, without depth rating but gilt printed "Submariner", "pencil" hands. The first examples featured the designation "Monometer", "Subaqua" (a special order made for a diving club in the UK) or no model designation at all on the dial. Bezel without minute divisions, silver triangle.
    Special issue for the British Navy included the gilt printed designation "Submariner" on the dial.

    Reference 6200 (lot 265) - the first Submariner with large crown
    Depth rated to 200 meters (660 ft), thicker case with 8 mm. "Brevet" crown, no crown guards. Dial with gilt printing, without depth rating and designation "Submariner", pencil hands. Bezel without minute divisions, silver triangle.
    Later versions: gilt printed designation "Submariner" and longer "mercedes" hands than on other Submariner models of the period. Bezel with enlarged silver triangle and luminous bubble.
    Alternatively: standard gilt printed "Submariner" dial with white printed depth rate and gilt "Submariner" designation. "Mercedes" hands. Bezel with minute divisions for the first 15 minutes, red painted triangle.

    1954
    Reference 6205 (lot 267)
    Most likely Rolex's third diver's watch. Depth rated to 100 meters (330 ft). Dial with gilt printing, without depth rating, only some models featuring the designation "Submariner". "Pencil" hands. Bezel without minute divisions, silver triangle.

    1955
    Reference 6538 (lot 269) - the original "James Bond" Submariner as featured in Dr. No
    Renumbered and upgraded version of reference 6204, depth rated to 100 meters (330 ft), 6 mm. crown, no crown guards. Dial with gilt printing, without depth rating but with gilt printed designation "Submariner". "Pencil" hands. Bezel without minute divisions, silver triangle.
    Between 1956 and 1958: special issue made for the British Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy. Depth rated to 200 meters (660 ft), larger 8 mm. crown, no crown guards. Same dial as the standard version but with shorter "mercedes" hands. Bezel with divisions for the first fifteen minutes, red painted triangle. Hack feature and soldered lug bars. Military engravings to the case back.
    Between 1956 and 1958: second version of the standard reference 6538. Dial now with white printed depth rating and "Officially Certified Chronometer", "mercedes" hands. A small series was made with white painted seconds hand. Bezel with divisions for the first fifteen minutes, red painted triangle.

    1956
    Reference 6538A
    Depth rated to 200 meters (660 ft), larger reference 6200-type case, larger 8 mm. crown, no crown guards. Dial with red printed depth rating, gilt printed designation "Submariner", "mercedes" hands. Larger and thicker prototype bezel made of "Alpacca" with minute divisions for the first 15 minutes and red painted triangle, exclusively used for this reference. Calibre 1030 movement.

    Reference 6536 (lot 269)
    Renumbered and upgraded version of reference 6205. Depth rated to 100 meters (330 ft), 8 mm, crown, no crown guards. Dial without depth rating but gilt printed designation "Submariner". First Submariner version exclusively fitted with "mercedes" hands. Bezel without minute divisions, silver triangle.
    Second version: Introduction of the bezel with divisions for the first fifteen minutes and the red painted triangle. Dial now with depth rating printed in red and gilt printed "Submariner", later examples with white printed depth rating, "Submariner" still printed in gilt. Some versions available with bezel with fifteen minute divisions but silver triangle.

    Reference 6536/1 (lot 263)
    Identical to the second version of reference 6536 but also available with the chronometer version of calibre 1030. Dial with white printed depth rating and gilt printed "Submariner".

    1958
    Reference 5508 (lot 150)
    Upgraded version of reference 6536/1, depth rated to 100 meters (330 ft), 6 mm. crown, no crown guards. Dial with gilt printed "Submariner" and both with or without the white printed depth rating. "Mercedes" hands. Introduction of the new bezel with divisions for the first fifteen minutes, larger silver triangle and luminous bubble.
    Mid 1960s: dial changed to all-white printing, luminous numerals enclosed by a printed white border. On later models the white printed border was removed and the designation "Submariner" was positioned either above or below the depth rating on the dial.

    Reference 5510 (lot 28)
    Upgraded version of reference 6200, depth rated to 200 meters (660 ft), 8 mm crown, no crown guards. Dial with gilt printing, gilt depth rating and "Submariner". "Mercedes" hands. This model was also available with the rare "3/6/9" or "Explorer" dial.

    1959
    Reference 5512 (lots 25 and 27) - first model to feature crown guards
    Introduction of the crown guards to the Submariner family. The first generation square-shaped, second generation pointed, third generation rounded "shoulders" to protect the crown.
    Depth rated to 200 metes (660 ft), 8 mm. crown, the new case design featuring crown guards. Dial with gilt printing, gilt-printed depth rating, and "Submariner". Bezel with larger ring, minute divisions for the first fifteen minutes, silver triangle. Only after the launch of reference 5513, reference 5512 was also marked as "Officially Certified Chronometer" on the dial, printed in white. The "Submariner" was still printed in gilt.
    1960s: The wording of the chronometer watches was changed to "Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified", printed in white underneath the gilt depth rate and "Submariner".
    As of mid 1960s: dials started changing to all-white printing. Also a gilt or all-white printed version of the Explorer type "3/6/9" dial was available for reference 5513.

    1962
    Reference 5513 (lots 26, 148, 149)
    Depth rated to 200 meters (660 ft), 8 mm. crown, crown guards. The non-chronometer version used the same dial as the early reference 5512. Bezel with minute divisions for the first fifteen minutes, silver triangle.
    1964: the designation "Swiss T<25" was added to the bottom of the dial. Late 1960s: dials started changing to all-white printing. Also a gilt or all-white printed version of the Explorer type "3/6/9" dial was available for reference 5513.
    Early 1970s: the length of the minute marks on the dial was extended.

    1966
    Reference 1680 (lots 21-23) - introduction of the date function and different case materials
    Depth rated to 660 ft (200m), 8 mm. "Trip Lock" crown, crown guards. Available also in stainless steel and gold and 18K gold. Dial with white depth rating and red printed "Submariner". Introduction of the date function and magnified "Cyclops" date window. Flat sapphire crystal. Bezel with minute divisions for the first fifteen minutes, silver triangle.
    Mid 1970s: Dial with all-white printing. In some markets the version with the red printed "Submariner" was available until the 1980s.

    1967
    Reference 1665 (lots 154 & 264) - the first Sea-Dweller introducing the gas escape valve
    Depth rated to 2000 ft (610 m), fitted with a thicker lens and Rolex patent gas escape valve. Dial with white printing, early examples with "single red" printed "Sea-Dweller" and without the designation "Submariner". Later versions with the "double red" printed "Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000". Case backs engraved "Rolex Patent Gas Escape Valve". Mid 1974: Dial with all-white printing and without the "Submariner 2000" designation.

    "COMEX" issues references 1665, 5513 and 5514 (lot 152) - Introduced in 1967 and specially developed by Rolex for Compagnie Maritime d'Expertise or COMEX, a professional diving operation for the oil industry
    COMEX Reference 1665
    Depth rated to 2000 ft (600 m). Dial with all-white printing, COMEX logo instead of "Sea-Dweller". Gas escape valve to the side. COMEX identification number engraved on the case back.
    COMEX Reference 5513
    Depth rated to 660 ft (200 m), COMEX logo printed on the dial. Gas escape valve to the side. COMEX identification number engraved on the case back.
    COMEX Reference 5514 (lot 152)
    Identical to COMEX reference 5513 but attributed with the official "COMEX" reference number 5514. According to literature only 150 examples were made exclusively for COMEX and were never available to the public.

    1971
    Reference 5517 - special issue for the British Royal Marines (lot 24) - "James Bond" Submariner as featured in "Live and Let Die"
    Specially adapted reference 5513 models were renumbered 5517 and exclusively issued to the British Royal Navy. The depth rate was indicated as 660ft=200m, 8 mm. crown, crown guards. The tritium indication "T" in a circle was added to the dial, the hands were changed to better visible, large luminous hour and minute hands, so-called "sword" hands. The massive bar lugs were fixed and the case backs featured engraved military markings. Unique bezel with sixty minute marks instead of only the first fifteen minutes, silver triangle.

    1978
    Reference 16660 (lot 262) - Sea-Dweller
    Replaced reference 1665. Doubled depth rating from 610 meters (200 ft) to 1200 meters (4000 ft). Early models featured luminous indexes as known from reference 1665, later generations were fitted with the white gold borders around the luminous numerals. Improved and larger gas escape valve. Synthetic sapphire crystal.

    1982
    Reference 16800 (lot 151) - introduction of the quick-set date
    Increased depth rating of 1000 ft (300 m). Early models featured luminous indexes as in reference 1680, later generations were fitted with the white gold borders around the luminous numerals. "Trip Lock" crown, crown guards. Introduction of the "quick-set" date. Synthetic sapphire crystal.

    1987
    Reference 168000 (lots 153 and 268)
    In production in 1987 during a very short period of time only. A transitional model using the movement of reference 16800 and the case of reference 16610, its difference the quality of the stainless steel case, upgraded from the previously used 916 steel to the much harder grade 904L. Early models featured luminous indexes without borders, later generations were fitted with the white gold borders around the luminous numerals. A small series of reference 168000 was also supplied to COMEX.

    1989
    Reference 14060 (lot 261)
    A "non-date" model. Dial with white gold borders to the numerals. Sapphire crystal.

    Reference 16610
    Same as reference 14060 but with the addition of the date function and chronometer calibre 3135 movement.

    2003
    Reference 16610LV "Lunette Verte" or "Green Bezel" Anniversary model (lot 259)
    Launched in 2003 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Submariner. So-called "maxi dial" with oversized numerals and extended minute hand to allow better visibility underwater. Distinctive green bezel.