‘Meters First’ 1680 MK1 Red Submariner, manufactured in 1969

Fresh To The Market Red Submariner

27/03/2024

This remarkable example of a "Meters First" 1680 MK1 Red Submariner, crafted in 1969 and distinguished by its case number 2104XXX, showcases a dial adorned with pale yellow Tritium markings on the hour indicators and a creamier hue of Tritium within the hands. Notably, only approximately 1.5 percent of all Red Submariners possess the MK1 dial configuration, rendering this vintage Rolex a highly sought-after collector's item (not to mention a stunning piece to wear). Given that an estimated 25% of these early Red Submariners may no longer be available due to either missing or incorrect dials, or loss through incidents such as being lost at sea or suffering significant water damage, this piece stands out as an exceptionally rare find among vintage Rolex sports watches.

Watchworks Haarlem acquired this timepiece directly from its original owner in the Netherlands, marking it as a "Fresh To The Market" item that has never been previously offered for sale. The initial owner, Mr. Z, is a highly intelligent man in his late seventies, who began working for Shell Oil in Qatar immediately after concluding his service in the Dutch military in the late 1960s. Throughout his career, he not only worked for Shell but also held positions at BP and Aramco, retiring after an impressive tenure in the oil industry. Mr. Z is also a captivating storyteller. He recalls a moment in April 1971 when he was asked to wait outside a Rolex Authorized Dealer in Doha, Qatar, The Modern Home, as members of the Royal family shopped in privacy, monopolizing the entire store for their exclusive use. Another memorable instance involved his return from the dealer wearing his Submariner, only to be met with bewilderment by professional divers at an offshore oil rig, puzzled by his need for such a watch given that he wasn't a diver. This interaction underscores the perception of early Submariners as genuine tools designed with the needs of divers in mind. Interestingly, Mr. Z utilized his Submariner to time strokes per minute of oil pumps and monitor pressure and oil gauges on drilling rigs, finding the rotatable bezel exceedingly useful in his daily tasks until such processes were digitalized, although his watch remained analog throughout his career.

For enthusiasts and collectors, it's well-known that the dial constitutes the most valuable part of most vintage Rolex watches, and this particular timepiece is no exception. The dial remains unmarred by damage or water exposure, and the matte black MK1 Meters First dial features the Submariner name in Red Lettering printed over white ink for enhanced brilliance. The dial is characterized by closed 6's in the 660ft depth indication, accompanied by a curved F and a unique, condensed font typical for MK1 dials, making it instantly recognizable. The watch also comes with a MK3 fat font insert, historically and chronologically correct, which has always been part of this Red Submariner according to the owner. The 1680 MK1 is equipped with a 7206 Riveted Oyster bracelet with 80 end-links, in remarkably good condition and increasingly rare. This watch and bracelet combination was even featured in an online Rolex advertisement 2.5 years ago, showcasing a similar early MK1 Red Sub on the same bracelet.

The original case is in outstandingly good and clean condition. All accompanying paperwork, including the original purchase receipt from The Modern Home in Qatar, Chronometer certificate, original warranty booklet, cigarette card, coffin box, etc., has been meticulously preserved over the half-century it has been with the original owner. We are thrilled to offer this watch to a new custodian who will cherish and maintain it for the next 50 years. The movement has been fully serviced according to Rolex's standards, with minimal polishing – ensuring this rare and extraordinary 1680 MK1 RED Submariner is covered by our exclusive "certified vintage" five-year warranty. This warranty is a testament to our confidence in and commitment to offering only the finest vintage pieces. Don't miss this unique opportunity to own a piece of Rolex Submariner history.

  • Reference: 1680
  • Case number: 2104XXXX
  • Year of production: 1969
  • Case diameter: 40mm
  • Movement: automatic, Rolex caliber 1570
  • Box and papers: Yes
  • Price: €47,500

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