A Review of the 18k Rolex Submariner ref. 1680/8

May 04, 2020,10:24 AM

I have been hunting a Submariner 1680/8 for quite a long time, as I have always been fascinated by the concept of a vintage toolwatch made of solid gold: It is a quite common concept today, but back in the 1960's only a twisted mind could imagine to produce a full gold version of the rugged 200m waterproof Submariner !

A couple of years ago, I had a close reference, a full gold GMT Master ref. 1675/8. But to my eyes, the case of this watch was missing a little bit of thickness and the brown dial was not showing enough contrast with the gold color of the case.

Now I have found my perfect 18k vintage Rolex with1680/8 !

To me, the most desirable features of this Submariner – especially compared to the later full gold sports models of the sapphire era – are the matte black dial, the high plexi and the very “warm” color of the gold: something between yellow and rose gold. I find less charm in the contemporary gold Rolex watches that are made of more “yellow” gold and carry black glossy dials.

The reference 1680/8 (/8 is the Rolex code for yellow gold, but in fact the case is stamped “1680” like the steel version) was produced between 1969 and 1978, with either a black or blue dial and a color matching bezel inlay.

Here’s the blue dial model on a leather strap (Photo: Ravagnani):

The dial of the Gold Submariner is quite different from the one fitted in the steel model, as the text is printed in gold and the hour indexes are raised with a very small tritium spot in the middle: they are the famous "nipple" indexes ;-) The minute markers are also longer than on the usual Rolex dials and the Rolex logo is also made of solid yellow gold.

The movement used in the watch is he same as in the steel model: the classic Rolex self winding cal. 1575 with the date feature.

The winding crown is the usual Submariner 7mm triplock crown, but it is of course in gold. Concerning the plexi, it has the famous “cyclop” magnifying lens; its height give a lot of character and vintage charm to the watch:

In the Rolex catalog, the watch was available either on a leather strap with a gold tang buckle, or on a heavy solid 18k Oyster bracelet reference 9290 with a brushed/polished finish. Here’s the impressive Oyster bracelet:

Like the steel version, this bracelet has diver extension hidden in the clasp in order to be worn over a wet suit ! (Photo: A. Shear)

Here’s a rare version of the watch with Oman logo dial (Photo: Ravagnani)

And the description of the watch in the 1970’s Submariner booklet:

The original ad for the 1680/8 is one of my favourite, it has a sense of humor that you don’t see often in these kind of ads (Photo: Jake’s Rolex World):

Finally, here’s one last picture to show you the beauty of this watch !


This message has been edited by DrStrong on 2010-06-08 

More posts: 16801680/8GMT MasterSubmarinerSubmariner Date

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 By: Baron - Mr Red : June 8th, 2010-03:14
Its always great when you eventually find something you have craved. You are right....to seek a Sub in solid gold requires a sort of twisted mind! I am not sure its any different today than 30-40 years ago. Subs are quirky beasts at the best of times. But... 

Thanks my friend...

 By: DrStrong : June 9th, 2010-00:49
I promise to wear those flip flops the next time we meet ;-) Cheers Jeff

I bet you've never seen this dial ;-))

 By: Philipps : June 8th, 2010-03:45
Marine Blue WITHOUT 'soigne' effect on surface, different typo and a SWISS that doesn't go though the 30 minute dash we normally see... ;-) ...  


 By: Mr.Gatsby : June 8th, 2010-04:13
Strong - VERY strong. Congrats Dr.Strong!

Thanks ! [nt]

 By: DrStrong : June 9th, 2010-00:52
No message body

Why do you always...

 By: DrStrong : June 9th, 2010-00:51
...come up with such things ? Hehe very nice and rare indeed ! Cheers Jeff

As it's all about detail...

 By: Philipps : June 9th, 2010-06:21
And because I have great friends showing / offering me great stuff ;-) Excellent work you are doing for the Rolex community in general and for those that google and stumble upon this great forum they get a detailed overvieuw of vintage Rolex Looking forwa...  

I'm afraid...

 By: DrStrong : June 9th, 2010-09:18
...that you're older than me ;-) In any case, thanks for the kind words & I hope to see you next week with the rest of the guys. Cheers Jeff This message has been edited by DrStrong on 2010-06-09 09:30:47

1 Day later, I got a 'transitional' 16808 with 'nipple' dial......

 By: Philipps : June 12th, 2010-07:31
First owner, early 8 million & hardly worn ;-) rg.Philipp...  

Maybe the "Strongest" Rolex :)

 By: cisco : June 8th, 2010-06:22
Massive, black and gold. A pure beast on the wrist, but still wearable by its size. This is just WOW and definitely not for me because too much character. Enjoy it and thanks for this post cheers Francois

A lot of character...

 By: DrStrong : June 9th, 2010-00:53
..it definitely has, François ! Cheers Jeff


 By: DRMW : June 8th, 2010-10:16
This color combo is really nice. The black dial with the splash of gold hands and markers IMo keeps the sportiness and doesn't scream a chunk of gold. So have you taking this sub out diving yet? -MW

Not yet...

 By: DrStrong : June 9th, 2010-00:55
...but I agree with your comments about the sportiness of the watch ! Cheers Jeff

Congratulations Jeff....

 By: MiniCooper : June 8th, 2010-10:51
on getting a watch that you really wanted.... Although a sub, I guess that you are not going to dive with it... Unless it was recently serviced by Rolex...... Very interesting matte dial..... what year is the watch? A few months ago a saw a vintage gold w... 

The watch was issued in 1978

 By: DrStrong : June 9th, 2010-01:00
...I could definitely test the water tightness...in champagne ! LOL Cheers Jeff

Bing congrats!

 By: PSV : June 8th, 2010-12:07
I've never been a gold watch fan but this thing is money!!! Goes great with flip-flops and hand-rolled Cuban! Big congrats on finding a grail!

Yes, a gold watch and a pair of flip flops...

 By: DrStrong : June 9th, 2010-01:02
...that's the new French understatement ;-) Cheers Jeff

Thats such a beautiful watch Dr. Strong...

 By: SALMANQ8 : June 8th, 2010-14:48
Big Congrats , do you know what year your watch is from? I love the contrast of the black and gold, very elegant yet sporty. TY, S

Thanks Salman ! [nt]

 By: DrStrong : June 9th, 2010-01:03
No message body

I like Rolex, but am not a fanatical Rolex-guy

 By: Mostel : June 8th, 2010-15:31
BUT THIS! IS.... absolutely a marvel and utterly gorgeous, and what a catch!!! Congrats. One of the best looking vintage Rolexes I have ever seen.

Thanks for the kind words...

 By: DrStrong : June 9th, 2010-01:04
...it is definitely a spectacular watch ! Cheers Jeff

Wauw effect...!

 By: hans_jorgen_1968 : June 8th, 2010-15:43
Thankyou Jeff for a superb post on your new beast and congratulations on her as well. I have newer really be fond of gold watches, and if so than either white gold or with a strap (Aka not having too much flashy gold on my wrist). But I have to say, the p... 

So, one more on your wishlist ? [nt]

 By: DrStrong : June 9th, 2010-01:06
No message body


 By: hans_jorgen_1968 : June 9th, 2010-14:54

Great post, Jeff...

 By: BDLJ : June 8th, 2010-21:22
...congratulations. Didn't realise the dials on the gold Submariners were so different. How does that diver read the Bendomatic on his thigh?

Yeahhh Jeff...

 By: Caius : June 9th, 2010-01:12
Great watch! As we say in french :"la ssecla internationale" Best Doug

Some kind of extravaganza indeed !

 By: DrStrong : June 9th, 2010-05:38
thanks Doug & drive safely ;-) Cheers Jeff

Fantastic review

 By: Asimut : June 9th, 2010-21:27
of one of my all time favorites. For years this has been my ultimate gold sports watch, still very relevant and hard to beat. Eventually, it had to go, another winner took the lead Thanks for this post, Asi

And the winner is ?

 By: DrStrong : June 10th, 2010-00:39
I'm curious..;-) Cheers Jeff

Great review Jeff!

 By: snipermaverick : June 10th, 2010-00:55
It was a history lesson for me... albeit an enjoyable one

well, in another forum

 By: Asimut : June 13th, 2010-11:11
lol,,,,,PAM 140. Cheers, Asi

i share the same emotions as you with the black nipple dial against ....

 By: a.ler : June 10th, 2010-07:15
vintage gold. they are a deadly gorgeous combination. congrats on yr acquistion. i have been dreaming of these vintage gold sport watches for a while. congrats.


 By: Ryan5446 : June 10th, 2010-12:48
well done Jeff. that is a great piece you have found !! Congratulations. I ve caught myself sometimes staring at the gold 1680's ... maybe one day when I m a bit older.

When you're older ?

 By: DrStrong : June 10th, 2010-12:59
I should ban you from the forum for that line ! LOL I hope to catch you this summer: any trip to the French Riviera in the agenda ? Cheers Jeff

not meant in a bad way !!

 By: Ryan5446 : June 11th, 2010-01:09
with older I mean 60+ ... I m always fighting to stay young so SS sports watch is the way to go for me (or at least to try... lol ). No France this year (except Chamonix)... too much travelling so we re taking holiday close to home (just hope the weather ... 

agree with you

 By: Hororgasm : June 10th, 2010-15:54
its a fantastic piece...the gold is warmer, and there are more then enuf differentiation versus the SS model in design details. congrats mate...thks fr the post. lotsa drooling!!

Vintage Yellow is hip an cool

 By: Oztimelord : June 11th, 2010-03:52
The warmth and character of vintage gold is magnetic. Welcome to the cool size. Regards Rene

Wow --- SUPERNICE !! Here is one more style shot !!

 By: Gatsby : June 12th, 2010-02:16
GREAT watch and GREAT report, my good friend !!! I am a lover of the 1680/8 since years, this is a photo from a friend on Mallorca which let it start all !!!! ...  

Yeah ! That's what I call....

 By: DrStrong : June 12th, 2010-05:56
...a nice hairy wristshot ;-) Great summer style Werner ! Cheers Jeff

Love your sunglasses

 By: Geo : June 15th, 2010-05:23
Philippe Starck? Really nice. GEO

very charming Rolex 18k Sub...

 By: FanFrancisco : June 14th, 2010-09:08
...congrats... i have not seen this beautiful 18k Sub before. i thought all Sub are in SS. however after seeing this very nice Sub in 18k, it gives me a total different feel about Rolex Sub which changed my mindset about Sub. by the way, dark dial with go... 

I want to be you in my next life, Jeff!

 By: dxboon : June 18th, 2010-21:49
Flip flops, nice smokes, and a solid gold Rolex! You have the life, my friend! Congrats on your new beauty. I must confess I prefer the non-nipple (Hehehe...I said "nipple!") dials, but your vintage Sub is gorgeous! Enjoy your special new find! Cheers, Da... 


 By: logan : July 11th, 2010-00:15
i love the full gold with brown bezel!!!

Fantastic! Having owned a few of these myself, including a meters first . . .

 By: fadaman : July 13th, 2010-09:05
This is one of the nicer cleaner ones I have seen. I am a big fan of the 1680/8. I was blessed with my first one being a meters first. Regrettably I sold it and missed it. I then bought a blue dial one for my wife and all I could think of is taking it for... 

A belated congratulations

 By: Nomer : July 19th, 2010-15:06
The warmth of the watch is what keeps my eye coming back to the pictures. I'm completely sympathetic to the transitional gold color between yellow and rose; it's hard to see from the pictures but black is a cold color and yet this watch taken together wit...