Identifying future classic Rolex from the 1990-2018 era - Part 6/6: Rolex Submariner 168000

Nov 05, 2018,01:51 AM

The Rolex Submariner 168000 represents a different style of addition to the “future classic” concept. The 168000 is, in fact, essentially identical to the Submariner 16800 that had been produced in very high numbers. The 168000, however, differs in two very specific ways that make it one of the rarest production Submariners ever made. Not “THE” rarest, but certainly one of them.

1) Production run of just 7-9 months in 1987/8.

2) The first Submariner to use the upgraded Stainless Steel 904L in a Rolex.

Prior to the 168000, the steel used by Rolex was the Grade 316L. The upgrade to 904L saw a steel that was less prone to erosion. One day, I will tell the horror story of what happened to a Daytona 6239 that I owned that had the older 316L steel. A true horror story. But that will be for a later day.

So, in 1987, the 16800 was replaced with the 168000 and the latter model was in production for a maximum of 9 months before it was replaced by the 16610 that saw a movement upgrade. The 168000 came with a glossy dial and was on a serial number from the late 9 million through to the R-series.

The 168000 has all the mod cons of a typical modern Rolex with sapphire crystal and caliber 3035 workhorse movement. The original oyster bracelet is the 93150 with 593 end links. A Rolex workhorse made for wearing.

There is a degree of uncertainty relating to the 168000. I have not found any official literature from Rolex with the 168000 mentioned. One can speculate, of course, that Rolex were using the 16800 with the experimental steel and called it the 168000 as a prototype. I am guessing that we will never know for sure.

There are a couple of quirks that typically come with the 168000. The first is that the gloss dial has inevitably oxidised. I would guess that 80+% of the dials I have seen have spidering or quite significant oxidation. The second quirk concerns the S in Submariner. For some reason (and this also applies across a few other Submariners) The top and bottom of the S can be flat making it more like a Zubmariner. There are few and far between examples of 168000. The “Z” appears in about 1 in 10 of the ones that I have seen. Finding a 168000 with original dial and box and papers is a true test. Finding one with a Zubmariner dial……well, good luck!

The 168000 falls into that category of watch that can be considered a transitional Rolex. It comes at (or just before my 1990 era analysis) but must be considered as a worthy candidate for being a future classic. It ticks several of the boxes. It is sapphire. Its movement is thoroughly usable in today’s environment. It has an innovation courtesy of the upgraded steel. And it is extremely rare thanks to its truncated 7-9 month production period. I am not sure I can think of any Rolex that has a shorter official production run…..

This Submariner is a worthy candidate for my future modern classics and definitely sits in that Top 10 future classics list.

The mark of Zorro

More posts: 16610168001680006239DaytonaSubmarinerSubmariner Date

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So many new tidbits. Great read.

 By: zabreg1 Mr White : November 5th, 2018-02:09
Zubmariner. I like that.

The mark of Zorro [nt]

 By: Baron - Mr Red : November 5th, 2018-02:16

;) [nt]

 By: amanico : November 5th, 2018-08:49


 By: Baron - Mr Red : November 6th, 2018-03:03
He does have one. Not sure the price. I bet it’s at or lower than a brand new Sub

Another one of your very informative posts !.. I've again bookmarked it for reference.. :))

 By: hs111 : November 5th, 2018-03:07
.. Your series have been helpful & are great write-ups ! Thx for your comprehensive informations, Best, hs PS: In addition to my humble current Vintage Subs, (such as 1680/SR, 5513 in various versions) maybe one day such might be considered, but as you wr... 

That is most kind of you to share this here

 By: COUNT DE MONET : November 5th, 2018-03:33
Another one to hunt ...

I put it on the list.....

 By: Baron - Mr Red : November 5th, 2018-03:42
......but the reality is that finding one in great condition is almost impossible

"It is not impossible. It is neccessary" a qoute from the movie Interstellar ;-)

 By: COUNT DE MONET : November 5th, 2018-03:57
But I am willing to make compromises in condition and papers and boxes. If it has papers missing but a Rolex service receipt than I am confident to buy.

I'm not sure what to say except 'thank you'. These are a really great series of posts.

 By: Jay (Eire) : November 5th, 2018-03:44
I'm not sure where my interest will fall in terms of a chase for a future classic but i do like/prefer the 5 digit subs. And now here I see a 6 digit sub that's a 5 digit sub!

Your posts are gems!

 By: Prodyutb : November 5th, 2018-03:56
Thanks Baron. There is so much rarity is such an ubiquitous timepiece as the Sub that watch nerds like us could seek to hold and to have!

I think what I am trying to do....

 By: Baron - Mr Red : November 5th, 2018-04:07 find Rolex rarities at prices that just haven't recognised that rarity yet. I think a Top 10 list is needed now!

Its comimg...... [nt]

 By: Baron - Mr Red : November 5th, 2018-07:34

Another great one.

 By: crown comfort : November 5th, 2018-04:12
The Zubmariner is fascinating and I can imagine how hard it is to find one. I still prefer the Long Good F for its no date and cooler name, but this is also great. Thanks for educating us. CC

Thx for e never ending story!

 By: JLCman : November 5th, 2018-08:49
LOL. It has been complicated enough to locate a nice 14060M serial M LGF. And now that 😂😎👍🏻

i am ALL about giving [nt]

 By: Baron - Mr Red : November 5th, 2018-09:04

Predictions are always difficult, especially when they affect the future!

 By: Walter2 : November 6th, 2018-08:55
Very interesting post Joe, never heard from this Zubmariner. Searching all my pictures and i dont find my watch now, this post always makes me crazy. Thanks!


 By: Arie - Mr Orange : November 5th, 2018-09:07
I’m not reading these anymore. Way too expensive...

When I see a post from you with that head title

 By: beejo : November 5th, 2018-09:13
I freak out, time I read your post I lost a significant amount of cash,Who knows how many more future classics can you come up with ?! 🤣

You are welcome [nt]

 By: Baron - Mr Red : November 5th, 2018-09:14

Bad man very very bad man

 By: Arie - Mr Orange : November 5th, 2018-09:28

LOL! Yes, that's it! :) [nt]

 By: blomman Mr Blue : November 6th, 2018-08:55

+1 [nt]

 By: Arie - Mr Orange : November 5th, 2018-09:28

High quality post, Baron!

 By: blomman Mr Blue : November 5th, 2018-10:29
Thank you for extending this series of posts, love them! Zubmariner, very cool! Best Blomman

Fantastic and educational post..

 By: Horology75 : November 5th, 2018-11:12
I do have a 168000 but with a service dial. I don’t know whether it would still be important ?

It will have a value but....

 By: Baron - Mr Red : November 5th, 2018-13:15
Originality is a key issue and that will have an effect

Very interesting read

 By: keks : November 5th, 2018-11:36
Thanks for taking the time to share this. Was the glossy dial used in the predecessor as well? I assume following version was fitted with a matte dial?


 By: Baron - Mr Red : November 5th, 2018-23:59
I definitely know of matt dials. 168000, I have never seen a matt dial but only the typical gloss'd. I haven't done the research on prior and post models so will need to come back on that.......

Gentlemen...start your engines....

 By: Clueless_Collector : November 5th, 2018-14:27
I meant search engines... Just amazing how many devils in the details. Not much left of the 14060M LGF, maybe 1 or 2 on the popular web but mostly in Europe 😔, which they are not keen to ship to US. This Zorro, I can forget it...I’ll save some money, on t... 

Excellent information again

 By: Mineral : November 5th, 2018-18:35
really enjoy reading this thread. Hope I am lucky enough to find one

Thank you Baron for Part 1-6 !!

 By: Seeks : November 6th, 2018-03:17
Much appreciated


 By: minutehand : December 17th, 2018-12:47
This Zubmariner is like a Unicorn. Almost impossible to find one with all original dial and hands with matching Patina. Also very controversial. I see on Rolex Forum debate about there being 85s & 86sbouth new with papers and thus the 7-9 month production... 

Lovin My New Zub!

 By: minutehand : December 21st, 2018-16:11
It's a very Zubby Holiday! ...  

And you are happy ? [nt]

 By: Baron - Mr Red : December 23rd, 2018-05:57

Happy Zubmariner-ing! : )

 By: eyyeo : December 30th, 2018-18:09
In the past I was considered an odd one chasing 168000s. The 168000 was a bit of an urgly duckling. I added a 9.3m serial 168000 complete with box, booklets and papers back in 2012. It went straight to RSC for an overhaul, while keeping the dial and hands...  

The Z makes this one a lot of fun [nt]

 By: Baron - Mr Red : December 31st, 2018-00:41

I have one......

 By: Halcro : January 6th, 2019-03:35
Thank you Baron for this vital information.... I bought mine (new) in 1978 so when I noticed your date references....I went to check. Mine doesn't have the Zubmariner unfortunately.....but it's nice to know my 'humble' Rolex might be a rarity.. ...  

I'm curious

 By: TS1987 : January 6th, 2019-06:45
Did the last 5513s get 904L as well?


 By: tony.ciccone : March 25th, 2020-13:44
Hi all I have read the thread and hoping you can assist me Please see my recent purchase of a Rolex 16800 sub 1984 / 85 All original the dial is a zorro ...