This beautiful transitional Rolex submariner replica from the last batch of the 16800s produced in 1984 belongs to one of the best friend’s of our Editor and Publisher. On our last trip to Mexico, we met with him to take a closer look at this fantastic unpolished reference with a great story.
This Rolex Submariner was received as a birthday gift at age 14 back in 1985. The watch is completely original with no replacement parts and has never been polished, although it was serviced last year. The watch was originally purchased at a duty free shop in, Texas in January of 1985 and then taken to Mexico City.
While this Submariner is fitted with a tritium glossy dial with white gold surrounds, the dial appears to have more of a matte look to it and is not as glossy as most Submariner dials from this era tend to appear. The dial on this watch has aged nicely and is extremely clean with a beautiful ‘café con leche’ —coffee with milk— patina that matches the hands. Unfortunately, the hands have some corrosion visible to the naked eye. The date wheel is white and features open 6s and 9s as it is common on watches from this era. The bezel insert is a fat font insert with serifs and the pearl is nicely aged and intact also with ‘café con leche’ patina.
The case is nice and thick as it has never been polished, showing the usual battle scars of a watch well worn and thoroughly enjoyed. These pictures clearly depict what an unpolished watch really needs to look like. If this watch could talk, it would share a wealth of memories gathered from all over the world.
The bracelet and the end pieces are also original to the watch and the clasp confirms the approximate year of production of the watch with the clasp code bearing the letter ‘I’ and the month ‘6’. The bracelet is tight and the crown on the folding clasp is nice and thick.
Remember, every watch has a story and we are never certain what the story behind a pre-owned watch is unless we are talking to the original owner. When buying vintage Rolex watches, always do your homework and be careful with all those so called ‘original and unpolished’ examples unless you are buying from the original owner.
A popular phrase in Mexico says: “Si te digo que la burra es parda es porque tengo los pelos en la mano”—if I am telling you that the donkey is brown it is because I am holding his hairs in my hand. Therefore, unless you know the original owner, be wary of what sellers call ‘unpolished and original’ as we often run into a lot of ‘put together’ watches out there.