Having owned my fair share of other smart-watches, including Pebble, Michael Bastian and a few smaller brands, the Haptic engine that taps your wrist to notify you of things is magical. It's just right and can almost always been noticed without being intrusive.Read More
They first had me when I laid eyes on the Cal.3120 22ct solid gold rotor. Even though I knew AP was a 'holy trinity' brand (alongside Patek and Vacheron, and in my opinion Breguet and A.Lange & Sohn), it was that stunning rotor which captivated me.Read More
Do you love the look of the vintage Rolex Daytona's? Do you not have $30k+ in highly disposable income? Well have I got news for you. During the same time Rolex was making the now highly priced four-digit Daytona references, they were also making a nearly identical watch under their sister brand, Tudor.Read More
A few days ago, I attended a private event that WatchBuys was holding in a NYC hotel. WatchBuys is the authorized US retailer for several German watch brands, principal among them is Sinn.
The first nice watch I ever bought, around four years ago, was a special edition Sinn 358 Jubilaum, a limited edition timepiece created for their 45th anniversary [pictured above]. To me, Sinn was the single best choice of a quality mechanical watch in the $1-3k range. The dial and function was stunning, and I really enjoyed looking at the decorated Valjoux 7750 through the sapphire caseback. I still regret having sold it.
One of the most interesting features available on most modern Sinn watches is that they are filled with an inert gas mixture. You can tell the ones that have this as most have a small 'Ar' in a circle on the dial, and a cylinder in the case which changes color as the gasses escape. According to Sinn, this helps to keep dust and moisture out of the case which means the oils in the movement last much longer.
Here are my top picks, now having played with all of them:
A watch I had seen online before, and always caught my eye, was the Sinn 356 Flieger II with a unique copper dial. The dial catches great light in real life and the watch is both highly legible and functional, with a chronograph, day and date. I also appreciate the retro acrylic crystal on it, and for a shade over $2,000 I nearly pulled the trigger right there and then. Additionally the lume on this watch is fantastic and bright. It would be a terrific watch for a man, but even more so for a woman. The only downside, and I feel this way about most of Sinn's watches, is that the bracelet feels a little bit cheap. For a watch that is priced this well, its a small sacrifice to make and it would look nice on a leather strap.
The next watch that piqued my interest was the Sinn 140 SZ-01 Movement. While at the higher end of the Sinn prices ($4,890) it also has some real history. When I played with it I was reminded of the Omega Speedmaster Mark II, and upon researching it after the event, it too has some space history. In 1985, German Physicist and Astronaut Reinhard Furrer used the original Sinn 140 to prove mechanical watches can operate in a weightless environment. In 1992 German Astronaut Klaus-Dietrich Flade took the Sinn 140 with him on the Mir 92 mission to the Russian Space Station.
This re-issue is a remix of the original with some cool updates like the black PVD coating and inert gas filled case. I'm also a big fan of the inner rotating bezel and the splashes of orange on the hands. With a chronograph and date, you are definitely getting a hefty amount of watch for that price tag. This is a large watch, and at 44mm wears more like 46mm, dwarfing my small 6.5" wrist, especially with the help of the chunky leather strap.
If dive watches are more your style, Sinn has a nice selection of those as well. I had seen pictures online but they never really did anything for me. However in the elevator up to the event, I started chatting with a fellow invitee who was wearing the classic Sinn U1 [below left], and it looked great on his wrist. Understated but clearly tough as nails. The Sinn 'U' range is made of the same steel as Submarine hulls and is highly resistant to salt water and corrosion. German submarines were known during WWII as U-Boats, which is likely where the name for the collection came from. Nearly all their U divers are tested to 1000m, which is over 3x deeper than a Rolex Submariner.
The newest pieces include divers made with black PVD coating, as well as some made of titanium and with extra complications. The rubber strap feels high quality and the titanium models are shockingly light on the wrist. With SuperLuminova on the hands and markers, these glow like a christmas tree after exposure to light.
One section of the event was for new releases from Basel 2014. Of the dozen new releases, my favorite by far was the Sinn 857 UTC TESTAF Lufthansa Cargo. Having previously released a limited edition watch with Lufthansa, which was extremely popular, Sinn has done it again. This watch is geared at pilots, and carries a TESTAF certification. TESTAF is a relatively new standard to define a watch that is developed to be worn in an airplane cabin's atmosphere. You know how serious diving watches have an ISO certification? It's like that, but for pilots.
At 43mm it is not a small watch, nor is it huge. The narrow bezel helps the illusion that it is small while the face is big, balanced and super legible. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that my favorite part is the awesome little airplane hand that keeps track of a second time zone. Orange is a great color to add to black and white and putting the 24-hour track on the inner part of the dial makes it far less distracting than most watches. The date complication and rotating bezel round out the watch as highly functional, and the two planes printed on the dial in light grey add visual interest without being distracting. Add to this the wide serrated bezel and SuperLuminova hands and markers, and its a fantastic watch.
This watch is a limited edition of 777 pieces and comes in a cool Lufthansa cargo like display box with a collectible miniature Boeing 777F model.
If you are looking for your first nice mechanical watch, or just want to dip a toe into the German offerings, I can think of no better place to start than with a Sinn. They are very much tool watches, built for a purpose with reliable movements and great little details. These are watches made for watch nerds in the truest sense, the engineering sense. Although they are very modern in terms of technology and materials, I feel that they are the embodiment of the pre-jewelry professional watches of the first half of the 20th century.
Our new series 'In The Metal' will be hands-on posts. We specifically won't be bringing you a rehash of press releases for new watches, but when we actually get our hands on something special, we will give your our feelings and impressions.
I took a walk today to check out some Rolex SeaDwellers, the next watch on my hit-list. There are a lot of fantastic Seadwellers from a lot of era's, and I was specifically interested in the more modern stuff I hadn't played with before: the 16600 (90's-00's) and the just released 116600 (2014+). I found a vintage dealer with a nice tritium 'E' series 16600 which had a nice understated look: a perfect tough as nails little wrist tank that isn't the same Submariner everyone else is wearing. One of the biggest selling points of the SeaDweller is that there is a date window, but no Rolex 'cyclops' which some feel is a distraction on the dial. In addition, at most angles you can't even see the date. This gives it the classic clean look of the 'No-Date Submariner' but with the useful date feature.
I'm looking to the SeaDweller as 'daily beater'. Something special to wear anywhere while my more delicate vintage pieces relax on their winders. The 16600 was discontinued in 2008 after a 40+ year run, much to the dismay of Rolex fans. It was replaced with the Deep Sea SeaDweller (DSSD), a friggin' hulk of a watch at nearly 44mm and an insane depth rating of 12,800ft. There are a lot of fans of the DSSD, and if I didn't have such tiny wrists, I would certainly be one of them. For the rest of us, Rolex just introduced the new SeaDweller 4000, and I went to see it today.
Wrist Times Breakdown:
- Shinier than the older model due to the ceramic bezel and larger white gold plots on the dial.
- Bracelet is incredible, with both Glidelock and the Diver's extension off the DSSD.
- Bracelet is heavy as it is all solid links (older ones had some hollow links)
- Great weight on it.
- The ceramic bezel is beautiful, but also blinding in the light.
- They brought back a vintage staple, the 'matte dial' for this model. It cuts some of the shine out of the watch but as you can see above next to the vintage 1680 I was wearing, isn't actually all that matte, it feels a bit dull.
- Nice thick sapphire crystal pokes above the bezel.
- Winding the crown was effortless and totally smooth.
- The bezel clicks strongly and perfectly, but I find the half markers around the whole thing a bit busy, less sleek and elegant than SeaDwellers past.
- Blue Chromalight lume, which is awesome and looks like this
- Wears rather high on the wrist, hard to tell how comfortable it would be until the bracelet was sized properly, but I fear on my wrist it would be somewhat floppy.
- Very steady movement and seconds hand gliding across the dial.
- Priced right in between the Submariner and DSSD at $10,400USD.
So will I be buying it? No.
It is a fantastic piece of engineering, Rolex truly at the top of their game with all the modern bells and whistles thrown in. However I think it is just a bit too much. If I hadn't been spoiled by the soul and beauty of the older Rolexes, maybe I wouldn't care. But I have, and I do.
Take a look at this SeaDweller 1665 or this transitional SeaDweller 16660 (triple six). You can have either one with some cash left over for the same price, and they are becoming a great investment. They will never be made again and weren't made in huge quantities to begin with. The SeaDweller was never a particularly popular watch among the general population as it was more expensive than the Submariner, didn't have the cyclops and wore bigger in a time when smaller watches were the fashion.
In sum, the SeaDweller is a mass market professional super-watch, built like the engineers were daring each other to go further everyday. The new one is too, but I feel they subverted some of the rugged tool quality, in favor of a the trend of flashier bigger watches. It they had held back just a tiny bit more, this would be a truly must-have watch.
As the owner of both of the watches above, and knowing that in some ways they are rather similar, a retrospective review seemed to be in order. The G-Shock GW3000BB-1A I bought on an impulse one day in a department store; I had wanted a tough watch and liked the idea of rocking a G-Shock at the time.
Several years later, before a trip around Mexico, I decided that I didn't want to bring my more expensive pieces but wanted a fun 'expedition' watch that I didn't need to worry about. Enter the Luminox Recon Nav SPC.
Both watches are rugged, look stylish and are very hard to do any damage to. They have very high water resistance (200M), great night visibility (tritium tubes vs luminescent paint) and wear nice and chunky on the wrist without seeming comical, appearing instead to be tactical. Here are my thoughts on how they break down:
The G-Shock looks great, is very fashionable and has some epic features. That said, it is infuriatingly difficult to operate without the little 100+ page manual that comes with it. In my opinion, product design should be self evident, but with its four buttons and endless invisible menus to click through, good luck if you don't cary the manual on you. Daylight savings time changes are a major hassle, knowing what mode you are in is worse and the supposed ability to do a quick time zone change is impossible for all I can figure.
That's most of the bad, and honestly its pretty bad, but at nearly half the price of the Luminox, it does have a lot going for it.
- Fantastic legibility at almost any angle
- Light and comfortable strap, hard to notice even with its big size on the wrist.
- Cool chronograph feature (if you can start it) where the center second hand spins a full rotation per second for the first 15 seconds. It looks like you are reading an altimeter in freefall and is alone worth buying the watch for. Unfortunately it stops and becomes a normal chronograph after the first few seconds.
- Slightly domed acrylic crystal
- Solar powered, no batteries required
- Radio controlled time from regional towers all over the world. Accurate is an understatement.
- However if you like to run your watch a little fast it is no easy feat to accomplish.
- Day and Date
- Very bright lume at first, gets dark fairly quickly however, doesn't last all night.
- For small wrists, the strap is very long, I had to cut the end off so it didn't flop around.
- Unique, recognizable styling. The cool kids will take notice :)
- Basically the top range as far as G-Shocks go.
- MSRP: $280, a good deal cheaper on the secondary market.
For serious adventuring, this Luminox has no equal. It is equipped with a ton of useful features, and takes a lot of styling cues from the Breitling Navitimer. What it lacks in solar power and radio time setting, it more than makes up for in build quality and 'toolishness'.
- Anti-reflective (AR) Sapphire Crystal at this price point is great to see.
- A removable compass to help you get your bearings, it goes unnoticed on the rubber strap.
- GMT 24 hour hand complication to track multiple timezones.
- An ingenius walking Tachymeter which easily tells you your ground movement speed. I find normal tachymeters pretty useless as I don't fly planes.
- 60-click rotating bezel with tritium pip.
- Plastic case/bezel feels very hard, but appears a bit cheap.
- Tritium tubes on indexes and hands, super bright all night with purple and orange markers to show orientation. It is a truly awesome sight when you glance at it in the middle of the night.
- Swiss made (for what its worth).
- The side of the comfortable rubber strap has a ruler on it in Inches/mm. I've used this several times when I couldn't find a proper one.
- High legibility in day and night with contrasting white hands on the black dial.
- Easy to use standard crown.
- Date complication.
- The compass works well with a small disc floating around inside a fluid chamber.
- Pretty much the top range of Quartz Luminox.
- MSRP: $450, a good deal cheaper on the secondary market.
Between the two, on most days I would take the Luminox hands down. It is a purpose-built, great looking and user friendly tool that could literally be a lifesaver if you ever get lost in the wilderness. However I own both, and if I feel so strongly, why not sell the G-Shock and move on? Well, there is a certain charm to the G-Shock that makes it more fun than the Luminox, and lends hip youthful style to your wrist. A G-Shock is a very versatile piece, because it tends to go with anything in an effortless way, and transmits that the wearer can let loose and have fun.
In sum, both will look badass, both can be the only watch you'll ever need, and I feel both are very appropriately priced.
What do you think? Comment below!
Two years ago I was on a vacation in Amsterdam, when I came across a watch company I had never heard of: Fromanteel
On the last day of my trip I was aimlessly shopping when I saw a display of nice looking watches in a window display. The shop was Monocle, a curated men's shop from the company that makes a stylish men's magazine of the same name. Past the leather and canvas goods, clothing and a selection trinkets and books, was a jewelry case on the counter near the cash register. My eyes immediately shot to a watch called the 'Amsterdam'. These were quartz watches, I was told, but were well appointed with a sapphire crystal, lovely design and bare the signature 'Swiss Made'. A great breakdown of what 'Swiss Made' means can be found over at The Watch Lounge.
I like buying watches when I'm traveling, especially from small, local brands. One of the things that really made me want to take this one home was the GPS coordinates for Amsterdam underneath the brand on the dial. Right near where I had been the last few days. I love touches like that, and it reminds me of the trip each time I wear it.
I really enjoy the separate seconds sub-dial, lending a more upscale look to their watches; a smart move as it somewhat disguises the ticking of the quartz movement. The open date window, something that was recently made more popular by the Calibre de Cartier, also nods to an understanding of great watch design. The case has held up very well and maintains a polished finish, and the battery is still working several years later; things I would consider important for a watch which costs around $400. The crystal is still in perfect shape and seems to be a nice thickness. One last detail I enjoy is the yellow crown, its a happy color for a crown!
Although I didn't love was the leather strap it came on, which was stiff and never broke in, it did look good when on the wrist. The only other negative, and this is likely a fluke, is that somehow an eyelash as gotten on the face of the watch, which you can see in the pictures below, near 9 o'clock. I think the hair made it in during the casing process, as the watch has yet to be opened since purchase, and shook out of wherever it was hiding during the years of use. I plan to have it removed when I need to get the battery changed someday.
Overall, from my limited engagement with Fromanteel, its seems like a good mid-priced quartz brand with high finishing, lovely designs and features not usually seen in this price range. Although I don't wear the piece as much as I used to, I'm glad its in my watch lineup and reminds me of a great long weekend in a fantastic city.
Let's Look is a new feature that puts a number of similar watches, currently available, head-to-head. We will discuss value, condition, details to look for and a final verdict. A purchase rating will be applied to each item for sale, from 1-7 stars (★), ranging from 'Don't you dare' to 'Stop everything and buy this'.
1. HQ Milton Red Submariner 1680, offered at $9,900
HQ Milton, if you've never checked them out, always has a great inventory of vintage beauties, mainly from Rolex, Patek, Vacheron and Omega. They are offering this 1680 Red from 1970 with a a Mark 4 dial and creamy patina for what I feel is a reasonable price these days.
Wrist Times Breakdown:
- Great patina on the dial with a slightly more yellow color on the hands.
- Original open 6's and 9's dial.
- Bright 'Submariner' printing.
- Appears to have original 'Fat Font' bezel in good shape.
- All lume plots are even and keeping their shape.
- Very minimal corrosion on the hands.
- Great original top hat crystal.
- Some bubbling on the dial, which is a minus.
- There are a number of oily spots on the dial, not ideal but not distracting.
- Movement parts appear to be a little dirty. Between this and the dial oilspots, there may have been a 'home service' in its past.
- No boxes or papers.
- Backed by a business, not a lone seller.
- Good pricing, but with a few minor tradeoffs.
Purchase Rating: ★★★★★★☆ (6/7 Stars)
2. VRM Seller OzRolex Red Submariner 1680, offered at $9500
I like buying off forums, I just do. One big plus is that it keeps you off the grid (if that sort of thing is important to you). In addition, its nice to support the community, and if you have a relationship with a seller, you can get unheard of deals. WatchRecon turned up this 1680 which comes with a lot of great extras and looks to be in good condition.
Wrist Times Breakdown:
- Slight patina, but it is consistent across hands and dial.
- Silver open 6's and 9's dial.
- Bright 'Submariner' printing.
- No apparent corrosion on hands.
- Comes with a dome crystal, but original top hat crystal is included in purchase.
- Serviced by RSC recently, includes some paperwork, tags, green wallet and Anchor charm.
- Deep black, like new Fat Font insert.
- Updated 93150 bracelet in good condition.
- Two leather cordovan straps included.
- No movement shots.
- Polished, but thick case with good lugs.
- Excellent value due to low market price and extras included.
Purchase Rating: ★★★★★★★ (7/7 Stars)
3. eBay seller wtchmarket Red Submariner 1680, offered at $6,778)
eBay is the true watch battleground. Some hate it, some are scared of it, and some love it. I have personally bought and sold several pieces over eBay, and overall, its been a pretty positive way to get my hands on some interesting timepieces in a convenient way. Right now there is a somewhat beat up, but cheap Red Sub. Let's give it a once over.
Wrist Times Breakdown:
- Nice color patina on the dial hour markers, but a bit dirty.
- Unfortunately the hands appear to be service hands. (Notice the bright white lume)
- The bezel appears to be a replacement. (Notice the white lume pip at 0)
- A little over-polished but done well at least. Lugs are getting thin.
- Top hat crystal, either original or a replacement, unclear.
- Dubious mechanical condition and service history.
- The crown appears to be too small and incorrect.
- Large chips all around the outside of the dial, missing a lot of minute indices.
- Date wheel looks correct to be original.
- May not have the original caseback, seller is unsure.
- Very cheap, but for the same money you could have a mint 1680 White, which is likely a better move.
- Not really a collector grade piece, thus the price.
Purchase Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆☆ (2/7 Stars)
Disclaimer: The opinions written are for entertainment purposes only. Nothing shown is being offered for sale by Wrist Times or its affiliates or owners unless explicitly noted. Prices are subject to change without notice. Images may be digitally enhanced or altered. Details may be incorrect or assumed based on limited information. Wrist Times does not endorse, vouch or warranty any seller, buy from them at your own risk. Wrist Times does not accept or solicit compensation from watch sellers who may or may not be listed herein.
A. Lange & Söhne has had a meteoric rise since the 90s when it launched the Lange 1. This of course isn't when the brand formed, which was in 1845, but when it began to stand with the top brands in haute horlogerie (super fancy watches). It became the poster child of the in-house manufacture and has since been the darling of most watch publications. For good reason.
I feel that A. Lange & Söhne presents the classic dress watch in an updated, but still understated manner. Its base model, the 1815 Saxonia, has more details and visual interest than a base model Patek Phillipe or Vacheron Constantin, while delivering on the German promise of fine engineering. With its other German friends, Nomos Glashütte and Glashütte Original, Swiss watches have had the first real fine watch competition in some time.
With many more complicated models in its lineup and stunning pocket watches in its past, the prices for its timepieces quickly climbed to well over six-figures.
So what's the best way to get yourself in a Lange today? Well, there is actually a surprising number of interesting options under the cost of a handful of cars...
A. Lange & Söhne Lange Chronograph Valjoux 726 ($4,800)
One of my favorite things to do when cruising the watch markets is type in a high end brand, like 'A. Lange & Söhne', into the Chrono24 / Watchrecon / eBay search box and sort by price, lowest to highest. Like many other times, I came upon a unique find today. A German watch seller had this Lange Chronograph listed, with a recent documented service from A. Lange & Söhne - she's from the 70s, and what an interesting piece! With a Valjoux 726 movement, plexiglass domed crystal, full chronograph register and a wonderfully balanced dial, this is exactly the sort of thing that is a great addition to a chronograph collection. Similar to the Omega Speedmaster and Ulysse Nardin chronographs of the same time, Lange has taken a stab at a tool watch with fantastic results.
Wrist Time Worthy:
- Modern wearable 37mm case.
- Plexi crystals are always cool.
- Highly readable dial and useful chronograph function.
- The 12, 3, 6 and 9 hour markers in a different shade of tritium.
- Fantastic price point for such a rare piece in mint condition.
A. Lange & Söhne Cabaret ref 107.031, 18k Red Gold ($12,700)
Are you cool with rectangular watches? Think the JLC Reverso is too low brow? Well, a seller on Chrono24 is currently offering this little stunner, which might be of interest to you.
Wrist Time Worthy:
- Red gold is a great looking metal.
- Big date display, Lange's landmark feature, two big french doors chock full of date.
- Display back to see the stunning 3/4 plate movement with hand carved swan's neck regulator.
- Roman numerals and a generally fantastic art deco face.
- It is a bit of a unisex size at 25.5mm wide and 36mm tall, maybe save this one for a lady in your life.
A. Lange & Söhne 216.032 Saxonia, Red Gold ($13,000)
Like the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony or Patek Phillipe Calatrava, this is the classic three hand Lange. Sporting a gorgeous sapphire crystal on the back, you can enjoy the movement ticking away, or just stare at the Geneva striping on the main plate peppered with rubies and blued screws. While it may be the entry level model Lange makes, it is no less an impressively crafted and tested piece than their pricier offerings.
Wrist Time Worthy:
- Simple yet somehow modern and visually interesting dial.
- 37mm case wears larger due to the vast dial and large hands.
- The way the logo rides the shape of a rainbow.
- Display back to see the stunning 3/4 plate movement with hand carved swan's neck regulator.
- The curved lugs that hug the wrist like a dream.
A. Lange & Söhne Fleiger ca. 1940s ($8-10k)
Like most German companies during WW2, A. Lange & Söhne was required to produce products for Nazi Germany. As someone of Jewish descent, I would never encourage the purchase of Nazi branded memorabilia, but these watches have no Axis markings. In fact, many of these items had their outward manufacturer branding removed, which left a supreme tool-watch like quality with incredible engineering under the hood.
As the first entrants into the Flieger category, these watches have so much history that I'd be remiss not to mention them. In addition, they are relatively affordable for A. Lange & Söhne and are very rarely in good condition after over seventy years.
Wrist Time Worthy:
- Defined an entire category of watches called Fliegers.
- Huge even for today's standards at 55mm, truly a 'Big Pilot'.
- Not having logos on the dial shows off its tool function.
- The yellow cream patina on the hands.
- The blued sword hands which likely influenced the Rolex Mil-Sub.
Bonus: A. Lange & Söhne Up/Down pocket watch ca. 1940s ($3-5k)
Again, putting aside the awful surroundings during which these stunning pocket watches with a power reserve complication were produced (Nazi Germany), if you like the idea of adding a pocket watch to your collection, this would make an excellent one. Although Lange didn't invent the power reserve, a complication credited to Breguet in 1938, it certainly made good use of it. If you love the newer A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Up/Down, this would be a way to enjoy its history in a much larger case (58mm!). Both Bonhams and Chrono24 have some of these rare clocks on offer in great shape.
Note: Some of these pocket watches actually do have A. Lange & Söhne written on the dial, which may have been post-war products, but I couldn't find anything specifically addressing this detail.
Might as well get this out of the way now, I am a big fan of Rolex. I used to be a pretty die hard hater...until I got a Pepsi 16710 a few years ago. Since then it has been one of my favorite brands to collect, and the newer models with the updated bracelets are truly everything the brand promises to be. That said, I find the vintage models have a lot of character, history and charm to them. I posed a question recently to the gang on TheRolexForums and asked everyone to list 'Your 5 must have vintage Rolex for under $10k'. I had come up with three I really loved and was curious to see if there were some I didn't even know about that I should consider. Here is the list I walked away with, in no particular order.
#1. Rolex GMT Master 1675 'Radial' Dial - Pepsi bezel
Having had my first Rolex be a nice faded GMT Master II Pepsi dial, and my second be the new Black/Blue GMT Master II, I clearly have a thing for the GMT line. It is a great travel complication, older model bezels can be swapped quickly by yourself for many different looks and they are far less common than the Submariner. What's interesting about this particular vintage GMT is that the dial different from most GMT's you see. If you look closely, you'll notice that the hour lume plots are significantly further away from the minute lines than usual. This is what is referred to as a 'radial' dial. It is a fairly rare variant on the 1675 dial that doesn't seem completely tied to a serial number range. Radial dials can be had at the moment for around $6-8k, a normal GMT from the same time period is more like $5-6k.
#2. Rolex 1680 'Red' Submariner
I have yet to own a Submariner, but if I go vintage it will be hard to resist the temptation of the 'Red' Sub. The matte, maxi-dial (larger luminous plots) with the single, balancing line of red text is starting to rock upwards in value after the rise of its $20k+ price point big brother, the Double Red Sea-Dweller. One of the coolest features of the red submariner is the 'top hat' acrylic crystal dome that sits on top of the case. The watch has so many interesting features and is so well balanced that I feel it has to be on the vintage Rolex short list. While not the rarest, a lot of these have had new dials swapped in by the Rolex Service Centers over the years, so like anything vintage, good condition ones are hard to find. Price is still barely under $10k and climbing fast.
#3. Rolex 5513 'Gilt' Glossy dial
The 5513 is nearly where the Rolex Submariners began. After the 5512 and a few earlier models, rolex stuck with the 5513 for the longest of nearly any other production piece, starting in 1962 and ending in 1990! What's wonderful about some of these early Submariners is the simplicity. For the same reason collectors love the no-date Submariners of today, these had two simple lines of text and no date magnifier as Rolex didn't use those until basically the 1680 (above) came along.
In addition, a 'gilt' dial is one in which the text on the dial is in a golden shade of paint. As you can see on the one above, all the type and the Rolex coronet is all in a golden shade, not in white. The piece pictured is extra special (and maybe slightly out of budget) because it also has a meters first dial on the depth rating. When Rolex was mainly selling in europe, meters was the standard and feet was the secondary unit of measure. After the US market got hot for rolex, they changed all the dials over time to being 'feet first' which are far less rare. On a leather strap these are stunning, simple, purposeful early versions of the most admired watch of all time.
Git versions are just above the $10k mark, whereas white versions start much lower, especially the newer ones, which are just as wonderful but may not appreciate in value as quickly.
#4. Rolex 16758 Gold GMT Master 'Nipple Dial' with Brown Bezel
The nipple dial and all gold case are pure dirty 70s/80s. They styling and nasty brown coloring brings back yuppie businessmen with sideburns and shag carpets. The 'nipple' dial is called that because if you look closely at the hour markers, they appear to be little pyramids with a small nipple of lume. Most hour markers are almost totally covered in lume. The highlights here are the gold case, the brown dial and bezel which is a rare color for Rolex to employ and again, the GMT complication. This wouldn't be my first choice on this list, but would be so much fun to wear on a strap and enjoy on a road trip. Good examples without the gold bracelet are in the $8-10k range.
#5. Rolex 1803 Day-Date with Pie Pan dial
There's a reason the Day Date is called the President. Many of the US Presidents, starting with Eisenhower and moving on to JFK and Reagan (along with countless other world leaders) put this watch on their nightstand before they went to sleep. For around half what most of the watches on this list will cost you, you can pick up an 1803 in solid gold (head only). The 'pie pan' dial is apparent when you look at the edge of the dial where it seems to have a downward slope. If you put the dial face down it looks like a little pie pan! You get not only the kind of history that made Rolex an aspirational brand, but the Day complication which is very cool in real life. While I'm sure you usually know what day it is, letting your Rolex tell you its finally Friday is a true treat. There are lots of different dial variations as the 1803 was made for several decades, and tons exist on ebay for around $4k on a strap or $8k with the solid gold president bracelet.
Note: If you have a gold president bracelet that is saggy, check out my article on Michael Young at Classic Watch Repair who has a magical ability to tighten them again.