Posts Tagged ‘Submariner’
Tudor Submariner 7016/0 ‘Snowflake’ 1968
I picked up this little gem some 10 months ago, but only just realized that I hadn’t added it to the blog. I’m a real sucker for these old Tudor Subs, whether they be a Snowflake variant or not.
Not being a vintage Tudor expert, I wasn’t confident to hunt one down from unknown private sellers, so I jumped on this one when I saw my friends over at HQMilton listing it, especially as it was freshly serviced and running to COSC specs.
Having rescued many Heuers over the years that have needed a little TLC, I decided to go for this one and get this old-timer back to it’s former glory. Not that it needed a lot of work.. the only thing that was ‘wrong’ with it was that the lume on the dial had been partially cleaned away. Presumably it had badly flaking hour lume plots, and a well meaning watchmaker cleaned it away. Sadly this is not that uncommon, and the hour plots didn’t match the original untouched creamy lume of the hands. Thankfully the rest of the dial is is stunning condition.
So I decided to get the hour plots tidied up and relumed, and a big thanks goes to James Hyman, who is one of the finest master vintage relumers. I’ve used James many times over the years, but he knocked this one out of the park. The colour match with the hands is spot on, even the texture is perfectly matched. More astonishing is that he matched the now non-existent glow of the hands.
I know some collectors prefer no relume work, but I honestly think it was a good decision, and I enjoy the watch far more now.
I won’t attempt to do a write up on the history of this model, as my knowledge is severely lacking. You are far better off following the links below to some great articles written by some real Tudor experts.
Rolex Submariner 1680, Cal. 1575 COSC, Date with open numbers & flat 3.
1978 – 5.4mil Serial. (with Superdome crystal)
Normally I do a little write up on the history of a particular model, but this watch needs little introduction, and there is nothing I can add to the plethora of information out there. Here is a quote from VintageSubmariner.com..
“In 1965, Rolex introduced the caliber 1565, which was both C.O.S.C. certified and had a date display. In 1971, Rolex iterated the caliber to include hacking (meaning the seconds hand stops when the crown is pulled out for time setting). The 1565 caliber lead to a new model series, the 168X series. Reference 1680 was introduced in 1965 or 1966 and had the chronometer status and a date display. This also introduced the Cyclops date magnifier to the Submariner line.”
I bought my first Rolex a year or so back, a 16800 and I didn’t get on with it. I think it was because I had this huge expectation of something astonishing.. and it turned out to be ‘just a divers watch’. I was disappointed, so sold it on.
The itch didn’t go away, so I bought an ‘86 5513.. this I instantly liked. The acrylic non-cyclops crystal made such a difference, combined with no huge expectation. It grew on me quickly. Fast-forward 6 months and I sold it.. a combination of me trying to reduce the collection and the need for a new MacBook. C’est la vie.
Months later I regretted it, and started hunting a maxi dial 5513, but the 1665 Sea-Dweller caught my eye – the non-cyclops crystal with date greatly appealed. One problem, the price. I didn’t want to splash that much on a divers watch. During my hunt, I’d spotted a few 1680’s fitted with plain crystals, and that seemed like an ideal solution. I know the purists may grimace at such a thing, but the idea didn’t bother me – Rolex deemed the Sea Dweller OK to not have it, so why not!
I read an article recently on ‘ablogtowatch’ about the history of the Sub.. and one fact that really stood out was that the founder , Wildorf, wanted to produce a good quality watch that could be worn by many. This really struck a chord with me.. it wasn’t a super high end watch, but was designed and built as a good quality tool watch – average cost about 2 weeks pay. This makes me love my Sub even more.. it’s not a status symbol, glittery or conspicuous, it’s a tool watch. It’s tough, will do a job, and it carries a certain history with it. It’s the perfect size, weight and supremely comfortable. I have to admit to storing the folded link bracelet.. if I’m honest – it sucks, and I didn’t want to tear it apart to size it. So, I’ve fitted an aftermarket bracelet (gasp!). I’m still not sold on the cyclops, but I have to admit, whilst I wore it before getting the crystal changed, it really grew on me.. but with a superdome crystal fitted.. for me, it’s bang on the money.
Rolex Submariner 5513, Gloss dial/WGS, 1986
Yes.. I’ve officially joined the ‘Dark Side’, as the Heueristas call it! Allow me to explain myself..
I’ve never really been a big Rolex fan, mainly because the things are so damn expensive. I’m not saying I don’t think they are superb watches.. but they are mighty pricey for a dive watch. I suppose I’ve been spoiled for choice being a Heuer nut.. not long ago you could pick up a Heuer diver for relatively little outlay – even an automatic variant.
For a while now I’ve fancied getting a Sub (or a Snowflake), something that was old school, but not too old, as I want something actually usable – that can take knocks and not worry about water tightness. A few months ago I snapped up a 16800 with a matt dial, as it was a decent price. I tried to bond with it.. but I’ll be honest.. I really didn’t get on with it. I would go as far to say, I hated it – maybe I expected more.. whatever reason it wasn’t for me. I moved it swiftly on to a friend who fancied it and I was glad to see the back of it. Then a fellow Heuer fan (Peter) posted a pic of his newly acquired gloss dial 5513 with white gold surrounds (WGS) on the hour plots, and I thought it looked great. So, a few beers and an internet hunt led me to well known Rolex good-guy Jacek at HQ Milton.. a few emails later and it was mine. a short delay followed while it was at serviced by HQ Miltons watchmaker and I’ll be honest.. I was having a serious case of buyers regret, but a deals a deal, so I paid up. Fast forward several weeks and freshly back from a full service, it arrived yesterday.
I was blown away when I freed it from it’s bubble wrap.. it is stunning, a world away from that 16800 I disliked so much. It really is sublime. I know the Rolex aficionados hanker after the non-WGS matt dial models.. not me.. I think this is one of the nicest – I’m not drawn in by the rarity factor of the sought after double reds etc – I think this one is just right for me.
It’s an ’86 model, serial 974xxxx with a 1520 hacking movement. The bracelet is a 93150 with 580 endlinks. The lume is just turning a light cream, the clean design of the no-date deep black gloss dial is stunning, and as much as I tried in the photos, there is the very faintest of a spider webbing when viewed at just the right angle.. it looks like a faint elevation map of a group of islands, 99.9% of the time it’s not visible. I love the way the whole dial and the WGS and hnds catch the light.. and that plexi – it is simply stunning. I tried it on a dark grey NATO.. and it looks great.. I also tried it on one of my Heuerville straps – I know, leather on a sub is ‘wrong’, but I like it!!!
So, here it is.. a 5513.. my perfect Sub.. that plexi, that clean no-date gloss dial.. I think it’s gonna hang around longer than the 16800.
Also, thanks to the boys over at HQ Milton for a smooth deal.
With some of it’s stable mates.. TAG Heuer Spirotechnique and Heuer 844 Monnin..
Tudor Submariner 9401/0 ‘Snowflake’, 1976
Unfortunately this lovely thing isn’t mine, it was on loan from fellow Heuerista, Paul Gavin aka Heuerworld.com. Paul kindly sent it over to Heuerville towers after a conversation about whether I should hunt one down or go the Rolex Sub route.. more on that in a later post.
This particular no-date example is absolutely stunning.. it’s not totally out-the-box-mint, but in very fine fettle with just the right amount of fading to the bezel and the most sumptuous coffee-creamy patina on the lume. It’s seen here on an aftermarket riveted bracelet, which suits it perfectly. It’s dated to 1976 with serial 84xxxx.
I’ll own up to not knowing a lot about these, all I know is that they are very beautiful to handle. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it shares the same case from a Rolex Sub, I don’t know which model.. I’d hazard a guess at the 5513? The movement is a Cal. 2776 movement, it’s ETA based and modified by Tudor.
As I understand it, the blue dial came about as the black dial had paint issues, moisture could create a defect on the black dial versions that were issued to the French Navy – Marine Nationale, so blue was introduced. I’ve no idea why blue would be better, or the ins and outs, but that’s what I’ve read – could be wrong. These Tudors used to play second fiddle to the Rolex, but in the last few years they have really come into their own, and a good example can easily match or exceed the cost of an equivalent Rolex Sub.. and you can see why, they are quite special.
There is an excellent full blown write-up here…
More useful info can be found here:
Stupidly, I only took one photo of the Snowflake before sending it back. Doh!