Rolex "Red" Submariner
Why We Love it
Why We Love it–
Why We Love It
In the late 1960s, Rolex made a tiny change to the Submariner that, forty years on, sends ripples through the vintage Rolex collector community. We mean, of course, a single line of red text on the Reference 1680 Submariner, a watch that has gone down in history as the “Red Sub.”
From the late 1960s to the late 1970s, there were seven different dial variations of “Red Sub,” being dubbed by collectors as “Mark I” through “Mark VIII” dials. Generally, these examples vary in the smallest of ways, perhaps the result of being from different printings - or even from different dial manufacturers altogether - with this example being a so-called Mark "IV".
What unites all of them is that tiny splash of red on the Submariner printing just under the center post.
All 'Red Subs' are desirable, but this particular timepiece is truly special. Purchased directly from the widow of its original owner, this timepiece belonged to the late author Peter Manso, best known for his biographies of Norman Mailer and Marlon Brando. Manso was also an accomplished journalist, with published works in numerous international magazines, including interviews in Playboy with former NYC Mayor Ed Koch and in Oui with Arnold Schwarzenegger - both which lead to consequences for their political careers.
An avid Formula I enthusiast, Manso co-wrote Sir Jackie Stewart's biography titled Faster! A Racer's Diary, and a compendium of interviews with Grand Prix champions titled Vroom!!, published in 1972 and 1970, respectively.
You can read more about Mr. Manso's story and accomplishments in his New York Times Obituary, HERE.
According to his family, Mr. Manso purchased this Rolex during a 1970 trip to France, and it was a constant companion through to his passing. At some point in its life it received a sensitive case polishing and a later replacement Oyster bracelet. We have done a full movement servicing, case cleaning, and replaced the acrylic crystal. Everything else has been left as-found, including the handset, which shows a tiny spot of lume drop in the minutes hand. If the next owner is interested in having that fixed, we are happy to assist.
This is an excellent example of one of the most desirable vintage sports watches on the planet, made all the more exciting by its provenance - if you've been on the lookout for a great Rolex with a compelling story, look no further!
Rolex first debuted the Submariner at the 1954 Basel Spring Fair. It shared the stage with already-established offerings: the Explorer, the Turn-O-Graph, and a ladies' Oyster Perpetual with a chronometer certification. Compared to these other watches, the Submariner - with its oversized crown and chunky dive-timing bezel looked slightly out-of-place, and yet would become one of Rolex's most enduring models.
Rolex's quest to produce a waterproof wristwatch has its roots in the First World War, when a need arose for soldiers to have a watch that could withstand the wet, dusty conditions on the battlefield. Rolex's Oyster case of 1926 represented the culmination of a decade of development. It gained notoriety in 1927, when Mercedes Gleitze became the first British woman to swim across the English Channel. She took with her an early Rolex Oyster, in what may have been the very first example of sports marketing by a luxury brand. A series of advertisements followed this feat, featuring smiling flappers dunking their Rolex Oysters in fish tanks.
The Submariner hit the market at a time when oceanographer and explorer Jacques Cousteau exposed the world to the wonders of undersea exploration. With the advent of SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) in the late 1950s, skin-diving as a sport became accessible to amateurs. Since a mechanical timepiece was an essential piece of equipmeny for divers in a pre-digital world, the race was on amongst Swiss manufactures to produce a professional grade timepiece. Rolex was fortunate in that René Jeanneret, one of the company's directors, was a skin-diving enthusiast, giving Rolex a unique insight into the development of their diving watch.
The resulting watch was an overnight success, and has been in continuous production ever since. The Oyster Perpetual Submariner, in all of its forms, is an icon amongst icons, a pinnacle of horological design, and a statement piece aspired to and worn by people the world over.
Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.
We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Shipping & Returns
Shipping & Returns+
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.
Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.
We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Returns must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. A restocking fee may apply. Watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.
We welcome international buyers, please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Rolex "Red" Submariner