1981 Rolex Submariner (Ref.16800) Matte Dial

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This Rolex Submariner Ref. 16800 is a very transitional piece that combines the best elements of both the vintage and modern Rolex Submariner into one complete package. This specific model of Ref. 16800 is considered to be a rare traditional variant of the ref. 16800 model due to the fact that it includes a black matte dial with tritium lume plots and hands as can also be found in the previous variant the Ref 1680. The reason why this specific piece is so special is that it has all the details that we love about the vintage matte dial submariners but with a more modern daily functional application.


The Rolex Submariner Ref 16800 was the first introduced in late 1979 and was the first Rolex Submariner model to include a sapphire crystal. In addition, Rolex also introduced the signature click spring and the bezel became unidirectional instead of the previous bi-directional operation feature of the bezel found in the Ref. 1680 offering more accuracy and further securing the bezel from movement while being used for diving.

This early example from 1981 would make a great vintage daily driver for the man who appreciates the elements of the vintage matte dial Submariners but needs the durability of a sapphire crystal and the water-resistance of a trip-lock crown. These transitional models like the one we are featuring here are becoming increasingly harder and harder to find due to the limited production numbers of these rare transitional examples.

Stock # RLXSUB8116800-2
Brand Rolex
Style Submariner 
Model 16800
Serial 71XXXXX
Size Men's
Material SS
Dial Matte Black
Millimeters 40
Bracelet Rolex Oyster 93150 Bracelet w/ 593 End Pieces



The previously polished case retains full and symmetrical lugs with light signs of use. The original bezel insert shows some light wear and has faded to an excellent light blue/ grey coloration, the insert also retains its tritium pearl at the 12 o'clock position which has aged to a deep orange patina. The original Rolex 93150 Oyster bracelet with 593 end pieces shows minimal stretch from use and retains 10 links.


The transitional matte black dial is simply exceptional, showing no blemishes or major signs of aging. The tritium lume plots remain bright with a slight ivory patina in natural sunlight, the lume plots exhibit no degradation when inspected under U.V. light. The original tritium hands have taken on a slightly more creamy patina than the dial, under U.V. light inspection the Mercedes hour hand shows some light cracking and remains stable, the minute hand shows very light cracking as well and also remains perfectly stable. The date wheel is era correct with open 6's and 9's.


None. The watch is keeping time within COSC spec and functioning perfectly, previous service history is unknown.