1981 Rolex Submariner (Ref. 16800) Matte Dial

Beloved by both the vintage enthusiast and neo-vintage aficionados, the reference 16800 Submariner is one of the most important Rolex dive watches produced. The transitional foundation of the ref. 16800 makes this watch special, as it is both the last of the truly vintage Submariners and the platform for the modern submariner we see today.


Introduced in late 1979, the ref. 16800 brought us a litany of improvements to the Submariner line. First of which is a sapphire crystal, which helped bring the depth rating from 660ft to an impressive 1000ft. The uni-directional click-spring bezel made its first appearance on the Submariner line as well, making the Submariner a more secure and safe timing apparatus for divers. Along with these external enhancements, the movement was drastically upgraded to the Cal. 3035, which featured a quickset function for the first time in the Submariner line.

The first iteration of the ref. 16800 featured a matte black dial similar to that of the acrylic crystal Submariner ref. 1680 that preceded it. These early matte dial examples were only produced for a brief period, about 4 years total until early 1984. In late 1984 Rolex switched the dial design to the more recognizable by modern standards glossy dial with white gold surrounds markers. Both executions are cherished by collectors, but it is the earlier matte dial version that offers a vintage aesthetic with modern functionality that is the most desirable amongst this transitional reference. 

Stock # RLXSUB1680081
Brand Rolex
Style Submariner 
Model 16800
Serial 70XXXXX
Size Men's
Material Stainless Steel
Dial Matte Black
Millimeters 40
Bracelet Rolex 93150 Oyster Bracelet W/ 593 End Pieces



The sharp case has recently been professionally polished to restore the factory finishing and chamfers. The case retains very thick and symmetrical lugs that show almost no signs of use. The original bezel insert has a subtle fade, shows light signs of use, and retains its tritium pearl at the 12 o'clock position which has a deep golden patina. The original Rolex 93150 Oyster bracelet with 593 end pieces retains 11 links that show light stretch from use.


The beautiful matte black submariner dial is in overall exceptional condition, the only notable age present is on the very edge of the dial between the 5 o'clock and 6 o'clock markers. The tritium lume plots have taken on a gorgeous yellow patina with no degradation present under U.V. light inspection. The original tritium hands match the dial and show no degradation under U.V. light inspection. The white date wheel is original with open 6's and 9's.


None. Watch is keeping time and functioning correctly, previous service history is unknown.