For our Series to help you to buy the perfect used Rolex Submariner we cover the reference 16613.
In 1988, the Rolex Submariner, once a tool watch, had fully embraced its role as a symbol of luxury. Born in 1953 as a diving companion, its journey to become a status symbol was gradual. The addition of a date display in 1969 with the ref. 1680 caused a stir in the Rolex community, sparking debates about the necessity of a date function on a dive watch and its impact on dial symmetry.
However, the Submariner's transformation into an aspirational icon was truly solidified in the same year with the release of the first all-gold model, the ref. 1680/8. Rolex, in an effort to cater to both sides, continued to produce date and no-date Submariners. Notably, it was the date-displaying models that saw the introduction of various metals, while the no-date versions remained stainless steel. In 1984, the stage was set with the release of the two-tone Rolesor Submariner, the ref. 16803, paving the way for the subsequent generation, the reference 16613.
Rolesor, a term coined by Rolex in 1933, describes the harmonious combination of stainless steel and gold, introduced on a Datejust in 1948. Rolesor watches can incorporate three gold colors used by Rolex: white, Everose (red/rose), or yellow, with slight variations in their configurations.
In the yellow and Everose gold variants, stainless steel forms the case and the outer links of the bracelet, while gold adorns the bezel, crown, and central bracelet links. In the case of White Rolesor models, only the bezel is crafted from gold.
The first Rolesor Submariner, the ref. 16803, stands as a transitional reference. It introduced several novelties, including sapphire crystals, a 300-meter water resistance rating, and a unidirectional bezel. Moreover, it featured the Caliber 3035, a high-beat movement, running at 28,800vph, a now-standard Rolex balance frequency.
However, Rolex felt the need for further refinement. In 1988, the ref. 1680x range, including the two-tone reference 16613, succeeded the ref. 16803. This change aimed to introduce the upgraded Caliber 3135, widely regarded as one of the finest mass-produced movements ever, powering the Rolex Submariner Date for over three decades.
The Submariner ref. 1661x series, including the ref. 16613, is often hailed as the 'last of the best' in the Rolex Submariner lineup. This moniker reflects their retention of the classic-style cases. The subsequent series, the ref. 11661x, introduced the Super Case with substantial changes in proportions.
The ref. 16613 maintained the Submariner's iconic lines, in place since the introduction of crown guards in 1959. However, during its 21-year production, it underwent two minor modifications. Early models featured lug holes where the case met the bracelet, later phased out. Around 2005, Rolex engraved 'ROLEX ROLEX ROLEX' and the watch's unique serial number on the rehaut, an inner bezel ring surrounding the dial, as an anti-counterfeiting measure.
Crafted from 904L stainless steel (now called Oystersteel), known for its corrosion resistance, especially against saltwater, the ref. 16613's case remained unchanged. This alloy also held a polish exceptionally well and lent Rolex's steel watches a unique shine.
The Rolex Submariner 16613 offered four dial choices, each defining its character. The classic black dial with a black bezel is timeless. Yet, the blue dial and matching bezel, known as the "Bluesy," is a favorite among collectors for its iridescent shimmer. Its sunburst effect gives the blue various tones depending on lighting.
Less common are the Serti dials in champagne or slate/rhodium, embellished with gemstone indexes. Baguette-cut sapphires at 6 and 9 o'clock, a triangular sapphire at 12, and circular diamonds for the rest, except the 3 o'clock, occupied by the date display. These dials could pair with either black or blue bezels.
The ref. 1661x series retained aluminum bezel inserts, with subsequent generations featuring Rolex's proprietary Cerachrom ceramic material. Hour markers on the bezels became larger, and the indexes were outlined in yellow gold.
Luminescence on the Submariner 16613 evolved from tritium to LumiNova in 1998, then to Super-LumiNova in 2000. Rolex used these changes to distinguish age, with the tritium models marked 'SWISS T<25,' LumiNova dials with 'SWISS,' and Super-LumiNova examples with 'SWISS MADE' at the 6 o'clock index.
The Rolex Caliber 3135, introduced in 1988, powered the Submariner 16613 throughout its production and beyond. Robust and reliable, this movement featured a full balance bridge, a larger balance wheel, and an increased jewel count from 27 to 31. It retained Rolex's Microstella regulator system and Teflon-coated reversing gears.
In 2000, Rolex perfected its Parachrom hairspring, a non-magnetic alloy of niobium and zirconium with an oxide coating, offering superior shock and temperature resistance. In 2005, Rolex increased the oxide layer, causing the hairspring to turn blue, hence the name 'Parachrom Blue.' The Caliber 3135 is celebrated for its consistency and reliability.
The Submariner 16613 featured Rolex's Oyster bracelet, known for its sporty and robust design. Over its production run, Rolex made enhancements, switching from folded links to solid ones. Solid end links (SEL) were introduced, providing increased strength.
The clasps also evolved, with early models sporting stainless steel safety lock fasteners. Later, clasps included a central gold stripe to align with the Rolesor aesthetic.
The reference 16613 embodies the essence of the Rolex Submariner—marrying luxury and utility. It offers a range of options to cater to diverse tastes, with the blue dial variant, the "Bluesy," being particularly coveted.
Today, these iconic watches represent excellent value propositions in the pre-owned Rolex market. With over two decades of production, they remain accessible. Prices start around $10,000 for well-maintained models, comparable to the all-steel version, the ref. 16610.
While Rolesor models were initially priced higher than their stainless steel counterparts, the opportunity to own a steel and 18k gold Submariner at a similar price point has great appeal to modern collectors.