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Hands-On Review: Rolex Submariner 16618LN Yellow Gold Black Dial

Today we are reviewing a quintessential Rolex. A Rolex that pairs unparalleled elegance, opulence and posh sensibility with no-nonsense diver’s functionality – the Rolex 16618 Yellow Gold Black Dial Submariner.  Let’s dive in for a closer look at this 18k yellow gold black dial Submariner 16618, including its history, features, and price.  The featured Rolex Submariner reference 16618 is now for sale at Diamonds By Raymond Lee in Boca Raton. 

Rolex Submariner History

The Rolex Submariner has a long, rich history. Released in 1954, it was the first ever dive watch with water resistance of 100 meters (or 330 feet). Rolex positioned the Submariner as the ultimate utilitarian watch. For the time, this amount of waterproofness was remarkable. Plus, it also had a rotating bezel with unprecedented luminescent visibility so diver’s could track elapsed time when exploring the deep, dark oceans of the world.  Over the years, the Submariner evolved, innovating with functionality, better materials, different design details, as well as upgrades in its perpetual movement, and of course, its waterproof capabilities, which has remained at 1,000 feet since 1979.  Nowadays, the Submariner is not only the best known diver’s watch ever made, but it is also one of the most sought after, highly collectible, instantly recognizable luxury watches in the world. It’s the watch you envision when someone says “Rolex sports watch”. The Submariner is Rolex’s most classic sports watch and it is a status symbol across the globe. 

Rolex 16618

The Rolex 16618 is the third generation of the yellow gold Submariner (the first all gold Sub was ref 1608). Like the yellow gold Submariner’s of the past, it came with either a black dial and black bezel or a blue dial and blue bezel. We have both at Diamonds By Raymond Lee in Boca Raton.  It bears all the characteristics of the iconic diver’s watch that is the Rolex Submariner – a 40mm Oyster case and screw-down crown with waterproofness of 1,000 feet, unidirectional graduated bezel, date window magnified by a Cyclops eye, a highly luminescent dial, and an Oyster bracelet with an Oysterlock clasp.  The Rolex 16618 has the longest production run of any Submariner, starting in the 1980s and ending in 2010. It holds a special place in the timeline of the Submariner as it marks a transition from its heritage as an upscale tool watch manufacturer to the standard bearer of luxury. It gave us an unadulterated diver’s watch with an opulent yellow gold case, bracelet and dial accents. It is one of the most luxurious watches you can find. It just so happens it also epitomizes the genre of dive watches.  All in all, the Rolex 16618 represents a passage of the Submariner from vintage to modern, which is why many collectors call the it a “neo-vintage” (new vintage) watch. Although in 2020, reference 16618’s from the early years should rightfully be considered vintage, no holds barred. 
What year is the Rolex 16618 Submariner featured in this review from?
This particular Rolex Submariner 16618LN watch hails from 1993, so it is an S series. You’ll notice the old style perforated lugs – voluminous, defined and even side to side. You can also see the Swiss Made T-radiation signature above the 6 o’clock, indicating that it is from the tritium era. Many Rolex 16618’s from the early 90s had their dials replaced with Luminova dials during servicing in later years, but not this one. It has all of its original parts, making it a canonical collector’s piece. 

18k Yellow Gold Rolex Submariner 16618LN Black Dial Black Bezel Features

The Rolex 16618 is extremely versatile. From the beach to a dinner party, it’ll fit in with supreme precision. That said, it does have a very Miami feel thanks to its sumptuous yellow gold composition, making it the consummate fit to our collection at Diamonds By Raymond Lee in Boca Raton. Rolex enthusiasts love this watch for its more compact, vintage-style size, the workhorse calibre 3135 movement, and its very attractive feature set. It is easily one of the most iconic Submariner watches ever made. In fact, it is one of the most iconic gold watches in history. Having this watch on your wrist is a status symbol through and through.  But let’s get more specific by looking closely at the characteristics that define this magnificent luxury dive watch…

40mm Oyster Case

The Rolex 16618 features a polished and satin finished 18k yellow gold Oyster case.  The 18k yellow gold alloy is made by Rolex themselves. Because they operate their own foundry, they are able to control the entire design and construction process. Most would say Rolex has the finest yellow gold in the industry. We would agree. It will never wear or tarnish and with Rolex’s superb finishing, it has a luster that is unmatched.  In terms of size, this is a pre-Supercase, as the Supercase came out around a decade after, so the 40mm dimension is true to its on-the-wrist size. Moreover, it has the traditional Oyster case lug width and ergonomics, which actually the newest models (2020) this past year have reverted back to.  As for its profile, it is fairly slim. Despite the dive bezel, the watch can easily slide under a dress cuff at 12.mm thick.  All in all, the case is quite compact for a 40mm. Lug to lug, it measures an even 48mm. 
Water-Resistance to 1,000 Feet. 
Being that it is a Submariner, the case provides 1,000 feet of water resistance via the inventive Triplock crown and case back.

Yellow Gold Oyster Bracelet & Oysterlock Clasp

Like the case, the iconic, ultra-sporty Oyster bracelet and clasp is made from Rolex’s very own 18k yellow gold. It features a beautiful combination of polish and satin finishing.  Even in the 90s Rolex had the design down pat. The inner side of the bracelet has ergonomics that form to the wrist and the perfect spacing between links so it can aerate without ever pinching skin or pulling hair.  Furthermore, the Submariner 16618 comes with a folding Oysterlock clasp. It has a fold-out wetsuit extension, allowing the size to be adjusted in seconds so a diver can wear the watch over their wetsuit.  Needless to say, the clasp was developed for absolute security. As such, it will never accidentally open. Altogether, the bracelet was designed for the utmost durability and comfort, for both land and sea.  Note: Because this is an entirely original model from the early 90s, the bracelet is made with hollow end links. With that the watch is noticeably lighter than newer models with their solid end links. 

Black Unidirectional Diver’s Bezel 

One of the most recognizable visual aspects of the Submariner is its functional bezel. It is a black aluminum insert bezel with 18k gold 60-minute graduations. The outer edges of the bezel are ridged for easy gripping with divers gloves underwater.  The purpose of the bezel is to ensure that divers can accurately monitor their diving time and decompression stops.  Simply line up the luminescent pearl with the minute hand and you have an impromptu 0-60 minute timer for diving. Another important feature of the bezel is that it rotates unidirectionally, rather than bidirectionally. This change from a bidirectional Submariner bezel to a unidirectional bezel came in the late 70s, and it is a very vital one. With the bezel being unidirectional, it can only rotate in a way that shortens the dive time. Although the bezel doesn’t rotate so easily that it will move when you don’t want it too, if it was to accidentally rotate, you surely wouldn’t want it to rotate in a way that extends your dive time. With limited oxygen in the tank, you can see how crucial this is. The unidirectional function completely solves this issue. 
Uses for the Submariner Bezel on Land:
While the Submariner is a diver’s watch at heart, it is a luxury watch that non-diver’s love too. In fact, the vast majority of people who own a Submariner don’t even dive. After all, the watch is as much a tool as it is a fashion statement and status symbol. So, if you are not a diver, you may be wondering how you can use the functionality of the diver’s bezel for daily life… With the bezel, you can track the time all sorts of things, such as runs, bike rides, drives, business meetings, and any other task you can think of. Anything that requires nailing down a specific elapsed time in 60 minute increments is perfect for the Submariner.  Personally, we love the simplistic functionality that the Submariner bezel provides. It much easier read for elapsed time than a chronograph and its far more practical considering most chronographs don’t even give you a 60 minute register (plus you don’t have the same chronograph service costs down the line). 

Black Dial

The dial of the Rolex 16618 will pull you right in. It’s stunning, spacious and luxurious. It is characterized by the Submariner’s iconic circle, rectangle and upside-down triangle hour markers, and the Mercedes-style hands, all of which are made from yellow gold and generously filled with lume. In dark setting, which the murky waterworld is, having ample lume is obviously essential. The Submariner doesn’t miss a beat. The base of the dial is a black gloss with a gilt style printing in gold. Additionally, being that this is a date-Submariner, it has a date window at the 3 o’clock.  Overall, the dial is completely “no-nonsense” and it is entirely Submariner. There is no other dial in the world like it. 

Calibre 3135 Perpetual Movement

The Rolex Submariner 16618 comes with the highly precise and reliable calibre 3135 movement. This is one of the most famous workhorse movements Rolex has ever made. After all, they used it in many of their most popular watches for multiple decades.  It is a Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified, which means it passed the extremely stringent COSC test in Switzerland. With that, the watch will always keep a +2/-2 seconds per day. The Calibre 3135 also features a Parachrom hairspring, which increases the watch’s resistance to shocks and temperature variations. Of course, this is a very beneficial element for a sports watch like the Submariner. 

ROLEX SUBMARINER 16618 PRICE

When the yellow gold Submariner 16618 came on the market in the early 90s, it was retailed for $10,000. The price steadily rose over the life of its production. Obviously it has been discontinued for over a decade now so you can no longer get it at retail. You can only get this watch on the secondary market, where it commands anywhere from $22,000-$30,000.  While the watch is not very difficult to find, one from the early 90s in great condition and with all of its original parts is hard to come by… At Diamonds By Raymond Lee in Boca Raton, we have the black dial black bezel yellow gold Rolex Submariner 16618 in amazing condition and with all of its original parts. We are selling it for an unbeatable price of $22,995.  We also have the blue dial, blue bezel yellow gold Rolex Submariner 16618 for sale! And here is a review of it too!

Is the Rolex 16618 Submariner a good investment?

For those who bought this watch in the 90s, it was a great investment. The watch has more than doubled its original retail price. This already says a lot about the current invest-ability of the Submariner 16618. We expect this watch will continue to grow in value now that it has reached vintage status. At the very least, it will remain at its currently value, so you will not lose any value after purchasing it, meaning you could resell it down the line for a minimum of what you paid for it. The best part is, it is super easy to sell as it is a very coveted model. In the realm of the Submariner, the 16618 is a legend.  See the full sales listing and pricing details for the yellow gold black dial Rolex Submariner 16618

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