1980s Vintage Rolex Watches Ultimate Buying Guide

1980s Vintage Rolex Watches Ultimate Buying Guide

Let’s face it. The ’80s weren’t a lovely an ideal opportunity for watchmaking – or for configuration when all is said in done, so far as that is concerned. All things considered, Rolex was never one to attempt to rehash an already solved problem or toss out past plan codes. It additionally didn’t endure so severely during that time either, compared to a large number of the other brands in the business. Sitting right at the limit of what could be viewed as vintage Rolex watches , the different references from the 1980s frequently don’t convey a remarkable same cachet as pieces from the ’60s and ’70s; nonetheless, various inconceivably significant vintage Rolex observes first showed up during the 1980s, and they have become progressively well known in later years.

What does this mean for authorities? Indeed, in addition to other things, it makes for a whole decade worth of Rolex watches that are even more achievable than their more established partners (at any rate for the time being). These 1980s Rolex watches will probably never fully get up to speed to an incredible same degrees of significant worth and collectibility as their more established partners, however as broad premium in them (and costs) have been on the ascent, they make for profoundly appealing alternatives for those that need a vintage Rolex yet who would prefer not to essentially contribute however much what is needed to acquire one of the amazing blue-chip models from the prior long stretches of Rolex’s history. With that as a primary concern, here’s a small bunch of Rolex models from the New Wave and Synth-Pop period of the 1980s.

1980s Rolex Watches

Notable Rolex Watches from the 1980s

–Rolex Submariner ref. 16800 and ref. 16803

–Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 16760

–Rolex Day-Date President ref. 18038 and ref. 18078

–Rolex Daytona ref. 16520 and ref. 16523

–Rolex Datejust ref. 16233 and ref. 16234

–Rolex Milgauss ref. 1019

Click here for our complete purchasing guide on Rolex Watches.

Rolex History Leading to the 1980s

Rolex presented a considerable lot of its column models during the 1950s, including the Submariner, GMT-Master, and Explorer. It was a period of extraordinary advancement and accomplishment for the company that had become a vital participant in the extravagance watch industry. The brand’s proficient arrangement watches were among the best available, offering unrivaled precision and durability.

That all changed during the 1970s when the worldwide watch industry saw an extensive move from mechanical watches to those controlled by modest quartz developments. Japan had ascended through the positions as the top watch maker, taking steps to bring down the whole Swiss extravagance watch industry. The ASUAG bunch alone saw a sharp reduction in all out creation of 80% during this time. To compete, Rolex delivered their own assortment of quartz-controlled watches as the Oysterquartz arrangement. Through exact, very much made developments and exemplary Rolex styling, the company endure what has since become known as the Quartz Crisis of the 1970s.

The SWATCH Group

During this time, the SWATCH bunch was framed, blending the ASUAG and SSIH, remembering a few weighty hitters for the extravagance watch industry. Lead by Nicolas G. Hayek, the SWATCH bunch delivered the SWATCH watch, a moderate and exceptionally exact watch proposed to compete with the Japanese market. The consolidation of the two gatherings, otherwise called the SMH Group by 1985, would end up being a savvy move as by the 1990s, it was perhaps the best watchmakers on the planet and assumed a critical part in saving the injured Swiss watchmaking industry in the wake of the Quartz Crisis.

During that trying time, Rolex consistently pushed the limits, proceeding to advance and improve its mechanical types, in spite of making its own quartz developments. The 1980s saw different moves up to its developments, including the autonomous 24-hour hand inside the GMT-Master II arrangement and the arrival of the greater beat types 3135 and 3135. The sapphire gem likewise turned into a staple all through the brand’s portfolio. The Submariner got a more secure uni-directional planning bezel, and numerous games watches made the progress to hour markers encompassed in white gold, denoting the change from exemplary vintage styling to the sumptuous and current esthetic that presently accompanies a significant number of the brand’s models.

Popular Rolex Watches from the 1980s

For many watch marks, the 1980s were a period of reconstructing with not many champion deliveries. Nonetheless, for Rolex, the 1980s denoted the presentation of various significant models that are currently celebrated by authorities and still held in high respect today.

Rolex Submariner 16800 – Transitional Reference

We will begin our rundown with an exemplary Rolex Submariner since the ref. 16800 is one of those models whose generally low valuing still confounds us. First presented at the finish of the 1970s, in numerous regards, the ref. 16800 the most amazing aspect the two universes for an ‘more seasoned’ Submariner. This reference is the model that refreshed the line to the speedy set Cal. 3035 and that likewise added a sapphire precious stone to the assortment for the absolute first time.

The ref. 16800 Submariner is a temporary model, and models can be found with both matte and gleam dials with white gold hour markers. The model additionally falls into the window of utilization of tritium for the dial and hands, which ages with its own exquisite character, regularly building up a rich and warm patina. This combination of present day and retro attributes makes for an extraordinary day by day wearer, in addition to you can in any case gather up a genuine model for under $10k.

Case Size: 40mm

Materials: Stainless steel

Dial: Matte dark w/printed markers; Gloss dark w/white gold markers

Bezel: Unidirectional, hour long planning scale, Black aluminum insert

Crystal: Sapphire w/Cyclops amplification lens

Movement: Cal. 3035

Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

The ref. 16800 assumes a significant part in the Rolex Submariner’s set of experiences, making the progress from vintage to current. For around $10k, you can add one to your watch box – not an awful arrangement at all when you consider the cost of comparable vintage Submariner references.

Rolex GMT-Master II 16760 – Coke Bezel

Another evident decision for our manual for 1980s Rolex watches is the ref. 16760. In wording of fantastic things to surface in the watch world during the ’80s, the Coke bezel GMT-Master II is one of the not very many. Believe it or not, this terrible kid was dispatched in 1983 and was the absolute first of the GMT-Master II models to highlight the then-new Cal. 3085 movement.

The ref. 16760 GMT-Master II denoted the beginning of the autonomously movable hour hands for Rolex. It was additionally the reference that got known as the ‘Fat Lady’ or the ‘Sophia Loren’ in light of the marginally thicker case expected to house the new, further developed type. As the main reference in the arrangement and the model that previously presented the red and dark “Coke” bezel, the Rolex GMT-Master II 16760 is profoundly collectible.

Case Size: 40mm

Materials: Stainless steel

Dial: Gloss black w/white gold markers

Bezel: Bidirectional, 24-hour GMT scale, Black and Red “Coke” aluminum insert

Crystal: Sapphire w/Cyclops amplification lens

Movement: Cal. 3085

Bracelet: Oyster or Jubilee Bracelet

The reference 16760 ‘Fat Lady’ GMT-Master II was just created for around five years somewhere in the range of 1983 and 1988 and it was just at any point offered with the alternative of a Coke bezel. Contingent upon the general state of the specific watch, you can add one of these to your assortment for anyplace somewhere in the range of $10k and $15k on the used market.

Rolex President 18078 – Bark Texture

Although enormous and grandiose gold things were actually a result of the ’70s, a major assertion piece similarly had its place during the 1980s. For this event, there’s no greater assertion than a strong gold Rolex Day-Date, particularly one with a Presidential wristband with bark finished focus joins, coordinating bark finished bezel, and a Tiger’s Eye dial.

Like other stone dials found in the Rolex index, a piece of this current model’s allure is the effortlessness of its dial, completely without any lists other than the applied crown and printed text. The reference 18078 originally showed up in the last part of the ’70s, and keeping in mind that it absolutely isn’t the solitary reference to at any point utilize this style dial, the strong yellow gold Rolex President is a watch that is symbolic of the 1980s

Case Size: 36mm

Materials: 18k yellow gold

Dial: Tiger’s Eye stone dial (other alternatives likewise available)

Bezel: Fixed, 18k yellow gold w/”Bark” surface finish

Crystal: Sapphire w/Cyclops amplification lens

Movement: Cal. 3055

Bracelet: President Bracelet

The bark-finish Rolex Presidential Day-Date in strong 18k yellow gold is normally recorded for around $13k on the used market. In light of that, the cost can fundamentally be affected relying upon the style of the dial and the general state of the watch itself.

Rolex Datejust 16234 – Stainless Steel and White Gold

On the considerably more unobtrusive side of the currency, we chose the Rolex Datejust 16234 for the straightforward explanation that it’s a great representation of something somebody fresher to the gathering interest could get for themselves as an ideal “first Rolex” without burning up all available resources. While the two-tone steel and yellow gold ref. 16233 is presumably more significant of the period, the all-white metal completion of the reference 16234 offers a more flexible esthetic that fits in impeccably with the present trends.

Often seen under the $6k mark, these 1980s Rolex Datejust watches are spotless, vigorous, and accessible with a wide range of dials. Estimating 36mm across, they are the exemplary size of Rolex’s men’s watches, yet this is an exceptionally adaptable size that works entirely on practically any wrist. Blending a treated steel case and arm band with the additional extravagance of a strong 18k white gold bezel, the Rolex Datejust ref. 16234 is entirely appropriate for ordinary wear and use, offering clients 100 meters of water-resistance.

Case Size: 36mm

Materials: Stainless steel and 18k white gold

Dial: Multiple dial choices available

Bezel: Fixed, 18k white gold, Fluted style

Crystal: Sapphire w/Cyclops amplification lens

Movement: Cal. 3135

Bracelet: Oyster or Jubilee Bracelet

The cost of a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust ref. 16234 is dependent upon the watch’s condition, alongside other factors like the style of dial and arm band fitted to the watch. The ref. 16234 regularly sells on the auxiliary market for around $5k or $6k, as the utilization of both treated steel and 18k white gold permits the watch to keep a moderate value point while likewise offering the advantage of valuable metal.

Rolex Daytona 16520 – Stainless Steel

Another Rolex watch that originally shown up during the 1980s was the brand’s first programmed winding chronograph, the Rolex Dayton reference 16520. First showing up in 1988 and highlighting a self-winding development that was a vigorously adjusted rendition of the Zenith El Primero. Frequently alluded to as “Pinnacle Daytona” watches because of their utilization of a reevaluated development, this age of Daytona watches holds the qualification of being the last Rolex model to include a development that was not planned and constructed altogether in-house by Rolex.

Along with being the principal programmed Daytona, this age of Rolex Daytona observes additionally addresses the first occasion when that the brand’s assortment of chronographs had been created with a 40mm case size, alongside the primary example of both crown-watchmen and sapphire precious stones being highlighted on the assortment. Rolex offered both two-tone and strong 18k gold forms of this age of the Daytona, however it is the exemplary tempered steel ref. 16520 that numerous gatherers consider the point in the assortment’s set of experiences when Rolex’s incredible chronograph previously began to take on its advanced form.

Case Size: 40mm

Materials: Stainless steel

Dial: Black or White w/white gold markers

Bezel: Fixed, Stainless steel Tachymeter scale

Crystal: Sapphire

Movement: Cal. 4030

Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

Due to their significant and vital spot throughout the entire existence of the Rolex Daytona, reference 16520 watches ordinarily sell for somewhat more than their later-period partners with hardened steel bezels and in-house developments. To the extent estimating for the Rolex Daytona 16520, most models begin at around $22k on the used market and increment from that point contingent upon dial tone and in general condition.

Rolex Submariner 16803 – Two-Tone Steel and Gold

We couldn’t discuss the 1980s without additionally discussing two-tone watches, presently right? In fact talking, the two-tone pattern’s foundations return to the ’30s, yet it was during the ’80s when the downturn hit, financial plans fixed, and the possibility of more ‘reasonable’ extravagance products truly grabbed hold in watchmaking. Those needing a touch of blaze for somewhat less money immediately fancied the two-tone pattern, and Rolex was glad to convey with its unique Rolesor finish.

The Rolex Submariner was one of numerous models to land in the two-tone heap, which was not all that astonishing given that a strong 18k yellow gold model had showed up during the past age. In numerous regards, this move set the Submariner’s situation as being the same amount of a superficial point of interest as a piece of plunging gear. As the initial two-tone Rolex Submariner, the reference 16803 imprints another time for the brand’s famous plunge watch assortment, and at $7-$9k on the used market, the ref. 16803 addresses a genuine deal compared to its hardened steel counterparts.

Case Size: 40mm

Materials: Stainless steel; Stainless steel and 18k yellow gold

Dial: Black w/yellow gold markers; Blue w/yellow gold markers

Bezel: Unidirectional, hour long planning scale, Black or Blue aluminum insert

Crystal: Sapphire w/Cyclops amplification lens

Movement: Cal. 3035

Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

Currently quite possibly the most reasonable choices inside the whole Submariner assortment, yet illustrative of a significant time in the model’s set of experiences, the first two-tone hardened steel and gold Rolex Submariner 16803 can be yours for just shy of $10k on the optional market.

Rolex Milgauss 1019

A Rolex watch delivered during the 1980s that is regularly disregarded is the Milgauss 1019. As the model was first presented toward the start of the 1960s and stayed underway until the last part of the 1980s, it frequently gets overlooked by gatherers. Notwithstanding, the reference 1019 is an emphatically vintage watch and one of only three Rolex Milgauss references at any point created. Offering noteworthy attractive obstruction and certain vintage engage the reference 1019 Milgauss will speak to genuine gatherers who appreciate a watch with a fascinating story to tell.

The reference 1019 was created until around 1988 when the arrangement was suspended altogether. It wasn’t until the ref. 116400 was delivered twenty years after the fact that the Milgauss made its re-visitation of the market. Ref. 1019 highlights unassuming styling with a case estimating 38mm in measurement (up 2mm from 36mm to accommodate the delicate iron Faraday confine inside), a smooth bezel, and a steel-on-steel finish. The watch is against attractive up to 1,000 gauss and is controlled without anyone else winding innovation. This list of capabilities was deliberately intended to suit the individuals who work around profoundly attractive fields, like researchers and powerplant workers.

Case Size: 38mm

Materials: Stainless steel

Dial: Black w/white gold markers; Silver w/white gold markers (no-lume “CERN Dial” variations)

Bezel: Fixed; Stainless steel w/smooth finish.

Crystal: Acrylic

Movement: Cal. 1580

Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

A moderately modest number of Rolex Milgauss 1019 watches were delivered, notwithstanding the model’s unimaginably long creation run of just about 28 years. Notwithstanding being created all through the 1980s, the reference 1019 itself really traces all the way back to the 1960s and is an inside and out vintage Rolex apparatus watch. Thus, reference 1019 watches are uncommon, with costs going from around $25k to more than $30k on the used market.

Rolex Date 15053 – Engine-Turned Bezel

Rounding out our 1980s Rolex watches manage is the darling Oyster Perpetual Date. Like the famous Datejust, the Date is water-safe, works on a programmed self-winding development, and highlights the brand’s particular hopping date system. Notwithstanding, what sets the Date 15053 separated is a somewhat more modest 34mm case matched with a motor turned bezel in strong yellow gold. Ledge a man’s watch, however with a case distance across adequately flexible to be worn by nearly anybody, the Rolex Date ref. 15053 slimes vintage beguile, while as yet being totally appropriate for regular use.

The 34mm Rolex Date has been underway for quite a long time and still remaining parts a piece of the brand’s assortment today. Be that as it may, no other edition of the model encapsulates the substance of 1980s watch esthetics very like the ref. 15053 with its two-tone case finish and strong gold motor turned bezel.

Case Size: 34mm

Materials: Stainless steel and 18k yellow gold

Dial: Multiple dial choices available

Bezel: Fixed, 18k yellow gold, Engine-turned style

Crystal: Sapphire w/Cyclops amplification lens

Movement: Cal. 3055

Bracelet: Oyster or Jubilee Bracelet

When it comes to reasonable, section level 1980 Rolex watches, the Oyster Perpetual Date ref. 15053 is difficult to beat. It midpoints around 4K on the used market and offers Rolex’s notorious two-tone styling at an essentially lower value comparative with comparable 36mm Datejust watches.

Final Thoughts

If you’re similar to numerous extravagance watch devotees, the historical backdrop of a watch is similarly pretty much as significant as its list of capabilities, and the 1980s Rolex watches remembered for this guide don’t disillusion. Whether you’re looking for a conventional instrument watch in treated steel or a sumptuous strong gold dress watch, there is a Rolex from the 1980s to suit each wrist and budget.