Red Sub Buyers Guide

Buying a Red Submariner

by Ed Delgado

A lot of vintage collectors like to buy a watch with all of the papers, manuals, boxes and tags, but that is a rare occurrence these days unless one is willing to part with up to a thousand or more over just the watch itself.   Here’s what might be suggested when buying a red submariner:

Try to buy the watch from the original owner.  While this is also not an easy thing to do, it does happen.  While the watch might not have the original goodies, an original owner has probably taken better care of the watch over the years.

Buy a watch that will have a service invoice from a Rolex Service Center.  The dial with red is noted on invoice.  While not “definitive” authenticity, this is accepted by most collectors.  A caveat to this is that the watch serial should really fall into the 1973 serial range.  Some speculate that the red subs were produced into the late 1970’s due to the literature as late as 1978 picturing a red sub, but there are a very few collectors that would buy a red that dates outside the range of ’67 – 73.

If you find a red sub that has neither of the above characteristics, see if the seller will allow you to have a return policy so that you can have the watch checked out by Rolex or your own watchmaker. An honest seller should have no problem with that at all.

If you’ve never ventured into buying a vintage watch, let alone a red sub, do your homework.  Stare at a lot of dials; there are many variations during the different production years, especially since Rolex used more than one dial manufacturer.  GOOD LUCK!


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