A “beater” needs to be something more than a watch for everyday wear. It needs to tick several boxes. First, it does need to be robust and reliable. It needs to be a watch that can cope in most circumstances. Rolex immediately comes to mind. However, for me, my daily wearer also needs to be a watch that I enjoy looking at. There needs to be an aesthetic appeal as well as a pure functional aspect. That narrows the range down quite materially.
Rolex has, for me, always been the epitome of a sports watch. Tough, reliable, can take a hit yet always looks good to my eyes. However, given that a daily beater will inevitably spend a lot of time on my wrist, I need something extra to maintain my interest in the watch. It needs something extra to keep me from losing my interest in it. This is why I put together my Top 10 Rolex Beaters list from the post-1990 era, but was not currently in production.
The aim was to identify watches that are cool in their own right, great references, modern and robust, but with a twist – an element of rarity. To my mind, it was marrying the concept of a daily wearer with a twist. I wanted my “most desirable” list to be priced in a $5000-$20000 range, with the majority of the watches in the bottom half of that range.
I don’t think there is a point in calling it a Top 10 as that will imply that No.1 is somehow “better” than No.10. So, I will produce the list randomly so that no inference will be made. I am attaching the links to the six articles I wrote last year in case anyone wishes to re-read any of it as all of the 10 watches are encompassed in those six articles.
To re-iterate, the aim of the list is to provide members with watches that I consider to be outstandingly cool beaters at a price that is not crazy. The watches will represent what I think is a fantastic value to rarity ratio.
No.1: Reference: 16610 LV “The Kermit”
No.2: Reference: 16760 “The Fat Lady”
No.3: Reference: 16700 (Swiss)
No.4: Reference: 16700 (Swiss made)
No.5: Reference: 16710 (Swiss)
No.6: Reference: 14060 (Swiss)
No.7: Reference: 14060 4-line with Long F – “The LGF”
No.8: Reference: 16570 (Swiss) “The Red Sox”
No.9: Reference: 16710 (Stick dial)
No.10: Reference: 168000 “The Zubmariner”
Every single reference from the above list represents a Rolex reference that I consider to be desirable. Five GMTs, four Submariners and one Explorer. It covers a broad range of different Rolex genre. Take the GMT 16700 (Swiss made) for example. Produced from 1988 to 1999, its end of production coincided exactly with the switch from Tritium to Luminova to Super Luminova.
However, in this instance, the end of the production curtailed the Super Luminova so much that hardly ANY “Swiss Made” dials exist. The “Swiss” only is a rare variant of this reference. But in this instance the “Swiss Made” is extremely rare. I have monitored this for some time. About 2% of all 16700s have “Swiss Made” on the dial. This is a very rare variant. As a reference, the 16700 was the very last GMT-Master. Late U-series or A-series serial number. A cool reference with a twist of rarity.
Similar type of rarity issues apply to each of the Top 10. Take the 14060 – LGF. The Submariner 14060 was the successor to the 5512/5513 and many people describe it as “the last of the best” as the reference retained the sleek crown guards and narrow lugs of its vintage predecessors. It has that vintage feel to it but at the same time is a thoroughly modern watch. Rolex introduced the 14060 Submariner in 1990 until 2002 and the 14060M from 2002 until 2012. Inside the 14060M beats the calibre 3130, featuring a full balance bridge (upgrading from the previous balance cock), a Breguet overcoil on the hairspring as well as a larger balance wheel.
The 14060M – LGF
The no-date dial gives a very strong symmetry to the watch, combined with a vintage feel and a totally modern robust movement to make it a very desirable watch indeed. With drilled hole lugs (the last Submariner to have them), the watch is easily transformed with a leather strap or Nato, though I have to say I think it works well with the original bracelet. The 14060M has a feel to it that very few modern Subs have. I would say it is a perfect example of the transition between vintage and modern.
Now, 2002-2012 represents a long period of production for the 14060M, but this production run saw a number of evolutions. The most important of these concerns the Chronometer certification that took place in 2007. Prior to this, the dial was a simple two-liner without the chronometer certification. From 2007 onwards, however, the dial carried the chronometer certification and was differentiated by a 4-liner text on the dial. Now, that makes the 4-liner produced for just 5 years and much rarer for Rolex. Most production runs exceed that. But 5 years still allows for a lot of production given how popular Rolex Submariners are.
The next evolution, however, is not something that is well-known. Looking at the 2-liner dial (ie before certification), one can see a certain type of script being used. In particular, the F used in 1000 ft has a particularly long tail to it. It is a Long F.
Now, if we take an example of a 4-liner dial from later in production, one can see that a different type of script has been used by Rolex for the post-chronometer period. It is a short F.
However, during the year of transition from 2-liner to 4-liner (2007/8), and only during that first year of production of the 4-liner, some of the Long F script dials were used on the 4-liners. When I say some, I mean a very small number. This is a rare dial anomaly that can be seen on the very first 14060M 4-liner dials. 4-liner with a Long F. The LGF
Each of the Top 10 “beaters” has a story to tell. If anyone wants specific details about any of these Top 10 and why I consider them perfect beaters, please contact me through the contact tab on this blog.