There is something magical about the gilt dials on the early Submariners. Up until the mid 1960’s, these gorgeous dials were hand-crafted works of art. Their manufacture was unthinkably complex and cost of production, as a result was very expensive. Sadly, the gilt dials were later replaced with matte dials in the mid-60’s and ultimately, glossy enamel dials in the early 80’s.
What was remarkable about the gilt dials is that the writing, minute markers and chapter ring was not printed, but were in fact underneath the black galvanized layer, peeking through in negative relief.
Tempus-Machina uses the exact same process used to create the gilt dials of old for the 216A. The dial of the ref 216A is unmatched by any other watch dial made today.
The modern Rolex Cerachrom bezel insert is indeed a marvel of technology. Fabricated under intense heat, its surface is virtually scratch-proof. Juxtaposed against the gilt dial, the bezel beautifully frames the watch face creating a balanced mixture of modern and vintage.
However, the early Submariner steel bezel were punctuated with the famous red triangle at the 12 o’clock position. As such, our intention was to mirror this lovely feature by introducing a proprietary porcelain triangle to replace the sapphire insert pearl.The result is an insert that truly pays homage to its early ancestors.
When the 6538 was first introduced 60 years ago, a distinguishing feature of Rolex sport watches of that era was the long, elegant lugs. A key feature were the graceful bevels (or chamfers) that so beautifully traced the profile of the case from tip to tip. Over the years, the bevels gradually narrowed in size, until the late nineties, where they all but disappeared.
The ref 216A encapsulates the essence of the early Bond Subs with the re-introduction of these classic bevels and narrower lugs. Bevels have always been cut and polished by skilled artisans; a skill that is quickly becoming a lost art. At Tempus-Machina,we’ve spared no expense in sourcing the finest craftsman to produce this essential detail. We didn’t stop there. 1.25mm lugholes were drilled into the case such that the classic vintage 2mm spring bars can be used.
Lugholes have not been used by Rolex for over 20 years.
The early rotating bezels of the 6538 were characterized by a “coin-edge” profile around the outer edge. This unique bezel was quickly replaced by the thicker, scalloped bezel in 1960 and has remained as such until today. Could we re-introduce a coin edge bezel for the 216A? The answer is a resounding yes!
At Tempus-Machina, we painstakingly transformed the 114060 bezel into a work of art in its own right. The 216A’s bezel is distinguished by the coin-edge knurls of its vintage ancestors yet magically complements both modern and vintage features creating a truly unique timepiece.
Prior to the introduction of sapphire crystals in the early 1970’s, all Rolex tool watches feature crystal made of resilient acrylic plastic characterized by their rounded shape. The earliest of these domes had tall profiles and were often referred to as “superdomes”. Since the early 1980's, the Submariners sapphire crystals have been flat, which provided a very contemporary profile.
The 216A has a custom-made sapphire crystal that embodies the taller dome structure of the plexi Superdomes. The crystal provides the structural integrity of sapphire, yet possesses an appealing dome shape that sets it apart from any modern Rolex available today.
The earliest Rolex subs were monikered “Big Crowns”; and for good reason. The 6538 featured a robust 8mm wide “Brevet” crown that was made even more prominent since the case did not have protective crown guards. The 216A shares the same 8mm crowns and the beefy crown guards of the 114060 were meticulously trimmed to expose the crown in the same fashion of vintage models.