This post is not a history lesson but an examination of the details that distinguish dial variants from oneanother. It is meant to be a tool to help collectors determine what dial they're looking at, and whether it is consistent, matching, and appropriate for the rest of the watch.
The white-dial 1680 has it's own variants and is not covered in this article. As does the 18K yellow gold version (1680/8) which is the subject of its own dedicated post.
When discussing dial variations of the stainless steel 1680, we're really concerned with small variations in lettering and dial surface finshing.
The Marks (Mk) break down into three groups
- Earlier and rare Meters-first (MkI, MkII, MkIII)
- Later and more common Feet-first (MkIV, MkV, MkVI)
- Luminova service dials (MkVII)
Across the collections, Rolex commissisoned dials from Singer, Beyler, Stern, and Lemrich. While each would have employed tampography, minor variations can be expected. Dial plates baring the names Singer and Beyler are most common on the red Submariner dials, but a few are known to be made by Lemrich.
Between them, at least seven dial variations (Mk1 to MkVII) are thought to exist. Each Mk is distinguished by their lettering and tampography characteristics. Most of the differences are seen in the specificaition text on the lower half of the dial. However, close examination of the coronet will also show some very minor differences in the spape of the open elipse and the outline of the bottom half of the coronet.