Watch collecting is filled with such wonderful minutiae – each variation and discovery is like a Geneticist discovering new aspects of the human genome – while some attributes remain theoretical, others have been verified and peer reviewed into their place as facts; like those empirical facts – here are two which are not in dispute, chiefly, Italy Limited Edition models prove Italians have more wrist swagger. Secondly, the unassailable allure of Submariner red fonts.
A Primer: The allure of submariner red fonts
In the late 70s, Rolex Submariner ref. 1680 started to see small dial variations, imperceptible to the casual onlooker but obviously different to the Rolex aficionado, among the differences were Mark I and Mark VI dials from the earliest models with submariner red fonts – they were nicknamed “Red Subs”. Meanwhile, the Mark VII and Mark VIII dials began to have white text and with their ubiquity and the relative rarity of “Red subs” – the cult and allure of Submariner red fonts began to grow, by the mid-70s, the red texts all but disappeared. Coincidentally, Rolex also introduced the Triplock locking crown system at this time to replace the Twinlock one; interestingly, the depth rating remained unchanged (but that’s another story for another time). Which brings us to this point, if one line of red text on a Submariner is charming, two lines are outright seductive, what will three lines evoke?
“Italians already get the best wine and food but somehow the Italian market is so very important to most watch brands. Even the AP RO was created at first with the market in mind, the many Italian market Omegas and Italian edition Rolex models. Would be great if someone could explain what the heck is going on..” – unnamed collector
Evidence exhibit 1: Italy limited edition Tudor Black Bay Black “L’italiano”
Featuring not one, not two but three lines of red text which evoke an almost Pavlovian response to the model. Sure, one might argue that the relative newness of the Tudor Black Bay Black “L’italiano” doesn’t make it truly a red sub, the rarity of 50 pieces and made officially for the Italian watches forum “Orologi & Passioni” – probably increase its rarity and supply dramatically.
The Italy limited edition Reference 79230N-004 comes with a few firsts for Rolex group history. That alone makes this Tudor Black Bay Black “L’italiano” a serious grail-watch contender: For the first time, the caseback engraved and painted in black and individually numbered. Triple red watch specifications in red, also a first. If you thought Arabic numerals were distinctive, wait till you see the technical data written in Italian instead of English, also a first for the company. Finally, there’s the red tip seconds hand. Officially, he Tudor Black Bay Black “L’italiano” have already been sold to 50 lucky collectors who frequent Orologi & Passioni but if they were ever found on the re-sale market, you can but that the 50 piece limited edition models will be snapped up lickety split.
Italians have more wrist swagger, Evidence exhibit 2: Italy limited edition Omega Seamaster Co-Axial Master-Chronometer “Edizione Venezia”
When it comes to Italy limited edition models, the top three producers (in no ranked order) are Audemars Piguet, Rolex and Omega. For Omega, there’s a deeper symbolism when it comes to their relationship with Italy, in particular, Venice. The famed Seamaster motif was actually inspired by the city of Venice when a member of Omega’s design department became enamoured of the famed Italian gondolas and the gorgeously sculpted representations of Neptune’s Seahorse on each end of the gondola. These were eventually interpreted for use in Omega’s second most famous collection – the Seamaster and eventually, the Seahorse emblem became synonymous with the collection from 1957 onwards.
To those unacquainted, the new Italy limited edition Seamaster “Edizione Venezia” watches appear to have more in common with the dressy De Ville collection than the roguish, rough and tumble James Bond Seamaster collection but the historical context of the Seamaster is such that in the 50s – along with the famed Seamaster 300 series, there was also the rare Seamaster Geneve series (from when the factory was in Geneva) which had a dressier aesthetic.
Available in stainless steel or 18kt Sedna gold, the 39.5mm Italy limited edition Omega Seamaster “Edizione Venezia” also possesses a spherical “onion crown” but really reminiscent of the dome of St. Mark’s Basilica. Water resistant to 50 meters, the original Seahorse medallion has been laser engraved on the caseback with the automatic METAS-certified Omega manufacture Co-Axial caliber 8801 visible beneath. On the inner caseback ring are the engraved text: “SEAMASTER” and “Edizione Venezia”.
The Italy limited edition Omega Seamaster “Edizione Venezia” can only be purchased from Omega boutiques in Venice, or at Duty Free T Fondaco dei Tedeschi.