• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1353

    Important Pocketwatches and Wristwatches

    12 May 2008, Geneva

  • Lot 24

    Rolex. A rare stainless steel self-winding water-resistant wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, made for the British Royal Navy


    Price Realised  


    Rolex. A rare stainless steel self-winding water-resistant wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, made for the British Royal Navy
    Signed Rolex, Oyster Perpetual, 660ft=200m, Submariner, ref. 5513/5517, case no. 3'926'911, manufactured in 1975
    Cal. 1520 nickel-finished lever movement, 26 jewels, the black matte dial with encircled "T" indicating the military use, luminous dot, baton and dagger numerals, luminous sword hands and luminous sweep centre seconds, black revolving bezel calibrated for 60 units, screw down crown, in tonneau-shaped water-resistant-type case with fixed bar lugs, screw back with engraved broad arrow, military issue numbers W10/6645-99-9237697 and unit number 988/79, case, dial and movement signed
    40 mm. diam.

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    The present watch is one of the exceedingly rare models of a small series of watches of reference 5517 ordered in the early 1970s by the British Royal Navy. It is furthermore preserved in outstanding, original condition, with beautifully preserved dial and the original bezel with the sixty minute marks, exclusively reserved for this special edition.

    Destined for the Special Boat Service or "S.B.S.", one of the world's best trained Special Forces, this Submariner model was adapted following the specifications requested by the British Ministry of Defence and attributed reference number 5517. The watches had to be fitted with fixed bar lugs with a diameter of at least 2 mm. The dials had to be easily readable and were therefore equipped with the larger "sword" hands. They also had to show the international symbol for Tritium, the encircled "T". The hack feature allowing the precise setting of the time was another specific request which found entry in the 5517 production.

    The models furthermore had a unique bezel with sixty minute marks rather than only the first fifteen minutes. The outside of the case backs were marked with the military broad arrow sign, Ministry of Defence issue numbers and unit number. Furthermore the inside of the case backs repeated the serial number which is commonly only found between the lugs. The present example furthermore features the reference number "5517" underneath the lower left lug.

    The Royal Navy's Special Boat Service (SBS) is the lesser-known sister unit of the British Army's Special Air Service (SAS) regiment. Based in Poole, Dorset, the SBS is a special forces unit specializing in operations at sea, along coastlines and on river networks. Previously known as the Special Boat Squadron, members of the SBS are exclusively drawn from The Royal Marines.

    Few watches appeal to such extent like the military proven reference 5517. Its close association with the harshest environments, secret missions and agents, most notably James Bond, lend it a flavour of adventure and lived history of the cold war years.

    Special Notice

    Prospective buyers should be aware that the importation of Rolex watches into the United States is highly restricted. Rolex watches may not be shipped into the USA and can only be imported personally. Generally a buyer may import only one watch into the USA. For further information please contact our specialists in charge of the sale. Please note other countries may have comparable import restrictions for luxury watches.