• Important Watches auction at Christies

    Sale 2858

    Important Watches

    11 June 2014, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 86

    Rolex. A Rare Stainless Steel Automatic Wristwatch with Center Seconds, Hack Feature, and Military Markings, Made for the British Royal Navy

    SIGNED ROLEX, OYSTER PERPETUAL, 660FT=200M, SUBMARINER, REF. 5513, CASE NO. 3'826'499, CIRCA 1972

    Price Realised  

    Rolex. A Rare Stainless Steel Automatic Wristwatch with Center Seconds, Hack Feature, and Military Markings, Made for the British Royal Navy
    Signed Rolex, Oyster Perpetual, 660ft=200m, Submariner, Ref. 5513, Case No. 3'826'499, Circa 1972
    Cal. 1520 automatic movement, 26 jewels, black matte dial with encircled "T" indicating the military use, luminous dot, baton and dagger numerals, luminous sword hands, luminous center seconds, tonneau-shaped water-resistant-type case, faded black revolving bezel calibrated for 60 units, fixed bars, screw down crown, screw back with military issue numbers 0552/923-7697 and unit number 223/74, case, dial, and movement signed
    39.5mm diam.


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    Reference 5513 was launched in 1962 and depth rated to 200 meters. It was advertised in Rolex catalogues until 1989. It was preceded by the reference 5512, which was regarded as the first "modern" Submariner model. Not bearing the words "Officially Certified Chronometer", the reference 5513 initially had gilt script on the dial, but around 1967 or 1968 Rolex began using white printing for the dial.

    During the first part of the 1970's, Rolex supplied watches to the British Ministry of Defense with the reference 5513 and later began supplying watches with double references 5513 on the case and 5517 below a lug. During the last half of the decade, Rolex supplied a special reference used only for the British Armed Forces, the reference 5517 - matching what was done for Comex, with the reference 5514.

    The Military version of the Submariner reference 5513 was adapted to include specific requests by the British Ministry of Defense. These requests included fitting the watches with fixed bar lugs that were a diameter of at least 2 mm. The dials needed to be easily readable, and therefore featured larger "sword" hands, and showed the international symbol for Tritium, the encircled letter "T". The hack feature allowed for precise setting of the time. The bezel was unique, featuring sixty minute markers, while standard reference 5513 models featured bezels that only had the first fifteen minute markers. The case backs were marked with the military broad arrow sign, Ministry of Defense issue numbers, and unit number. The Ministry of Defense issue numbers either began with 0552, referring to the navy or divers, or W10, referring to the army, mostly pilots. The inside of the case backs also repeated the serial number, which is commonly only found between the lugs.

    The outside of the case back of the present watch is engraved with the following markings:

    0552 for British Ministry of Defense, 923-7697 for the NATO code to indicate a wristwatch for divers, the Broad Arrow indicating the watch was owned by the British Army, and the issue number 223 and issue year 74.

    The present watch is a fine example of a Military Submariner reference 5513, and a rare opportunity for a collector to acquire one of these legendary references. The dial features luminous numerals that have aged to a cream color, matching the luminous material on the original "sword" hands. All other key elements that a Rolex connoisseur would expect to see are united in this example - fixed bar lugs, the encircled "T" indicating Tritium, a bezel with sixty minute markers that has faded to a light gray, and the issue numbers on the case back remain crisply engraved.

    An example of a Military reference 5513 is illustrated and described in Rolex Submariner History by Franca & Guido Mondani and Lele Ravagnani, p. 70

    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY OF AN AMERICAN COLLECTOR