Reference 6538 was introduced to the market in 1955 as an upgraded version of the reference 6200. It was depth rated to 200 meters (660 ft), featured an 8 mm. crown with no crown guards. Between 1956 and 1958, a special issue of the model was made for the British Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy.
Reference 6538 came to international fame when it was worn by 007 Agent James Bond in the movie "Dr. No", played by Sean Connery. It was first seen in the movie when Bond enters a bar and checks the time on his watch while lighting a cigarette. He then presses on the dot, or "pearl" at 60 units and blows up an explosive device that was previously planted by him. Of course, Mr. Bond keeps his composure throughout. To Rolex collectors, the reference 6538 is often referred to as the "James Bond" model, a name associated with a legendary movie series that will live on for generations as will the watch itself.
Reference 6538 is characterized by a gloss dial with gilt designations, 8 mm. Brevet crown, and a slighter thinner case design than its forefather ref. 6200, thanks to the new thinner caliber 1030. Early models, such as the present watch, are distinguished by a closed minute ring, lollipop seconds hand (with big luminous dot), and bezel with red triangle. The present watch is also notable for its lighter luminous numeral at 6 o'clock, an additional sign of originality.
The model is illustrated in Rolex Submariner by Guido Mondani & Lele Ravagnani, pp. 90 & 91.