An early, very rare, and beautifully preserved stainless steel wristwatch with black glossy "four-liner, exclamation mark" dial, pointed crown guards and bracelet

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1962
    Reference No: 5512, inside caseback further stamped III.62
    Movement No: D49'899
    Case No: 819'167
    Model Name: Submariner
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1560, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel riveted Rolex Oyster bracelet, reference 7206, end links stamped 80, max length 210mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp stamped 2.61
    Dimensions: 39mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, and bracelet signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by the original inner and outer box, original crystal, photos of the original owner wearing the watch, a letter from Commander J.M. Bannister of the Civil Engineer Corps, United States Navy, to original owner's mother discussing the owner's military service in the U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Ten, and two CDs with digital copies of the photos.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The joy of vintage watches is that they offer a wonderful glimpse into the past. One is able to imagine who wore the watch and the great life events that person may have experienced. It is rare, however, to have that past thoroughly documented, and even rarer to possess clear photos of the original owner wearing the watch. The present lot, a beautiful example of a Rolex Submariner reference 5512 with a much-desired glossy dial with gilt chapter ring, is accompanied by such documentation that vividly tells the captivating story of its original owner.

    It was purchased by the original owner's grandmother for her grandson, Carlton Carlson, in the early 1960s and subsequently gifted to him on the occasion of his high school graduation. The watch traveled with its owner to the Pacific Theater as Carlson had reported for duty with the United States Navy as a Builder Constructionman Apprentice. She had it engraved 'Carlton From Grandma 1963', crisply visible on the caseback to this day. Carlson pointed out to his grandmother the watch he coveted most of all - the Submariner, captivated by Rolex's advertisements of the time, as he had just received his scuba diving license and wished to have a proper diving watch.

    This lot is further accompanied by a letter dated January 24th, 1964 from Carlson's commanding officer in the U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 10 (known popularly as the "Seabees") Commander J.M. Bannister, to Carlson's mother Mrs. Gulah H. Carlson, along with newspaper clippings discussing elements of Carlson's military service. One details Carlson's involvement in "the largest combat amphibious operation since Inchon, Korea in 1950". This indicates that Carlson, and his watch, were among the first Seabees to enter what would become the Vietnam War. Indeed, in the compendium The U.S. Naval Institute on Marine Corps Aviation, Carlson's unit and its commanding officer are noted for "constructing the first SATS ever installed in a combat environment" - SATS being shorthand for Short Airfield for Tactical Support, and the "combat environment" being Chu Lai, Vietnam. The 10th battalion, nicknamed the "Men of Ten," was decommissioned in June 1976. It is known that Carlson wore his 5512 constantly during his two tours in Vietnam, but wore it only sporadically after he was discharged.

    With all this rich history, one cannot forget to expound on the rarity of finding such an early 5512 in such exceptional condition, regardless of the provenance. The present watch has so many desirable attributes of an early 1960s reference 5512: the pointed crown guards, a stunning and virtually flawless glossy black dial, perfectly preserved gilt chapter ring with the coveted "4-liner" designation printed in both silver and gold gilt, the exclamation mark at 6 o'clock, and a Mark I 'fat font' bezel insert. The current Submariner, preserved in unpolished original condition, is a storied example ready to accompany its discerning new owner on any sort of future adventure.

  • Maker Bio

    Rolex

    Swiss • 1905

    Founded in 1905 England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, it soon became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving its headquarters to Geneva in 1919. Like no other company, the success of the wristwatch can be attributed to many of Rolex's innovations that made them one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These innovations include their famous "Oyster" case — the world's first water resistant and dustproof watch case, invented in 1926 — and their "Perpetual" — the first reliable self-winding movement for wristwatches launched in 1933. They would form the foundation for Rolex's Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956, but also importantly for their sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.

    One of its most famous models is the Cosmograph Daytona. Launched in 1963, these chronographs are without any doubt amongst the most iconic and coveted of all collectible wristwatches. Other key collectible models include their most complicated vintage watches, including references 8171 and 6062 with triple calendar and moon phase, "Jean Claude Killy" triple date chronograph models and the Submariner, including early "big-crown" models and military-issued variants.

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Rolex

Ref. 5512, inside caseback further stamped III.62
An early, very rare, and beautifully preserved stainless steel wristwatch with black glossy "four-liner, exclamation mark" dial, pointed crown guards and bracelet

Circa 1962
39mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement, and bracelet signed

Estimate
CHF40,000 - 60,000 
€34,300-51,400
$42,300-63,500

sold for CHF95,000

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Sale
+41 22 317 81 81
aghotbi@phillips.com

The Geneva Watch Auction: SEVEN

Geneva Auction 12-13 May 2018