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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1974
    Reference No: 5513 and 5517 under the lug
    Case No: 3’926’923
    Model Name: Military Submariner
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, 1520, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: NATO strap
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel NATO buckle
    Dimensions: 40 mm. diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed, case back further engraved with military issue numbers W10/6645-99-9237697 941/79 and bottom of the lug engraved 5517
    Literature: For another example of stainless steel military Submariner reference 5517, please see 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, page 212.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The Military Submariner, or Milsub, is imbued with history. Made upon special request for the British Ministry of Defense, Milsubs were worn during combat and on special missions. Research suggests that approximately 1500 units were delivered, from 1971 to 1979 and less than a few hundred survive today in original condition. The present example, a double reference 5513/5517, displays reference 5513 between the lugs, and 5517 engraved under the lug.

    John Goldbeger's Opinion

    All Milsubs display special characteristics requested by the British government. While the Milsub’s subtleties are aesthetically pleasing to collectors today, these nuances were designed for specific military purposes. All dials displayed a military designated ‘T’ within a circle, which was the international symbol for Tritium. Most examples were also fitted with sword hands. Another feature was the 60-minute revolving bezel insert, instead of the typical 15-minute calibrated bezel. The government also requested a hack feature, non-reflective case and fixed bar lugs.

    Finally, all watches displayed military engravings on the case back. ‘W-10’ watches were recorded by Rolex as being delivered to the Central Ordanance depot in Donnington, England for onward delivery to the Army Air Corp.The inside case back on this watch is repeated with the serial number, which is correct for a special order watch.

    The characteristics above are all displayed on the present watch, which is very impressive. Reference 5513/5517’s particular components were never available for civilians, nor were they ever mass-produced. The existence of this watch is thus incredibly rare today.

  • Artist Biography


    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.

    View More Works


Ref. 5513 and 5517 under the lug
A highly rare stainless steel military wristwatch with revolving bezel, fixed bar lugs and military engravings, made for the British Military

Circa 1974
40 mm. diameter
Case, dial and movement signed, case back further engraved with military issue numbers W10/6645-99-9237697 941/79 and bottom of the lug engraved 5517

HK$640,000 - 1,280,000 

Sold for HK$1,625,000

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
International Department Head
+85 26 773 93 15

Rolex Milestones: 38 Legendary Watches That Shaped History

Hong Kong Auction 28 November 2016