A very rare stainless steel wristwatch with center seconds, hack feature and military markings, made for the British Royal Navy

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1974
    Reference No: 5513
    Case No: 3'764'757 repeated inside the case back. Caseback further stamped with military issue numbers 0552/923-7697 and and unit number 82/74
    Model Name: "Milsub"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1520, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: NATO
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel pin buckle
    Dimensions: 39mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Rolex pouch.
    Literature: The military reference 5513 is illustrated in 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, pp. 212-213

  • Catalogue Essay

    It is obvious why military watches are so collectible. They are rare and even more so in good condition, they have incredible history and most importantly they were never marketed, as they were issued to servicemen.

    In the early 1970s, the British Ministry of Defense commissioned Rolex for a special model to be worn by members of its armed forces. Instead of building a new model, Rolex decided to modify the reference 5513, a very capable diving watch and the perfect candidate for a military watch.

    These “Military Submariners”, or “MilSubs”, differ in many ways from standard production pieces as to comply with the specifications of the MOD. They feature thicker, sword-shaped hands for enhanced readability, a rotating bezel calibrated to 60 minutes, an encircled “T” on the dial indicating the use of luminescent Tritium, and solid steel bars fixed between the lugs, permitting the use of a nylon NATO strap that ensured a watch would not be separated from its wearer. Finally, the case back has the following engravings: 0552 for British Ministry of Defense, 923-7697 for the NATO code, the Broad Arrow characterizing all watches owned by the British Army, the issue number 82 and issue year 74.

    The present example, issued in 1974, is in remarkably original and unrestored condition, with all of its original militarized features perfectly intact. Both the reference and serial numbers finely engraved between the lugs are clearly legible and repeated to the inside the caseback, as the connoisseur would expect.

    One of the rarest Rolexes to appear on the market, the present “Mil Sub” can only find a top shelf position in the collection of singular Rolexes.

  • 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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Ο117

Rolex

Ref. 5513
A very rare stainless steel wristwatch with center seconds, hack feature and military markings, made for the British Royal Navy

1974
39mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

Estimate
CHF120,000 - 180,000 
€103,000-154,000
$127,000-191,000

sold for CHF175,000

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