Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: NINE Geneva Saturday, May 11, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1961
    Reference No: 5512
    Movement No: D17'401
    Case No: 661'971 caseback further stamped 1.61
    Model Name: Submariner
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1560, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel pin buckle
    Dimensions: 39mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Rolex fitted box

  • Catalogue Essay

    The Submariner line is not only one of the best known in Rolex’s production, it also presents one of the most interesting evolutions - especially in its first years of production - which yielded some of the rarest and most collectible timepieces on the market. The present example is a very early version of reference 5512. Launched in 1959, the model was the first Submariner to feature crown guards, and it is distinguished by its chronometer-certified movement.

    The present early production piece from 1961 is particularly attractive as it reunites a multitude of unusual and sought-after traits, making it an extremely collectible piece.

    The black glossy dial presents a radium dot at 6 o’clock unmistakably identifying this as an “exclamation mark” dial - the name coming from the ensemble dot and index, which resembles an exclamation mark. Such dials were in production only during a short period of time between 1961 and 1962 and are one of the first attempts to identify a lower radiation count compared to earlier dials. In fact, the harmful effect of radiation was at that time in the process of being identified and regulated. Exclamation mark dials still feature radium - tritium will come immediately after - but in much lower amount than earlier specimens.

    The case also boasts a particularly collectible trait: the pointed crown guards (or “Cornino” – literally “small horn” in Italian). The genesis of this detail is extremely interesting. The very first crown-guard cases featured large square crown guards. When clients complained about the bulkiness of this feature, Rolex filed away the square crown guard of the cases they had in stock, leaving only a small pointed guard. Thus, the “Cornino” was born. Successive cases will be produced with the flat crown guard which became the standard for the reference.

    The black glossy exclamation mark dial, pointed crown guards and overall attractive condition make this timepiece a watch for the shrewd collector of rare Submariners.

  • 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.

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Ref. 5512
A fine, attractive and very well preserved stainless steel automatic wristwatch with center seconds, exclamation mark dial and pointed crown guards

39mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

CHF20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for CHF32,500

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Sale
+ 41 79 637 1724

The Geneva Watch Auction: NINE

Geneva Auction 11-12 May 2019