Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: XV Geneva Saturday, May 7, 2022 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1972
    Reference No: 5513
    Case No: 2'940'785, inside caseback stamped 785. Outside caseback stamped with military issued numbers 0552/923-7697 and unit number 801-72. Caseback further stamped III.70
    Model Name: Submariner, “MilSub”
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1520, 26 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Nylon
    Dimensions: 39mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    Military-issued Rolex Submariners are among the most sought after vintage Rolex sport watches, designed specifically for the British Ministry of Defense (MOD) they were used in warfare and on special missions. According to research, about 1'250 units with the following reference numbers were shipped between 1971 and 1979: 5513, double reference 5513/5517, and 5517.

    Instead of designing a new model, Rolex modified the current timepieces to meet the standards set down by the British Ministry of Defense. They are now known as "MilSub." For improved readability, "MilSubs" have large sword-shaped hands and a dial with a ringed "T" denoting the usage of luminous tritium. A spinning bezel insert calibrated for 60 minutes, rather than the ordinary 15-minute calibrated bezel, was another peculiarity. To avoid the fitting from failing, the military demanded a hack (stop seconds) function as well as permanent, fixed spring bars soldered to the lugs. The caseback engravings on the military and civilian versions are also distinct, with the current lot bearing the "0552" code for the British Royal Navy and "923-7697" for NATO followed by the issue number, "801", and year of issue, "72". The inside caseback on this watch is repeated with the last 3 digits of the serial number, which is correct for a special order watch.

    This reference 5513 is in excellent overall condition, with crisp reference numbers between the lugs and on the caseback, as well as the military engravings. The luminous markers and sword hands on the original dial have developed a gorgeous deep and charming patina adding to this timepiece's desirability.

  • 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. 5513
A very rare and highly attractive stainless steel military diver’s wristwatch with fixed bar lugs made for the British Navy

39mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

CHF100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for CHF151,200

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East

+41 22 317 81 81

Tiffany To
Head of Sale, Geneva

+41 22 317 96 63

The Geneva Watch Auction: XV

Geneva Auction 7 - 8 May 2022