Rolex - The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XI Hong Kong Saturday, November 28, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1959
    Reference No: 5512, inside caseback stamped III.59
    Case No: 478’000
    Model Name: Submariner, "Square Crown Guards"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1530, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel riveted Rolex Oyster bracelet stamped “7206”, endlinks stamped “58”, max length 200mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster deployant clasp stamped “1,60”
    Dimensions: 40mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, bracelet and clasp signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    The launch of the Rolex Submariner in 1953 was an incredible milestone for the firm as it was their very first serially produced professional diver’s wristwatch. While early examples of the Submariner featured an Oyster case with the absence of crown guards, Rolex introduced the ref. 5512 in 1959 being the first model to feature crown guards. Regarded as a major upgrade that would end up as a consistent feature in future Submariner models, the crown guards were implemented to provide enhanced protection of the crown while diving. Early examples of the reference featured square crown guards and believed by scholars that around 100 examples were produced. However, through further testing, it was realized that square crown guards proved inefficiency for diver’s to adjust the crown while gloved. To solve this issue, Rolex re-polished examples with square crown guards with a more tapered style and dubbed as the eagle beak crown guard. It is believed that out of the 100 examples initially produced, only a handful of examples were retained with the square crown guards, making them extremely rare. According to our researches, examples bearing the eagle beak crown guards are seen starting from serial 478’1XX.

    Early examples of the reference were fitted with “glossy” black lacquered dials with various iterations with minor adjustments in details before it was transitioned to “matte” dials in approximately 1966. With a design that is extremely similar to its counterpart ref. 5513, the ref. 5512 is certainly rarer as it features a chronometer certified caliber 1530, and is today highly sought after by collectors. The earliest dials for the ref. 5512 (referred as Mark I dials) are in close resemblance to its predecessor ref. 6538 with an “Old Font” coronet identifiable via the last “spike” on the far right extending further than others. Two dial variants were available during the period, both featuring a chapter ring, one with two lines of text and the other with four lines of text. However, the earliest examples of the ref. 5512 with square crown guards only featured a dial with two lines of texts with “four-liner” dials only appearing in slightly later examples of the reference featuring “pointed” crown guards. Furthermore, the dial features depth rating printed with silver texts above the gilt “SUBMARINER” inscription above 6 O’clock. The bezel insert with a red triangle is a distinct feature for early examples of ref. 5512, commonly featured in its previous references with the absence of crown guards.

    The present example Rolex Submariner ref. 5512 featuring a “glossy” black “2-Liner” dial with chapter ring and square crown guards from circa 1959 is an extremely rare sight. Believed by scholars, the production of the reference started with serial 478’XXX stamped in between the lugs. The present example bears a 478’000 serial indicating that it is perhaps the very first example of the reference that has left the manufacture. With a well-preserved case and a dial that correlates to the specific period, the desirability of the present timepiece is further heightened. The bezel insert is nice with an aged appeal exuding a greyish tint developed over time with its red triangle and pearl intact. With a combination of rarity, historical relevance and condition, this present lot is a discovery that will certainly generate interest from connoisseurs of important vintage timepieces.

  • 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, inside caseback stamped III.59
An extremely rare, highly important and early stainless steel diver’s wristwatch with center seconds, “glossy” black lacquered “two-liner” dial, chapter ring, square crown guards and bracelet

Circa 1959
40mm diameter
Case, dial, movement, bracelet and clasp signed

HK$625,000 - 1,250,000 

Sold for HK$1,512,000

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi

Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2031

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XI

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2020