Let’s clear up a few things because one of my first articles ever on Fratellowatches, was about the modern classic Rolex Submariner 14060M. I made the claim that it was essentially a perfectly designed watch due to its excellent dial symmetry, but also because it lacked that odd protrusion of a feature: the Cyclops. I also made it very clear that there are only 2 types of Subs: the Submariner and the Submariner Date. There is no such thing as a Submariner “No Date” – that’s just silly. So, it shouldn’t surprise you that it was actually a struggle to pull the trigger when a very honest Rolex Red Submariner came up for sale some five years ago for a very reasonable price. But…the head lurched in front of the heart and made the decision because, if nothing else, a well bought vintage sports Rolex is a sound investment.
I had just moved to Germany five years back when my Dad shot me a note stating that a Canadian jeweler outside of Toronto had received a Rolex Red Submariner in on trade and had put it up for sale for around $5,000 Canadian. (This dealer also had a lovely 1675 that neither of us jumped on – ugh). I hemmed and hawed a little, but, admittedly, there was also a little voice inside of me that became really excited because, honestly, I never thought I’d be able to find an affordable vintage sports Rolex again.
Rolex, in its self-pronounced desire to push innovation, claimed that it was the first time it was able to produce such a deeply rated watch with a Cyclops. They claimed the bubble as a potential source of weakness that they were finally able to overcome with technology. Well, heading back to the late 1960’s and the Rolex Red Submariner, the brand took a page from the contemporary Detroit era of cars – as in, there’s no cure for cubic inches. In Rolex’s case, though, they mounted what now looks like an absolutely insane crystal that’s now known to collectors as a “Top Hat”. Essentially, in order to withstand the 200M depth rating inclusive of the famous Cyclops, a ridiculously thick crystal was fitted to the Sub. When I say ridiculous, we’re talking mm’s upon mm’s. In today’s world – or at least back in the 1980’s – it looks like a Plexiglas special. It’s so damn ridiculous that the thing loses its near 90-degree corners on everything from desks, door jambs, and whatever else. But, it’s endearing and I had to find a NOS one…
Taking a closer look at some details on the Rolex Red Submariner, you’re met with some really cool features that just don’t exist in today’s Subs. I’ve been critical of modern Subs for being too modular and blocky looking. I hope you’ll like these macros because I think it shows off some of the best details within this beauty. Let’s start with that bi-directional bezel.
When it comes to rare luxury watches that are sure to turn heads there are few that are as desirable as the Military Rolex Submariner 5513. Forget finding one of these watches in mint condition. Finding one at all is a victory for most collectors. The Royal Navy had about 1200 made in the 1970’s. It is said by some experts that only a few hundred exist in their original condition. Many of these watches have had parts replaced or have been destroyed over the years.Take a close look at the Milsub’s dial and you should be able to quickly spot a large T in a circle.The T was marked on this watch to indicate the presence of tritium.
The dial is also a dead giveaway as two which reference of the Military Submariner you might have. The markers on a reference 5517 will have a much bolder look than the 5513 shown above.
Moving on to the watch hands you will notice that the Military Submariner’s arms can be a little different than the standard 5513. The Military issue 5513 sports one of two variations. The first uses the standard Mercedes hands. The latter will utilize two sword hands and has no Mercedes emblem. The Omega Seamaster has similar sword hands, which some people have used as replacements. A good collector should inspect the hands to ensure that they are in fact original.
The Bezel of the Milsub 5513 was specially crafted with an insert that may contain markings all the way around. The case is a standard 5513 but the spring bars are fitted with metal bars that use a NATO type strap. Because of this configuration the MilSub’s are not seen with a stainless steel strap unless modified.
The caseback has a very unique set of symbols and numbers that will be different depending on the delivery date. Some of these models were delivered with Mercedes hands and others with 15-minute bezels. Identifying the correct reference before making an evaluation of a Milsub will be important.On the back of each case there is a MOD number that begins with 0552 or W10. A triangle with a hat will be displayed directly below the issue and year numbers.
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