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Fine Watches / Rolex. A rare stainless steel Military automatic wristwatch issued to the Royal Navy Military Submariner, Ref 5513/5517, Circa 1975

Lot 44
Rolex. A rare stainless steel Military automatic wristwatch issued to the Royal Navy
Military Submariner, Ref: 5513/5517, Circa 1975
15 June 2022, 14:00 BST
London, New Bond Street

Sold for £195,600 inc. premium

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Rolex. A rare stainless steel Military automatic wristwatch issued to the Royal Navy

Model: Military Submariner
Reference: 5513/5517
Date: Circa 1975
Movement: 26-jewel Cal.1520 automatic
Dial: Black, Tritium T, luminous dot hour markers, baton quarters, white outer minute divisions, polished sword hands with luminous inserts, centre seconds
Case: Brushed and polished tonneau form, screw down back engraved 0552/923-7697 691/77, fixed bars, shouldered screw down crown, lug engraved 5517, case middle No.3926879, inside case back similarly numbered, stamped 1.72
Strap/Bracelet: Original fabric NATO
Buckle/Clasp: Buckle
Signed: Case, dial & movement
Size: 38mm


Rolex made the 'MilSub' as a direct order for the British Military through the Ministry of Defence. These were made with specific enhancements that set them apart from their civilian equivalent. The reference 5513 was the first of these to be customised for Military use by making the spring bars solid and friction welded into place negating the possibility of the spring bar being pulled out. As such all Military Submariners have NATO straps as the more normal straps or bracelets cannot be fitted to the solid lugs. The hands were replaced with the aptly named Sword hands to enhance legibility with Tritium luminosity signified by the T in a circle on the dial.

The case backs are engraved on the interior with the serial number and also on the outside case back with the Ministry of Defence issue number. The military numbers on the back of this particular watch refer to it being issued in 1977.

There are 3 series of the Royal Navy Military Submariner:

1.Standard Ref:5513

2.Double Ref:5513/5517 (5513 on case and back; 5517 on a lug) as with the present lot

3.Unique Ref:5517

As these watches were "tool watches" in the truest sense of the word, they were often repaired with service parts and in many cases heavily damaged during their years of use. The current lot is a prime example of this with its lack of bezel which the current owner, a professional diver, recalls losing on a dive in the 1990s. The current owner is the second person to own this watch having purchased it from the original Navy diver in the early 1980s.

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