Origins and creation of the legendary Submariner

The Submariner was first revealed in 1953

and went on show to the public as reference 6204
at the Basle Fair in Spring 1954

At that time, few watch lovers foresaw the fantastic future ahead of this new ROLEX. Essentially intended for those involved in extreme sports and dangerous professions, the watch didn’t conform to the prevalent standards of elegance at all, and yet…


The first 6204 SUBMARINER on the market featured a bi-directional lunette without minutes marked between 1 and 15. Its hour hand was straight (unlike the Mercedes type in current use), and at the tip of the second hand there was a luminous circle (which is now higher up the hand). The SUBMARINER name is inscribed in gold on the dial. The depth limit is 600 feet. In the ROLEX 600 series, the watch was an A260 caliber. The case and back are both very fine, and the winding crown, without surround is 6mm in diameter. The model was in production until 1956.

First developments

Two of the first developments on the SUBMARINER appeared in 1955.

The 6205, was almost identical to its predecessor, with the same caliber and other characteristics. But there was no SUBMARINER inscription on the dial. The maximum depth limit was still 600 feet.

The 6200, caliber A296 (ROLEX 775). A thicker back and more curved profile with a depth limit increased to 660 feet/200 meters. The standard series carried the SUBMARINER inscription on the dial and had a 6mm winding crown.

Both models remained in production until 1957.

Comparing the original 6204 to the 6205 and the 6200, you can see that on the standard dial the inscriptions are in gold with no indication of depth, that the original design of the hands stayed in production for about a year and, until 1957, there was no 1 – 15 minute indicator on the lunette.

The 6200 had a variant of the dial produced only for the English market, named the Explorer. There is no SUBMARINER inscription and the hours are in Arab figures, in gold for 3, 6 and 9. The winding crown, measuring 8mm, was initially marked Brevet, and was the prototype for the future TRIPLOCK with three points, produced for 18 months between 1956 and 1958. This series still has the original lunette with the red triangle. The bigger winding crown was introduced to make it easier to use while wearing gloves.

ROLEX adopts the caliber 1030.

In 1956, ROLEX unveiled the SUBMARINERS 6536 and 6538, which can be found with caliber A296 as well as caliber 1030 (bi-directional winding rotor). The first version of the 6538 still has a rounded back of the Bubble-back type. The second version of the 6538 is distinguished by its more imposing case and the 8mm winding crown, as well as for the new caliber 1030. This model is known as the 6538A. The triangle of the lunette can be red (as for the English 6200). Its maximum depth limit is 660feet/200 meters, compared to 330 feet/100meters for the 6536. Models of caliber 1030 have their own reference: 6536-1. Adopting the caliber 1030 enabled higher precision, and from the end of 1958 we start to find 6538s carrying the inscription OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED CHRONOMETER on the dial. These models usually have hours and inscriptions in gold (depth indicator and chronometer in white). They remained in production throughout 1960.

Superlative Officially Certified Chronometer

In 1958, ROLEX introduced the references 5510 and 5508.The 5510 (produced until 1962) was simply a modified version of the reference 6538. You can find the 5510 with calibers 1530 or 1520, which differ from one another only by the number of alternations per hour: 18,000 and 19,800. Dial with inscriptions in gold (generally without maximum depth indicator) and 8mm winding crown.

The new 5508 inherited the same case as the 6536, and was its direct descendant. Launched as 1030 caliber, it subsequently became 1530 caliber until production ceased in 1962. It can be found with white or gold inscriptions. It still has a 6mm winding crown without surround.

These models are often called the JAMES BOND, but the 6538 is the only reference that really merits this name.

From Daytona
to the Cosmograph Daytona

a lot
very much indeed
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