Sub and Sea-Dweller
Always a reference for over 50 years
The Watch Quote™ - February 20th, 2004
Half a century later, her Majesty the Submariner is still a major reference
The first developments on the SUBMARINER appeared in 1955.
In 1958, ROLEX introduced the 5510 and 5508.
The first, produced until 1962, was simply a modified version of the 6538. This watch has a ROLEX caliber 1500 (the reference that introduced a more modern balance wheel produced by Stella, with free-standing spring and screw adjustment, more precise than the 1030).
The “chronometer” certified watches carry a new inscription “OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER.”
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) a dial with inscriptions in gold, usually without the maximum depth indicator, not interchangeable with those of other models, a bezel with a red triangle and 8mm winding crown.
This model could be seen as a kind of prototype, somewhat like the 6240 for the COSMOGRAPH with screw-in buttons.
The 5508 also had the same fine case as the 6536s, from which it was descended.
It was launched with caliber 1030, and then equipped with caliber 1530 until production ended in 1962.
You can find it with inscription and indicators in either gold or white.
As with all the SUBMARINERS examined until now, it has a 6mm. winding crown without the protective surround, and with finer milling than today’s models.
These models are all commonly called James Bond, even though at the start, collectors only referred to the 6538 by this name.
The first modern model of the SUBMARINER, reference ROLEX 5512, finally came out in 1960.
Characterized by a case that is almost identical to the one we know now, it has a large winding crown with very pronounced protection and milling, and equipped with calibers from the 1500 series, the 1530 and the 1570.
Production continued until 1977.
Almost all the 5512s (that the 6538 replaced as the ground-breaking model) obtained chronometer standard. The standard dial has white inscriptions and indicators. However there is a series that was produced with the SUBMARINER inscription and depth indicator in gold for the US, which from the 1960s had become the market reference for all ROLEX watches.
In 1962, the 5508 was replaced as standard model by the 5513, without the chronometer certificate. It can be found not only with the two calibers adopted for the 5512, but also with the1520. Examples also exist with inscriptions in gold.
From the end of the 1970s, until production ceased in 1989, the indices are in the form of small metal circles surrounding the luminous material.
The first examples of these references have very tapering winding crown surrounds (like the first GMTs, ref. 1675, known as the great horns.)
For the 5512 and the 5513, there is also a version known as the TROPICALE with an original dial in brown rather than black, and with gold inscriptions, a colour close in tone to the dove grey of the COSMOGRAPH.
All the models we have looked at so far are made in stainless steel.
In 1965, with the SUBMARINER 1680, ROLEX introduced two brand new features: