For over six decades, the Rolex Submariner has been a symbol of luxury, precision, and adventure, all at the same time. Among its numerous models, the Rolex Submariner 5513 stands out as a timeless classic that has captured the hearts of collectors and enthusiasts alike.
While it was not the first Rolex Submariner, the reference 5513 has been favored by divers, adventurers, and watch communities around the world for its durability, accuracy, and elegant design.
From its origins as a tool watch for divers to its status as a luxury item, we will examine the enduring appeal of the Submariner 5513 and why it remains one of the most coveted and iconic watches in the world.
Key Features of the Rolex Submariner 5513
The Rolex Submariner 5513 is known for its enduring design and quality. Introduced in 1962 and produced until 1989, it possesses many of the hallmarks of the Submariner (such as the 40mm case and crown guards), while having a distinct vintage look that sets it apart from today’s models.
Here are key features of the Rolex Submariner 5513:
1. Bi-directional bezel: The Submariner 5513 features a bi-directional rotating bezel, allowing divers to easily track elapsed time while underwater. This works well alongside the 200 meters or 660 feet of water resistance. Rolex only began producing unidirectional bezels sometime after 1983 (when Blancpain’s patent period expired), making the 5513 the last Submariner to have a bi-directional rotating bezel.
2. Luminescent hour markers: The black dial of the Submariner 5513 is adorned with luminescent hour markers, providing clear visibility in low-light conditions. The dial can come in gilt, matte, or gloss finishes depending on the production year, all with Mercedes hands large enough for quick time checks.
3. Oyster case: The Submariner 5513 is housed in Rolex’s signature, stainless-steel, Oyster case, that measures 40mm.
4. Screw-down crown: The screw-down crown of the Submariner 5513 helps ensure water resistance up to 200 meters / 600 feet and protects the watch from damage.
5. Automatic movement: The Submariner 5513 is powered by an automatic or “self-winding” movement, mainly the Calibre 1530, which harnesses energy through the motion of the wearer’s wrist. The vintage movement is not chronometer-certified, which made this reference more affordable and hence more popular than its predecessor, the 5512.
Together, all these features make the Rolex Submariner 5513 a highly functional and reliable timepiece that has become the quintessential vintage Submariner. <>
A Brief History of the Rolex Submariner 5513
The Rolex Submariner 5513 is a vintage no-date Submariner, introduced in 1962. Intended to be a more affordable version of the highly successful ref 5512 released a few years prior, it features a non-chronometer certified movement. This means that the watch has not been certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) to meet strict accuracy standards. However, this does not mean that the movement is any less reliable.
In fact, Rolex movements are known for their exceptional accuracy and reliability, and the Submariner 5513 is no exception. The movements used in the 5513 (starting with the Calibre 1530, and later on the 1520) are self-winding, non-date calibers with a frequency of 19,800 beats per hour and a power reserve of approximately 42 hours.
The Calibre 1530 features a balance wheel with a microstella regulating system, a Breguet overcoil, and KIF shock absorbers, all of which contribute to its precision and durability. To keep production costs to a minimum, the Breguet overcoil was replaced with a flat hairspring later on.
While some collectors prefer chronometer-certified watches for their added assurance of accuracy, the non-certified movement of the Submariner 5513 has not detracted from its reputation as a high-quality and reliable timepiece. In fact, some collectors appreciate the fact that the 5513 was produced during a time when chronometer certification was not as common, and see it as a nod to the watch’s vintage and historical appeal.
The lack of the chronometer certified label also keeps the dial’s simplicity and de-clutters the text compared to the previous and more expensive 5512.
Over the years, the Submariner 5513 underwent a few changes, including the addition of a new movement and changes to the dial and bezel. However, the watch remained largely unchanged in terms of its core design and functionality.
Despite being discontinued in the late 1980s, the Submariner 5513 has remained a highly sought-after timepiece among collectors and enthusiasts. Its timeless design and enduring reputation have made it an icon in the world of luxury watches, and it continues to be a symbol of precision, quality, and adventure to this day.
Rolex Submariner 5513 Variations
Due to its long production period, there is a large number of variations in the design of the Submariner 5513. These are most notable in the dials, hands, bezels, bracelets, and even tiny details like the shape of the crown guards on the side of the case.
The earliest examples of the Submariner 5513 featured a dial with a high gloss gilt finish, radium lume, and a pointed crown guard built into the case. You’ll find that as time passes, the dial remains glossy but black, the crown guard became more rounded, the print on the dial came in white with tritium lume and newer applied hour markers in white gold.
In between those two poles there was a short era where all the dials came in matte instead of gloss, with the white text and tritium lume paint. During this middle era there were also plenty of tiny changes from the shape of the Rolex coronet, to the order of the units for the depth rating, the dial signature at 6 o’clock, and even the size of the hour marker plots.
In regard to those variations, here are some of the most notable ones that can be found in vintage Submariner 5513 watches.
Pointed Crown Guards (1962-1963)
The first generation of Submariners, which lasted from 1962 to 1963, had pointed crown guards. They were introduced in 1962 and discontinued the following year. This was a short-lived model that only saw two years of production before being phased out in favor of later versions of the Rolex Submariner 5513 with rounded crown guards and other aesthetic alterations.
Explorer Dial (1962-1965)
The Explorer dial variation features numerals at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions, similar to the dial on the Rolex Explorer.
Underline Dial (1963-1964)
Some of the early models featured an underline beneath the “Submariner” text on the dial, indicating a transition to a new type of luminescent material.
Double Swiss Underline (1963)
The very rare and highly sought-after variation of the 5513, the Double Swiss Underline feature two lines of text on the dial beneath the “Oyster Perpetual” text and at the bottom of the dial there are two different ‘Swiss’ signatures.
Gilt Dial, Open Chapter Ring (1964-1966)
The text is no longer white, but gold on the dial. The gold text shines nicely against the glossy black dial and the chapter ring is open.
Bart Simpson (1966)
These Submariners were the last to feature the gilt text. The style of the coronet is what gives the name though. Collectors found that the points of the coronet on the dial logo are flattened and resembled Bart Simpson’s hair from the iconic cartoon.
Matte Dial, Meters First (1967-1969)
The matte black dial has white gold markers was a significant change from previous dials. The depth rating displayed in the dial text came in meters first, rather than feet first.
The MilSub, or military Submariner, was a special edition of the Rolex Submariner 5513 created for the British Royal Navy in 1972 and one of the rarest and most sought-after Rolex watches ever.
These watches came with MOD specs that included fixed bars, tritium lume, sword hands, and a 60-minute bezel with every minute marked rather than only every 15 minutes.
Matte Dial, Feet First (1969-1982)
Much like the other matte dial, this variation placed feet first in the depth rating text rather than meters.
Gloss Dial, White Gold Markers (1982-1989) – Last Generation
The last generation of this model was produced between 1982 and 1989, and it featured a glossy dial with white gold markers. With white gold hands as well, it provided a more luxurious look compared to earlier models.
Who Wears the Rolex Submariner 5513?
The Rolex Submariner 5513 has been worn by a wide range of notable individuals over the years, from actors and musicians to politicians and even astronauts.
As one of the most famous Rolex watches it’s no surprise it’s been seen on the wrists of Steve McQueen, John Mayer, Orlando Bloom, Vanessa Redgrave, Gordon Ramsey, Roger Moore (as James Bond), Gordon Lazenby (also as James Bond), and David Beckham.
Steve McQueen's Rolex Submariner will go up for auction at @PhillipsWatches in October. Can the King of Cool's ref. 5513 break the $17.8 million record set by Paul Newman's 'Paul Newman' Daytona? Read the exclusive secret history of this grail watch: https://t.co/nEEbOWAz0z pic.twitter.com/cwSRo345W7
— ForbesLife (@ForbesLife) June 5, 2018
Rolex Submariner 5513: Final Thoughts
The Rolex Submariner 5513 combines the vintage charm and modern gloss of the Submariner. Coupled with its place in the Submariner collection’s history, these traits have made it one of the most sought-after and collectible watches ever made.
If you’re looking to add a Rolex Submariner 5513 to your collection, or would like to know more about this reference, contact our watch experts at SwissWatchExpo.