Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

Historical Perspective – The Classic Vintage Submariner, The Reference 5512 and 5513

| By Monochrome | 3 min read |

At a certain time in the history of the no-date Rolex Submariner, collectors will commonly accept the switch from vintage to modern references. This moment appeared at the end of the 1980s when Rolex launched the Submariner reference 14060. However, prior to this watch, two references were manufactured, both extremely close in design and specifications, the Reference 5512 and 5513. And because it is the Submariner with longest production period, it has to be seen as the absolute Classic Vintage Submariner, as our “columnist extraordinaire” Paul Altieri (Founder and CEO of Bob’s Watches) will explain here.

Although Rolex’s Submariner is their most successful and iconic line of watches, not all Submariner references are considered equal among collectors. The basic design of the Submariner has not changed since its inception in 1953; however, it has undergone a wide variety of subtle changes and updates throughout the years, as Rolex worked to refine and improve its design.


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The very first Submariner references from the mid-1950s did not have crown guards like their modern counterparts. While these early examples have become quite rare and valuable today, crown guards have become a hallmark trait of the Submariner line. To many Rolex collectors and enthusiasts, the classic vintage Submariner is made from stainless steel with an acrylic crystal and features crown guards but no date complication. Two particular references that epitomize this definition are the 5512 and the 5513.

Rolex Submariner 5512 Vintage

The reference 5512 was introduced in 1958 and marked the introduction of crown guards to Rolex’s Submariner line. A few short years after the release on the reference 5512, Rolex introduced the reference 5513 in 1962 and proceeded to simultaneously manufacture both watches for a number of years thereafter, until they were discontinued in 1978 and 1989 respectively.

Rolex Submariner 5513 Vintage

At first glance, the two Submariner references appear identical; and even after a closer examination, a trained set of eyes would be hard pressed to identify any major differences.  In all actuality, the only areas in which these two Submariner references differ are the calibre of movement inside, and the accompanying lines of text printed on their dials that denote the difference in movement.

Generally speaking, the reference 5512 Submariner contained a chronometer-rated movement, certified by COSC, while the reference 5513 did not. Due to this subtle difference, the reference 5512 Submariner received two additional lines of text on its dial that read, “Superlative Chronometer / Officially Certified” to indicate that the movement has undergone and passed the rigorous standards of COSC testing.

Rolex Submariner 5512 Vintage

Not all reference 5512 Submariner watches received COSC rated movements; and early examples of the reference 5512 were fitted with the same exact calibre movement that Rolex used in the early examples of the reference 5513, making the only difference the reference number engraving on side of the case.

A large part of the appeal of the reference 5512 and the reference 5513 is that these watches pre-date the widespread adoption of applied, white gold hour markers and synthetic sapphire crystals to the Submariner line. Their thick, domed acrylic crystals and an assortment of possible dial variations give them an inherently vintage look and feel, while the rest of the watch is very much identifiable as the same Submariner that everyone has come to know and love.

Rolex Submariner 5513 Vintage

Due to the longer production run and lower price-point of the reference 5513, surviving examples are more plentiful and generally less expensive than comparable reference 5512 equivalents. Prices can range dramatically depending on condition, dial type, and provenance; however, both the reference 5512 and the reference 5513 Submariner are considered classics and are highly sought-after by collectors today.

This article is part of our Historical Perspective Series focused on the Rolex Submariner. You can find the 4 episodes here:


This article has been written by Paul Altieri, Founder and CEO of Bob’s Watches, who has been kind enough to share with us his passion and knowledge, as well as the photos of this article.

2 responses

  1. Thanks to Mr. Altieri for these articles and sharing his historical knowledge of such an iconic watch.
    Despite the fact I am not a fan of the brand I’ve to admit that the story of the brand is really interesting – especially when well told.


  2. Thank you very much for the information. I was cleaning my Rolex today and figured out it was a 5513 by the makings and now with your explanation, I guess it was at the end of the run of 5513.

    I purchased mine at the Rolex Store in Geneva Switzerland on January 11th 1989. At the time this trip for my brother and I as French Canadians living in Montreal was tremendous we stayed in Europe from Jan 1st to the 28th.

    My brother certified me as crazy spending $660 CAN to buy this watch…. He has since readjusted his statement from crazy to lucky!!!! It was however a big investment for this 24 year old at the time. I have never regretted it and the watch has been with me through thick and thin. All that is left from that trip are awesome memories and a terrific watch!!!!!

    Thanks again for the information.

    GL Harvie

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