Rolex 5513 Submariner Love

by bulang - Mar 08 2019
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial Mk5

Today we are going to celebrate one of our absolute favourite vintage watches, the Rolex Submariner reference 5513. Everybody remembers their first vintage watch and everybody loves their first Rolex 5513. It’s a watch that each of us at some point tries and becomes smitten by. Do you have one in your bank box or safe? If you do we hope this piece inspires you do take it out and wear it and love it. If you don’t then we know that you would love it once you buy it. It’s the watch that never gets old, boring or out of favour amongst collectors. And we love them. Not in a fleeting, here today gone tomorrow passing love, but a proper deep rooted “if we could keep only one watch” kind of way. So join us as we share our love of the 5513.

Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial Mk5
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial Mk5
Rolex 5513 Maxi Mk2 Submariner Wrist Fun

Timeless Time Telling

The 5513 was first introduced in the early 60s and it had an amazing 27-year run – nearly three decades. During this time, the 5513 underwent a number of significant changes; the vast majority on the dial. Sure, the fonts on the bezel inserts went through small incremental changes and the bracelets went from riveted links to solid links, via folded links. However, the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is really true in the case of the 5513. Its arguably perfect. In fact, here’s a challenge. What one thing would you change about the 5513? We’ll wait whilst you think. Finished? Yes, as we expected – you think its perfect as it is. Its dial is beautifully balanced, the case proportions are a delight and the way the watch sits on the wrist is almost magical.

Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial Mk5
Just the perfect size and balance on the wrist. For super comfortable, loose fit daily wearing
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial Mk1
Rolex 5513 Maxi Mk1

Cool School

As stated above, the only discernable differences in the development of the 5513 were the dial variations. It would be possible to dedicate an entire series of articles to the development of the 5513 dial, but for now we want to give you a very brief overview of the different dials that were used by Rolex over the 27 years and why we love them. For this overview we will divide them into three types – gilt, matte and glossy.

‘Gilt’

The 5513 only had a gilt dial for the first four years of its life. The gilt dials had a deep gloss finish, akin to a pool of black oil. The text and outer minute markers on these dials were gold in colour, which leads to the name gilt. The colour is actually the brass dial base showing through, as the dials were printed with the text ‘in relief’. These dials have a habit of aging in unpredictable and unique ways, often turning a shade of brown. This phenomenon is known as a tropical dial and is one of most highly prized of vintage sports watches. Gilt Submariners and Explorers are particularly well-known and coveted by collectors, but any black gilt dial can undergo this change and add real charisma to a watch. Check out our article about charismatic watches here.

Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Gilt Dial
Super warm looks and great case/bracelet proportions on the mid 60s Submariners. The riveted bracelet makes the case even pop more then later versions.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Gilt Dial
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Gilt Dial
Crazy patina and story – The South Pacific Submariner – Read the article here
Rolex 5513 Submariner Article at Bulang and Sons - Gilt Dial Tropical
Funky tropical Rolex 5513 Gilt Dial with crazy tiger stripe-like patina
Rolex 5513 Submariner Article at Bulang and Sons - Gilt Dial Tropical
Another tropical 5513 Gilt Dial from the 60th.
Rolex 5513 Submariner Article at Bulang and Sons - Gilt Dial Bart Simpson
Combined with the Caramel Vintage Style Watch Strap you can find here
Rolex 5513 Submariner Article at Bulang and Sons - Gilt Dial Bart Simpson
The so called ‘Bart Simpson’ dial version of the Gilt Submariner. The Rolex coronet says it all…
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Gilt Dial
Rare and very desirable 3-6-9 ‘Explorer’ gilt dial with underline. Check out our article on underline Rolex and Tudor here

‘Meters First’

In the mid-1960s Rolex began using dials with a matte black finish in the 5513s. The hour markers were painted with tritium and the text was printed in white. These dials are known as the ‘meters first’ due to the fact that the metres reading is the first on the dial.

Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Mtr's first dial - Article at Bulang and Sons
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Mtr's first dial - Article at Bulang and Sons
The depth rate is first in mtr.’s and followed in ft after.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Mtr's first dial - Article at Bulang and Sons
A crazy tropical brown Meters First Dial 5513 Submariner. The black dial changed to a brown hue. A very rare discoloration and only seen in a certain range of dials/serials for the matte dial Submariner.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Mtr's first dial - Article at Bulang and Sons
The crazy nice case details and of a late 1960s Rolex 5513 Submariner. Unpolished case and those beveled lugs are just magical to us.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Mtr's first dial - Article at Bulang and Sons

‘Non-Serif and Serif’

At the end of the 1960s the depth ratings were reversed and the feet-depth was placed first. For the next five or six years Rolex used these matte dials. About half way through this run the quarter hour markers, the oblongs and 3, 6 and 9, appeared with small serifs on the corners – leading to the name serif dials.

Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Non Serif Dial
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Non Serif Dial
Funny Detail – The Non-Serif Dial has some heavy serif typography in the ‘E’ of the ROLEX text. But only very small serif’s at the 3-6-9 markers. Just these little details that matter.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Non Serif Dial
“Every Rolex 5513 Submariner speaks with it’s own voice and story. Just a different inlay, patina of the markers, strap or plexiglass on top and the watch shows a different character. I have owned hundreds of them over the years and not a single one was the same. And every one of them had a great magic on the wrist” – Bernhard Bulang
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Non Serif Dial
Look just how different these watches look…
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Non Serif Dial
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Non Serif Dial
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Serif Dial
The Serif dial shows a different Typography and the typical serifs at the 3-6-9 markers.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Serif Dial

Pre-Comex

The last matte dials before the Maxis has been given the nickname ‘Pre-Comex’ by collectors. A phrase initially used by Rolex collector Ed Delgado on the VRF many years ago, it refers to the matte dials that were used in some of the Comex reference 5514 Submariners; Sub reference that was unique to Comex and not commercially available. Most easily recognised by the ‘smudged’ coronet and abundance of serif on the L of the ROLEX text, these watches appeared in civilian 5513 watches in a similar serial range to the Mk1 Maxi.

Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Pre COMEX Dial
The typical Pre COMEX smudged crown… leaning to the right.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Pre COMEX Dial
Vintage Rolex 5513 Comex  Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons
My former personal Rolex 5513 Comex with the same dial lay-out.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Comex Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons

‘Maxi’

In the late-70s the Maxi dials were introduced. Thought of by many collectors as the king of the matte dials, the Maxis have noticeable large hour markers that really make the dial ‘pop’ on the watch. For us, we love the Mk1 maxi (there were five variations) especially the way that often the lume on the dial stays bright white, without much natural aging. The last 5513 dial to eature the word SUBMARINER below the depth rating, we love the dial layout and the cool tall coronet.

Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial and Leather Watch Strap
The Rolex 5513 Maxi Mk1 Dial Submariner – for us the king of the matte dial Submariners. Biggest indexes made by Rolex.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial and Leather Watch Strap
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial and Leather Watch Strap
The Maxi Mk1 will always pop on your wrist. In combination with a #19 super dome plexiglass it’s pure magic on the wrist. Opening new stories with every twist of your wrist.
Shop this strap here
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial Mk1 on Leather watch strap
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial and Leather Watch Strap
The typical Maxi Mk1 crown typography, depth rating below SUBMARINER and super fat hour plots. Also the typical slight discoloration between hands and indexes. As most of the Maxi dial Submariners show originally.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi MK5 Dial and Leather Watch Strap
The Mk2 Maxi – with the ‘=’ sign directly below the A in SUBMARINER
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial and Leather Watch Strap
Rolex 5513 Maxi Mk3 Dial – also called Lollipop – as the indexes touch the outer minute markers. Also, not the serif on the ‘ft’ in the depth rating.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial and Leather Watch Strap
Another MK3 Dial Maxi Submariner – see how different it feels with different patina and faded inlay.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial and Leather Watch Strap
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi MK4 Dial and Leather Watch Strap
The Mk4 Maxi Dial with again slightly differences in the crown, and the ‘=’ sign below the A in SUBMARINER but moved to the right slightly.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi MK4 Dial and Leather Watch Strap
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial and Leather Watch Strap
The blueish faded inlay opens up a totally new feel to the Submariner
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Mk5 Dial
We love to combine our watches with some stylish bracelets. Find our selection here
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi MK5 Dial and Leather Watch Strap
The Mk5 Maxi – note the lack of serif on the ‘ft’ of the depth rating and also the fact that the SUBMARINER text is above and wider than the depth rating text – the only one that is this way.

‘Glossy or WG Surrounds’

In approximately 1984, following the Mk5 Maxi, Rolex introduced the last version of the 5513 dial. It had a glossy finish, not dissimilar to the early gilt dials but the text was printed in white. The most noticeable difference was the hour markers that were applied to the dial and filled with luminous material. Made out of white gold, the edges surrounded the lume, which led to the collectors’ term ‘wg surrounds’ for this dial type. The hour markers give this dial real depth that can only be achieved through the presence of applied markers and we like this 3D effect.

Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons -
The last of the 5513 Submariners with gloss black dial and White Gold Surroundings around the tritium markers
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons -

Domes for Dancing

The 5513 was always fitted with an acrylic crystal, which had the catalogue name Tropic 19 (T19) to signify it was a domed glass without a cyclops date magnifier. Originally these would have been quite tall and deep, what we refer to as a ‘super dome’. Later and service versions of the crystal are much shallower and they don’t quite have the same effect on the dial. In our minds, there are few things more beautiful that an original superdomed T19 crystal on a 5513. The light hits the T19 dome and floods the dial with light and the shape of the crystal can distort the hour plots – making them almost dance on the dial. It’s an incredible optical illusion, but one that the vintage Sub collector can never tire of and something that for us sets the 5513 aprts form so many other watches.

Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons
Full blown magic of a tropic #19 and maxi indexes.

The Versatile Sub

To us the 5513 is the ‘do-all’ Submariner within the modern context of wearing this watch. However, its important to remember that this was a tool when it was first introduced, aimed at divers in both the commercial diving world and also the emerging hobby of recreational scuba diving. If you wanted to survive your dive, whether for work or pleasure, you had to time your submersion and this was the initial point of the dive watch. These watches were worn in extremely dangerous conditions by professional divers in both the military and commercial diving sectors (the commercial divers often worked for oil companies). These divers were regularly risk their lives in combat situations or when repairing pipelines – often operating well below the recommended depth rating of the watch. One such commercial diving company were Comex. They would specially order watches, including early 5513s and their own reference 5514, directly from Rolex. These watches feature the Comex logo on the dial and tended to be worn on the steel Oyster bracelet. This is a seriously cool look.

Vintage Rolex 5513 Comex Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons
Vintage Rolex 5513 Comex Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons
Wearing my former 5513 Comex on the steel bracelet – notice the Helium Valve at the side of the case. The helium valve equipped 5513 was a test or prototype watch for Comex to test the valve in use.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Comex Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons

The Submariners delivered to the military have been given the name MilSubs by collectors. They often had fixed spring bars to meet defence department stipulations and so were worn on fabric nato straps. A simple grey or black nato-style strap is the classic issued look for the iconic MilSubs reference 5513 and 5517. Pure, no nonsense utilitarian military chic in bucket loads! It’s also a look that we love to recreate with a simple, non-issued 5513.

Vintage Rolex 5513 Milsub Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons
My former Rolex 5513 Milsub with the 60-minute bezel, original sward hands and T-military dial. You could only wear it on a Nato Strap. Those details make these watches so special. Vintage Rolex is all about the details.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Milsub Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons
Vintage Rolex 5517 Milsub Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons
My former Rolex 5517 Misub with a crazy orange patina. That was an iconic watch that I obtained from its original owner.
Vintage Rolex 5517 Milsub Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons
Vintage Rolex 5517 Milsub Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial on Nylon Nato
In todays market a Milsub is only for the happy few. But hey, you can get that look by wearing your 5513 Submariner on a nice nylon Nato Strap also.

These historical perspectives are so important to us and add to the charm of wearing a vintage Rolex Submariner. Thinking of the adventures on which your cool 5513 may have traveled and by whom it may have been worn. Not all watches were worn in crazy dangerous situations, in fact some were probably worn by executives in their offices. But that doesn’t matter – its still a 5513 and it could have withstood a life in the depths of the north sea or a sub-aqua attack on a submarine in north Africa. However urban cool you are, you can’t help but be taken in by the romance of these stories!

Chameleon Charm

As stated earlier, the 5513 is in our minds such a perfect and timeless sports watch. This was a watch that was designed out of a need for divers to be safe, but its adoption by collectors has transcended it to a whole new level as an important design item of the 20th century. Like another style icon, the M65 jacket, the 5513 can be worn as intended as a sports tool or it is equally comfortable dressed up for a smart occasion. In many ways the 5513 is a fashion icon, something we enjoy celebrating here at Bulang and Sons by pairing it with a vast array of different straps styles and accessorising it with bracelets and cuffs. Honestly, it is virtually impossible to find a strap combination that doesn’t work with the 5513. The metropolitan lives that many of us now live, requires versatility and adaptability in everything that we own and the way in which we operate. This is one of the reasons that we love the 5513 so much, because it really can adapt to fit any wrist in any situation.

Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Mk5 Dial
Bulang and Sons Rolex 5513 Faded maxi submariner strap guide
Harmony in the looks will make the dial pop. The Rugged look you can find here
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Mk5 Dial
Also the perfect watch to wear with some smarter dress code. You just can’t go wrong.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Mk5 Dial
Pair it with some highly classic strap… discover our prime selection here
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial and Leather Watch Strap
Add some color to the mix and get that summer look. Here
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial Mk1 on Leather watch strap
A Leather Nato Strap is just the perfect symbioses between tool watch look and quality feel.
Find our selection here
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial and Leather Watch Strap
And please try this look… pair your 5513 Submariner with a Jubilee bracelet and you get a total different feel. It adds so much flavor.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial and Leather Watch Strap
A refined structured calf strap will add some great elegance to the mix.
Vintage Rolex 5513 Submariner Love - Article at Bulang and Sons - Maxi Dial Mk1 on Leather watch strap
The vintage style Siena strap will bring out all the vintage DNA and stories these watches can tell

Enjoy your 5513s

I have been collecting vintage Rolex for the last 14 years.. and the Rolex 5513 is still one of my favorites. It’s never boring and always relevant. Wearing one of these vintage beauties still feels temporary and stylish. I found the case to have the perfect weight, size and feel on the wrist. The design is just reduced to perfection and they have been daily wearers for me ever since.

I hope you will enjoy yours or will be able to find a great example of these icons. And I am sure it will be a friend for life.

Bernhard Bulang



Bulang and Sons Rolex 5513 Submariner Watch Strap Guide
Bulang and Sons shop

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