Rolex Submariner

The History of the “Rolex Submariner”

While there are many models of Rolex watches, none are more popular than the Rolex Submariner. We will explore the history of how the first Rolex Submariner was made as well as how this watch became a cult classic. The Rolex Submariner is the pinnacle of diver watches and still to this day are the first choice for serious divers. In the late 1960’s  Rolex especially configured a Submariner for the British Royal Navy. A little further down the page we will go into more detail about all the different variations of Rolex Submariner.  

The First Rolex Submariner

The first Rolex Submariner was produced in 1953. On September 30 ,1953 Professor Auguste Piccard and his son Jacques piloted their new bathyscaphe to a world record depth of 10,335 feet. The watch that accompanied them? The Rolex Submariner. The watch was not as useful to the professor as it is a diver as the watch fixed to the outside of their craft. However at a depth of 10,335 the Submariner had been subjected to the pressure of 600 atmospheres or two tons per square inch. To everyone’s surprise the Rolex Submariner had survived. Not only had the watch survived it was in the same perfect condition as it has started, proving the quality put into the production of this watch. The skills needed to produce the first Rolex Submariner was not only used in the movement of the watch but also in the case, crown and glass design. With television viewers being introduced to undersea pioneers such as Hans and Lotte Haas and Jacques Cousteau the timing of the release of this watch could not of come at a better time.  The development of SCUBA as a sport the Submariner became a must have for all divers. Knowing how long you have been underwater was just as important as how much air you have. Too much time underwater and a diver could suffer from decompression sickness or “the bends”. The rotating bezel on the watch allowed divers to keep accurate track of exactly how long they have been submerged and keep track of their air consumption. This dubbed the Rolex Submariner “The Diver’s Friend”.

The Pop Cultural History of the Rolex Submariner

Rolex Submariner Rolex watches have been featured in films and television shows for years but none or more iconic than the Rolex Submariner. None of the characters in Hollywood were more famous than James Bond. First worn by legendary actor Sean Connery in the film Doctor No in 1962 the Rolex Submariner has become a regular accessory off and on for the film hero until the 1990s when they changed out the Submariner to the Seamaster.  To this day watch aficionados still argue over the colors of the strap on 007’s Submariner in Goldfinger.  James Bond also famously made dive watches okay to wear with a tuxedo…. if you can pull it off.

While James Bond may be the most iconic character in Hollywood to sport a Rolex Submariner he is by far not the only one. Other famous characters from pop culture have sported this amazing watch. Robert Shaw in “Jaws”, Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape” and “The Hunter”, & Robert Redford in “All the Presidents Men” to name a few. These actors took the stereotype that a “sports” watch can not be a                                                                                                   dress watch. At least when it is a Rolex.

 

 

Note From the Owner:

As avid watch collectors and pre-owned dealers we have accumulated quite a bit of knowledge on the Rolex Submariner. While we have learned a lot there are tons of subtle nuances to each release of the Submariner. Our intention here is to make a useful resource page on all the models of Rolex Submariners. We are human however and do make mistakes. If you notice a discrepancy or have any information you think would be beneficial to this page feel free to email us from the contact form to the right. We would appreciate any feedback on this subject to make this page a great resource for all Rolex Collectors.




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Rolex Submariner Models

Discontinued Models

Model Number
sub6204
Submariner model 6204
Model History

The Rolex Submariner 6204

“The First Submariner”

The Rolex Submariner 6204 was the first model of Submariner ever produced. One way to spot this model is that is does not have the crown guard or the Mercedes hands. The bezel only has minute markers at the 5 minute marks. This model was produced in 1953 and was the model that accompanied  Professor Auguste Piccard and his son Jacques as they piloted their bathyscaphe to a world record depth of 10,335 feet. Note: This watch it is very important for it to have to original bezel & dial in order to retain it’s value. Box and papers will add a considerable amount more to the value as this is a very rare watch. 

Specifications

Caliber Number 1030. Automatic Self Winding 25 Jewel Movement.

Stainless Steel 37MM case.

Stainless Steel Oyster Band

Black Dial with Luminous markers. Black Bezel with  markers every 5 minutes. Standard “Pencil” Style Hands.

The 6204 is water resistant to 200 meters or 660 feet.

The 6204 was produced 1958-1961

The 6204 only has minute markers at the 5 minutes marks. It does not have crown guards. 

rolsub6205
Rolex Submariner 6205

The Rolex Submariner 6205

“James Bond”

The Rolex Submariner 6205 was very similar the first model of Submariner ever produced the 6204. The 6205 does not have the crown guard but does have the Mercedes hands and number indicators for the first 15 minutes as well as every 5 minutes after. This model was produced from 1953-1957. It is water resistant to 300 meters (660 feet). It is made in stainless steel and has the black bezel and black dial. It originally came with a black leather strap.  Note: This watch it is very important for it to have to original bezel & dial in order to retain it’s value. Box and papers will add a considerable amount more to the value as this is a very rare watch. 

Caliber Number A260. Automatic Self Winding 18 Jewel Movement.

Stainless Steel 38MM case.

Stainless Steel Oyster Band

Black Dial with Luminous markers. Black Bezel with  markers every 5 minutes and at every minute for the first 15 minutes as well. Standard “Pencil” Style Hands.

The 6204 is water resistant to 200 meters or 660 feet.

The 6204 was produced 1953-1957

The 6205 only has minute markers every minute for the first fifteen minutes then every  5 minutes marks. It does not have crown guards. 

rolsub6536-1
Rolex Submariner 6536

 The Rolex Submariner 6536

“James Bond”

The Rolex Submariner 6536 is still similar the first model of Submariner ever produced the 6204. The 6536 still does not have the crown guard but does have the Mercedes hands and number indicators for the first 15 minutes as well as every 5 minutes after. This watch is one of the models nicknamed the “James Bond” This model was produced from 1954-1958. It is water resistant to 200 meters or (660 feet). It is made in stainless steel and has the black bezel and black dial. It originally came with a black leather strap.. Box and papers will add a considerable amount more to the value as this is a very rare watch. 

Caliber Number 1030. Automatic Self Winding 25 Jewel Movement.

Stainless Steel 37MM case.

Stainless Steel Oyster Band

Black Dial with Luminous markers. Black Bezel with  markers every 5 minutes and at every minute for the first 15 minutes as well. Standard “Mercedes” Style Hands.

The 6204 is water resistant to 100 meters or 330 feet.

The 6204 was produced 1958-1961

The 6536 only has minute markers every minute for the first fifteen minutes then every  5 minutes marks. It does not have crown guards. 

rolsub6536-1
Rolex Submariner 6536/1

The Rolex Submariner 6536/1

“James Bond”

The Rolex Submariner 6536/1 is still similar the first model of Submariner ever produced the 6204. The 6536/1 still does not have the crown guard but does have the Mercedes hands and number indicators for the first 15 minutes as well as every 5 minutes after. This model is known as one of the “James Bond” models as well as being known as the “Small Crown”. This is considered a transitional model before Rolex changed to the “large crown” models.This model was produced from 1955-1961. It is water resistant to 200 meters or (660 feet). It is made in stainless steel and has the black bezel and black dial. It originally came with a black leather strap.. Box and papers will add a considerably more to the value as this is a very rare watch. 

Caliber Number 1030. Automatic Self Winding 25 Jewel Movement.

Stainless Steel 38MM case.

Stainless Steel Oyster Band

Black Dial with Luminous markers. Black Bezel with  markers every 5 minutes and at every minute for the first 15 minutes as well. Standard “Mercedes” Style Hands.

The 6536/1 is water resistant to 100 meters or 330 feet.

The 6204 was produced 1955-1961

The 6536 only has minute markers every minute for the first fifteen minutes then every  5 minutes marks. It does not have crown guards. 

suba6536
Rolex Submariner A/6536

The Rolex Submariner A/6536

“James Bond”

The Rolex Submariner A/6536 was produced in the 1957 for the British Ministry of Defense. The Rolex A/6538 Big Crown UK Military Submariner is perhaps the rarest Rolex Military Submariner to be found. There were only around 21 to 50 found to still exist. The Rolex A/6538 Submariner had the prototype bezel, required fixed spring bars and military case back engravings by the British Ministry of Defense. This Rolex Submariner was used by members of the British Royal Navy.

 

Caliber Number 1030. Automatic Self Winding 25 Jewel Movement.

Stainless Steel 38MM case.

Canvas Admirality Strap

Black Dial with Luminous markers. Black Bezel with  markers every 5 minutes and at every minute for the first 15 minutes as well. Standard “Mercedes” Style Hands.

The A/6538 is water resistant to 200 meters or 660 feet.

The 6204 was produced 1957

The a/6536 only has minute markers every minute for the first fifteen minutes then every  5 minutes marks. It does not have crown guards. This model was specifically made for the British Royal Navy.

sub6538-reddepth2
Rolex Submariner Model 6538

The Rolex Submariner 6538

“James Bond” “Red Depth”

The Rolex Submariner 6538 “James Bond”. This is the actual model Sean Connery wore in “Doctor No” which is how the “no crown guard” Submariners got the nickname the “James Bond”. This model is easy to spot by the “red depth” lettering on the dial. The 200 m / 660 ft on the dial is the only letting on the dial that is in red. This model is a 37 mm case in stainless steel with black dial and bezel. This is one of the most sought after Rolex Submariners among true watch collectors.

Caliber Number 1520. Automatic Self Winding 26 Jewel Movement.

Stainless Steel 37MM case.

Stainless Steel Oyster Band

Black Dial with Luminous markers. Black Bezel with minute markers every 5 minutes. Standard Luminous Mercedes Hands.

The 6538 is water resistant to 200 meters or 660 feet.

The 6538 was produced from 1958-1961.

The 6538 has minute makers at every 5 minutes. The water resistant mark on the dial is in red lettering. The 6538 still does not have crown guards.  

Rolex Submariner 5508
Rolex Submariner 5508

The Rolex Submariner 5508

“James Bond”

The Rolex Submariner 5508 is considered a “crossroads” version for the Submariner. This model has the beginning of features that are still used today as well as features that are no longer seen in the Submariner.  Before the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Submariner 5508 only had dials with hour markers. The 5508 added the first fifteen minute markers to the bezel, a change that is still used on modern Submariners today. Another key feature that came with the 5508 was the way Submariner reference numbers were numbered. This model number system was used well into the 1990s with Submariners using the 55XX model numbers.

Caliber Number 1030. Automatic Self Winding 25 Jewel Movement.

Stainless Steel 37MM case.

Stainless Steel Oyster Band

Black Dial with Luminous markers. Black Bezel with minute markers every 5 minutes. Standard Luminous Mercedes Hands.

The 5508 is water resistant to 200 meters or 660 feet.

The 6538 was produced from 1958-1961.

The 5508 has minute makers at every 5 minutes & every minute for the first 15 minutes. The 5508 still does not contain crown guards.

sub5510
Rolex Submariner 5510

The Rolex Submariner 5510

“James Bond”

The Rolex Submariner was the last year of the big crown Submariners. The models following the 5510 began using the crown guards. This is the last year of the “James Bond” style Submariners. This model has the modern Submariner dial with the red 12 hour marker. This model was only in production for a couple year sand was replaced by the larger cased 5512. While very similar to the 6358 it utilized a thicker case to accommodate the 1530 caliber movement. It is estimated that only four to six hundred of the 5510 were produced.

Caliber Number 1530. Automatic Self Winding 25 Jewel Movement.

Stainless Steel 38MM case.

Stainless Steel Oyster Band

Black Dial with Luminous markers. Black Bezel with minute markers every 5 minutes. Standard Luminous Mercedes Hands.

The 5508 is water resistant to 200 meters or 660 feet.

The 6538 was produced from 1959

The 5510 has minute makers at every 5 minutes & every minute for the first 15 minutes. The 5510 still does not contain crown guards.

sub5510
Rolex Submariner 5512

The Rolex Submariner 5512

“James Bond”

The Rolex Submariner 5512 is the first model of the “modern” Rolex Submariner. This is the first year the Submariner had the crown guards. While similar to the classic “James Bond” styles this  was the beginning of the final style design for the Submariner. This model is a 40 mm case in stainless steel with black dial and bezel. This is one of the most sought after Rolex Submariners among true watch collectors.

Caliber Number 1570. Automatic Self Winding 26 Jewel Movement

Stainless Steel 40MM case.

Stainless Steel Oyster Band

Black Dial with Luminous markers. Black Bezel with minute markers every 5 minutes. Standard Luminous Mercedes Hands.

The 5508 is water resistant to 200 meters or 660 feet.

The 5512 was produced from 1959-1978

The 5510 has minute makers at every 5 minutes & every minute for the first 15 minutes. The 5510 still does not contain crown guards.

sub5513
Rolex Submariner 5513

The Rolex Submariner 5513

“The Bart Simpson”

Rolex Submariner 5513 “Bart Simpson Gilt” produced in 1966, got it’s nicknamed due to the light yellow tint to the gilt on te dial. The 5513 sports the  stainless steel case & stainless steel bracelet with the black dial with light yellow gilt, & a black modern submariner bezel. The case is 40MM and it has a water resistance rating of 300 meters or 660 feet. The Rolex Submariner Gilt 5513 is one of the first gilt dials, introduced in 1964.

Caliber Number 1570. Automatic Self Winding 26 Jewel Movement

Stainless Steel 40MM case.

Stainless Steel Oyster Band

Black Dial with Luminous markers. Black Bezel with minute markers every 5 minutes. Standard Luminous Mercedes Hands.

The 5508 is water resistant to 200 meters or 660 feet.

The 5513 was produced from 1962-1990

The 5513 has minute makers at every 5 minutes & every minute for the first 15 minutes. The 5513 has light yellow gilt markers on the dial.

sub5513-17
Rolex Submariner 5513/17

Rolex Submariner 5513/17

“The Milsub”

The Rolex 5513/17 is the military version of the 5513 commissioned by the British Royal Navy. One way to tell the difference between the 5513/17 and the normal 5513 is the 5513/17 had minute makers all the way around the bezel instead of just the first fifteen minutes and every 5 minutes after. Unlike the 5513 the 5513/17 came did not have the stainless steel oyster band. Instead they came with a canvas “Admirality strap”. The Submariners were tools used every day by divers in the British Royal Navy.

Caliber Number 1530. Automatic Self Winding 26 Jewel Movement

Stainless Steel 40MM case.

Canvas Admirality Strap

Black Dial with Luminous markers. Black Bezel with minute markers for all 60. Standard Luminous Mercedes Hands.

The 5508 is water resistant to 200 meters or 660 feet.

The 5513 was produced from 1962-1990

The 5513/17 has minute makers for all 60 minutes.  The 5513/17 Was made specifically the British Royal Navy.

sub5514
Rolex Submariner 5514

The Rolex Submariner 5514

“The Comex Divers Watch”

The Rolex Submariner 5514 models was a batch of watches that was specially made for COMEX Diving Company. This model was never sold by retailers and was only available to divers working for Comex. This is one of the rarest Submariners and highly sought after by collectors. After the successful testing of the 5513 with HEV,  COMEX made a special order of these watches. The 5514 was made specifically for this order. While an urban myth that only 154 of this model were made, evidence that many more 5514 were delivered in at least three orders. However each  of these batches has its own unique characteristics.

Caliber Number 1520. Automatic Self Winding 26 Jewel Movement

Stainless Steel 40MM case.

Stainless Steel Oyster Band

Black Dial with Luminous markers. Black Bezel with minute markers for the first fifteen minutes and at every 5 minutes after. Standard Luminous Mercedes Hands.

The 5508 is water resistant to 200 meters or 660 feet.

The 5514 was produced from 1972-1978

The 5514 was made specifically for the Comex Diving Company. This watch was never released to retailers.

sub5517
Rolex Submariner 5517

The Rolex Submariner 5517

“The Milsub”

The Rolex Submariner 5517 was the last “Milsub” commissioned by the British Royal Navy. Delivered in 1978 to the British Royal Navy, all the special characteristics were expressly demanded by British government. Military issue number engraved on the case back. Fixed bar lugs. Revolving bezel insert with 60 minutes marks. Amazing unrestored dial enhanced by the unmistakable military letter “T”, the international symbol for Tritium. Large luminous “Sword” hands and arrow sweep center seconds. The present 5517 is the rarest of all the “Milsubs”

Caliber Number 1520. Automatic Self Winding 26 Jewel Movement.

Stainless Steel 40MM case.

Canvas Admirality Strap

Black Dial with Luminous markers. Black Bezel with 60 minute markers. Large Luminous Sword Hands.

The 5517 is water resistant to 200 meters or 660 feet.

The 5117 was produced from 1972-1978.

The 5517 unlike the 5514 has minute makers at all 60 minutes. It is marked with the military letter “T”, the international symbol for Tritium. Large luminous “Sword” hands and arrow sweep center seconds.