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Rolex Submariner 5513: a Complete Guide

Rolex Submariner 5513

The Rolex Submariner is one of the most important and iconic watches in the world. It’s iconic case shape and design can be recognized from a mile away, and having been manufactured since the 1940s, the Submariner has established itself as one of the most timeless and iconic watch designs.

During its long production, the Rolex Submariner has been improved, changed, and refined over the years, in order to become more reliable, higher quality, and more up-to-date with today’s standards. 

Despite the fact that Rolex currently has modern Submariner watches as an important part in their lineup of watches, and the fact that the Submariner is one of the most popular Rolex models, the vintage Submariners which are currently not in production are highly popular. Many vintage Rolex Submariner watches have even skyrocketed in price over the years due to the great demand and relatively low supply, with certain versions now fetching well over 100 thousand dollars.

Modern watches in all honor, but there is something special about a vintage watch.

In parallel with modern watches having become more popular as a piece of jewelry and not a crucial tool for keeping track of time like back in the days, people’s interest in vintage watches has increased.

Rolex Submariner 5513 advertisement

And naturally, as a result of the immense popularity of the Rolex Submariner collection, you can expect that vintage watches enjoy the same demand and popularity – if not more.

There’s something special about a vintage watch. Many people find them more appealing than modern watches because they have a greater character than new watches. Over time, they also get interesting signs of aging, which contributes to the charm of the watch. At the same time, vintage watches are no longer in production, and this means that they are more difficult to find. Also, something that many people like about vintage watches is the hunt for a perfect example that, despite its age, has maintained well, and is in good condition. With the Rolex Submariner 5513 having had the longest production run ever, naturally, plenty of examples have been made.

Rolex Submariner 5513 vintage advertisement

In this article, we’re looking at a Rolex Submariner that has had the longest production runs than any Rolex watch ever. We’re obviously talking about the Rolex Submariner 5513.

Despite this, the Submariner 5513 is a version that is highly popular among vintage collectors and which has seen a steady price increase in the last couple of years.

History of the Rolex Submariner 5513

The Rolex Submariner 5513 was first released in 1962 and was manufactured until 1989. That’s a production run of a whopping 27 years, and over the course of this time, relatively few changes were made, staying true to the watch’s original design.

Having in mind that the watch was manufactured for such a long time, it’s clear proof that the Submariner 5513 has a truly timeless design that has passed the test of time. With such a long production period, you can expect the watch to continue to be just as relevant in design as it has been since it was first released.

Since there are many examples available, the cost of a Submariner 5513 is very reasonable at the moment. As a result of the long production run, you can expect that the price of the 5513 will never reach greater heights than other Submariner models that were manufactured for a shorter time, and thus rarer, but you can still expect the cost of a Submariner 5513 to increase over time.

The Submariner 5513 is thus in many collectors’ eyes the ultimate classic diver’s watch as a result of all the things mentioned above.

Rolex Submariner 5513 vintage advertisement

Originally, the 5513 was launched with an acrylic domed crystal, which was standard for the time. An acrylic crystal is far more scratchable than a sapphire crystal, but at the time it was released, sapphire crystals weren’t really used for watches. Rolex used an acrylic crystal for its watches until 1981 – moving from the domed crystal to a flat.

Today, an acrylic crystal is an element of vintage watches that people want, as all watches back in the days features such. The domed crystal is yet another vintage element that adds charm to the watch and gives it a particular look. Over time, as the technique of producing sapphire crystals became more common, and the benefits of sapphire crystals proved obvious, the Submariner 5513 eventually changed to sapphire crystals which were scratch-resistant and more durable, but this also makes 5513s with acrylic crystals more popular (and expensive) as they are the earliest versions of the range.

The Rolex Submariner 5513 is, despite being a vintage Submariner a watch that shares many design traits with more modern Submariner watches – both the modern watch currently in production, but also discontinued watches such as the Submariner 116610 which was in production until not too long ago. This also goes to show that the characteristics and design features of the Submariner are truly timeless.

Vintage Rolex advertisement

The Rolex Submariner 5513 originally had painted indexes, staying true to the traditional Submariners. Eventually, though, the 5513 got the tritium gloss dial, which meant that the markers were no longer painted, but rather applied. Today, all Rolex watches have applied markers with 18kt gold markers, and the reason for that is that painted markers tent to change its form over the years, but the applied markers continue to maintain its look year after year. Naturally, being launched in 1962, the Submariner 5513 featured radium luminescent material. The problem with radium, though, is that it is quite radioactive and thus dangerous to work with.

Rolex thus initially used radium paint for the luminous indices and switched to tritium-infused paint.

The catch with radium, however, is that it tends to die over time, and eventually stop working, and tritium is also radioactive, which is not ideal for watchmakers, having to handle the material carefully. For the latter Submariner 5513 watches that featured radium lime, before being changed to tritium, the text ”SWISS” can be found at the base of the dial at 6 o’clock.

Vintage Rolex Submariner 5513 advertisement
Source: Rolex Passion report

Rolex eventually abandoned the tritium luminous material for all its watches, but this was after the 5513 was discontinued, which means all 5513 watches use tritium or radium as the luminous material.

The text on the dial of the 5513 is different from the modern Submariner dial. The 5513 is a so-called ”2-liner”, which means that it only has two lines of text. On the dial of the 5513, you’ll find the text ”SUBMARINER” and ”600ft = 200m.

The modern Submariner, on the other hand, has four lines of text. The minimalistic text on the dial makes it less cluttered and more simple, which adds to the appeal of the 5513 in many people’s eyes. In contrast, many people think that the modern Submariner has too much text on the dial which harms its aesthetics.

In the modern Rolex watches, you’ll find the model name, the water-resistance, and the standard text ”Superlative chronometer” as well as ”officially certified”. Rolex uses this text to prove that all their movements are superlative chronometers, officially certified and certified by COSC. This is to show the precision and reliability of their in-house movements.

So why is the Submariner 5513 missing these two lines on the dial? Because of the fact that it isn’t a certified chronometer.

The movement of the Rolex Submariner was never a certified chronometer, and this is the reason why it doesn’t have this text on the dial. This can, of course, be discussed, and is discussed heavily among collectors.

Initially, the Submariner 5513 featured the caliber 1520. This was then changed to the caliber 1530, and none of these were certified chronometers.

Rolex discontinued the gilt/silver dials for the Submariner 5512 in 1965–1966 and switched to white printing. Over the course of its long production period, many subtle and small changes like this were made to the watch, and this is something that collectors tend to look at and focus on small differences, which may be harder to get a hold of.

There are Submariner 5512 models that have gilt dials, matter dials, underlines, explorer dials, meter first, feet first, acrylic sapphire crystal, maxi dial, and so on. The differences are endless, but this is also what makes the Submariner 5513 so interesting and a collectible.

Between the years of 1963 and 1964, Rolex used the Explorer dial for the Submariner 5513, and after four years of using glossy gilt, Rolex changed to a matte dial in 1966. 

Submariner 5513 and Submariner 5512

We’ve spoken about the Submariner 5513, but in talking about it, it’s almost impossible not to mention the 5512 Submariner.

As the references reveal, these watches share a lot with each other. In fact, they’re more or less identical watches (and were even manufactured simultaneously during a time). The difference, however, is that the 5512 was an officially certified chronometer, and therefore, it featured an additional 2-lines of text: ”Superlative chronometer” ”officially certified” on the dial.

The 5512 used the Caliber 1530 like the 5513, but the 5512 carried the COSC certification. The reason why Rolex produced two essentially identical watches, with the only difference being a COSC certification has been debated, but many people mean that COSC models were specifically meant for the US market since a watch that would be a certified chronometer would see more sales, thus perhaps making the 5512 as a way to target the American market.

Photo: Rolex Passion Report

From the 1960s and forward, Rolex also changed from the text ”Officially certified chronometer” to ”Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified”.

The non-certified chronometer 5513 could also be an attempt to make the watch more accessible in terms of price.

Additionally, there are other subtle differences between the 5512 and a 5513 such as the depth rating reads feet first. Things like this can also be parts of Rolex’s efforts of entering the American market.

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