The Rolex Submariner is one of the most recognisable and popular watches in the world, and like most Rolexes, needs no introduction. With such a rich history spanning decades, the Submariner has seen many iterations and references over its lifetime. The Ref. 5512 is a vintage Submariner that is one of the more elusive references, made alongside the 5513 in the ’60s and ’70s, with the only distinction being that the 5512’s were chronometer certified.
Like every vintage Rolex reference from the era, it has always been about the details as throughout the ’60s and ’70s, even within the 5512 reference, there were many subtle different dial and case variants.
This particular specimen is an amazing example of an early 5512 Submariner. Featuring a glossy gilt dial, these early Submariners are much rarer than the later matte dial versions. The glossy dials are much more enigmatic and certainly signals a step up in your vintage Rolex game as they are much trickier to manoeuvre, higher in price and much rarer. This example has maintained a beautiful gloss finish that has not been restored and beautiful creamy lumes that matches throughout. You can tell that it is original as the gilt printing sits underneath the black gloss dial- it’s hard to see, but with the right lighting and macro photography it becomes very obvious.
If you look closer, a few certain elements make this 5512 even more collectable, as it features a closed chapter ring as supposed to the later open dials, and this rarity is further complemented by the fact that is an exclamation point dial. If you look closer (which is always the case), you will see at 6 o’clock there is a dot of lume beneath it, resembling an exclamation mark. It is a mystery as to why Rolex only did this for a very short period in the early ’60s, but rumour has it that it was to signify the transition from radium to tritium as the luminescent material. Moving on to the case, we have what is known as a ‘pointed crown guard’ or PCG case, as these early sport Rolexes featured a peculiar pointed shape for the crown guards. Later on, Rolex transitioned to a more squared-off crown guard. Topping off the look, this watch is fitted with a mint condition, period-correct ‘Long 5’ bezel, named so because of the extended vertical top of the ‘5’.
All of these features are what makes collecting vintage Rolex so scary and rewarding at the same time, as each little detail tells a bit about both the history of the brand and the period that it was made.
There is a reason why the Submariner is so popular. With its black aluminium bezel, its chunky bevelled oyster case and its glossy black dial with large luminous plots, it has been the ultimate tool watch since its inception in the ’50s and will continue to do so for decades to come.