Rolex Submariner collector’s 101 – [Part 2]

This is the second part of the Rolex Submariner collector’s 101.

The big crown Submariners 6538

The Rolex Submariner 6538 is what a lot of people associate with vintage Big Crown Submariners. There are “Two line” and “Four line” versions. The 4 line has chronometer text on the dial, with various versions and placements of it, sometimes above the depth rating and sometimes below.

The last “Big Crown” 5510

In the 5510 you begin to see some slight differences in the dial versus the 6538 and you see the hash mark bezel from 0 to 15 minutes and the red triangle.

The last no Crown Guards 5508

The 5508 had sort of a wide production swath, we see cases made in ’58 all the way to cases made in ’62, and we see the differences from red triangle mark in ’58 to no red triangle in ’62 and an exclamation point dial that’s supposed to indicate that there’s less radiation coming from the watch.

Start of Crown Guard Era, 5512

With the end of the 5508, we closed the door on the first chapter in the Submariner, the no crown guards chapter, then we get the 5512. The very earliest of the 5512 is what’s called the “square crown guard”.

It was a very distinctive, very industrial purpose-built design and there’s very few known today. A number of these were shaved down what we’ve called Eagle beaks today, where Rolex presumably took a square crown guard watch and shaved it so it was easier to grab the crown and of course Rolex didn’t want to do that with every watch so they switched to this pointed crown guard design.

Very few 5512 with red triangle inserts. They get to the pointed crown guard and they keep that design for a few years.

Once we go to pointy crown guards, then we have the chapter ring and then we make the jump to the four-lined dials. There are also the micro nuances that we see during this time like the neat font style where all the printing is together in the same color.

The more common version is where the superlative chronometer officially certified text is a slightly different color because it was presumably added after. The last 5512 is what we call a maxi dial. The plots are larger, it’s the last run of matte dials and this is a maxi mark 3 lollipop where you see the depth rating changes from the meters first to the feet first toward 1969-1970.

The Submariner has a long history, so we divided this guide into three comprehensive parts. Subscribe to our newsletter to find out first when the second part will be available.

If you are a fan of Submariner as we are, but cannot afford one, our store is here for you. Explore our vast collection of replica Rolex Submariner watches to find your perfect model.

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