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The No-Date Submariner – A Perennial Classic

July 28, 2015

BY Paul Altieri


When it was introduced in 1953, Rolex ref. 6204 (some say the 6205 – frankly, it’s unclear which came first), the watch that would become the Submariner, did not have a date function. In fact, the Submariner didn’t acquire one until 1965, with the ref. 1680. In the meantime, Rolex produced some mighty classic Subs. All without dates. In fact, the very earliest examples didn’t even carry the name Submariner.

Think back to the 6538 Big Crown, the watch James Bond wore in Dr. No, and its sibling, the 6536, which featured a small crown. A small number of 6536 Subs carried chronometer certification.

vintage stainless steel submariner 5512

Vintage Stainless Steel Submariner 5512

By 1960, the 55xx series had been introduced, starting with the 5512 (the chronometer famously worn by Steve McQueen) and its non-chronometer brother 5513. These two references, especially the 5513, carry such mystique today that they represent grail pieces for many collectors.

5513 submariner military issue

5513 Submariner Military Issue

And in the early 1960s, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth tapped Rolex on the shoulder. Her Royal Navy needed solid watches for their frogmen. They chose the 5513, and had a couple of unique requirements. Permanent bars instead of spring bars so the watch could not come adrift mid-dive. A sword hour hand and stick minute hand would replace the Mercedes hands. And the bezel contained only five minute markers (which soon changed to one-minute hash marks for the whole circumference).

submariner 5513 with strap

Milsub 5513 with Strap

The watch became known as the MilSub and was eventually given the reference number 5517. It was denoted with an encircled ‘T’ on the dial (for the Tritium luminous material it carried), and first got wet on the wrists of Royal Navy divers in 1965. Only about 1000 of these watches were made, and were constantly updated by Rolex as the British Navy submitted them for service, so it’s unclear whether any truly original pieces remain.

rolex 5512 and 5513 submariner watches

Rolex 5512 and Rolex 5513 Submariner Watches

Meanwhile, the 55xx series filled out with the 5514 in 1972, with the 5512 and 5513 still in production. All were variations on a theme, and a discerning eye is needed to tell them apart. Production of the 5512 and 5514 ceased in 1978, but the venerable 5513 continued until 1990. It was replaced that year by the 14060, which lasted in the line up for 12 years.

rolex submariner 14060

Rolex Submariner 14060

In 2002, the 14060 was superseded by the 14060M. The M stood for ‘modified’ movement, which had the balance cock becoming a full balance bridge screwed to the back plate on both ends. More than a few people call the 14060M “the last of the best” as it retained the narrow lugs and sleek crown guards of its forefathers.

rolex submariner no date 114060

rolex submariner no date 114060

In 2012, the 114060 came out, the first no-date Sub to be fitted into the new ‘super case’ that had first been used by Rolex in 2008. The newer case had thicker lugs and heavier crown guards.

And that’s pretty much the story on the no-date Submariner, the watch that makes real the notion of “everything you need, nothing you don’t.”



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