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Vintage of the Week: Military Submariner 5513/0

June 1, 2018

BY Paul Altieri


The Rolex watches made for the Royal Navy have a special place in many collector’s hearts.  These 1970s versions, of which about 1200 were made, are in high demand these days, so if you are lucky enough to find one you want to know what to look for.  Experts estimate that only a few hundred remain in their original condition, as many of them have had parts replaced or have been destroyed over the years.  For those few lucky enough to have one there is a high demand.

A vintage military submariner papers 5513 worthy of getting your hands on.

A Vintage Military Submariner with official papers on the ref. 5513

Military Submariner Specifications

The dial on these Military edition Submariners are 5513’s with a dial that has a modified large “T” in a circle above the “200 meters/660 feet” markings at six o’clock.  The “T” indicates the presence of tritium.

5513 submariner military issue

A 5513 Submariner Military Issue wtih sword hands. Also note the smaller details (the seconds hand).

This Submariner is very unique. One of the striking details of this watch are the notable hands. This model is unique and its referred to as “sword” hands.  The Omega Seamaster has similar hands and people sometimes use Seamaster hands to replace these, but a good collector can tell the difference.  Because of their large surface area, the hands are prone to flaking.

submariner 5513 with strap bob's watches.

The Military Submariner 5513 with on a strap and not a stainless steel bracelet.

The bezel may include an insert with markings all the way around.  This was a special bezel made only for this particular military Submariner. The case is a typical 5513 but the spring bars are affixed with metal bars to the NATO-type strap, and the caseback has an MOD number beginning with 0552 or W10 on it along with a triangle with a hat on top below the issue and year numbers.

back vintage military sub 5513 from Bob's Watches.

Typically Rolex watches have no engraving, but this was a special Vintage Military Submariner 513

These caseback numbers are quite different depending of the delivery date and must be compared to other watches in the same delivery sequence to verify their authenticity.  A few watches were delivered with Mercedes hands, and some with 15-minute bezels, so identifying the right reference can be difficult.

In order to keep the 5513 and 5517 Military Submariners, straight, it is helpful to remember:

  • All mil subs, 5513 and 5517 were delivered with 60 insert and sword hands.

Looking for a Military Submariner 5513 is not a quest to be taken lightly.  It will probably require months of searching, and you have to decide if you are willing to take one with different parts as many have been modified over the years.  However, owning a piece of history may be well worth the extra effort and waiting for just the right watch may be rewarded with a great find!



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