5513, Tropical Gilt Dial Submariner, Steel
A warm tropical gilt dial 5513 Submariner from 1966. This 5513 was originally sold in Cuba before its owner emigrated to Miami, new to market from its original owner. It features a caramel dial with cream zinc-sulfide plots, a grey-ghosted bezel, and its original ‘Joske’s’ Jubilee, made for Latin-American Rolex retailers.
The 5513 is not one thing. It spans such a diverse range of iterations that it really should be considered several different models. But it was only in the first four years of production that the reference had gilt dials. And very few of those gilt dials will have wound up in an end-state like this: a Submariner originally sold in Cuba, which spent most of its life in Miami. As a result, what was once an oil-black dial has here warmed to an even latte dial tone with zinc-sulfide plots almost the exact same hue as its gilt text.
In Rolex terminology, gilt references a style of dial production and not just gold, as you’ll find gilt dials with silver text as well. In the early days of Rolex dial production, the first step was to electroplate a brass blank in a layer of gold, then stamp or print the desired words. Next, a galvanic black paint was applied to cover the whole thing. The black paint layer would be etched away around the raised sections to reveal the underlying gold text or indices. Rolex would then occasionally also print text in white. Finally, the whole thing would be covered in a clear lacquer. This created a depth around the edges of text and a warmth to the whole dial, but was stopped for how time and labor-intensive the process was. The charisma about these dials is prized by collectors from Explorers to Day-Dates, but particularly in Submariners.
The gilt era of Rolex production has a habit of ageing in strange and often entirely unpredictable ways. The wide-ranging patina that the same dials can develop always tell a story of the life they have lived. That story is told here partially by the fantastic dial and partially by the bracelet. First, the dial, which is one of the last gilt iterations of Swiss T < 25 dials before the 'Bart Simpson'. It is attractively aged to a deep caramel in the center with a slightly darker latte tone towards the outer, with a mild natural asymmetry. There is a very light natural spidering to the lacquer as well, only visible in angled light, and not severe in depth. Second, its bracelet is an original 'Joske's' Jubilee, made in Mexico for Subs retailed in Latin America and a very interesting additional layer of history to this 5513's unique aesthetic.
Some collectors seek watches that have lived in a safe all their life, those which look as if they were manufactured yesterday. This is not the watch for those collectors. This is the watch for collectors who love watches which have experienced a full life and have been made more beautiful by it, a Submariner for those who like their tool watches to wear stories on their metal (or in this case lacquer). This is a true single owner, fresh-to-market tropical 5513 in a remarkable state, and it's our hope that it finds its way onto a new, equally loving wrist very often.
This 5513 is in excellent vintage condition. It sports an honest case (and original crystal) with years of wear. There are still proud bevels but the case has probably seen a light polish. The dial is an even latte tone, with all gilt text still well-preserved and visible. The dial's lacquer coat has some very light spidering in sections, which is only visible with oblique lighting, but no cracks or outright damage. The watch still sports its original zinc-sulfide dial plots and tritium hands, which were only together for a few years of production, including this 1966. Its bezel is ghosted heavily with a few tiny patches of degradation, commensurate with this much wear in the sun. It comes on a matching Jubilee known as the 'Joske's' Hecho En Mexico, a quite rare bracelet only seen in Subs retailed in Latin-American countries, correct as this watch originated from Cuba. The calibre 1520 is running well in spec on our timing equipment, serviced earlier this year. This is an entirely original watch which has remained in one family until now, originally purchased in Cuba before its owner emigrated to Miami, where this Submariner spent all its life until today.