4-Line Dial, PCG 5512 Rolex Submariner

In vintage, there are two different types of people. Some like tropical dials, cases that were used until not a millimeter is left unscathed, watches with stories. Others want a museum example, something that is true and original, but looks like it was left in your grandfather’s drawer (as is often the tale). This is a four line, PCG 5512. And it’s for the latter group of people. It’s amongst one of the very earliest 5512s to display chronometer certification over four lines on the dial, but still has a pointed crown guard case. For the militant, condition-first set who like the details, this is a dream Sub.

And actually, it’s not a 5512. It’s a ‘5512!’ This has what we call an exclamation dial, so named for the dot of lume just under the 6 marker. Most think the exclamation was introduced to mark less aggressive radium content to meet new Atomic Energy Commission regulations. They still register on a geiger counter, just much lower than earlier dials. All of these details track with a 1962 production, which was the year (thought to be, anyway) where Rolex transitioned from 2-line dials to display the chronometer certification below the Submariner line for 5512s in contrast print. It is thought they were produced concurrently starting 1961 and through 1962. And while the Italians blindly nicknamed the 1655 ‘Steve McQueen’, the king of cool actually did wear a 5512.

This will be nonsense to most everyone, but, for those who care, a gilt dial 5512 really does have an entirely different character to latter matte dials. It’s not just the gloss, not just the level of craft that went into gilt print, and it’s not the fact that they have to be looked after a little more carefully. Its that gilt dial 5512s, like 5513s, are the tail end of the Rolex golden era, where the professional lines were forged and solidified. It’s the very earliest example of the complete modern Sub formula, only just completed by a depth rating and crown guards. Most of them were used like the tools they were designed to be. This one probably wasn’t, but because of that it wouldn’t look out of place next to the 6541 Milgauss Rolex bought back at Phillips for 2.2M last year. Like Einstein’s late 20s, The Ramones, or Porsche, there’s a magic about the start of something great.

The condition here is standout. The case is lightly worn, with a case that likely hasn’t seen a polishing wheel. The bevels are proud, and it comes on its original rivet bracelet. All plots are excellent, the handset appears totally complete with only tiny hairlines of age running through the Mercedes handset. Even the bezel pearl is there on its fat font inset. It comes from a well-regarded Parisian retailer.