5513 Rolex Royal Navy Milsub

There’s something a bit bizarre about spending a quarter million on a military watch because it was once, ‘just a tool’. For example, I wouldn’t spend that on a hammer used to erect a barracks in Iraq because it was also once a tool. I wouldn’t even spend that on Mark Wahlberg because he once played Navy SEAL M. Luttrell and is definitely a tool. I would spend a quarter million on a Roger W Smith or brass Resonance, because they have an understandable basis for that kind of valuation. Yet, in truth, I’d spend it on this Milsub also. Simply because it’s one of the very few instances where the very DNA of Rolex touched on history in the way the brand intended; not as an object of luxury, but tool for a professional, in absolute undeniable service.


In addition, they’re rare. Properly rare. Once decommissioned, these watches were not terribly desirable in period, while normal 5513 subs were. As a result, many less-scrupulous dealers changed handsets and dials to standard configurations, then sourced a standard case back or polished off numbers. This was not an uncommon practice and, in addition to the usual causes, has inflated the number of missing or unaccounted of the 1250 ordered milsubs. Any surviving milsub is a beautiful thing.


The distinction between a 5513 which served the Royal Navy and a standard example is slight. The most obvious variation is the handset, which features a broad sword hand for increased underwater lume legibility. The ringed T at 12 was printed to meet government requires denoting tritium use. Perhaps not obvious at first, the bezel is demarcated through the full 60 minutes, as opposed to the standard 15 minute subdivision. Not visible from the exterior, milsub movements also included a hacking seconds which later translated into a few civilian models in the early-mid 70s. Spring bars were fixed as is the hallmark of a true military diver. I also find it telling that the bones of Rolex’s 1520 did not need significant alteration to meet all the abuse the Navy could throw at it. With robust engineering for the period, Rolex had measured twice and cut once. It’s a tool, but also a mark of Rolex’s ability to supply the best with the best. And that’s worth something . . .quite a lot if markets are any indication. I get it too if I’m honest. In fact, at this point I think the only thing that could put me off eventually acquiring a milsub is if I saw one on the wrist of Marky Mark.


This example is in good condition, not perfect but you wouldn’t want one of these to be. The case has full lugs that have likely seen a polish with hard an consistent wear. The dial is similarly hard worn but all tritium is still holding together. The crystal has scratches and bashes to match the case, even. Military engravings on back are deep. It’s a killer watch. It comes from our friend Adam in Miami.

Find this 5513 Milsub here from Menta Watches listed as POA.