‘King Sub’ 6200 Rolex Submariner
The earliest years of the Submariner encompass many beautiful references. But only one is nicknamed the ‘King Sub’, ref. 6200. The 6200 is lore: an Explorer dial in its own case with the first 8mm Brevet ‘big crown’ and no depth rating on the dial. Not even a Submariner line (mostly). Production numbers were extremely small and still contested, but are in the case range of 319XX to 322XX-ish. There are thought to have been roughly 300 made, of which fewer than 25 have resurfaced in the market. For context, 1250 Milsubs were ordered by the Royal Navy from Rolex and it is thought that around 200 have survived; the number of surviving Milsubs today is close to the total production of King Subs.
It’s also strangely out of order and unsystematically named. Rolex chronologically made the 6204 and 6205, then 6200 within a year or so. No one knows why, but it is speculated that this design was in development prior to the 6204 but only released later. The 6200 was succeeded by the 6536/38 James Bond era small and big crowns, respectively. Explorer dials came and went in latter references, but the 3-6-9 in a Sub was first executed here. The 6200 was the professional alternative to the 6204 and 6205, offering 200m resistance to the later duo’s 100m thanks to broader 37.5mm case. 6200s predate the standard of printing a depth rating at 6, but somewhere in the middle of production Rolex added a Submariner there as well. For much of the Submariner-collecting world, this is the end.
So, if you’re eyeing this longingly and thinking you might set up some search alerts, this is where I might break your heart. These regularly trade hands around a half-million, which means that for most of us this mythical creature will remain a myth. Watches are my profession, and I’ve only ever seen two. But you can get halfway to this aesthetic in an Explorer dial 5512, which will still run 100K or thereabouts, not exactly a value alternative, just less expensive. To put this 6200 in perspective, its bezel would likely sell alone for 40K these days. It’s almost like Rolex in 1954 went, ‘Hey guys, let’s make a Sub for a half year in 300 examples with its own Explorer dial and then never reference the design again so that it’s extremely collectible in seventy years.’ The RCO of the Sub world. Or perhaps I should say the RCO is the King Sub of Daytonas. Long live the king.
This example is outrageous too. The case is fantastic, wide bevels and case brushing all perfect. Its bezel is hardly aged. And the dial has some spotting patina in its lacquer, which is almost often seen in original dials but looks great here. The radium appears to be original, and also altogether in its handset. It comes from a well-regarded Dubai retailer.