The 5517 is a very rare 5513-derived British Royal Navy Submariner variant. There exist true milsubs which are stamped both as either 5513 or 5517. However, there are few watches which slipped through the Swiss cracks with two references engraved. Much like the 6536/8 is the rarest case engraving of the big crown era, the 5513/7 is the rarest paradoxical case of the MOD era.
Records denote 1250 delivered examples across the three reference varieties. 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 dial to standard configurations. Imagine their shame today, when watches with these components sell at orders of magnitude above a civilian piece. This example goes one step beyond its own scarcity to include a bit of history. A letter dated to 2009 details that the watch was issued in 1977 to a member of the Royal Navy in Devonport. All military engravings are clear and correct, making this a full set as these go. Also included in auction is a issued Royal Navy folding knife.
The case here may have seen a light polish on its flanks. The all-important engravings are clear. Its handset and dial are correct, said to be original. This is quite a rare thing, the sort of watch that only surfaces in an auction scenario, so don’t expect it to be one that flies under the radar when the hammer falls.
Find this 5513/7 here as part of Phillips 2021 New York Watch Auction set to hammer 11 Dec (estimated 92.5K-185K CHF).