The classic, iconic (I can actually use that adjective here) small-crown Submariner is ageing remarkably well. Every single Black Bay 58 you see plastered across your Instagram feed owes its existence to this design. The red triangle bezel, proud small crown, tapered lugs, and Mercedes handset went on to define a design language for the following decades. If you wish to actually go diving, buy a Black Bay (I’d recommend the 79220N). If you wish to enjoy the absolute heights of vintage charm and beauty, here’s your Submariner.
6536 and 6538 collecting (5508 and 6200 too for that matter) is all about the details. A half year of production can mean an entirely different bezel or dial. With auction values constantly on the rise, it’s worth getting the details right. This red triangle bezel with hash marks for the first fifteen minutes marks it out as among the latter productions, from 1958 and 1959. Earlier watches had no divisions. In addition, the depth rating is slightly more white on these dials, where earlier dials are almost grey in tone. Lastly, its dial is glossier than early watches as well. While it may look like a troubling less-than-ideal restoration, the lighter lume plot at 6 is original. Many 6536/8s (though not all) had a stronger (which aged whiter) lume blend at 6 to indicate to divers where the bottom of the dial was located. This lume plot detail was gone in 1959 serial numbers, but checks out for this ’58.
All early Submariners which lack crown guards are simply silly money today. However, low overall relative production numbers and a scarcity of honest condition examples means that Rolex collectors will chase values into the sky for the right watches, this should come as no surprise. I cannot deny the Sean Connery-adjacent charm to the no-frill Submariners of this era. What they lack today in value they make up for in attraction. If my Black Bays, which I love very much, have taught me anything it’s that nothing pulls at the heart like a deeply patinated five-decade-old dial and lightly worn case. Modern and practical Submariner-like watch designs exist in vast numbers today, where characterful, true vintage Subs are always a difficult hunt (one which requires careful study). For people like us, isn’t that half the fun?
This example is in strong overall condition, particularly the dial and bezel. Its radium plots appear totally original and whole. In addition, we get the lovely original white seconds hand. Its red triangle bezel is perfect (correct for year) and includes its pip. The case has definitely seen a polish, but not abusively so. It comes on a correct 7206 rivet stamped 4-56. It comes recently serviced from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this 6536-1 here from Bulang & Sons here listed as POA.