For those who lament the days when 5517s could be found south of 100K, listen up. Today we have one of the few ‘Rolex’ references (arguably) with issued military origins. The Marine Nationale (Division of French Navy) used a wide range of references, but a majority came from Rolex & its more experimental sister. Tudor Submariner variants emerged in 1974 with the 7016. Since then, MNXX engraved on Tudor case backs has designated the year and branch of issue. The 9401/0 reference started its service to MN in 1975 and ran until 1982. That small batch has a large legacy that is still being written in old age now.
One of the most appealing aspects of MN subs is their fairly well-documented history. There are service ledgers which come from the MN watchmakers (mostly Y. Pastre) giving a history of individual pieces, now books. Not all are catalogued, but this one is. This particular MN was used by the Ecole de plongé (diving school) of l’arsenal de Toulon (French Marine national base In Toulon). I quite like knowing the story behind how and where an issued watch was worn. That privilege is largely specific to MN subs, there aren’t many other military watches so well documented.
The example here shows its age honestly and perfectly. The dial and hands match well in slight patina. Bezel wear is minimal, not even ghosted. The case is polished, but very lightly. More images are a must to assess movement and case back, but Menta Watches are a well-regarded retailer and I wouldn’t expect anything to be out of place.
Part of the Tudor MN’s legacy is certainly a steadily growing appreciation. Although this may seem ridiculous at first read, this example is one of few where values have not sprung completely out of hand at 39000 USD. Keep in mind that just two decades ago, 5514 & 5517s sold well under that. These days, that would be considered an offensive offer. If you are the lucky purchaser, I implore you to find an original MN NATO. It’s just the decent thing to do, really.
Find this Tudor MN here from Menta Watches at 39000 USD.