In 1953, Rolex unveiled a horological pioneer, the Submariner, as one of the world's first dive watches. This groundbreaking timepiece was not only stylish but also boasted a remarkable water resistance of 100 meters (330 feet), setting a new standard for underwater exploration. In its early years, the Submariner underwent several transformations, all featuring 38mm cases without crown guards. It wasn't until the debut of the reference 5512 in 1959 that the case size grew to 40mm, and crown guards were introduced, shaping the future of Submariner dive watches.
In 1962, the reference 5513 Submariner made its entrance, closely resembling its sibling, the ref. 5512. Sporting a black luminous dial, a bidirectional timing bezel, and a 200-meter depth rating, it was a no-date watch designed for uncompromising performance. The initial ref. 5513 Submariner models were equipped with the Caliber 1530 movement. However, within a year or two, Rolex transitioned to the non-chronometer certified Caliber 1520 movement. This movement change was a pivotal factor that set the reference 5513 apart from its chronometer-rated counterpart, the ref. 5512.
Despite the variance in movements, real-world timekeeping performance remained similar between these two Submariner no-date models. However, reference 5513 watches significantly outsold the technically superior ref. 5512, mainly due to their lower price point. As they featured a non-chronometer-rated movement, the dials of ref. 5513 watches lacked the 'Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified' text below the 'Submariner' name, which was present on most reference 5512 counterparts.
Production of the ref. 5513 continued until 1989, making it the longest-running Submariner reference in the collection's history and the last Rolex dive watch to be fitted with an acrylic crystal. The extensive production period of the reference 5513 Submariner resulted in a diverse range of variations concerning dials, crown guards, hands, and bezels. This diversity is a source of excitement for modern-day vintage collectors.
Early reference 5513 Submariner watches featured glossy gilt dials. However, around 1967, Rolex transitioned to matte dials with white text, a style that persisted until approximately 1982. The final evolution of the ref. 5513's dial featured gloss dials with applied white gold hour markers. Moreover, while there are three primary types of reference 5513 Submariner dials, subtle variations abound among different generations, adding to the intrigue for collectors.
The Rolex Submariner 5513 garnered popularity among military personnel in the 1960s and 1970s due to its affordability compared to the chronometer-rated ref. 5512. It even made appearances in James Bond films, equipped with an array of specialized gadgets and functions. This notoriety has significantly driven up prices for ref. 5513 Submariner watches in recent years. Even within this single reference, a wide range of values exists on the open market. Early-production examples, featuring original components, can command prices several times higher than their later-era counterparts due to their rarity and desirability.
The reference 5513 may not have been the first Rolex Submariner, but it is often regarded as the quintessential vintage representation of the brand's legendary dive watch. The diversity within this single reference makes it an enticing model for collectors to pursue. A truly timeless classic, the ref. 5513 Rolex Submariner continues to be a watch that epitomizes style and functionality, making it a cherished addition to any collection that will stand the test of time.