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In a hot market for ‘tool’ watches, period Submariners generate strong competition wherever they appear for sale – and in whatever condition.

Many variants exist.

Submariners with Explorer dials, the so-called reference 5513, were produced in small numbers during the 1950s and ‘60s. The example offered by Gardiner Houlgate (20% buyer’s premium) in Corsham on October 25 was dated to c.1964 and had been owned by the family since new. It had no bracelet and the glass was cracked, but it found an international buyer at £135,000.

Remarkably, this was the fifth 3-6-9 Explorer the auctioneers had sold since receiving wide publicity for the sale of a similar watch in May 2016 for £160,000. It had been bought in 1966 for £69.10.

As reported in ATG No 2313, Lockdales (19.5% buyer’s premium) in Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich set a new house record when a rare Submariner variant with orange numerals sold at £230,000 on October 11. The watch, purchased by the East Anglian owner in 1965, carries the model number 1023420 and the serial number 1029/6636 and came with the original box and papers.

Surfacing in west London and Darlington

The example offered by Chiswick Auctions (23% buyer’s premium) on September 12 was a 1962 reference 5508 edition. It has both an original black ‘exclamation mark’ dial (take a look at the six o’clock marker and all will become clear), an original aluminium bezel insert and lacks the crown guards that feature on all later issues.

Matthew Caddick, head of watches at Chiswick, described the watch as “in honest and unmolested condition” and added that the successful bidder at £41,000 had deemed it the best currently available in the market.


Fragmentary 1958 Submariner – £4600 at Thomas Watson.

The 1958 Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner offered at Thomas Watson’s (24% buyer’s premium) in Darlington on September 26 was valued between £1000-2000 as it was incomplete, missing the bezel, straps and other components. Nonetheless, it was knocked down for £4600.

The Submariner featured in three decades of movies but Timothy Dalton was the last to wear the brand. In recent Bond productions, 007 has changed allegiance to Omega.