A Collector’s Guide To The Vintage Perfect 1:1 Replica Rolex Submariner 5513 Watches UK

Writing about the best replica Rolex Submariner 5513 watches in 2024 is kind of like reviewing Led Zeppelin IV or Godfather II or maybe even just Oppenheimer in today’s world, where culture moves faster than the flick of a thumb scroll. There’s not much that hasn’t been said about an exceedingly good but simple dive watch, or so it might seem. But also, sometimes it’s worth remembering: “Black Dog” just freakin’ rocks.

Which is exactly why I wanted to write about the Rolex Submariner 5513 – it just freakin’ rocks.

All those “new” releases that are actually just different dial colors are fun to follow and sometimes actually exciting. But now – especially now – when the market is slower and complaints about price hikes are taken for granted, like an Oscar nomination for Coppola or Nolan (except Megalopolis – please no), there’s something exceedingly appealing about one of the longest-running divers ever.

A decade ago, one John Mayer called the 5513 one of his “best buys” in vintage AAA UK Rolex fake watches for under $8,000. Since then, the market has gone up and back down like a Mayer guitar riff, which has even made me feel like it might be a “best buy” again, relatively speaking, as always. We’ll get to the market of it all towards the end – mostly, I want this to be about the 5513 and not the acquisition of said watch.

A Quick Refresher On The Rolex Submariner 5513

Especially when we’ve already done the Reference Points on a particular model, it can feel like we’ve said everything there is to say.

“Welp, good job guys, we did it – we wrote 10,505 words on the Submariner – try and top that,” the very title Reference Points taunts. But there’s still plenty to say about the 5513.

As Reference Points reminds us, Rolex produced the 5513 from 1962 through 1989, which means it lived a life longer than most domesticated cats. Like a house cat, any particular high quality replica Rolex Submariner 5513 watches isn’t exactly rare or special (just kidding, Marmalade, I love you, my sweet tortie), but as the 5513 fades further in the rearview, it’s harder to find them in good condition. More than rarity, the condition is what can set a vintage Sub apart.

Submariner 5512 Vs. 5513

Rolex introduced the Submariner 5513 in 1962, three years after the Submariner 5512. The main difference is on the inside, as the 5513 does not feature a COSC-certified chronometer movement. After its first few years of production, the 5512 always used a chronometer-certified movement. This was signified by the “Superlative Chronometer” text on the dial at six o’clock. The 5512 carried a premium, but the cheap Rolex copy watches are the same otherwise. As the first Submariner references with crown guards, they laid the groundwork for the next 60 years of the model. While materials have changed, cases have gotten beefier and bracelets sturdier; a 5512 or 5513 is, basically, the same as a modern 124060.

While it would’ve made a difference when these Rolex replica watches for men were originally purchased, nowadays, the chronometer (5512) vs. non-chronometer (5513) doesn’t mean as much. As a matter of taste, some collectors might like the idea of a chronometer more, while others might prefer the minimal two lines of text on a 5513 dial. (I’m mostly the latter – don’t get mad at me, chronometer heads.)

“Sure, the 5512 is rarer, but for the most part, people just want a good-looking Submariner with a little character,” Charlie Dunne, Vice President and Senior Specialist at Wind Vintage, said. It’s often said that you’ll find one 5512 for every 20 5513s, but these are just estimates. For perspective, EveryWatch tracks the secondary market and says there are 137 ref. 5512s available right now, while there are 764 ref. 5513s available.

Either way a 5513 in great condition always beats a poor 5512.

“For me, the 5513 is among the ultimate in sports Rolex,” Fratello editor Mike Stockton added. “Despite the fact that I’ve always been partial to the 5512 because my dad wore a battered ’60s example for diving, I deeply respect the 5513.” This illustrates the larger point: Any preference between the two references is mostly personal.

Two-liner vs. four-liner – it’s a debate nearly as old as the detent escapement. Other than that, the 5512 and 5513 are the same top fake Rolex watches: 40 x 14mm, no date, 200 meters of water resistance, a rotating bezel, and a black dial. The no-date 5512 and 5513 are often discussed together and differentiated from the Submariner Date ref. 1680, which was introduced a few years later.

Let’s focus on the 5513, the “everyman” Sub for nearly three decades. We’ll briefly discuss dial types and why collectors might prefer one over the other, the evolution of the Oyster bracelet, and the case condition before ending with a discussion of the market and collecting the Submariner 5513.

Submariner 5513 Dials

In broad terms, there are three generations of the 5513:

Gilt dials, 1962–1967ish
Matte dials, 1967–1984ish
Glossy dials, 1984–1989

Within these are nearly limitless variants based on dial printing, lume plots, and crown guard shape, not to mention rare birds like MilSubs and Explorer dials that sit at the top of Sub collecting, if not all of vintage Rolex. This isn’t a full deep-dive into every single variation of the 5513 – that’s been done. Besides our Reference Points, 5513mattedial.com is a great resource for learning about the 10 (!) matte dial variants.

Instead of going in-depth on each of the dial types, I found one collector to explain why one specific dial type – gilt, matte, or glossy – is their favorite.

Gilt Dials

Like many brands, Rolex produced gilt dials for its sports replica Rolex watches for sale in the early ’60s, including Subs. These dials were produced by a time-intensive process that exposed the underlying metal of the dial blank. Since the technique exposes the blank brass underneath the dial’s face, this often results in golden text and markers. A lacquer is also added, giving the black dial a “glossy,” shiny finish.

This gilt process was used by Rolex to produce 5513 (and 5512) dials until the late ’60s. Today, collectors still love gilt dials because they’re deep and rich, with metallic lettering that no paint can match – and gilt Subs carry the price premiums to prove it. Some old guys will even tell you these gilt dials are the real-deal vintage stuff, and everything after that is far too modern for their sensibilities.

“I particularly like gilt Submariners because they’re bold tool watches that exhibit beautiful fragility as well,” collector (and gilt 5513 owner) Jeff Binstock said. “Early ’60s Submariners have bold, beautiful, glossy dials with subtle gilt writing in relief. But they’re also fragile and many experienced cracking and peeling from heat and moisture exposure.” Because of this, finding a gilt Sub in collectible condition is a real treat.

These gilt dials truly feel like old, vintage Swiss movements Rolex super clone watches from another era. It’s hard to find anything made since that compares with that deep, glossy black.

Matte Dials

By the late ’60s, Rolex started transitioning from gilt to matte dials.

In his excellent in-depth article on the Submariner 5512, Dunne explained that the pad printing (or tampography) process was actually invented for watch dials by a German industrialist, developing a process to print matte dials at scale by 1968. It’s no wonder we saw brands like Rolex transition from those pesky gilt dials to matte dials in the late ’60s. While pad printing would soon be used for all kinds of things, it was invented for 2024 China Rolex replica watches.

For Stockton, who owns a Maxi matte 5513, this is as good as it gets.

“The fact that Rolex was making this antiquated watch with a matte dial and gorgeous domed Tropic crystal well into the ’80s strikes me as anachronistic. I love the huge, warm tritium lume plots under the crystal… earlier pieces are fine but more lume is better to me.”

Stockton is referring to the “Maxi” dials that Rolex began producing in the late ’70s, so called because of the larger lume plots that can make the watch feel even bigger. These mega lume plots can also make the watch feel a bit bigger on wrist.

He’s right – getting a full view of all those lume plots through that old, domed plastic crystal just feels right. Dunne agreed.

“There’s nothing like a gilt Rolex dial,” Dunne conceded. “But should a matte dial always be less desirable than gilt? No way.” The crisp print and textured surface give matte dials a character all their own. Especially if you take into account the premium that gilt can command over matte, there’s a lot of value in matte dials.

A matte Submariner is, in many ways, the Submariner. It’s not flashy or rare or ostentatious, it’s just a great vintage dive watch, and that’s exactly why Rolex made these matte 5513s for almost two decades.

Glossy Dials (With White Gold Surrounds)

Finally, in the mid-’80s, Rolex transitioned to glossy dials featuring lume plots with white gold surrounds around the lume plots. It’s the first hint that the diver’s fake Rolex watches wholesale was pivoting from tool to luxury. The excess of the ’80s had arrived in full force, and not even the reliable old Submariner could resist it. Even the lume plots have gone from a functional feature to a statement.

“This dial combo represents our first glimpse of luxury for the longstanding tool watch,” says the private collector from whom I borrowed the glossy 5513 you see photographed here. He points out that the dial and white gold surrounds really shine in bright sunlight and then revert back to its more muted DNA as a tool watch in lower light. This example comes from the very last year of 5513 production and you can see that the tritium lume remains a bright white; earlier examples can show some creamy aging, a cool juxtaposition against the modern, glossy dial.

I’d often thought these more modern glossy dials were a bit too luxurious – in the worst sense of that word – but especially combined with the same old 5513 case, I’ve grown to tolerate the look of this last generation of 5513s. The last vestiges of its tool-watch origins are hanging on like George Clooney to his last few black hairs. Still there and always handsome, but soon enough, the first five-digit models would make the Sub mostly modern.

I might prefer a matte dial, but there’s a modern appeal to these late glossy dials, not to mention they offer some value. They might not feel quite like a “true” vintage watch yet, whatever that means, but soon enough, they will.

The Oyster Bracelet

A Rolex Submariner, old or new, is typically delivered on an Oyster bracelet – it’s so familiar it feels like part of the replica Rolex watches shop. We don’t often discuss the wearability and differences of these vintage Oyster bracelets, so let’s take a closer at the range of bracelet types you can find on the 5513. In general, there are three generations of bracelets for Subs:

Early ’60s: Rivet (7206, 6636, C&I made-in-USA bracelets, among other domestic-market bracelets)
Late ’60s–’70s: Folded link (9315)
1980s: Solid link (93150)

Renowned Swiss bracelet maker Gay Freres was the primary supplier of bracelets, which Rolex would go on to wholly acquire in 1998. To reduce duties on its Rolex replica watches site imported in certain markets, Rolex also commissioned domestic suppliers in the U.S., U.K. (W.A.B.), Mexico, and elsewhere. The most notable is the U.S. manufacturer C&I (Cromwell International), easily identified by the C&I logo on the clasp.

The first-gen rivet bracelets refer to the visible rivets on the outer edge that hold together the hollow, folded links and typically came in stretch or non-stretch variants. For those more familiar with modern Rolex bracelets, it can be shocking how light and downright flimsy these vintage bracelets feel. But a lot of people – including me – love the feel. They taper nicely to a no-nonsense clasp (no FlipLock, no GlideLock, no problem!) and practically melt on the wrist.

“Collectors with smaller wrists often prefer rivet bracelets because they’re so much lighter,” Dunne said. While Submariners are large by vintage Rolex standards, these thin, almost weightless bracelets balance out that heft. Early “Big Logo” rivet bracelets that also came on other big-time Rolex references and were named after the large logo stamped on the clasp command a premium.

Bracelet codes are stamped inside the clasp. In these early years, a batch and production year were also stamped on the clasp. In the ’70s, Rolex began using a system where a letter represented the year, and the number represented the month. You can find a number of these code tables on the Internet, but look at this one from Bob’s Watches, for example, and you can tell that a bracelet stamped “G6” dates to June 1982.

By the ’70s, Rolex moved to folded-link bracelets (9315 with 280 end links for the Submariner), which have a bit more heft. For the 5513, it’s the Goldilocks bracelet – not too old, not too new. They still sit super slim on the wrist but just a bit sturdier than those rattly rivets.

In the ’80s, Rolex started making solid-link bracelets (93150 with 580 end links for the Submariner). By now, Rolex has firmly entered its beefcake era, and these feel, more or les, like modern bracelets. You’ll find them on matte and glossy dials.

We can debate which bracelet feels best on wrist, and I certainly have. As mentioned, the folded link has a Goldilocks appeal for me, though there’s also a practicality to wearing your vintage tool watch on a sturdy solid-link bracelet (FlipLock and all). There’s a bit less vintage appeal, and it’ll feel chunkier on the wrist, but you also won’t sweat while walking through every single door jamb. For me, a matte 5513 on a solid link bracelet strikes that balance between vintage charm and wearability that makes vintage Rolex appealing. That’s more about wearability than collectability, but of any vintage Swiss made Rolex fake watches, it feels like we should wear our vintage Subs.

By the way, that’s one of the reasons it can be so fun to search for vintage Submariners – they vary so much in condition because people just wore their damn watches.

Beyond personal preferences for a particular type of Oyster bracelet, it’s important to find a bracelet that matches your watch. For example, if you’re wearing an early gilt dial, that should pair with a rivet bracelet. For me, it just looks weird and put together on a solid-link bracelet – save those later bracelets for late matte or glossy dials. And if you’re a dealer, offer your Sub stock on a correct bracelet!

The Vintage Submariner Case

I wanted to talk more about the Submariner case, but this has already gone longer than expected, so I’ll leave you with just a couple of thoughts:

First, while it’s important to look for a 5513 case that still has its original lines and edges, these Oyster cases are chunky, built to last, and can stand a sympathetic polish or two. More than a Daytona or Explorer, for example. Obviously, sharper cases deserve a premium, but a polish or two doesn’t need to be an automatic pass.

Second, a lot of the magic is in the lug bevels. There are other details to look for, too – e.g., the crown guards and knurling on the bezel ring – but a lot of the beauty of a Sub’s case is in the bevels. Look at even a few vintage Submariner cases, and you’ll see how much they can vary. Some of this is polishing, but some of it’s just how they were made. The original bevels are big and fat on early examples but tend to get thinner in later years. Much of the trick is finding a case that seems to “make sense” with the rest of the best quality Rolex replica watches. A crispy case with a dial that looks like it’s been through a couple of tours? No thanks.

Beyond that, we’ll save a deeper dive into Rolex Oyster case condition another day.

The Submariner Market And Collecting The 5513

“It’s a really good time to be a person who wants to own a vintage Sub,” Dunne said. Everyone I talked to agreed. The vintage Rolex market has been down for a few years, but thinking that the vintage Submariner market is going to completely collapse would be like betting against Microsoft. The Submariner is the ultimate blue chip in watch collecting.

The data seems to agree, too. The Subdial/Bloomberg Watch Index says the average price of a 5513 is down 11.8 percent over the past 12 months, with trade volume down 29 percent.

As we’ve been discussing, there’s a ton of variation in this one reference, so one average doesn’t capture the whole picture. EveryWatch did an analysis for this article and found that, over the past 3 years, dial types impacted the average sale price as follows:

Underline (gilt): +$35,600
Matte dial: +$1,400
Glossy (WGS) dial: -$1,200

In other words, a matte dial sold for an average of $1,400 more than the overall 5513 average. Given that a matte 5513 is basically an “average” 5513 – it had the longest production run of the three dial types – this seems to make some sense. This spread, which doesn’t even get to the special Explorer dials and MilSubs, begins to illustrate how you could spend a lifetime collecting vintage Subs or just the 5513 and never get bored.

However, the vintage Rolex market has been slower over the past few years. The general consensus is that “it’s not 2018” anymore when every big-time collector felt they needed an early gilt Sub. And that’s just fine. Rolex made the 5513 for almost 30 years, and people have been buying them for the last 30 years. It’ll still be the quintessential diver in another 30 years.

Beyond the numbers, The Swiss online replica Rolex Submariner 5513 watches is a great first watch, fifth watch, or last watch. No matter what the “market” thinks of the 5513, it has a certain everyman appeal that can’t be quantified as the simple, non-chronometer Submariner that Rolex made across three decades.

And now, I’m gonna go flip on The Godfather II.

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