It’s Friday, which can only mean one thing, it’s time for the next edition of #VintageWatchFridays! This week’s star is a highly collectible Rolex Milsub.

Rolex ‘Milsub’ Submariner Ref. 5513

Now, for those not familiar with the term ‘Milsub’ or why these particular watches are so important to collectors, a little background is in order. Essentially a Milsub – as it is affectionately referred to – is a Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513 that was made specifically for the British Ministry of Defense during the first part of the 1970’s. The Ref. 5517, a special reference used exclusively for the British Armed Forces, later superseded this in the second half of the decade.

You couldn’t buy this Rolex; rather you had to be issued one as part of your kit as an activity-duty solider. The real kicker though is that in order to be fit for military use the original Submariner Ref. 5513 was modified by Rolex to meet specific requests from the British Ministry of Defense.

Rolex Ref. 5513 Milsub

According to Christies these requests included fitting the watches with fixed bar lugs that were a diameter of at least 2mm. The dials also needed to be easily readable, and therefore featured larger “sword” hands and showed the international symbol for Tritium, the encircled letter “T” that can be seen just above 6 o’clock.

The bezel was also unique, featuring sixty minute markers, versus the standard 5513 models that had bezels that only had the first fifteen minute markers. Finally, as you can see in the photo below the case backs were marked with the military broad arrow sign, the Ministry of Defense issue numbers, and unit number.

Rolex Ref. 5513 Milsub

Despite it’s age and action-filled history this particular Rolex Milsub is still in excellent condition. The luminous materials on the dial have aged to a nice cream color, matching nicely with the luminous materials on the original sword-shaped hands, whilst the bezel has faded to a nice silvery grey. To be honest the photos just don’t do this piece justice.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that this watch is not actually available for immediate sale through Christie’s Private Sales Watch department. Instead you will have to wait until it is auctioned by Christie’s New York on June 11th for your chance to add this incredibly rare watch to your collection. The estimate is $60,000 – $80,000.

Rolex Ref.5513 Milsub

Good luck!

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Tom Mulraney
Tom Mulraney
Founder & Editor
Tom likes to write about luxury watches. So much so, that he created The Watch Lounge just so he would have an outlet for his passion. Together with his team, he is dedicated to bringing you original, entertaining (and maybe even a little educational) luxury watch and lifestyle content.

1 thought on “Rolex ‘Milsub’ Submariner Ref. 5513 Circa 1974 For #VintageWatchFridays”

  1. John says:

    My friend has a watch similar to the watch illustrated. The under lug numbers are 5513 and
    3 764 764. The hands are not the same, could have been changed when sent away for
    cleaning. The current ones are those of the regular Rolex. On the back is the military ident numbers
    and 188/74.
    Is this an interesting watch or just normal issue?
    Thank you

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