Throughout the 1970s Rolex supplied watches to the British Military for use by the Special Forces, namely the Rolex Submariner. Over the course of the decade approximately as few as 1200 pieces were manufactured for the Armed Forces. Utilising references 5513 & 5517 the watches provided were altered to meet strict military specifications and as such are especially collectable.
Whether such a watch is right or wrong is the subject of fierce debate however some elements are clear: All military Submariner dials are marked with a letter T above the depth rating, the lugs feature fixed bars, and the case backs engraved with a Military issue number, supply date and the famous ‘Broad Arrow’. On some 5513, and all 5517 (as with the present lot) Rolex fitted wider ‘Sword’ hands and a new bezel calibrated in its entirety to 60 units. Other reference 5513 models came with any combination of hands or bezels. Dubbed the Milsub by collectors, the modifications made have now become renowned in the vintage watch world. What’s more, given the conditions and environments that they were made to endure, examples in good condition, unchanged since production, are incredibly sought after and examples featuring fully calibrated bezels and ‘Sword’ hands even more so.
The watch above, then, ticks every box for the discerning eye of the collector. This reference 5517 can certainly be considered a superb opportunity to add a very fine piece to any collection.
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