Wants & Desires | British Military Rolex

Equal parts want and desire. This nice looking Oyster Perpetual, Submariner will be up for auction at Antiquorum on June 10th (lot #63) in New York. Estimates place the sale price to likely be between $20,000 – $30,000. Now, before everyone gets all crazy about the price, I just want to say that this is a “money-is-no-object” type of want. An itch that for me will go unscratched barring an ACL sale to [INSERT NAME OF GIANT MEDIA COMPANY] or a successful strike at the lotto. A regular sub would do the trick perfectly, but it would be more fun to say that your watch was originally sold to the Royal Navy.

Comments on “Wants & Desires | British Military Rolex

    ryan on May 28, 2010 5:39 PM:

    that band makes it look cheap

    J. Weston on May 28, 2010 7:19 PM:

    You’re a doofus. That’s a NATO strap – standard British issue. It’s purpose is to make sure that you don’t do something stupid – like lose a $5-10,000 watch. Even if a lug gives way, the NATO strap will keep it on your person.

    Try that with the normal bracelet.

    Aaron on May 28, 2010 7:41 PM:

    Heh, doofus.

    Laguna Beach Trad on May 28, 2010 8:10 PM:

    I want it.

    Thornproof on May 28, 2010 8:38 PM:

    I want it … but not at that price, I am just too cheap. Maybe if I hunt hard enough, I will find one in a thrift shop … now that would be hitting the lottery!

    Heavy Tweed Jacket on May 28, 2010 9:58 PM:

    Great post. I suppose my desirable military watch would be an RAF Omega from the 1950s with a 30T2 movement. There’s one here with a restoration review: http://www.30t2.com/page3/RAF1953.htm

    Things Is Cool on May 28, 2010 11:23 PM:

    An extraordinarily handsome timepiece.

    Hallock on May 28, 2010 11:46 PM:

    I don’t always enjoy what I see on this blog, but that watch is truly gorgeous.

    omdroparebop on May 28, 2010 11:47 PM:

    Just sublime.

    Albert on May 29, 2010 1:00 AM:

    It does not look like the standard Subs sold to the England NAvy to me….

    Staceyboy on May 29, 2010 5:27 AM:

    It’s a shame that neither the bezel nor the hands are the specified originals. They’ve been replaced with ‘civilian ‘ Submariner parts during a recent service. I’m a collector and though it’s a handsome looking piece I’d say that the price is a little strong for this one, IMHO.

    Bernardo on May 29, 2010 6:54 PM:

    @ J. Weston,

    It’s unfortunate that you can’t coach or educate the guy without the schoolyard insult. I guess that’s a by-product of anonymity: it breeds cowardice.

    Jonas on May 29, 2010 6:57 PM:

    I dont get it.
    I like the Rolex as much as the next guy, but I have to wonder about the type of person who would pony up $30K for this one just because it was issued to the military. Is it the kind of guy who would strap it on his wrist and imagine all the adventures he would have had had he been in the service back in the ’70’s or whatever?
    I was in the military. USMC to be specific, spent months on the ocean, hung with Force Recon, SEAL team 1, even Royal Marine Commando’s once Kuwait. All the steely eyed bad boys of high adventure.
    Nobody, I mean NOBODY, wore a Rolex. You want a real military mans watch? Sorry to pop your bubble, but get a G-shock. That is as authentic as it gets my friends.
    I am not a Rolex collector so I am sorry if I am being a cad and missing the point. I would be a lot more into this watch if I thought it was being auctioned off and the money going to a veterans charity like The Mission Continues, or The Wounded Warrior project or something.

    Tom on May 29, 2010 10:04 PM:

    Jonas, they _used_ to be issued to divers back in the day. My U.S. Navy buddy used to wear one during Vietnam. You could buy them for $200 at the PX. Then Rolex got out of the tool watch business and now, as you say, everyone wears a Casio.

    If you like the old-school simplicity of a mil-sub may I suggest a Rolex Submariner 14060M? The non-COSC version, produced until about two years ago, is the immediate descendant of the original. No date, no cyclops, no “Superlative Chronometer” text, no rehaut engraving, good ol’ lug holes, sheet-metal end links and that wonderful stamped clasp. Truly the coelacanth of the Rolex line-up.

    Its only nods to modernity were introduced 20 years ago: Luminova markers with white-gold surrounds and a sapphire crystal (both good things, in my opinion).

    The best part is that non-COSC 14060Ms can still be found new here and there. Save $25K and get a watch with which to make your OWN history. But act soon, they’re going fast.

    Jonas on May 30, 2010 12:24 AM:

    I guess I should apologize if I offended anyone.
    It’s not up to me to comment negatively on things that people collect and enjoy. If it’s worth $30k to someone, than its worth $30K regardless of it’s history or thiers. I have had many great oppurtunities in life that not everyone has had.
    I have a rolex that was given to me by my father in law. I dont wear it, as I dont think I am the kind of man who wears a Rolex. I only wear a inexpensive sports watch at work because it is a tool that have to have, and it has to be disposable if need be.

    I like the looks of the 40’s Longines and German Doxa watches though…

    rmk on May 30, 2010 12:49 AM:

    The thing about vintage military watches vs. watches worn by troops today is the technology. Pre-1969, there was no such thing as a quartz watch. Even after the were introduced, they were very expensive compared to most mechanical watches at the time. What made Rolex so desirable back then was that you could get a highly-reliable, waterproof watch that could take some abuse and hold up for a decent affordable price. That’s what the G-Shock is today, expect that at that price they are semi-disposable. The Rolex models that are most popular in the US are all sports watches. I always get a chuckle when a guy refers to his Submariner as his dress watch. The asking price is steep here. I would spend that on a much rarer collectable piece.

    Martin on May 30, 2010 4:26 AM:

    Heh. Heavy Tweed, I have that watch. It is an excellent icon of design. Totally different vibe from a military submariner. BTW, that rolex was butchered, as previously noted, by the loss of so many of the 5517 specific components.

    Razvan on May 30, 2010 5:10 AM:

    sweet, as always…

    if you allow me a ask an off topic question, could recommend a list or a site where they list some true Americana movies ? I just saw Easy Rider again a few weeks ago and I was wondering where I can find more movies like this.

    thanks and sorry for being off topic

    DeathinVenice on May 30, 2010 5:35 AM:

    Heavy Tweed — I wear a 1945 Omega military watch with 30T2 movement everyday. A spectacular and reliable watch, plus much more reasonably priced than a Submariner (a nice 1940-1950s military Omega in decent shape can be had for less than $1000).

    Agree with above comments that the $20-$30K estimate for the Submariner is extremely optimistic (hopeful?) for an adulterated Rolex of that type.


    Leitz Noctilux on May 30, 2010 9:22 AM:

    This is what they look like when complete;


    I wear mine on a G10 made from Horween cordovan.

    These watches are often faked by taking a normal 5513 Submariner & adding aftermarket parts, the one being offered is authentic by virtue of the letter from Rolex UK, who were the only people who ever supplied the milsub. I would expect it to sell for considerably more than the high estimate.

    Lineage of Influence on May 30, 2010 12:54 PM:

    The 5513 Milsub’s nice but I prefer the 5517 with the sword hands (as opposed to the Mercedes hands on this).

    It’s still an awesome watch though.

    roseskunk on May 30, 2010 12:54 PM:

    Sure, another Rolex Sub. You, me and everyone else. Why not support serious watchmakers from Pennsylvania? The first American caliber in over thirty-five years. Create your own history, Mr. Bond.


    J. Weston on May 30, 2010 3:49 PM:

    Apologies on the doofus comment. And appropriately enough, the last time I called someone a doofus was the schoolyard.

    Yes, anonymity does strange things indeed. I’ll try to behave myself, as I only exist here as a little blurb of text.

    Zinman on May 30, 2010 5:31 PM:

    That is truly a grail watch, sadly, I will never own one, but I have a very nice watch collection regardless. Anyone who wants more info on military watches, there is a great community at http://www.broadarrow.net, check it out!

    Lineage of Influence on May 31, 2010 6:32 AM:

    Adding to the site above, for anyone that wants to learn more about these Rolex’s this site is really good with loads of info.


    Ramalhoni on May 31, 2010 8:42 AM:

    A couple of years ago I was traveling through the north of Italy/south of Switzerland and decided to visit the town of Locarno. There I found an amazing store of second hand luxury time pieces that carried some of the most beautiful vintage watches I’d ever seen.
    Between them were many 50’s and 60?s Rolex’s just like this one, some really nice Omegas too.
    I can’t really remember the name of the store right know, but I’ll try to find out and post it here.

    By the way I love the ACL blog, and congrats on the FastCompany inclusion on the 100 most creative people.

    joanna goddard on May 31, 2010 9:43 AM:

    oh god. alex needs no encouragement in this dept. gorgeous watch.

    Loopy on June 1, 2010 7:06 AM:

    @ J. Weston: “Doofus” was warranted.

    @ roseskunk: Unfortunately, because RGM insist on making monstrously oversized (42mm!!) watches that are quite ugly. At least so far. Perhaps they will make some watches that have some level of taste, but until then, no.

    Mat on June 1, 2010 8:15 AM:

    I really like this watch and strap (also in an olive drab), i’m currently on the hunt for a reasonable Paul Newman Daytona any hints ?


    Leitz Noctilux on June 1, 2010 10:36 AM:

    Hi Mat;

    ‘Reasonable’ is not normally associated with Paul Newman Daytona prices; are you looking for a push button or a screw down button version?

    In my experience well over 50% of the PNs I encounter have refinished dials, so the old maxim comes into play “Buy the seller, not the watch”.

    keithwwalker on June 1, 2010 2:49 PM:

    The auction watch, if it is the one pictured, would fetch a higher price if there was an original band included. The NATO strap pictured costs about $15.

    Anyway, the best NATO style bands for everyday use are Maratac Zulu bands. I have a ‘4 ring’ band on my watch, the rings are beefy and PVD coated, the bands themselves being ballistic nylon and much thicker than a G10 band.

    Frankie on June 4, 2010 3:59 PM:

    Leitz: Where did you get the G10 made from Horween cordovan from? Looks great.

    Leitz Noctilux on June 4, 2010 5:44 PM:

    They are made by a friend who makes much of the cordovan stuff for Brooks Brothers, he doesn’t retail them but if you really want one, I will see if I can get one for you. They run around $100 and come in black, or this tan colour.


    Frankie on June 4, 2010 9:15 PM:

    Leitz: I would really like to get my wrist around a tan one if possible. Shoot me an email when you get chance, frankie@fatfrankies.com

    patrick b on June 5, 2010 9:23 PM:

    $20k-$30k is actually a pretty good deal compared to what Mil-Subs fetched at the last big Antiquorum Rolex auction in June of 2008. IIRC there were two mil-subs and both sold for prices way north of $100K ($140K and $160K seems ring a bell). $30k seems like a bargain! I’ll take two :)
    There was also a nice story about the same timeframe of a Scottish guy who brought a genuine Mil-Sub into his local Rolex AD and asked them to remove the permanent lug bars so he could install a regular bracelet. Thankfully the dealer recognized what the customer had and he eventually sold it to a collector in the UK (who owns several mil-subs). IIRC, the lucky gent inherited the watch from a family member who had obtained it when he was in the service. I often dream of finding something like that at a yard sale…a guy can dream, right?

    Veronica on June 6, 2010 8:08 AM:

    OMG Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. Always have preferred the sporty Rolexes over the dress watches. Somehow, dress watch suits Cartier more than Rolex. This one looks like it can withstand a punch!

    JohnP on June 6, 2010 2:23 PM:

    An absolute classic and a steal at that price, even if not all original. Here’s one from a couple of years ago at £55k, guess that was about $80k US at the time.

    Larry on June 6, 2010 5:16 PM:


    Check out Bathys Watches. I bought the base model without the bezel. They run around 600 dollars and you get a wonderful tool watch designed in Hawaii and produced in Switzerland. You can get them with an ETA movement if you prefer.



    Leitz Noctilux on June 6, 2010 5:19 PM:


    Here is another one of mine, issued NOT to the Royal Navy or Marines, but to a helicopter pilot of the Army Air Corps.

    Unlucky on June 8, 2010 4:43 AM:

    Why not pick up a Canadian one for a fraction of the price.
    And, if anyone wants a Horween strap for another fraction of the going rate let me me know. I’ve got shell in black or even better (imho) veg tanned horse butt.

    Lineage of Influence on June 18, 2010 5:28 PM:

    @ JohnP. The watch in that auction you posted is a 5517, the more collectible of the Milsub variants (with its original sword hands which adds a fair amount of value). The one shown in this post is a 5513 with the standard spec Mercedes hands, hence the lower price. Still a damn fine watch though and more money tha I’m ever going to be spending on one.

    A decent alternative for anyone after something like this are Tudors submariner that was used extensively by the military (mainly due to it’s lower price). When I get my arse in gear I’ll do a post on them.

Comments are closed.