The Rolex 5513
Regarding Francesco and his first-ever Rolex. And why this specific model holds a special place in his collection.
The passion for watches equally involves him and her. I'm very fond of everything that ticks, since I eventually wrapped my first timepiece around my wrist, and as far as my opinion concerns, a wristwatch is the only "jewel" worth wearing. Also, it is an item capable of standing the test of time, despite new technologies and wearable techs keep changing how we live and interact every day. It is something that has somehow affected how we measure time, too; however, most people keep reading and living time measurement traditionally, through mechanical watches, precious materials, and, after all, a sweeping seconds' hand.
The offering is today vast in terms of products, styles, prices; most of the available options, especially in the premium luxury, offer good quality and high performance, but a handful can be classified as icons, showcase a unique allure and grow their awareness over time. Such timepieces give the owner the feeling of wearing something unique and not any ordinary digital timing and weather measurement instrument. A Rolex Submariner is no doubt sitting atop this list, and even more so, a vintage Rolex 5513.
The 5513 is the sports watch par excellence and one of my all-time favs among those that enrich my private collection. The story goes that this watch joined my other ones by chance since a Rolex was not my first choice, at the time, only because I consider too broad the audience looking for a timepiece carrying the "crowned crown." I have a soft spot for chronographs primarily, aviator and pilot watches in general. It was my wife, whose passion for watches is not second to mine, to bring this specific reference under my radar, although she's not into a brand's history as much as I am, especially when it comes to buying a new one.
I was in a shop with her when I once decided to wear a Rolex 5513, and as soon as I secured it on my wrist, it was love at first sight. This Rolex 5513 thus became "my" 5513. Many product variations have been released by Rolex between 1962 and 1989 when the 5513 was phased out and replaced by the modern-era Submariner. The storyline of the reference 5513 would deserve an in-depth, dedicated article. What I can say is that mine is a Rolex 5513 Matte Dial, Feet First, and No Date, for those who are not Rolex geeks; this specific model was produced between 1969 and 1982, and can be regarded as the forerunner to the current Rolex 114060. No frills, both technically and aesthetically, it tapers around your wrist so tightly and nicely, you sometimes take a look to check if you have it or not, and it's not an ultra-thin watch after all. From a specs sheet perspective, the 5513 sports a 40mm case with straight and tapered lugs, a 7mm crown across, protected by slightly rounded guards; finally, a glossy black and a standard bezel.
The dial is matte black, has white round indexes covered with tritium, whose color has turned to dark yellow. Cambered plexiglass covers that dial. From a three-quarter view, it looks bizarre but somehow reminds of a spaceship, like those so popular on TV series during the 70s/80s. Waterproof up to 660 feet or, else written, 200mt, it is powered by the caliber Rolex 1520, featuring no COSC certification (that is guaranteed instead on the previous model, the Rolex 5512, instead).
My Rolex 5513 is not a point of reference in terms of precision rate, but it is a guarantee from a durability standpoint, considering that it has proved to be a workhorse; I decided to go for a full overhaul since every timepiece needs servicing after a specific time. This variation of the Rolex 5513 can be regarded as the last genuine vintage Submariner No Date since the modern Sub, launched in the early 80s, hit the market introducing various product innovations, like a polished dial and the white gold rings surrounding the luminous dots, details that identify any current 5-digit reference.
What I love the most is the lugs' design: it gives the case a sleek appearance that, along with a reasonable case thickness, make it comfortable, wearable, and an all-time classic. Something you might also find on a standard Submariner or GMT Master 2; however, if you place a 5513 alongside a 114060, the former is way more refined than the latter, whose sportier attitude makes it less adaptable to formal occasions, in my opinion.
I own various luxury sports watches, but the Rolex 5513 holds a special place in my heart: its timeless beauty, sheer elegance, and long history altogether are so rewarding that I sometimes laugh when looking at how this and other luxury watches have turned to be just forms of investment. All in all, I'm glad to own something that represents a pioneering age in watchmaking and which, just like a rare bottle of wine, increases value and taste over time.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Francesco Falcone @Horbiter®