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There is something intensely pure about early executions.
Be it an automobile, a watch or an unblended, lightly aged dram of whisky, stripping off layers of modifications and generations of improvements, you are left with the simplest expression of a thing - unadulterated and undiluted - a thing in its truest, purest form. And when that thing happens to be the world's most iconic sporting wristwatch, well, that thing is something special.
When we first got into dive watches, the Rolex Submariner was the indisputable king of the heap and the singular object of our desire. Here was a watch that even in our early days of collecting had a tremendously strong pull. It was a watch with story, with guts, and with beauty. We knew, without knowing anything at all, that the Submariner was special. And we knew we had to have one.
We had heard whispers of the unicorns, hushed voices muttering words like "Comex" and "Mil-Sub." We had heard about the "shoulderless" pieces; the "Small Crown" models and the so-called "James Bond" Submariner. In all honesty, we didn't really "get" it. A Sub was a Sub was a Sub. Or at least, that was all we could really comprehend. Our grail watch was the Reference 16800 - a brilliant watch for sure, but nothing terribly exotic.
Fast forwarding many, many years, and the landscape is a very different one. There are plenty of great resources for budding collectors, and even a few trustworthy dealers who won't rake you over the coals on your first deal (wink, nod). Information is much more readily available on these iconic divers, from the most basic to the most exotic. And as this landscape has changed, so have our tastes. We have developed a taste for design in its simplest form, and the Submariner is no exception.
What we're showing you here is a Rolex Reference 5508 Submariner, from 1958 (roughly). The "Small Crown" model, the 5508 and its successor, the 6536, are easily distinguishable from other shoulder-less Subs due to its 6mm locking crown, much smaller than those fitted to subsequent models, including the "James Bond" versions made famous by Connery in the 60s.
This particular example is not only visually stunning, but comes complete with its original inner and outer boxes, Guarantee booklet (filled out and dated in 1958) and instruction booklet describing the newly patented locking Oyster crown.
In our eyes, the Small-Crown Subs are one of the most compelling value propositions in vintage Rolex collecting. With other models (Big Crowns, COMEX, Mil-Subs) trading for many, many multiples, the 5508 has somehow managed to sneak by the frenzy - at least, for now. But more than that, the 5508 is quite simply our favorite Submariner execution - the purest expression of the quintessential diver's watch.
Stainless Steel case is approximately 40mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 5508. Circa 1958.
Overall Condition: Case is in great condition overall, showing light signs of wear associated with age and use. Retains strong lugs with no signs of over-polishing. Dial is in beautiful condition, showing light signs of aging and patina. Gilt dial printing is crisp. Luminescent plots have aged to a warm cream color with correct "puffing" appropriate to age. Hands are in terrific shape with matched patination. Bezel insert shows light signs of aging. Original case back and Rolex signed crown.
Includes Rolex Steel Rivet Oyster Bracelet (Reference 7206/50) and two 20mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.