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The Rolex Submariner commands respect. It’s a watch with a story, guts, beauty, and an indisputable pedigree that few other watches can claim. Whether one loves it or not, it’s the world’s most iconic sports watch, and it demands (and deserves) a place in any collection, vintage or modern.
There is no doubt that the model is ubiquitous, but what’s so enduring about its appeal is that there’s a model of Submariner for anyone. Its long run (sixty-three years and counting) produced many references, and though every execution shares some similarities with its forebears, each model is very much a watch of its own, with its own character and charm. Date or no-date, big crown or small—there’s a Submariner for all.
The early Submariners laid the foundation for what the line would become, but appear markedly different from more contemporary models. There were no crown guards on these early references, and only five-minute markers on the rotating bezel. As far as the dials were concerned, some had hour markers (like those found on modern Subs) while some had dials with the 3, 6, 9 layout now associated with the Explorer. Instead of the Mercedes hands that all Submariners now bear, early examples had baton or stick style hands. Furthermore, these early Submariners were only rated to a depth of 300 feet.
The Submariner Reference 5508, launched in 1958, represents a pivotal stage in the development of the model. This "Small Crown" model, the 5508 (and its successor, the 6536) is easily distinguishable from other shoulder-less Subs due to its 6mm locking crown. The crown is much smaller than those fitted to subsequent models, including the "James Bond" versions made famous by Connery in the 1960s.
Also instrumental in the development of the Submariner was the addition of fifteen-minute markers to the 5508's bezel; furthermore, even the reference number - 5508 - started the trend of 5500 series reference numbers that would persist until 1966 brought the Reference 1680.
This particular Reference 5508 boasts a near perfect, mirror-gloss, gilt dial with a beautiful patina and all lume intact - a treasure in its own right.
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 a classic and pure expression of the quintessential diver's watch.
Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 38mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 5508. Rolex Self-Winding Movement. Circa 1958.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel Oyster case is in very good condition overall, showing light signs of wear consistent with age and use. Genuine Rolex replacement Bezel insert shows some signs of wear but is in otherwise very good condition. Dial is in lovely condition, showing fine even patina throughout, consistent with age. Luminescent hour plots are puffy and have aged to a creamy patina. Luminescent elements of the genuine Rolex service replacement hands have aged similarly. Rolex crown. Rolex case back shows some signs of use and wear but is in otherwise very good condition.
Includes one 20mm Includes Rolex Steel Rivet Oyster Bracelet (Reference 7206/80). Bracelet has some signs of wear, including stretching, but is in otherwise very good condition.
Also includes inner and outer boxes, guarantee booklet (signed 1958) and instruction booklet.