Rolex Submariner Ref.5508 1959 – Superb Tropical Dial


Fully Inspected, Serviced and Guaranteed

Superb 1950s No Crown Guard James Bond Submariner

Stunning Original Tropical Chocolate Dial & Original Mercedes Hands

Functional Rotating Bezel, with Dial, Movement and Case in Tip-Top Condition

High Grade Rolex Cal.1530, 26 Jewels Automatic Movement in Top Condition

Standard Sized 38mm Stainless Steel Case, Excluding the Correctly Signed Crown

High Quality Dark Brown Tool Watch Leather Strap with Rolex Steel Buckle

All in Absolutely Top Grade & Simply Amazing Condition

Original Rolex Presentation Box Included As Shown

VGWL 12 Months’ Written Warranty Included*

VGWL Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee

Free Worldwide FedEx Delivery

Free UK Special Delivery

VGW Reference: R1112s
Price £37,500 Sold


Out of stock

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Founded in 1905 in England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, the partnership became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving to its new Geneva headquarters in 1919. The success of the wristwatch in general can largely be attributed to many of Rolex’s innovations which made the company one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These have included its famous “Oyster” case — the world’s first water-resistant and dust-proof watch case, invented in 1926.  The Oyster Perpetual, – the world’s first reliable, self-winding movement for the wristwatch, was launched in 1933. These would form the foundation for Rolex’s Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956. Also, and equally importantly, Rolex is known for its sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.

Why This Watch Is Important

The Rolex Submariner is perhaps the icon of the brand. Amongst the world’s most recognisable watches, the Submariner is the world’s most recognised watch. And this vintage Rolex Submariner 5508 is as good as it gets: a pristine no-date “James Bond” Rolex Submariner from the golden age of the dive watch, the 1950s and early 1960s.

Originally released in late 1957 as a 1958 model, the Rolex Submariner 5508 retains many of the romantic early signatures of the first Rolex Subs. The acrylic crystal is in excellent condition, and its anachronistic “bubble” aesthetic is heart-warming imagery to vintage Rolex buffs. A gorgeous dial with full chapter ring and a wonderful patina commands collector attention; superb condition commands collector respect. Even a vintage Rolex Submariner remains a formidable icon with instant-recognition in any crowd. Over 50 years after this 5508’s manufacture date, any kid in any across the world could tell you “that’s a Sub!” However it’s the no crown guard subs from the 1950s that the collectors and aficionados fight for.

Even better, this Rolex Submariner 5508 features a caliber 1530 in outstanding condition with original brass (not Teflon as in later models) reversing wheels and distinctive “butterfly” winding rotor correct to this generation of Rolex movement.

Agent 007 would approve.


2023 is the 70th anniversary of the launch of the Submariner, which was first released and the Basel Watch Fair in Geneva in 1953. So this example, manufactured in 1959, is from only six years after production began. Imagine this, the closest thing in similar continuous production is the Porche 911, which was launched 10 years after the Submariner in 1963. This vintage Submariner was made Circa 1959 and is the first Submariner model to feature the ‘square-shaped’ typeface on the bezel. It is also one of the last produced without crown guards, marking it out as the same design that was worn by James Bond in the first four 007 films. Containing the 1530 automatic movement, which was first used by Rolex in 1957, making this a much sought after early Submariner. Featuring a 38mm diameter case, finished off with the traditional Matte Black dial with dot hour markers and Black uni-directional bezel. The watch is supplied on a tool watch leather strap which we feel suits the dial beautifully, however it could be supplied on a matching steel bracelet for a nominal extra sum.

The Dial

Matte or gilt dial, there is a special appeal about the vintage Sub. If was good enough for James Bond then it is good enough for any of us. The acrylic crystal Submariners began their life with glossy dials and ended their run with glossy dials (the last series 5513 with glossy dials and white gold surrounded hour markers). In the middle however were the matte dials, the last run of which collectors refer to as Maxi dials.

This is one of the nicest, truly original matte gilt dials we’ve seen, complete with original hands and original lume.  It is complete with original Rolex ‘Mercedes’ hands with matching original lume. The charismatic dial features the signature in gilt, with the depth rating printed in white on the surface. The hands and lume plots have aged to a warm sandy brown colour and the main dial has faded to a beautiful chocolate brown. The dial is beginning to show the classic ‘tropical dial’ appearance whereby  the black changes through a warm brown to orange and then yellow. This effect will only continue as the watch is worn and exposed to the sun, making this a living piece who’s appearance and character will only improve with age.

It’s very hard to capture the true beauty of this dial in the photographs. It has much more depth and character than these images portray. As you may see, it has faded from black to a nice chocolate colour overall, with orange-yellow clouds, notably in the first quarter of the dial.

As this is an early Submariner, it features a bi-directional bezel. Also, as this is a model 5508, it is the first Submariner model to feature the ‘square-shaped’ typeface on the bezel. The is the correct bezel with the 15 minute calibration which was an upgrade from its predecessor the reference 6536.

The dial carries the perennial Rolex Coronet at 12 and as with all 1950s Submariners, this a non-date Submariner meaning it does not carry a date function. As with all waterproof Rolex automatics, the dial  is signed ‘Rolex Oyster Perpetual’ however, this being a dive watch it is specified with its depth rating of 100 metres or 330 ft.  In keeping with its functional tool watch appearance this watch was built to do a job and so the dial is kept beautifully simple with no unnecessary embellishments. As was mandatory by Swiss law, it is simply signed ‘Swiss’ at the very bottom of the dial.

As this dial is in superb original unrestored condition, it has been left completely untouched to retain its character, charm and originality.

Please note, studio lights, professional-grade digital cameras, and macro lenses can be very unkind to an unrestored vintage watch dial. Also the dial here measures less than 1.25 inches across, so the image you’re seeing may be between 5 – 25 times larger than the watch itself. Therefore please keep in mind you are seeing many tiny flaws which cannot be seen, or will be very hard to see with the naked eye, even under close examination. Suffice to say, on the wrist, in natural light, this dial looks much better and carries a great deal more charm than the photographs portray.

The Movement

This watch features the Rolex caliber 1530. The 1530 represented an early example of Rolex in-house movement manufacture for the Submariner. As late at the mid-1950s, Rolex continued to employ movements based on customer calibers. With the 18,000 VpH, 25-jewel “Perpetual” auto-winding caliber 1530, Rolex ensured the 5508 would rank among the first Submariners with a full Rolex pedigree.

Moreover, the 25-jewel count, which identifies the number of low-friction synthetic ruby pivots within the caliber 1530, indicates that Rolex designed its watches to a standard and not a price. Many sports watches of the 1950s and 1960s used a 17-jewel (+ metal bushings) standard due to stiff U.S. import tariffs designed to discourage purchase of higher-quality foreign calibers; a 25-jewel Rolex from this period represents a product designed to outlast and out-perform its contemporaries. This Rolex Submariner 5508 has an air of a vintage Mercedes-Benz to it.

This particular movement is in superb A1 condition and with regular servicing, every 3 – 4 years, we would fully expect this watch to run happily for another lifetime to come! We are pleased to offer a 12 month warranty on this watch movement*.

*Please note – our 12 month warranty is only applicable if the list price is paid.

The Watch Case

The case is in tip-top condition and measures 38mm, excluding the original Rolex signed Oyster screw-down (6mm) crown. At 2 mm less than the standard 40 mm Submariner of today, this would have been considered a large sized watch in the 1950s.

The distinctive feature of this watch and one which marks it out, even across a crowded room, is this is a no crown guard Submariner. As with all 1950s and early James Bond Submariners such as Dr No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger, these are rarely seen watches today with few available in good original condition. The 5508 is the last of the no crown guard Submariners.

As this is an early Submariner, it features a bidirectional bezel. And as this is a model 5508 it is the first Submariner model to feature the ‘square-shaped’ typeface on the bezel.

As with almost all watches of this age it has at some point been lightly polished however the abundance of highly-defined case lines and full lugs attests to this being doe with great care. You simply cannot replace metal once it’s gone.

Inside the case-back, all the markings are as expected and correctly signed ‘Montres Rolex SA Geneva Switzerland’, and the model reference number 5508. The watch also carries the case serial number 11000817 between the lugs at 6 o’clock which confirms the date of manufacture of this watch as 1959. And between the lugs at 12, the model number again, 5508 ’.

Please note – even though this watch was specified as waterproof when new and the rubber seals have been replaced on the case-back and crown, the water-resistance of this watch has not been tested and is not guaranteed.

As ever, our standard advice applies: Vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.

The Strap & Buckle

In keeping with the style of watch, it has been fitted with dark brown tool-watch leather Strap and steel Rolex Buckle. We feel the strap perfectly matches the colour of the dial. However, if a different colour or style of strap is preferred, please let us know and we will do our best to oblige free of charge. This watch could be supplied on a matching steel bracelet for a nominal extra sum.

The Box and Papers

Although there are no original papers with the watch, the numbers and markings are all correct, dating this watch to 1959.

Detailed particulars will be included with our purchase receipt for your interest and security. A separate insurance valuation for the replacement value of this watch will be provided at the time of sale along with our unique ‘Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee’ which states: “If this watch proves to be anything less than 100% genuine, authentic and original, a full refund will be given at any time”.

The watch comes complete with an original Rolex Oyster presentation box, as shown in the photographs.

Payment and Delivery

If you would like to pay by bank transfer, we will be pleased to assist you with this and pass on a 3% saving to you. Paying by bank transfer for a 3% saving will not affect your 12 months warranty. Similarly, if you wish to pay by International SWIFT or Bank Wire Transfer we will provide you with our BIC / Swift number and our IBAN number.

Please check the import duties and any taxes your government may apply, these are different for each country and, unfortunately, out of our control.

We understand there may be some ‘loopholes’ that may help you avoid these charges; however, attempting to use these could impact our ongoing ability to serve our growing international customer base.

For those who happen to visit London on occasion, we are, of course, more than happy to store your watch until we can meet you in our offices in Kensington, London, and hand your watch directly to you there.

As with all our watches, this watch will be sold under our 14 days no-quibble sale or return policy.

In Conclusion

This is a truly first class original example of a rare 1959 5508 with a to die for tropical dial.  This watch is perfect for every day / every occasion use. It will make an excellent investment and heirloom piece. Even though vintage Rolex prices have risen markedly of late, we still feel first class examples such as this remain undervalued. And as each year goes by and the world market for vintage Rolex watches continues to expand, prices will inevitably climb ever higher.

A word on our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before restoring them to the highest possible standards. We then offer these at the fairest prices we can, taking into account our pre and post-sales care and service. This approach means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are some well-known stores in West London which are highly successful charging between two to three times the price you see here. We, therefore, consider our prices to be fair, given the quality of watches we have to offer.

Please note, we also welcome part exchanges. If you have a watch or a small collection for sale, please contact us as we will be happy to discuss this.

We will also be happy to Service your watch, Repair your watch or Restore your watch, all at ‘sensible’ prices. Please see here.

If you have any questions please call us on 020 7727 7095 or if calling from overseas on +44 207 727 7095.

Please take a look at our other fine vintage gold watches.

Thank you.