Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513

The “Supersub” began life as a Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513, the epitome of 1960s Rolex “tool” watches. A no-nonsense diver without a date, the Ref. 5513 Submariner is waterproof up to three-hundred and thirty feet. Even the date function—common to Submariners—is deleted for a purity of form and function that was the hallmark of Rolex diving watches of this era.

By the time we sourced this Rolex Submariner, the patina on the dial and scarring on the case reflected decades of wear; it was clear that this watch was used as it was designed to be used; as a tool.

In the spirit of the Submariner’s original purpose, we sought to redesign this watch with a focus on raw materiality. After completing a full mechanical overhaul and service of the original movement, we redesigned the Submariner’s original dial. The dial was painted to match the steel of the watch’s case, and all superfluous lettering was removed, in the spirit of the “date-delete” that characterized the Ref. 5513.

We started by deleting eight of the twelve lume plots, retaining only those at twelve, three, six, and nine. We also removed the majority of the dial’s text, retaining only the Rolex lettering and printed crown on the upper portion of the dial, and replacing the lower dial text with the new owner’s initials. The minute track was retained, and repainted in white, as an homage to the original white lettering for which Submariners are known. All other text was painted in a contrasting black, as was the interior portions of the original hands.

Once the dial redesign was complete, we sought to expose the original aluminum bezel. The original bezel was hand polished with a variety of materials until the raw aluminum shone through, further revealing the watch’s underlying character.

Finally, the watch was fitted with a more modern oyster-link bracelet—from a 1990s era Rolex Submariner. The intent was to incorporate utilitarian advances in Rolex Submariner design by endowing the piece with a secure and modern flip-lock clasp.

Once final service was completed and the watch was reassembled, a final touch was added with the addition of the Cloister Mark hand-engraved into the original caseback.