100 Superlative Rolex Watches
by John Goldberger
[Part 4 of 4]
Rolex Sports Models
This watch has been popularly dubbed as "The Steve McQueen" despite the fact that Steve McQueen never wore or owned it. Steve McQueen wore a Stainless Steel Rolex Submariner 5512 only. Unlike the current Explorer II which is 40mm, this watch is 36mm and very collectable.
Rolex came out with their first waterproof watch in 1922 named the Rolex Submarine. Not Submariner, but Submarine. You will see the original Rolex Submarine from 1922 in the last two images of this review.
In 1954 Rolex did not own the rights to the word Submariner so they came up with all kinds of interesting names and this watch was named the Rolex Monometer. It is interesting to note the black bezel has single minute markers like the future Rolex Military Submariner which is popularly nicknamed "the Milsub."
Page 186 Rolex Submariner with Jubilee Bracelet [Reference 5512/5513] Circa 1965
The photo of the 5512/5513 pictured above is the same model that Steve McQueen always wore. Today many people refer to this model as "The Steve McQueen."
This Rolex Submariner was originally sold in South American and has a jubilee bracelet.
Page 193 GMT with United Arab Emeritz Eagle Logo [Reference 1675] Circa 1978
Not the rarest customized Rolex GMT, but the eagle looks really cool on the dial. Bakelite Coke bezel in red and black. Current market value around $20,000.
This is a two-tone stainless steel with 9kt yellow gold waterproof Rolex prototype named the Deep Sea Special. It measures 42x62mm. It has a highly domed crystal and screw back with a special screw winding crown.
This watch has a serial number 1, and is believed to be one of 7 prototypes made. The watch pictured above was a personal gift from Rolex founder, Hans Wilsdorf.
Today, this Rolex Deep Sea Special is in a private collection and the Smithsonian Institute has a different one in its permanent collection.
The Rolex Deep Sea Special was constructed for testing to withstand great water pressure and was tested by Professor August Piccard's on his Bathiscaphhe.
On November 30, 1953 one of the Rolex Deep Sea Special watches attached to the exterior of the Trieste depth craft submarine, which reached a world-record depth of 3150 meters which is 10,245 Feet or 2 miles down. This was achieved off the coast of Ponza island. After surfacing the watch was carefully inspected and was intact and functioning properly.
This watch was manufactured in the third quarter of 1956. This early Submariner is unusual in many ways including the fact the black bezel does not have the standard 1-15 minute markers and it also has a Rolex Explorer-like 3,6,9 dial with baton indices. The "gilt" (meaning thinly) seconds track, is unusual on the submariner as is the 200/600 printed in red. This watch also has a NATO strap.
This Military Submariner (Milsub) was custom made for and issued to the Special Boat Squadron of the Royal Marines in England. It is 39mm with a prototype revolving metal bezel calibrated for 60 units. This watch also has the 3,6,9 Rolex Explorer like dial with Baton markers, along with the "Mercedes" hour hand. This watch also has a domed crystal.
Vintage Rolex Stainless Steel Submariners have become extremely collectable over the past couple of years and the one pictured above is worth $300,000.
This watch was made in 1958 and sold in Spain. It has a red upside down pyramid indicator surrounding the zero position on the bezel, as well as the 3,6,9 Explorer markers. This watch is currently worth $200,000.
This Military issue Submariner (Milsub) is one of my favorites. It was manufactured in the first quarter of 1972 and has a 5513 reference number engraved on the inside of the screw on case which means it was modified. This watch is unusual because it has minute marks for all 60 minutes on the bezel.
This watch has "Maxi Marker" indices and "Sword" hands which lack the typical "Mercedes" symbol on the hour hand. It also has the Tritium "T" in the circle designation.
This watch has a drab green NATO strap and it is currently valued at $150,000.
This is an extremely rare and historical Rolex Sea-Dweller prototype that belonged to famous Canadian diver Robert Palmer. This watch is really unusual in many ways because the case is much thinner than a standard Sea-Dweller and it lacks the typical helium release valve. The photo above shows the sides of the watch pictured below.
The dial bears the single red Sea-Dweller designation and has a depth rating of 500M-1650 FT. The side view of this watch is pictured two photos up the page.
This watch was a gift to the SAS (Special Air Service Regiment) officers from the Sultan of Oman, for the operations of counterinsurgency in 1972. The watch was sold by Asprey in London, England and it bears the red signature of the Sultan of Oman whose name is Qaboos bin Said Al Said.
This 40mm Rolex Sea-Dweller was also made for the Omani SAS. It has the custom red emblem of the Sultanate of Oman which is a Khamjar dagger in a sheath over two crossed swords. This watch is currently worth $100,000.
Page 221 Omani Sea-Dweller [Reference 1665] Circa 1977
This 40mm Rolex Sea-Dweller was also made for the Omani SAS. It has the custom gold emblem of the Sultanate of Oman which is a Khamjar dagger in a sheath over two crossed swords.
Page 222 Sea-Dweller [Reference 1665] Circa 1977
This 40mm Rolex Sea-Dweller was made for Comex (Compagnie Maritime d'Expertize) which is a French diving company. The dial bears the Comex logo in place of the world Sea-Dweller. The words Chronometer and Certified are aligned and the maxi markers are closer to the minute track. This watch is currently worth $140,000.
Page 225 Milgaus Anti-Magnetic [Reference 6541] Circa 1958
This is the first Anti-Magnetic watch ever made and it has a number of fascinating design details. The second hand has a "lightning bolt" shape, with dauphin hands and in the 3,6, and 9 indices positions it has steel triangular markers. The watch is 38mm and was manufactured in the fourth quarter of 1958. It has a Anti-magnetic mild iron dust cover to shield the movement.
Page 227 White Dial Explorer [Reference 1016] Circa 1962
This 36mm Explorer is extremely rare because it has an unusual white dial with ivory-colored luminous baton hands. This watch is currently valued at $50,000.
This ultra-rare 18kt yellow gold prototype GMT has nipple indices and a white dial with "Alpha" hands. It is 38mm in diameter and had a brown acrylic bezel calibrated for 24 hours. The watch was manufactured in 1958 and sold in Italy. It is currently worth $300,000.
This watch is extremely rare. Almost all Rolex GMT Master watches have black dials. Rolex originally developed the Rolex GMT at the request of Pan American International Airlines and in Rolex folklore they made black dials for the pilots and white dials for executives. The photo above shows the Pan Am logo engraved in the back of the watch.
Page 233 Pan American International Airlines White Dial GMT Master [Reference 1675] Circa 1960
The bezel was replaced on this watch but everything else is original. This watch has a number of interesting design details beyond the rare white dial. The arrow at the tip of the 24 hour hand is very small and the crown guards have an unusual curved to a point shape. According to John Goldberger, all the 6542 GMT's we have seen with Bakelite bezels are fake.
This watch is a real beauty and it is 38mm. Strikingly simple and complicated looking at the same time. It also has a riveted Oyster bracelet.
This watch was retailed by Hermes of France and is the John Goldberger's favorite Rolex watch.
This watch is 37mm in diameter and has an Oyster bracelet with a deployment clasp.
The "Albino" Daytona is an ultra-rare and highly collectable Rolex Cosmograph and it is valued at over $500,000. This watch was originally sold in Great Britain. The Daytona designation is a semicircle printed in red.
The photo above shows off how beautiful the Valjoux movement is in the watch pictured below.
This Cosmograph is unusual in the sense that it has two scales on the face. The typical tachymeter scale calibrated at 200 units per hour on the bezel and an additional Pulsation scale running around the edge of the matte silvered dial.
The base Valjoux movement pictured above belongs to the Daytona pictured below.
This is my favorite Rolex Daytona. It has a nickname of "The Panda." It is 37mm and it has push button pushers for the chronograph functions apposed to the screw-down type on the current Daytona. I think the watch looks so clean and cool. I love the red, white and black color combo.
The photo of the movement above is from the watch pictured below.
This Rolex Cosmograph has a Jubilee bracelet and it has two scales on it. First it the tachymeter scale on the steel bezel which is calibrated at 200 units per hour. The second is the pulsation scale around the edge of the dial.
This is the same Rolex that Elvis Presley wore. It was a limited edition Rolex only made 1000 pieces of. The one above belongs to John Goldberger and Leo (The Idle Swede) also owns one.
The Rolex Submarine
The image above and below are of the first Rolex waterproof watch ever made. This watch was originally sold in 1922 and it had the name of Rolex Submarine. Not Submariner, but Submarine.
I mistakenly thought the Rolex Oyster was the first waterproof Rolex, but I learned from John Goldberger that it was the Rolex Submarine.
The way this watch worked, was that when you wear it on your arm it look as it does below, but if you wanted to change the time or wind it, you had to screw off the front bezel as pictured above.
I hope you enjoyed reading and viewing the images in this article as much as I enjoyed putting them together. I learned so much about Rolex history and really enjoyed the great photos of all the rare Rolex watches.
I very, very, very highly recommend investing in a copy of 100 Superlative Rolex Watches for your collection. The book has 700 stunning images and the book is a beautiful work of art. It is a proud possession you will enjoy and treasure for the rest of your life, and as I mentioned the book contains more than $20 Million worth of rare and interesting Rolex watches.
This is the kind of book you want to sit in front of the fire in the wintertime with your favorite warm drink and enjoy.
You can purchase John Goldberger's amazing Rolex book named 100 Superlative Rolex Watches below. By purchasing his Rolex book here you save $74 off the regular price of $200.
John Goldberger also wrote the following books on Omega Watches, Omega Sport Watches and Longines Watches:
I would like to thank John Goldberger for sharing his superb photos and taking the time to record the excellent podcast.
I would also like to thank Damiani Publishing for creating such a beautifully printed and luxuriously bound book. Damiano Publishing specialize in art and photographic printing as well as volumes characterized by handmade quality and innovative technology. 100 Superlative Rolex Watches is the fourth book in their watch collection–adding to the previous titles of Omega, Omega Sportswatches and Longines.