SPECIAL SELECTION

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    The Rolex 5513 Submariner existed in many forms from 1962 until about 1990. This is one of the earliest and rarest – with significant individual history. Note the early, pointed crown guards, the gilt text on the dial, the small silver underline and “double Swiss” anomaly at the bottom of the dial. This particular, early 1960s watch was provided for one of the Challengers in the Americas Cup sailing races. Rolex realised long ago that associating their watches with the very best in any field is a sound marketing tactic! Click on the pictures to see the very rare dial features in close-up.

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    Stock number: 22-53-005
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    This mid-1970s Sea-Dweller model 1665 originally had one of the rare “double red” dials, as recalled by its owner when selling it to us. This is consistent with its 4-million case number and the straight text of “ROLEX” across the case-back. In 2004 it enjoyed a service by Rolex UK and at that time was fitted with this rather rare, luminova service dial with all-white text. Note the single word “SWISS” at the bottom of the dial, rather than the “SWISS – T < 25” seen on earlier dials on which tritium  was the luminous material.

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    It is frustrating that we are often asked to make an offer to buy an enquirer’s “Rolex” that is, in fact, patently FAKE. The real version of this watch costs over £50,000 new – but this is NOT a genuine 116506. Even our cleaning lady noted that the sub-dials are impossibly positioned for a 4130 calibre movement, adding correctly that “Those indices are clearly wrong, too.” Had she spotted the incorrect coronet, the low “6” on the hour sub-dial or some of the more subtle failures evident here, we might have been impressed.

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    Stock number: FAKE ! FAKE ! FAKE !
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    The Rolex Air-King line had a long and sometimes varied history, but for the last twenty years it has simply been the entry-level model in steel (or steel and white metal). Finally, in 2015 it has been phased out altogether and replaced by less characterful Oyster Perpetual models. To celebrate its passing, here is a picture of an unusual variant which crossed our path : a bicolour version! This is in fact a 5501 model with 9-million case number and 1520 calibre movement.  You won’t see many of these, but it is not the only odd Air-King. Have you seen an Air-King-Date, or a Domino’s Pizza Air-King?

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    Collectors of Rolex watches appreciate more than anything the small differences found between one type of dial and another. The Daytona Cosmograph 1652x series was manufactured for about twelve years from 1988, but this first version of their dials is distinctive. Note the so-called “floating Cosmograph,” that word being conspicuously orphaned below the lines of text which it soon rose to join in the next (and all later) versions. Did you also notice that the “6” in the lowest sub-dial is inverted, so that it looks like a “9”?

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    Here at Miltons we can’t be arbiters of taste, but we do enjoy spotting what’s right and what’s not. This 18ct Rolex Daytona offered to us in July 2015 looks like a 116598RBOW “Rainbow” model……but it’s not. The coloured stone bezel was not made by Rolex, nor was the dial. Those sub-dials should have the gold-crystal effect, not the camouflage finish they do here. Most obvious of all, the model reference 116528 confirms that this watch left Geneva with a plain gold bezel. A genuine Rolex at heart, but it has had third party work of arguable value / detriment carried out on it. Out of interest, we mentioned this watch to one of our favourite Rolex main agents who confirmed that the genuine coloured bezel costs so much to make because, on average, seven baguette-cut gem-stones out of every ten break before being successfully fitted into place. I’ll not wear mine for dry stone walling then.

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    In early 2015 we were delighted to purchase this 1978 Sea-Dweller model 1665, fitted with what collectors term the “Mark 1” dial and coming with its original chronometer certificate. The Sea-Dweller was designed for saturation diving as part of an extraordinary co-operation between Rolex and the French diving company Comex which continued for many decades thereafter. Earlier versions had red writing on the dial but a “Great White” 1665 like this is also highly sought after.

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    The anti-magnetic Rolex Milgauss was re-introduced a few years ago in three variants. This is the 116400 GV which features a unique green synthetic sapphire crystal. One normally sees it with the dark dial underneath but we thought clients of Miltons might like to see what the glass looks like without such background interference.

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    In 2014 we were very pleased to add this late 1950s Rolex Submariner to Miltons’ special selection. The diver’s model had been evolving quickly since its launch in 1954 and this 5508 version featured the 1530 calibre movement which would then be used in many models for several decades. The 5508 Submariner itself was inevitably destined for a short life and its small winding crown / lack of crown guards would both be addressed in the 5512 of 1959 and the non-chronometer 5513 of 1962. The dial seen here is a Rolex service dial fitted over 20 years ago; the original would have featured gilt (gold colour) text.

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    The interior of the case-back of this old Rolex Submariner can tell us much. Clearly it is from a 5508 model, but we can also see that it was manufactured in “III.1958” which means the third quarter of 1958. Sale to the public might commonly be at least a year or two later than this. Case-backs were marked with such date stamps from the 1950s until the mid-1970s, though for most of these years a two digit year-code was used, such that a “I.72” case-back was made in the first three months of 1972. The other, hand-made scribings are service marks which can themselves be decoded. LON 1/80 92488 shows a watch visited the service division of Rolex UK in January 1980 and the job number was 92488. At Miltons we maintain an extensive database of these service dates and numbers, which prove very useful in cross-referencing watches and service histories of vintage Rolex models.

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    Such is Miltons’ reputation for its specialist knowledge of Rolex watches that a number of national police forces and criminal asset recovery bodies often ask us for expert opinion. This small scan formed part of a detailed report we wrote recently about an “18ct gold Rolex Day-Date model 18238” which comprised some genuine parts but also had a full diamond bezel and diamond-set bracelet which had never seen the inside of a Rolex factory. Such information can be vital for the police, courts and other bodies, so that they may establish the true value of a criminal’s assets or confiscated property. Albeit in gold of some purity, this was quite a poor quality fake component. A well-defined image of Minerva’s head should form part of the Swiss hallmark on a genuine Rolex clasp from this era…..not a cartoon stamp of Ena Sharples!

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    This rare Rolex 3525 chronograph in stainless steel belongs to a charming client of Miltons and has been in his family since the time of WWII. We have been advising him about the watch since 2008! Many similar watches were supplied to allied POWs directly from Rolex; the company’s founder Hans Wilsdorf insisted these officers did not pay for their watches until the war was over, but apparently was not let down by any!

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    How would you look if you slept outside for three years? This 18ct gold Rolex Day-Date was lost by its owner and an insurance claim made. Three years later it was found in the rough on the golf course . . . and working again, as soon as it was wound! As sometimes happens, we were then able to buy it from the insurance company. We just hope the honest chap who found it also found his ball!

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  • Tudor

    Rarely does our collecting direction turn from the enlightened path that is old Rolex tool watches, but we could make an exception for a 1970 Tudor 7031/0 chronograph with a dial in the condition of this one ! Would we wear it ? No, but we can appreciate it for what is. For fellow geeks ( if you are reading this page, it may be time to face facts ), the movement is a 7734 calibre and the case number is in the 756xxx range.

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  • PW_5513

    This gilt dial Submariner 5513 from 1965 was sent to us by a client in early 2014 for verification after he purchased it elsewhere. This is not a service we normally provide, but we were delighted to confirm that he had bought a good watch ! Note that all such gilt dial Subs will have the depth rating presented in the earlier style, with metres defined before feet.

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    The Submariner 5513 was fitted with a surprisingly large number of different dials through the years, from what are now £50,000+ Explorer dial versions fitted in the early 1960s through standard gilt-dial versions to white text 200m-660ft dials, several white text 660ft-200m variants, highly sought after military issue and Comex issues, finishing with white gold surround indices in the early 1990s and even luminova dial variants available at service to this day. This well-used watch has an especially nice maxi dial with over-size luminous dots, similar to the markers on 5517 mil subs. It was sold by us soon after the millennium and returned for a light glass polish in Summer 2014, still running well.

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  • 6262PN

    A three-colour exotic or “Paul Newman” dial Daytona 6262/0 is unusual in itself, but when our MD took this one from our special selection personally for service at Rolex in London something even more remarkable transpired. Look at the service notes on the Rolex schedule of works : they describe the dial explicitly as being a “Paul Newman.” This was never Rolex nomenclature and it is quite extraodinary for them to have adopted a name given to a variant by the wider vintage community. We do not know of another such Daytona where the dial has been so irrefutably established as a genuine PN !

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    We don’t know what they were “shmoking” at Geneva when Rolex designed this dial. At least if Daphne from Scooby-Doo ever visits Miltons we will have just the watch dial for her. Apparently, the metal numerals on this dial are made from a unique Rolex alloy, HannaBarbarium.

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    What happens if you place a Rolex warranty card under a UV light ? It’s always worth trying these things. Fake Rolex warranty cards are already available so be careful. If the bad guys can make fake airplane parts and credit cards which get through the relevant systems, a Rolex warranty card is child’s play. Click on the picture until you are able to access the original image, before UV light was applied.

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    In November 2014 Miltons acquired this wonderful Submariner 6536/1 from the late 1950s. It has a low 3xx,xxx case number, original dial and bezel insert, 1030 calibre movement and six service marks from Rolex on the inside of the III.57 case-back. It cost us a five-figure sum but here at Miltons we’re always ready to make the bank transfer, no matter what the size, for a vintage Rolex that floats our boat. The bezel looks to be in a perilous state, but in fact this red triangle version with no hash-marks up to 15 is a rare, original survivor from this batch and represents a major part of the watch’s value.

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    In December 2010, just before two years of significant price rises, Miltons spent £168,000 in a single day buying over 60 unworn, stickered Rolex watches including Sea Dwellers 16600s, stainless steel Date Submariner 16610s, Yachtmaster 16622s, Explorers 14270 / 114270 / 16570 and others. Oddly, all the watches lacked bracelets. The story was that HMRC had intercepted the watches being smuggled into the UK in parts; Customs had seized the watch-heads and ultimately auctioned them off in a single sale to an audience of international dealers and private buyers in London. Miltons were the largest buyer by far and took home over a third of the entire sale. With the blessing of Rolex UK we were then able to purchase all the new, genuine bracelets required to make the watches complete, but for another £40,000+! The watches all sold some time ago and we fear that such an opportunity may never arise again.

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    Rolex collectors across the world are aware that Miltons have purchased and handled an extraordinary number of military issue Rolex Submariners, out of the original, mere 1,000 or so which were supplied to Royal Navy Clearance Divers, helicopter pilots and others in the 1970s. These watches are now so valuable that some will try to make a plain, civilian Submariner look like one of the genuine “mil subs.” Small details can be very hard to fake, though. This photograph shows the case-back of a genuine mil sub with its NATO coding and a conspicuous rippling effect in the metal. The rippling has been caused by decades of the nylon webbing strap rubbing slightly across the case-back, perhaps helped by the constant presence of salts and sand in its typical environment. It is galling now to think that so many of these issued, historical watches were sold off by the MOD over twenty years ago for as little as £50 each, whereupon dealers often butchered them to make them more like the normal, civilian Submariners.

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    It is not just old Rolex watches which can go up in value. Back in the 1970s a booklet like this might have been thrown away without a second thought, but today period instruction booklets, boxes, brochures and other Rolex accessories can all have surprising value. Genuine, old instruction booklets for the rarest models can be worth three figure sums on their own!

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    This is perhaps a better photograph of some of the pieces in Miltons’ special selection. It was taken at the end of 2013, since when a number of significant pieces have joined those shown here.

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    Some of Miltons' special selection in July 2014. These watches represent so much diving, military and horological history that one could write a book about it. Nearly a year later you will find on the same trays military issue Submariner 5513s (9), 5517s (2) and even a 5512, Comex-issue 5513, 5514, 1665, 16800 (2) and 16600, Double Red Sea-Dweller 1665s (2), a Great White SeaDweller 1665, Red 1680 Submariner, Disco Dial Explorer II 1655s (2), a Submnariner 5508, a couple of Explorer 1016, a gilt text “Bart Simpson” 5513, 5500 Explorer, a gloss dial 5513 Submariner, white 1680 Submariners (2), Milgauss 1019s (3, all different dial variants), a Submariner 6536/1 with original red triangle bezel / unmarked first 15 minutes and a Sea-King GMT 116710LN. We are serious buyers of such pieces and we will, alternatively, lend money to clients, secured by similar watches. If you have one please make contact with our Managing Director, Haywood Milton, to discuss values.

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    This is an especially nice example of the acrylic-glass Date Submariner model 1680/0 with 1575 calibre movement. It came from a former helicopter pilot and retains its original boxes and numbered papers. Full sets like this are always priced at a premium in the vintage market, but we think a great watch should never be turned down simply because a previous owner did not keep his box or documents for 40 years as, fortunately, this gentleman did.

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    The 1960s and 1970s were a period of diving innovation, with the move to saturation diving to meet the demands of the oil industry in places like the North Sea. British divers often led the way and a generation of them trained in the Royal Navy, qualified as members of the legendary Clearance Divers and then moved on to work for the specialist diving company Comex. While they would often be issued with a watch to use during service, some preferred to buy their own. This rare “Double Red” Sea-Dweller model 1665 was one such watch, bought by a former RN Clearance Diver while later diving commercially. The lives of these modest men were remarkable and we owe much to them and their many lost colleagues. It is always a privilege to meet such divers, to hear or read their stories and perhaps buy their trusty old watch from them!

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    While any Submariner 5513 is usually worth a few thousand pounds, one like this on our hirsute MD’s wrist a few years ago can be worth over ten times as much. The “Explorer-dial” Submariners are those made with the unusual “3 – 6 – 9” dial format similar to those more commonly seen on plain Explorer models. Earlier Submariners than this could be found with them, but 5512 and 5513 variants from the early 1960s era are especially favoured by many. There were in fact several versions of the Explorer dial during the short period of production and this one, with its uncalibrated depth rating, has become widely recognised only in the last few years. This particular watch was subsequently sold at auction.

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    The Orange Hand Explorer II model 1655 is something of an oddity, but its rarity has made it collectible in modern times. This typically well-worn example appears to retain its original bezel; note that the seconds hand, unlike the other example shown on this page, is the later all-white version with high visibility dot. The model has at times been called the “Steve McQueen” as it was rumoured that the famous actor had one, but this has never been substantiated and the apparent misnomer is heard less and less these days. For what it is worth, the star appears to have had a Submariner 5512 and perhaps a TAG chronograph.

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    In the late 1960s Rolex added a date display to the steel Submariner, with the new model 1680/0. For the first few years the word SUBMARINER was written in red and these models are especially sought after now. Do be careful, as the difference in value has tempted many to try to turn a genuine watch with an all-white text dial into one with the precious red text. Note that this genuine example ( which is in need of a new acrylic glass ) has the 660ft = 200m format of depth rating. An even earlier version with red text and the reverse 200m=660ft depth rating is worth more again.

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    This well-used Submariner 5513 from the 1960s is especially nice for retaining its original gilt-text dial, rather than having one of the later white-text versions. Note the depth rating, presented in metres before feet on the early examples like this. The 5513 was launched in 1962 and remained in production with little change for 30 years. Roger Moore would wear one in his first outing as 007 in “Live and Let Die,” but for real-life professionals including the UK’s pioneering Royal Navy Clearance Divers the watch would prove a genuine, reliable workhorse.

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  • 16760

    The GMT-Master II

    The Rolex GMT-Master II is a watch loved by many of our clients, but few are familiar with this model, the 16760 which was very quickly superceded by the 16710. Both versions exhibit an independently adjustable 24 hour hand, in addition to the features of the basic GMT-Master ( 1675 / 16750 / 16700 ). This watch was pawned with Miltons in early 2005.

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    £39,880 lady’s gem-set Rolex

    This lady’s gem-set Rolex crossed our path shortly after the millennium. If you ever get the chance, have a look at the underside of such a Pearlmaster’s bracelet to see the unusual screw-head backs of the sapphire settings. A stunning watch!

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    Rolex Sea-Dweller Glass replaced by Rolex UK

    We had the glass of this Rolex Sea-Dweller replaced by Rolex UK during service, and asked for its return so we could show customers just how thick it is. Using our precision tools we measure it at 2.9mm deep, which doesn’t sound much until you look at it on a ruler. Its remarkable thickness is designed for handling extremes of pressure under water.

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    1970’s Rolex Sea-Dweller model 1665

    Sometimes a watch which looks battered can still be worth a lot of money. This 1970s Rolex Sea-Dweller model 1665 came our way in 2007. It is missing its bezel, the bracelet is worn out, the glass is ruined and the dial is faded . . . but we’d still pay thousands of pounds for old Rolex sports watches like this, even in such poor condition !

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    Rolex Milgauss model 1019

    In July 2008 we were privileged to buy this Rolex Milgauss model 1019, one of three currently in our special selection. We’ll pay the strongest price for desirable, professional Rolex models from the 1950s onwards. Call and ask for Haywood Milton if you would like an offer on your old Submariner, GMT-Master, Explorer, Milgauss, Sea-Dweller or Daytona.

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    Rolex “Disco dial” Explorer II model 1655

    Rolex “Disco Dial” Explorer II, model 1655. A rare model, made for speleologists ( cave-explorers ). Note the large, orange 24-hour hand and original, plain seconds hand without a luminous dot. Despite its confusing dial, this is a very collectible watch today. The bezel would appear to have been replaced later during service by Rolex.

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    Military Rolex Submariner model 5513

    This military-issue Rolex Submariner model 5513 was supplied to the Royal Marines in 1975. Note the peculiar hands, specified by HM Government. These watches were fitted not on bracelets but on a nylon strap secured over fixed bars between the lugs. At the end of his service the navy diver in this instance chose to fit a generic bracelet over the fixed bars. Originally it will also have had a bezel marked with full 60-minute divisions, but these were often lost during active service and replaced with a standard, civilian bezel as here. Even so, in this condition it remains a watch worth tens of thousands of pounds.

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