July 23, 2021

Rolex Submariner 5512: Two Hundred Meters Deep Into The Soul

Approaching vintage watchmaking is complicated for one simple reason: because generally, in order to appreciate an old watch – where a flaw perhaps becomes added value – you first need to develop a culture about it. However, once you have entered the right mood of sensitivity and knowledge, it is even more complicated to live without, as these antique objects become a sort of disease affecting and imbuing us without a cure.

Starting from this assumption, I present you one of the watches that has triggered the taste and desire in me to come to know more about vintage. It is a Rolex Submariner: the great-great-grandfather of those watches that are still on sale now – just a little more shiny and with a ceramic bezel. A grandfather looking pretty good for being almost sixty years old – it really seems that time has not passed for him – like a kind of Highlander, undaunted in front of all his aging peers.


The technical name is Reference 5512, and it has been designed to withstand the pressure not until 100 metres deep, but down to 200 metres underwater, a great depth for the times. This data appears on the dial with beautiful gold graphics on a deep black shiny backdrop. The movement is not particularly sophisticated and is not even certified as a chronometer, nor does it show the date or any other detail that might distract you, giving you only the exact time as well as the assurance that you won’t encounter any surprises while under water. Besides, Rolex’s policy has always been the same: as few complications or oversized movements and parts as possible. All that is needed to ensure the highest reliability.

Rolex Submariner 5512
Rolex Submariner 5512

The Ref. 5512 was born in 1959 to replace the legendary Submariners of the Fifties, and remained in production until the end of the Seventies, confirming year after year to be one of the most sought-after models and, among other things, one of the most recognizable and copied Rolexes ever. You can wear it every day: it will never annoy you. The deep black of the dial and the gold lettering with the hour markers turned yellow by the passing of time will fascinate you every time you peek at it. And above all, you will realize that reading the time is not important. Because repeating, dozens of times a day, the experience of enjoying the harmony of its proportions and warm colours will make your curiosity for knowing the time secondary. And when you’ll see its light rivet bracelet, you’ll even loose interest for its precision.

Rolex Submariner 5512

Moreover, your 5512, like every vintage watch, will be unique since there are no two identical vintage watches – because time passes differently for each object, making it, precisely, unique. And this is vintage’s great strength: being able to look as many times as you want at a unique object giving you emotions. So you will find yourself observing the perfectly flat spheres made of nickel-plated brass, as they used to produce back then, “blooming” over time by raising the nickel to tint the tritium with greenish halos – as you can see in the picture. And you won’t miss either the layer of black mirror finish around all the gold graphics, almost serving as “trenches” delimitating it on the dial, as if they were sinking into a sea of pitch. Then your eyes will linger on the anodized bezel and the famous “long five”, another of its illustrious features. And you will become curious to discover how it is possible to have such perfect, yellowish hemispherical hour markers.

Rolex Submariner 5512

In short, it may seem strange for an object from another era to be so hypnotic and modern, keeping up with today’s best designs, and you may wonder how it is possible that so many things go out of fashion, but not this watch. Why not? Simple, the Rolex Submariner 5512 is a super classic: a must, an institution, a touchstone, and with its disarming simplicity it can only give you unique emotions… by running your fingers over it you will discover something that has no equal in modern manufacturing. You will feel as if you were listening to a story, a distant tale, a different point of view, where what counts is not the time of the day but the passing of time. And in the end, this is our passion, which goes well beyond time, straight to the heart.

By Marco Di Falco